Rodney Wills Social Media Life & ADV80

Rodney Wills listed Work Experience with Source Links at the bottom of this long “journalistic” email of my answers to the questions posted.  This is only the “journalistic” aspect of my work life. Below you will find my LinkedIn profile with the entire work experience listed.

Describe your journalism experience, as well as other relevant media skills.

I started my career in journalism, not as a trained professional as my college degree is a Bachelor of Fine Arts; with a major in Graphic Design. I was, and still a graphic communicator. I did, however, work for the college newspaper as part of the Graphic Design curriculum that included the graphic layout, writing, and photography of the articles. I became an editor, associate publisher, publisher, marketer, PR, and content creator. But I’ve technically not applied “journalist” to my work. Why not? 

Funny, as I ponder the word “journalism” layered upon my life’s work, it has made me think just what the word means and reflect very deeply about what I have done. So I start as usual, by going to the root of the meaning by simply looking up the word “journalism;” “the activity or profession of writing for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or preparing news to be broadcast.”  

Upon reading that, from my learnings from my time at RACER Magazine under the tutelage of Paul Pfanner, “the difference between an enthusiast and a professional is the enthusiast is paying for it and the professional is getting paid for it.” I like the four words at the beginning of the definition of journalism, “the activity or profession of.” As for myself, I started the activity very enthusiastically (aka writing for free) to get my foot in the door and my words in print. I can’t even remember the first magazine article I wrote… so so long ago!  

I started journalism as an enthusiast, more like a field reporter armed with a camera and six rolls of film, working with both Sport Compact Car Magazine and MiniTrucking Magazine around 1989.

In 1994, I started working for Image Dynamics (a car audio manufacturer) as the marketing director. I wrote press release articles for different media outlets and all marketing material for the company. I also established team communication and PR as we were heavily involved in IASCA sound quality competitions. This was on top of all the graphics duties for the company. With my connections already established with the magazines, I used that to work more with the editors of the magazines and the use of our product. 

In 1996 I started TMRm’zine just as the import car scene was starting to take off and we were credited with putting the “lifestyle stamp” on the scene as we mixed genres that all applied to youth car culture at that time. I had the freedom to showcase what we saw as being a part of the “import car culture” scene and we dove into both the history and the far-reaching, as long as it supported the core of the “established scene” of the time. 

1997/8 – I was appointed to SEMA’s first Import Select Committee established by the late Don Taylor. I wrote some articles for the SEMA News Magazine about the emerging market. We debuted TMRm’zine on the SEMA Show floor in 1998 and I can not remember if it was that year or ‘99 that I conducted a summit meeting at the SEMA Show for dealers/shops to discuss marketing/media and how as a small shop to better their marketing efforts.

1998 – Side note: During my TMRm’zine time, we started co-producing DIRT PILOT Magazine, a magazine owned by Craig Tuner, son of Gary Tuner, the “GT” of GT Bicycles. We would shoot, write, and design the magazine. While you just read that I was a part of the import scene, I too was a part of the off-road scene. When I started TMRm’zine, I was driving a 1985 Toyota SR5 Pickup truck sporting wide front “pre-runner” fenders to cover the custom wide front end built by Jason of then BMP Motorsports. Jason is now one-half of Camburg Motorsports. Jason finished a botched job that another fab shop started and closed its doors mid-project! Once my rig was sorted, I made solo pilgrimages to the desert to see the veteran Ivan Stewart and a then young and WILD Robbie Gordon coming onto the desert race scene! I even visited Mexico alone to attend my first SCORE BAJA 1000 event.   

In 2000 – I started work at Primedia (Source Interlink > now TEN) as the editor of Car Audio & Electronics Magazine. With the word of my closing TMRm’zine the large publishing group contacted me as they held the titles Sport Compact Car and a few others. During my interview, I told them I would not work for the car titles, but I would work for the Car Audio and Electronics magazine title. I had too much pride in working for the other titles and knew I would not be happy working for an ultra-watered-down version of what I was just doing. But, I grew up reading Car Audio & Electronics as it was the top title in the category. I had previously paid money into the magazine as an advertiser while at Image Dynamics. Highlights of working at Car Audio are bringing back the ultra-in-depth technical product testing contrasted against meeting and writing & shooting the story for Wyclef Jean, Busta Rhymes, and more to be featured on the front covers. 

2001 – I can write enthusiastically to 8,000 words, not that 8,000 words were a prescribed number, it’s just the number of words I arrived at. This was not for publication, only for myself to document our trip “2001 WRC Rally Great Britain – Eight days in the UK.” Who would want this story? This was right after 9/11 and the tickets were $400 round trip for the two of us!

