(aka Bob Waar) 1937-2009 – Author and motor journalist John Thawley died
last month of complications from pneumonia. He was 71.
John was inducted in The Dry Lakes Hall of Fame 2008.
How to Hot Rod Small Block Chevys, How to Hot Rod Big Block Chevys,
the Off Road Handbook and the cult classic How to Modify Datsun
510/610/240Z Engines & Chassis were all written under Thawley’s
pen-name, Bob Waar. Those and the books that followed under his own name
totaled some twenty titles over his career. John raced in Baja and
Bonneville. He worked at Indy, Irwindale, Daytona, Pikes Peak and Riverside.
He served time on the payrolls of Buick, Chevrolet, Nissan, Toyota and
numerous performance industry manufacturers.
Thawley began his
career as a reporter and evening news anchor at KTBC-TV in Austin Texas. He
later won a CBS fellowship to Columbia University school of journalism.
Following his return to Austin, John covered the University of Texas tower
shooting and was honored for rescuing several wounded from the line of
In 1966 he joined the
staff of HOT ROD Magazine and began a lifetime in automotive journalism. The
Bob Waar moniker on his early books was used to sidestep the issue of
writing for other publishers while still under the employment of Petersen
Publishing. Friend and colleague Tex Smith once ribbed him about his Texas
drawl and strange hobby of collecting barbed wire... Bob Waar was the
technical nuance combined with Thawley’s plain-spoken Texas voice
demystified complexities of engine & car building to a generation of hot
rodders. John was one of the good guys and he will be missed. He is survived
by his brother, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
A memorial service
will be held at the NRHA Motorsports Museum, Thursday August 27th at 2pm.
All are welcome. In
lieu of flowers, the family asks that you buy a car magazine or something
trick for your car.
NHRA Motorsports Museum