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'Motor Sport' magazine


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#151 smarjoram

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Posted 20 September 2004 - 09:14

Having read some of it now I have to admit the articles are still as enjoyable as they always were - if you can ignore the stencils and sidebars. BUT - I agree totally with what the others have said about the layout of the photos - it is diabolical! Ehem, having recently had some of my own photos published last month (he said modestly) I'd be mightily cheesed off if I saw them jammed up against four or 5 others, all higgledy piggledy. The edges become poorly defined and what might have been perfectly decent images just look like a pile of holiday snaps. This is one area where they really could learn something from Octane - who's photography and layout is excellent (it's just a pity about the rest of it).

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#152 Paul Taylor

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Posted 21 September 2004 - 20:05

I saw Motor Sport magazine in a newsagents today. And I don't think it was the style that turned me off, but more what I saw when I opened it up and flicked through.

This is the first month ever that I've said, "Sorry I don't want it :confused: ". I'm quite pissed off about it really, because I wanted to continue the collection, but I'd rather spend the massively over-expensive £4.25 or whatever on something that I'll enjoy. It just seems very shitty this month. So, I left it on the shelf.

Sorry for the language, but this is not one happy customer... ):

As someone else said, opening the cover and being greeted by a scruffy-haired man who looks about 25 years old does not give a good impression. It just makes you think "Really, how much does this guy know about racing? :confused: : "

I'm all up for getting the TNF together and creating and publishing our own magazine. Bringing certain people into some kind of non-public, 'hidden' forum to plan each issue, would be cool, and anyone who feels they have an article to contribute can therefore be invited into the forum to type out the article and edit it etc. just until the plan for the next month's issue is started. You could limit it to a certain number of articles per issue so only a certain number of people are 'members' of that forum at any one time. Then the money earned from the selling of the magazine each month can go to each of the contributers :p It might as well be at a decent price; not expensive, and be something that anoraks and new-fans can enjoy alike. Finally, like all magazines, you need a sort of 'manager' and other people who can decided whether an article is good enough to be submitted or not and then assign 'regulars' who will be able to write one article every month, and have their own little section...it just goes on!

Sorry, I'm a bit of a dreamer :lol:

#153 Lec CRP1

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Posted 21 September 2004 - 23:49

For some oblique commentary on the issues raised in this thread, go here .







>>>please please please be able to take a joke.....<<<

#154 Gary Davies

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 00:29

The last of the Greentops kerphlumped onto my driveway in The Adelaide Hills yesterday and since no-one (not even Haymarket's website) appears game to post an image of Motor Sport's apparently Gorgon-esque new appearance, the level of frustration in my antipodean idyll is rising.

This frustration could perhaps be mightily diminished if any of my fellow TNFers with 'connections' (DCN, Twinny??) could confirm whether Haymarket's management (sic) are aware of this thread and, ideally, give us evidence that they swallowed hard and looked embarrassed.

Yours, devilishly, etc ... :smoking:

#155 RTH

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 08:11

Originally posted by Vanwall


This frustration could perhaps be mightily diminished if any of my fellow TNFers with 'connections' (DCN, Twinny??) could confirm whether Haymarket's management (sic) are aware of this thread and, ideally, give us evidence that they swallowed hard and looked embarrassed.


Oh well I can tell you that , I exchanged half a dozen e-mails with Paul Fearnley a month ago when they telegraphed the changes in the final green issue, he told me he was an avid daily reader of TNF and loved it. So you can be sure he has read every word on the subject here.

I think people here have raised concern because Motor Sport has been an old friend for many (36 for me ) years and none of us want to be critical we just want the magazine to get better - not worse. If you look at the 80th aniversary issue thread a few months ago TNF was full of praise for that , the 6 videos given away with earlier issues were just wonderful and mitigated the high cover price. So I see what has been said as constructive customer feedback, and how it is received as such.

#156 Don Capps

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Posted 25 September 2004 - 20:01

My copy finally arrived in the mailbox this afternoon.....

The adverts certainly seem more noticeable....

Alas, not my idea of a desert island magazine....

Overall impression of the revamping is that it is disappointing.... sorry, Paul.

PS: Paul, whatever were you thinking in your picture selection of yourself?

#157 petefenelon

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Posted 25 September 2004 - 20:34

I'm actually far less disappointed by the revamp than I thought I would be. In fact this month's issue was at least as good as most of the post-97 ones. The layout is messier, and that stencil typeface is a horror. And it was just cruel having the fold-out green cover....

