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Bench Racer with Steve Turner—Monumental Milestone

Posted By: Evan J. Smith
Bench Racer with Steve Turner—Monumental Milestone
Photography courtesy of SEMA MPMC
There are moments in life that give you pause and make you reflect on the path you have taken. Sometimes that path is one you have chosen, but more often than not, you had some help along the way as you navigate through this life. I have always tried to be a big nostalgic in the moment and appreciate things as they happen, but after clocking a few decades on the globe, you can lose perspective at times.
As I sat down to write this, it happened to be the 10th anniversary of one of the darkest days in my career. I was laid off from 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords magazine after 15 years in the editor’s chair and some 20 years in the magazine business. At that moment, I didn’t know what the future held, but I kept pushing forward both out of necessity and desire. 
Back then things were uncertain, but somehow 10 years later things have gone my way and I am still writing an editor’s column for a magazine in 2024 — that is a feat in and of itself. I worked at two online outlets — and — before returning to the print world to edit the magazine you receive each month as part of your NMRA or NMCA membership. I also contribute to several other print and online outlets, so somehow it all worked out in my favor.
Along the way began attending the SEMA Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council Media Trade Conference, which offers the makers of performance automotive hardware and software the opportunity to meet with the media dedicated to this world, share their stories, and pitch their products for coverage. An event within the event is the presentation of the Robert E. Petersen Media Award, which is awarded to someone in the media making a “significant contribution to the motorsports parts manufacturing segment of the aftermarket.”
Previous winners have included a host of luminaries such as our own President & CEO, Steve Wolcott (2011), Brian Lohnes (2018) known for his work with BangShift, NHRA, and hosting the annual NMRA and NMCA awards ceremonies. Another prior winner was Hot Rod Senior Editor KJ Jones (2013), who served as Tech Editor with me on 5.0&SF at the time of his win. Suffice it to say, it is a meaningful award for those of us in the automotive media biz.
As I stood at the back of the room awaiting the announcement of the 2024 winner, I was excited to learn who it might be. It could easily be another one of my friends in the industry, but as Brian Bohlander, Chair-Elect of the MPMC Special Council, and Director of Marketing for Old World Industries began his introduction, I was surprised to realize that I was the lucky winner…
“This year’s recipient of the Robert E. Petersen Media Award is a lifelong Floridian. After getting his Journalism degree from the University of Central Florida, this Mustang enthusiast parlayed his internship at Super Ford magazine into becoming its Managing Editor and later, the Senior Editor. When that title closed, he then became the Editor-in-Chief of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords magazine. He’s a published author of what else?... How to Tune and Modify Your Ford 5.0 Liter Mustang... And you can still buy his book on Amazon today,” Bohlander said. “Currently the Editor of Fastest Street Car magazine, he has prophetically said: ‘A project car is never really ‘finished’ until you sell it.’ But, if it’s a yellow Mustang, he might keep it a little longer… He’s also a passionate Heavy Metal music fanatic and has traveled the globe to see some of the best bands in the world. He could have been a rock star traveling in a band, but instead, he became a rock star in our world. Please welcome the 2024 Robert E. Petersen Media Award winner, Steve Turner.”
I am not the sort that likes to shine a spotlight on my achievements, however modest, but hearing such nice things being said was truly touching. It turns out that KJ contributed mightily to the introduction. Hearing it was just as special for me as receiving the award, as were all the kind words I received as a result of the award. It’s not often that people take the time to appreciate your impact while you are still around. As one well-wisher told me the next day, “I am a big fan of people getting their flowers before it is too late.”
Since the award requires at least 10 years in the industry, it marks a dedication to the cause, and as I just clocked three decades of doing this, it was truly touching to be bestowed with this honor. As the award was a surprise, I didn’t prepare a speech, so I said whatever poured out that night at the event. However, I am most thankful for all those who gave me the platform to do what I love along the way from Tom Wilson and Donald Farr who gave a fresh college graduate a start at Super Ford magazine to Steve Wolcott of Promedia, who brought me on to run this magazine, and all those in between. 
I am also thankful to all those who read and supported my work along the way, and I hope you continue doing so. It has been a great ride, and I won’t soon forget that night, but with any luck I will be chasing, shooting, and writing about fast cars for years to come.

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