Starting out as a publicist, he founded Hot Rod magazine in 1948 while trying to promote the custom-designed car show at the Los Angeles Armory. The following year, he launched Motor Trend for automobile enthusiasts. A dozen of other specialty consumer magazines followed, including Guns & Ammo, Sport, Motorcyclist, Hunting, Mountain Biker, Photographic, Teen and Sassy. Petersen was survived by his wife. A funeral was planned for Thursday at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City. Robert E. Petersen, the publishing magnate whose Hot Rod and Motor Trend magazines helped shape America’s car culture and who gave millions to a museum dedicated to his passion, has died. He was 80. Petersen died Friday of complications from neuroendocrine cancer at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, said Dick Messer, director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. “Mr. Petersen helped create and feed the American obsession with the automobile, delivering gasoline-powered dreams to the mailboxes of millions,” Messer said. The son of an auto mechanic, Petersen came of age in Southern California as the region and its cultural innovations – be it drag racing, drive-through restaurants or freeways – developed out of the car.