Yes, that "top 50 partnerships" was too short to be interesting - had it been 10 with half a page each, maybe that article would've worked.

Although I'd prefer Motor Sport to be green, it's still essentially the same magazine it's been for the last seven years once you look through the "new look" and the division into three sections. If anything, there seems to be more WB than of late, for the real MS purists.

I was very afraid of this revamp. Sure, it's changed things around, but the core values of post-97 Motor Sport have been preserved pretty well and I shall definitely continue with the magazine.

#158 Paul Taylor

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Posted 25 September 2004 - 21:15

Originally posted by Don Capps
PS: Paul, whatever were you thinking in your picture selection of yourself?


Pardon?

EDIT - Ignore this, hehehe... :blush:

#159 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 25 September 2004 - 23:04

Mine still hasn't arrived. The US distributor is pretty unreliable, but maybe now they're just too embarrassed to ship it.....

Jack.

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#160 Rediscoveryx

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Posted 26 September 2004 - 10:51

I got it a couple of days ago. Personally, I don't like the cover at all, but the magazine itself is largely unchanged. I'll still buy it.

#161 Alan Cox

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Posted 26 September 2004 - 17:26

It is clearly designed to cater for those of today's world whose attention-span is measured in microseconds as a result of being fed too many E-numbers when growing up. The magazine looks dreadfully scrappy and comprises, in the main, a load of "soundbites". What a terrible shame.

#162 bira

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 10:34

Mike Lawrence sends this (I am going to have to teach him how to post independently! :)) :

I was Deputy Editor of Motor Sport in the mid-1980s. Wesley J. Tee, the publisher and one of the nastiest human beings imaginable, told me that my job was to shake the bough so that Bill Boddy and Jenks would drop off.

This was madness and the first person I told was Jenks.

Jenks and I used to meet at the Little Chef diner at Milford on a Sunday to try to sort out the magazine. Motor Sport was a monthly carrying reports of races six weeks we had watched the race on television. The problem was Wesley J. Tee.

When he bought a new car the local Mercedes-Benz dealer used to lay in spare body panels in the certain knowledge they would soon be needed.

If you have ever heard a scurrilous story about Wesley J., in all likelihood it is true, down to the last, improbable, detail

There were at least three attempts to buy the title, which was bleeding readers, during my thirty months as Editor. This is not a mistake, we saw Bill Boddy half a day a month so when anything went wrong I was the Editor.

Old Man Tee used to invite the overtures from potential buyers simply so he could play games with them.

We had a total waste of space as our rally correspondent who was paid far more than Bill or Jenks, who was actually a freelance contributor, he was clear on that point. The Rally Editor was Jerry Phillips and he was known as 'Mr. Back Hand' and not for his prowess at tennis. He never actually covered rallies, he concocted his reports from our sister weekly, Motoring News. Mike Greasely sometimes added fictions to his reports which Jerry used to copy. Jerry was paid an amazing amount, many times more than Boddy, to produce four insipid pages a month. He was a former policeman and we reckoned he must have had the tapes and negatives.

I thought the original Haymarkert revamp was the best thing that could have happened to Motor Sport My sources tell me that circulation had reached a desperate level and the figures were being cooked.

Recent editors, Andrew Frankel and Paul Fearnley. have been able to pay for some really good articles. My budget for freelance pieces was nothing. Zilch. Zero. Zippo.

By the way, the old system of putting only one's initials at the end of an item was nothing to do with modesty, it was so that Wesley J. knew who to blame. There had been a time when all copy was anonymous.

The trick was how to get your name into the mag. Bill's favourite was "The prizes were awarded by Mrs. Winifred Boddy, wife of the Editor of Motor Sport."

I do not think that the overall look of what we called The Green 'Un has improved with the latest revamp. Too many pages look far too busy, but there is some excellent core content.

The trouble is that large publishing companies place their products in the hands of designers straight from Art College (they are cheap) and many of these people do not actually read very much. Let's go further, they are not actually that bright or very good at what they do.

It is no good employing the very best writers unless you also have page designers who understand that their job is to support the writer and to assist the reader.

Believe it or not, readership of Motor Sport was once passed on from father to son. Boddy and Jenks made it a loose-knit club which is why its monthly circulation reached 192,000 copies (November 1968, I think.)

Their great trick was never to patronise the reader. I fear that essential element has been lost.


#163 Roger Clark

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 11:20

Originally posted by bira
Mike Lawrence sends this (I am going to have to teach him how to post independently! :)) :


Yes please!

