Bob McClurg grew up in 1950’s Southern California and was a car nut long before he became an accomplished writer and photographer. As a youngster, McClurg lived around the corner from the late Jack Hart’s (heart would go on to become the first competition director for the newly formed national hot Rod Association) Orange, California based shop. Bob was working as a shoeshine boy at Town Barbershop, which was also located within walking distance from home, where he could find the latest hot Rod Magazine’s. Hart would often stop and answer questions posed by Bob.
Bob’s trial by fire happened in the summer of 1963 when Bob’s boss, slot car track operator and hobby shop owner Roger Clawson, took him to Lions Dragstrip one fine Saturday evening where Bob’s life was changed forever. Garlits was there match racing Kenny Safford, Don “Snake” Prudhomme and some other top fuel teams. The sites, smell, and incredible noise became music to his ears and he was hooked.
Bob’s very first car was a 1954 De Soto four-door sedan powered by a Fire Dome Hemi V-8 engine which he had fellow members from the “Eliminator’s Car Club of Orange” modify with multiple carburetors and a “hot cam” to make it perform better. It would have been extremely kind to have called it an actual race car.
In 1961 a Corvair 300 coupe with Bill Thompson equipped flat six for power replaced the De Soto. While it worked well as a SCCA seat of the pants, or “SOP” navigational champion for 1966 with Bob at the wheel. He wanted to become more involved in drag racing but after realizing he was never going to become a professional drag racer, he decided to try his hand as a journalist.
At age 10, Bob submitted his first newspaper article to the Orange Daily News and followed up by taking on the job of Editor at his junior high school newspaper. One night in 1964 he snuck the school camera out on the starting line at Lions and managed to fire off a roll of film before being escorted back to the bleachers by the strip photographer “Digger Ralph” Guldahl. Guildhal’s only advice, “Kid he get yourself a letter of assignment from a newspaper and I’ll let you out here!” Not long after that Bob caught up with the sports editor at the Orange Daily News and made a deal to supply the paper with regular Lions Dragstrip news and results.
While playing with cars was fun for Bob, he was soon drawn into the journalistic side of the performance world. Where he soon earned a reputation as a well-respected drag racing photographer and technical writer. After 50 years of automotive, entertainment, and industry related experience in the magazine publishing business as an editor, technical and feature writer and photographer Bob can also stake his claim as a book author; with 13 of them to his credit. In addition to his own journalistic work he has also worked as a photojournalism instructor, public relations, and advertising specialist.
Past accomplishments in the editorial realm include time spent working as a photographer and editor at Petersen Publishing’s magazines to include: Hot Rod Magazine, Custom Paint and Nody Work, Kit Car Magazine, Chevrolet Classics, Hot Rod Drag Racing, Hot Rod Mustang, and Camero Performers to name a few. Bob also served in the same capacity at McMullen/Argus Publishing Company as editor of both Mustang Illustrated and Ford High Performance magazines the latter of which he founded. Bob also contributed to the magazines including: Cars Magazine, Popular Hot Rodding, Car Craft, Super Chevy, Super Chevy Camaro, SCM Chevrolet Classics, Vans and Trucks, Street Vans, Rodder and Super Stock, Shelby Times, Cars Illustrated, Science and Mechanics. The list of magazines Bob contributed to could go on and on for several pages.
As a PR Director Bob his work for such noted companies as Lubri-Lon Inc. and the NT Yowell Pro-Stock Racing Team. It should also be noted that his contributions extended beyond the automotive arena. One such project of note was the Muscular Dystrophy Association fundraising drive held in conjunction with KENR-AM am country radio personality, the late, Hal McLean and co-founder of the Saleen Performance Parts/Leukemia Society of America “Cruising the Queen” Charity Car Show.
Still active today and living in Hilo, Hawaii, Bob is working on a couple of new books contributing muscle car and drag racing nostalgia pieces to the magazine editorial world. He also writes collector car vehicle descriptions for Mecum Auctions and most recently hosted the racer’s press conference at the 2016 British Drag Racing Association Hall of Fame.