Around 2002 I got a phone call from Paul Pfanner of Racer Magazine inquiring about a person I knew at my office who was inquiring about a position at RACER. He asked if I would be willing to meet with him and discuss the said party.

A little backstory to interject here Pual Pfanner of RACER Magazine, my wife and I had met a few years earlier when we were still publishing TMRm’zine. That meeting came about due to Scott Gladstone (then president) of SPARCO USA as he had been giving issues of TMRm’zine to Paul of RACER! It was a nice meeting and very interesting to have been called by a “fellow independent publisher” already established.       

June of 2003 – RACER Magazine: I started working for RACER Magazine as the Associate Publisher, not the position that my work college was inquiring about previously. That same year August 31, 2003, both the import tuner and motorsport scenes were captivated by the D1 Grand Prix US Drift  Exhibition held at Irwindale Speedway. The event sent shockwaves through the media! Our office phone, in particular, was ringing off the hook all day as the Irwindale Speedway knew RACER Magazine very well but had little idea who these “drift” guys were.

All they knew was they just held their first-ever sold-out event that made the news due to the amount of traffic that required shutting down the freeway on/offramps adjacent to the track. Of course, we ran the first-ever “DRIFT” story in RACER Magazine!! Track operators around the country called our office, as RACER Magazine is who they know, asking about “Drifting.” This was my world! Jim and Ryan of Slipstream Media brought D1GP to the USA for this first event. I knew Jim and Ryan from the import show scene days. After Irwindale, Jim and Ryan would create Formula-D, and Racer Magazine had a relationship with the Long Beach Grand Prix Association. I would introduce Formula D to LBGP (along with Peter Stark) for their first demo and long relationship thus far. 

GravelCrew / GCRallyX: During my time at RACER Magazine, as well as TMRm’zine, I am rally racing with my team, the GravelCrew, campaigning at 2WD Ford Escort in the Western States Rally Championship Series. I am both pilot and PR for our team, writing the reports to sponsors after each event. There is a long laundry list of duties with all that, but the PR writing is what pertains to the “journalism” duties. Along with the GravelCrew, we form GCRallyX and conduct a series of rallycross events in southern California, fully sanctioned by the SCCA. I am the PR and marketing on all this as well.  

Racer Magazine, at that time, was also a part of the London-based Haymet Media Group; publishers of Autosport, Motorsport, and notably the WRC magazine. They also owned the Autosport tradeshow. We began discussing the start of a new title, a motorsport hybrid of TMRm’zine. But that program didn’t make it off the ground, but I will admit that the trips to the UK for the Autosport Show and to visit the Haymarket office will forever be burned into the memory bank!

Always with the side stories as memories are not “Memorexed” thus, I think it was during my TMRm’zine days while attending a track day, I noticed a couple of guys or mainly the sticker on their car, and notably the only sticker on their car. I asked them why they had that particular sticker on their car. They asked what I knew about the sticker. I told them I knew it to be the logo of the music label MOONSHINE Music. They grinned and introduced themselves. I never knew them previously but had reviewed many of their record releases in TMRm’zine as the music from their label was very relevant to the scene. Funny how passions are shared and paths are crossed! We stayed in touch and later I would work with them.    

December of 2004 – C16 Autostyle Magazine: I started working with the two brothers of the Moonshine Records under their parent company Overamerica Media Group as they also published some music and culture magazines. They wanted to be in the automotive space and I found them a title, not TMR as that had been closed. Still, my then-TMRm’zine “Florida Guy” Andy Williamson wanted to continue the “TMR spirit” and thus co-founded C16 Magazine with his then-employer Tucan Industries. After a good go at it, they were looking to sell the magazine and Overamerica Media was a willing buyer. My deal with the arrangement was that I would come on as the editor. The magazine was a flip-flop or dual-cover magazine and we changed it to a single front cover and the title to C16 Autostyle Magazine.

In January 2006 I made a complete career and industry change when I started working for HPI Racing as their marketing director. I met the HPI folks during my RACER magazine time during an introduction I made for them to the Paramax group which was putting together a significant motorsport event at California Speedway with JGTC cars from Japan. Upon starting at HPI Racing I started HPI’s first-ever Facebook presence. I took my print-media experience and the youth-culture experience from my TMRm’zine days and meld them into what we started doing at HPI. 