I think Mike Lawrence hasn't been given enough credit here for his period in charge of MOTOR SPORT. I particularly enjoyed the historic articles with his name at the bottom; a model of what the magazine should be providing now.

#164 Twin Window

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 11:27

Originally posted by bira

Wesley J. Tee, the publisher and one of the nastiest human beings imaginable...

Clearly a family trait.

#165 Gary Davies

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 11:43

Bribe, persuade, encourage, threaten ... whatever it takes. Mike has to join TNF (and Atlas!!). To say he is a national treasure tells but half the story.

#166 Ian Stewart

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 13:56

If Mike Lawrence could be persuaded to enter the lions' den ;) how wonderful it would be to read some anecdotal hilarity on the subject of Wesley J. Tee.

I have the impression we all need cheering up more than somewhat these days, so come on Mike!

#167 Kpy

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 23:08

Originally posted by Roger Clark


Yes please!

I think Mike Lawrence hasn't been given enough credit here for his period in charge of MOTOR SPORT. I particularly enjoyed the historic articles with his name at the bottom; a model of what the magazine should be providing now.


Well said Roger!! You never know - maybe one day we'll read articles like those again.
If Mike should read this - please could he give us the benefit of his input. I well remember (and he well may not) a Williams test day at Silverstone on a cold spring day with Keke Rosberg, when Mike regaled us over lunch with stories which concerned a certain second-hand motor cycle dealer in south London with an unhealthy interest in ........... well I can't continue.
Vivement l'arrivage de Mike!

#168 Kpy

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 23:12

Originally posted by Twin Window
Clearly a family trait.


Crickey - were the others like Old Man Tee, boy??

#169 Twin Window

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 23:47

Originally posted by Kpy

Crickey - were the others like Old Man Tee, boy??

Were? There are some still at large...

#170 David Birchall

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 01:36

[QUOTE]Originally posted by bira
[B]Mike Lawrence sends this (I am going to have to teach him how to post independently! :)) :

Jenks and I used to meet at the Little Chef diner at Milford on a Sunday to try to sort out the magazine. Motor Sport was a monthly carrying reports of races six weeks we had watched the race on television. The problem was Wesley J. Tee.

Ha! I used to work at the Chevron service station next to that Little Chef in the sixties and would eat in there most days. If I had known then that MotorSport would be planned in there at one point I would have died laughing! I was too busy mowing the grass out front and trying to set the best possible lap time with the (push) mower!

MotorSport was still very good in the eighties, to hear "they" wanted to get rid of DSJ and WB makes me angry and sad. It is what DSJ and WB contributed that made the magazine so special.
But no sign of it around here yet so I can't comment on the latest version.

#171 RTH

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 10:12

I think the most staggering statistic from Mike Lawrence is that in Nov 1968 the circulation was 192,000 and now it is 30,000

That is such a catastrophic decline in readership that surely must tell them that they are doing something very wrong.

At £4.30 a copy its probably the most expensive motoring magazine of its kind by a very big margin and price rises kill sales and its all too possible in any comodity to price yourself out of business.

For many reasons stated above by other people I also think the current issue is unacceptably poor.

If they want it to survive I should think they need to drastically cut their own costs, ,then a BIG reduction in the cover price , and above all a clean , clear, legible , attractive layout that is reader friendly...........otherwise well... ..can you see it lasting ?

#172 petefenelon

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 12:13

Originally posted by RTH
I think the most staggering statistic from Mike Lawrence is that in Nov 1968 the circulation was 192,000 and now it is 30,000

That is such a catastrophic decline in readership that surely must tell them that they are doing something very wrong.

At £4.30 a copy its probably the most expensive motoring magazine of its kind by a very big margin and price rises kill sales and its all too possible in any comodity to price yourself out of business.

For many reasons stated above by other people I also think the current issue is unacceptably poor.

If they want it to survive I should think they need to drastically cut their own costs, ,then a BIG reduction in the cover price , and above all a clean , clear, legible , attractive layout that is reader friendly...........otherwise well... ..can you see it lasting ?


You're missing several factors out here:

(1) Television - how much motor sport was there on TV in '68?

These days, even those of us who don't have one of Mr Murdoch's boxes have the choice of lot of motorsport -- F1, BTCC, British F3/GT, WRC, IRL, even Nascar Busch.

Then if you've got a Sky box with Motors TV you get the complete BTCC support package, CART/OWRS, ALMS..... basically, you can spend far too much time watching motorsport!

