Of all the people I worked with during 35 years at motorcycle publications, no one ever held a candle to Jeff Karr. Smart, thoughtful, analytical, an exceptional rider and writer, wonderful company and unrelentingly funny, he, as much as anything else, was responsible for Motorcyclist’s staff having fun as well as being successful. So it was a real blow when, in ’88, he was lured to our “sister” car magazine, Motor Trend. No one missed him more after his shift to “the dark side” than me. Fortunately, he continues to pen Motorcyclist’s “Last Page.”
The magazine continued to prosper, however, while some of our formerly more successful competitors withered and folded. By the ’90s, we could comfortably claim to be the biggest streetbike magazine in the world.
When you're having that much fun, it's tempting to forget that motorcycling can be dangerous. Don’t! One day, new editorial staffer Will Higgs became a statistic. Having a friend and colleague die doing something you love is crushing, and it kind of took my heart out of the job. Add the pressure to spend more time on management and less time riding and writing, and it was time for a change. Fortunately, when I stepped down to Senior Editor I got to hire my own boss in Mitch Boehm.
I could turn over the reins with no apologies. Motorcyclist was now the second-largest U.S. motorcycle magazine, and we’d put more than $6 million in Mr. Petersen’s pockets in my 14th year, and last as editor. Add in another $4 million from spin-off Dirt Rider and we’d answered Fred Waingrow’s question about why the magazine existed.
I remained on the Motorcyclist staff full-time for a couple more years, until I moved over to run our next spin-off, Motorcycle Cruiser. After 28 years with Motorcyclist and its sister publications, I retired in ’06.
It was a fun ride.
You can reach Art Friedman at artofthe email@example.com. Today he lives, rides and flies out of Santa Paula Airport.