While at HPI I did a lot of writing, mainly PR and business reporting. Thus my editorial story-telling writing was more for my KTM 950ADV build thread on the forum or my Toyota Land Cruiser “ADV80” build thread on the forum. I used the forum participation as research into how myself and others were best using forums as “marketing tools.” When KTM parts started showing up on my doorstep without asking for them, I knew this was a serious tool!

For HPI, I created the media stunt of driving an HPI Baja 5B 5th scale radio-controlled dune buggy 120 miles through the desert, handling all the duties of obtaining sponsors, working with the media, and shooting the video. See HPI Baja 5B 120 Miles Through The Desert. I created the whole BLITZ pre-release marketing campaign and the hand-drawn texture for the Art Blitz. I developed the relationships between the R/C drift teams previously dominated by Tamiya and pushed HPI to the top of the pile. I used my relationships with Formula-D and Falken to create micro-atmospheres at different 1:1 events. We did a lot of work with Subaru back then as well. Essentially I would touch every product coming out in one way or another as it was my marketing duty to push the products through the market.  

With any of my passions, I would find a way to get into the mix! 2008 DUST MAGAZINE (motorcycle magazine) Article: Dual Sport In Moab. While working for HPI Racing, we sponsored the 2007 RC Rock Crawler Nationals held in Moab, Utah. Since we were going to MOAB for the first time, of course, we took our motorcycles as this is the easiest and quickest way to get around and see as much as possible with very limited time due to us working the R/C event! I took the photos from our moto trip and penned the story for the magazine. This trip is also where it all happened for me in what I wanted to do in R/C! That is another story I’ve been working on, yet to publish or share, but it’s basically how I got into the whole scale scene as this moment led up to what I would do with Axial. Life is truly a journey! 

In December 2010 I started working for Axial Racing. I hit my stride working here and made the brand my vision as best possible! I’ve written at least 60+ stories for the Axial Blog while maintaining all the marketing director duties. Scott Roberts is the last of the two original “Axial staffers” of which he and I worked together at HPI. He is the graphic designer dynamo and he and I worked on everything together!

Since the Horizon buy-out, we can no longer search our content by “creator” as our author names have been removed, but if you simply type in “Rodney Wills” into the Blog search window, a lot of my articles come up as I would attach my name to the body copy. Axial was to be my retirement yard after what I thought would be such at HPI. I tend to sink my teeth in hard to anything I do! While at Axial, I would cross paths with my desert race world of SCORE International and an old friend Jim Ryan who worked with me at Primedia. We reached a great sponsorship program with SCORE during our instruction of the Axial Trophy Truck. I shot all the video footage for the making of the “On the Loose in Baja – Axial AX90050 Yeti SCORE Trophy Truck” video. 

AXIALFEST was my baby! Starting at Axial, six months later in June would be the 2011 AWCC event I would be in charge of with my “still new” position at Axial. After that event, Jeff Johns was over it and ready to kill off the event. I asked him to let me run with it as after attending, I had ideas!!! I changed the name of the event and went to work! Pretty much everything you read, saw, or heard about AXAILFEST was my doing. I wrote rules, I wrote the blog posts, I wrote PR, and I wrote a ton of emails back and forth with all parties involved from the campground, the staff, the sponsors, the supporters, attendees, and the massive volunteer staff needed to make that event grow from the 67-attendees at the 2011AWCC to the 2,500+ attendee count at 2017 AXIALFEST.

For Axial I created and carried out the SCX10 expedition over the full-size Rubicon Trail to show JEEP corporate we truly could uphold their “Trail Rated” badge of honor. I wrote seven blogs in the Rubicon Trek category still on the Axial website – linked below. 

For my final gig at Axial, I put together the SCX10 over Redonda Ridge docu and blog series. Same for the SCX10 Rubicon Trek. 

2019 – Just this past year, (2019) I, quickly took over the social media for the Rolex 24Hrs of Daytona. It was an “out of the blue” phone call from an old college Fran Richards of (previously of Transworld Media) asking if I could be interested in a weekend work gig. He knew my past and present, he just didn’t know if I would be willing to jump in so quickly.

It was days before and they needed help fast and I would need some help as well so I enlisted my buddy John Cary who worked with me at Axial. It was more than just helping the social team, it was, hopping on the plane, hitting the ground, and doing the whole job! I can’t make this story up, but these things happen somehow! I do not consider going to the Rolex24 or any motorsport event with the same type of feelings that most would. I’ve been to my fair share of motorsport events. I do love it, but differently and it has tasks and duties at hand. But I do know how to channel and communicate the enthusiast’s enthusiasm. I have rarely attended a motorsport event as just an enthusiast; to do so, I feel I should be working, doing something!