(2) The Internet - it's hit magazine sales hard.

(3) The All-Consuming Beast That Is Bernie-Era F1

Fans of this are not (necessarily) fans of proper motor sport, and prefer their comics not to feature other characters. Hence the rise of glossy crud like F1 Racing or the Official Bernie F1 Magazine, and the gradual relegation of anything other than F1 tittle-tattle from Autosport.


Actually there's a third factor and it's the depths to which Motor Sport had slumped before its relaunch as a historic magazine in 97 - the last few years of its incarnation as a "contemporary" magazine were embarrassing. Post-Jenks it had lost its way, badly. It would be interesting to see the shape of the sales graph for the Green'un - was it a steady slump from '68 as its readers got older, or did it "jump the shark" at some point?

#173 RTH

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 16:19

Oh, I quite agree with all that Pete,

I would very much like to see a sales graph, of Motor Sport , Autosport, and Motoring News over the last 40 years, I think it might be quite revealing.

Motor Sport readership is down by 85% - that is so enormous,

- Clearly just prior to the major changes in '97 it was deadly dull, the then revamp good though it was , - was accompanied by a large hike in the cover price, and I know talking to friends there is a price level above which many people just will not pay for a magazine - however good it is, - Motor Sport passed this a long time ago , so I believe has Autosport.

I would also like to see a graph of viewers for the Grand Prix over the last 27 years in the UK. This appears not to be available to anyone and vague statements that each Grand Prix is watched by three times the world population is clearly knowingly false.

Also statements that 1.3 Billion Chinese would watch the F1 coverage and hence all buy the cigarettes advertised, when 2/3rds of them have no access to a television at all is equally obviously untrue. It does make you wonder if advertisers know what they are doing.

My impression is post Oct 2004 - just will not do.

#174 Alan Cox

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 16:54

Is current circulation as high as 30,000?

#175 petefenelon

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 17:01

Originally posted by RTH
Oh, I quite agree with all that Pete,

- Clearly just prior to the major changes in '97 it was deadly dull, the then revamp good though it was , - was accompanied by a large hike in the cover price, and I know talking to friends there is a price level above which many people just will not pay for a magazine - however good it is, - Motor Sport passed this a long time ago , so I believe has Autosport.


In my experience, people don't stop reading a magazine unless something (in their life or in the magazine!) changes. There have been several points at which it's been easy to "leave" MS recently - the departure of Jenks, the end of proper F1 race reports, the revamp as an historic mag, the red-top relaunch. None of them have been bad enough to cause me to jack the habit of nearly 30 years in -- although I admit that I came very, very close to abandoning the magazine in 95-6. (I wonder just how low the figures were then and if they're higher now? Dr Lawrence implies that the title was on very rocky ground...)

Anyway, terrible design or no terrible design, there is still decent content in Motor Sport and I'll support it as long as they continue to make an effort...

As an aside, I think Autosport-the-brand has a much brighter future than Autosport-the-magazine - as a website, the show, the Young Driver award, etc. (It doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to place the red-top Motor Sport as "Historic Autosport", does it?) I'd be fascinated to see what "churn" has happened over the last few months though - I've given up the paper mag for the website, and I know a lot of people gave up with the "100 greatest crashes" supplement.

#176 Twin Window

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 17:06

Originally posted by petefenelon

I wonder just how low the figures were then and if they're higher now? Dr Lawrence implies that the title was on very rocky ground...

IMMSMC, circa 12-15,000 and quite possibly less. They did dip to 8-9,000 on one or two issues pre-takeover I seem to remember...

#177 Keir

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 17:21

Until someone posts a pic of the new cover and some of the heinous innards, no more replies should be sent.

I haven't seen the new rag and still don't know what all the fuss is about!!

#178 petefenelon

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 17:26

Originally posted by Twin Window
IMMSMC, circa 12-15,000 and quite possibly less. They did dip to 8-9,000 on one or two issues pre-takeover I seem to remember...


Ouch. It would've been a mercy killing at that point!

#179 RTH

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 17:32

Originally posted by Keir
Until someone posts a pic of the new cover and some of the heinous innards, no more replies should be sent.

I haven't seen the new rag and still don't know what all the fuss is about!!


I'd love to but I think we are all now presuming we are not allowed to do that.

I took the current circulation figure of 30,000 off the 'Audit Bureau of circulation ' website its the independently audited average sales figure over the last six months - the full breakdown is in an earlier Motor Sport thread from a few weeks ago.

