Stroker McGurk is the Go-Karting character that Medley created for Hot Rod magazine. The happy and slightly mischievous hot-rodder first appeared in the third edition of Hot Rod back in 1948. Medley went on to stay with the same publishing company for 37 years, creating a wealth of characters and cartoon strips – but McGurk was an enduring favourite with both Medley and his fans. In fact some people say Stroker McGurk is Tom Medley. Talking about his creation in the Best of Hot Rod book published in 1981, keen hot-rodder Medley described his inspiration:
“The idea was to create a character who would become the reader's friend, one they could relate to through his trials and tribulations of just being a hot-rodder.”
Tom’s son Gary Medley suggests that many of his father’s eccentric scribbles went on to inspire a number of real-life innovations:
“Stroker's - or Medley's - inspired genius came up with a host of crazy ideas that appeared impractical at first, but were later adopted by everyday car builders and racers. Multi-engine dragsters, wheelie bars, and drag chutes all sprung from Stroker's fertile mind before they were embraced in the real world.”
And it wasn’t just the hot rodders that liked Stroker! The original vintage Go-Kart t-shirt design was frequently worn by Ron Asheton and Iggy Pop from the Stooges. According to the Stooges fan forum it was Ron’s shirt and Iggy borrowed it! Let’s hope the sweaty self-harmer washed it before he gave it back! Ron really loved that shirt – or maybe he had more than one? He was snapped wearing it at the recording of both ‘The Stooges’ (1969) and ‘Funhouse’ (1970) albums (he’s also wearing it on the inside cover of the Funhouse gatefold LP). According to one source was still pictured wearing it after the Stooges split and he formed American protopunk rockers, The New Order in 1974.
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