Also in 2019, we ran the social-digital media coverage of the Monterey Historics for Racer Magazine, as well as F1-Hollywood, also for Racer Magazine. 

Currently, I have been putting my efforts into my Yamaha TDUB Club writing blog articles and creating videos. This has been my creative outlet and to stay relevant and current with social media tools and practices within them. 

Describe your experience in the radio-controlled car and/or motorsports industry.

In the scene, I bought my first R/C from The Ranch Pit Shop owned by Gil Losi Jr. & and his family. I was introduced to them by a co-worker painting guitars for Gil’s brother, Allan Losi, the pro skateboarder. After work, every night for two weeks I built the RC10 kit! I found a local R/C track and hit up the track quite frequently after work. I did not race many races, I just ran a lot of practice heats and did that for quite a while. I never got serious about racing as I’ve had a long life of racing and had too many hobbies.  It’s like anything, if you want to get good, you have to spend some serious time practicing! But the R/C seed was planted for later in life. While at the magazines; TMRm’zine, RACER, and C16Autostyle, I would regularly sprinkle in R/C bits into the magazines as it’s a natural crossover. I think the answers to the above question cover most of this as well as my life seems to be a mixture of all this, a fruit salad of things on wheels. My last R/C gig was the SCX10-II Hike Over Redonda Ridge Trail Blog Series – link below.  


• 2000 Dirt Pilot Magazine

DIRT PILOT MAGAZINE Vol:1 / #6 2000 Rodney Wills

2001 WRC Rally Great Britain – Eight days in the UK:

Rodney Wills & Scott G of the Gravel Crew at WRC Rally Great Britain 2001
Rodney Wills & Scott G of the Gravel Crew at WRC Rally Great Britain 2001

Want to read my 2001 WRC GB trip story:

2000 – 2003 Car Audio Magazine Covers while I was editor (I shot the Wyclef Jean Cover).
Click the cover and see arrows to scroll through.


2003 GravelCrew Ford Escort ZX2 Rally Car @ 2003 WSRC Ramada Express International Rally

Rodney "GCRad1" Wills GravelCrew Ford Escort ZX2 Rally Car @ 2003 WSRC Ramada Express International Rally - THE GRAVEL CREW REPORT

• CHAMP CAR MEETS THE TUNER MARKET’S LEADING MEDIA EDITORS AT THE 2004 Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver – Myself and Peter Stark organize this whole program:

CHAMP CAR MEETS THE TUNER MARKET'S LEADING MEDIA EDITORS AT THE 2004 Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver - Rodney Wills

These editors, even with a 27% crossover readership represented some 4 million in readership!

2005 GCRallyX Events produced by The GravelCrew were well attended!

GCRallyX 2005 Tombstone Round-8 Ken Gushi

Pure grassroots marketing with direct enthusiast tie-ins made for some spectacular Saturday nights!

2007 HPI Baja 5B – 120 Miles Through The Desert

Picture 1455

2008 Dust Magazine – Dual Sport in Moab:

Dust Magazine cover 2008 Rodney Wills

2008 Dust Magazine – Barstow Tow Vegas:

DUST MAGAZINE B2V Barstow To Vegas by Rodney Wills

2010 -2018 Writing for Axial Racing Blog (As I am no longer working there my name has been removed from many of the blog posts and /or posts removed.)



ScottG, Rodney Wills, Brian Parker, Brad Dumont - AXIAL SCX10 RUBICON TREK 2012
ScottG, Rodney Wills, Brian Parker, Brad Dumont – AXIAL SCX10 RUBICON TREK 2012 All of the blog posts for this trek:

2017 AXIAL SCX10 II Hike Over Redonda Ridge Trail


Forum Thread: KTM 950ADV – where I learned it all!

Rodney Wills aka: GCRad1 with an HPI BAJA 5B and his KTM 950ADV – GravelCrew GCRad1 – My KTM950ADV story + upgrades

ADV80 thread on


• June 2021 to present – RED LINE LAND CRUISERS

What does Cookie Monster and a 79-Series “Chop Top” Land Cruiser have to do with a bunch Rebels with Guns? Do you even Paco Pomet Much?
What do Cookie Monster and a 79-Series “Chop Top” Land Cruiser have to do with a bunch of Rebels with Guns? Do you even Paco Pomet Much?

LinkedIn – Rodney Wills Work Experience

2020+ Yamaha TDUB CLUB

Yamaha TDUB Club Logo

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