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Firing Order - Christian Hazel moving to 4-Wheel & Off-Road

Posted in Features on May 27, 2016
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Aaaand, that’s a wrap. I’m outtahair like a bald man. I’m gonna make like a drummer and beat it. Splitting like the Red Sea. Think I’ll make like a nut and bolt. That’s right: I’m leaving Four Wheeler, and I’m off like a prom dress to be editor of our sister publication, 4-Wheel & Off-Road.

In my last editorial I let you all in on a little secret: that Four Wheeler Senior Editor Ken Brubaker had built the July ’16 issue. Well, surprise—Ken built this issue as well. Why? Because Ken is gonna be the new editor of this magazine. This change has actually been in the works for more than five months as of this writing, but thanks to the magic of human resources and other legal hoo-hah, it couldn’t take place as quickly as the staffs of both magazines expected. But the ink is finally dry on the contracts, and now that Ken has been assured there will be no green M&Ms in his dressing room, the change is official starting with the next issue of Four Wheeler. Please allow me to be the first to publically congratulate Ken Brubaker on (finally) becoming the editor of this magazine. After being the right-hand man of each editor for more than 20 years, the backbone of the brand, the talented eyes behind the camera, the brains behind innumerous entertaining stories, (I so want to work in “the butt of many jokes” but it just aint true – ed.), and aw, hell, most of the other body parts you’d associate with the good things Four Wheeler represents, he’s now moving up the ladder to be the main dude in charge. Congratulations, buddy! I can’t think of a better man for the job!

And me? Why am I leaving Four Wheeler? Did I anger the off-road gods by putting a pin in Top Truck Challenge until we could reevaluate and reinvent the event to attract a wider, more engaged audience? Nope—that went down exactly as planned within our company. Did I collude with Ram and Range Rover to skew our Four Wheeler and Pickup Truck of the Year award judging sheets so I could pick my favorites as the winner? Nope—our “of the Year” event is judged, scored, and awarded with the highest level of unobjectionable integrity. No scoring shenanigans ever. Did I write one too many editorials about being a low-buck junkyard fiend? Well, getting warmer.

Actually, the real reason for the staffing change isn’t shrouded in drama. It simply lies in the fact that TEN absolutely owns the off-road–enthusiast marketplace. And when you look at its holdings, it doesn’t really make sense to have Four Wheeler directed by a guy who favors driveway-built old-school patina’d rigs with a mix of hardcore and junkyard components. After all, that’s really what 4-Wheel & Off-Road is about. Historically, Four Wheeler has focused on late-model vehicle tests and modifications and has been more of a “do-it-for-me” rather than a “do-it-myself” book. So I’m heading back to 4-Wheel & Off-Road where my automotive journalism began and where I can let my rust lust run wild. And Ken is gonna do what he does best: keep Four Wheeler true to what it has historically represented.

I’ve very much enjoyed my time here at Four Wheeler. And even though Ken and I will be on opposite sides of the shop wall, we’ll still work closely on many Four Wheeler Network projects so you’ll most likely see my byline here from time to time. Thanks for everything, and until then, see you on the trail. -Christian Hazel

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