This is certainly the closest I have ever been to just letting the subscription run out after 36 years. Likewise Autosport.

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#180 bira

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 18:39

Originally posted by Alan Cox
Is current circulation as high as 30,000?


Motor Sport, like other Haymarket magazines, is audited by ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation).

Their last certificate states a circulation per issue of 30,123 - 21,562 in the UK and Ireland, and 8,561 in the rest of the world.

Of this, 16,723 are single copy sales and 12,953 are subscriptions.

You can find more details at http://www.abc.org.uk - if you enter Motor Sport in the search box, you can see their latest certificate, which covers the period of 01-Jul-2003 to 31-Dec-2003

#181 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 23:44

My issue finally arrived. My impressions: Editorial content is no better or worse than usual. The layout, organization, graphics and design are just awful. It looks more like my teenage scrap book of motor racing than a professionally produced magazine. Honestly, just thumbing through it is enough to give me a headache.

Really, gentlemen, this can't be the best you can do. Go back. Go back before it's too late.

Jack

#182 Ruairidh

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 01:03

My copy also arrived today.

I hate (and I mean loathe; dislike intensely; want to rip into shreds and burn) the front cover.

What mindless, talentless, horrible piece of work that cover is. I'd envisioned a modern version of the traditional cover only in red, but still with the classic lettering and presentation of the front picture. I could cope with that. Kind of like an Italian red Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato - it should be green but it is still an Aston just in a different color. I did not expect this motorway-service-station-sign for simpletons red and white horror.

But the rest, well here is my contrarian view: Is it as good as it could be? Hell no. Is that a shame, yes. But it is more enjoyable than any other car mag I get (and, as my wife reminds me, I get a lot). And I like the pictures. And I like Roebuck.



#183 smarjoram

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 08:37

Saw another shop that still had the old issues on the shelf - directly behind the new ones. They obviously didn't know it was the same magazine either.

#184 RTH

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 11:12

Originally posted by Ruairidh
My copy also arrived today.

I hate (and I mean loathe; dislike intensely; want to rip into shreds and burn) the front cover.

What mindless, talentless, horrible piece of work that cover is. I'd envisioned a modern version of the traditional cover only in red, but still with the classic lettering and presentation of the front picture. I could cope with that. Kind of like an Italian red Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato - it should be green but it is still an Aston just in a different color. I did not expect this motorway-service-station-sign for simpletons red and white horror.




Blimey and I thought my reation to it was over the top ! Can't help but fully agree with you though Ruairidh.

Its just not in the shops or on the bookshelves, - perhaps they want to keep it secret and keep the circulation low !





#185 Rob29

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 11:55

Perhaps the last 2 posts are linked,newsagents think it is a new magazine and don't want to stock it. After all why WOULD anyone change a logo familiar for 50 years?

#186 D-Type

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 12:27

I don't really have anything new to add to what has been said but here's my twopennyworth.

The cover does nothing for me. If the intention is to appear less 'retro' then it has succeeded. Whether in itself that will lead to more sales I don't know. If it brings in more sales well and good. But for myself, I wish they could have kept the green.

The content is if anything slightly better than recent editions. If you must have a 'Top fifty' or 'Top ten' as a peg to hang a feature on, then partnerships is a new slant. (It is infinitely preferable to 'Top 50 crashes'). I liked the inclusion of Ma and Pa Moss, and Page and Moy but was disappointed with the others. Some of the US partnerships were ones I am not familiar with and the treatment was so shallow that I was left none the wiser. I felt the Ford GT/ GT 40 lead article was gimmicky.

As a general comment, rather than relating to this month's issue, I feel that given the archive of articles and photographs they have available many of the articles appear shallow and under-researched. The serious, as opposed to lifestyle, articles in Octane are better.

I am not interested in the results ofpresent day 'Historic' racing as they bear no resemblance to the results in period as they reflect the skills of the modern drivers and the re-creators and developers of the cars. ERA's with carbon fibre and titanium components in their oversize engines for example. What I do like is photos of the cars in action but I want them fully captioned not 'Duncan Dayton leads an interesting field ...' but all the cars identified.

The layout of the articles is something else. It looks as if each member of a class of layout and design students has been given the brief to 'Produce something creative and different'. Any one layout would be very good for a feature on, say, Schumacher's underwear but none is appropriate to a historical article. It is difficult to do but the layout of an article on an earlier period should reflect that period's fashions. Reflect, not reproduce or replicate. In this area I feel that the desire to update and be different has been overdone to the extent that they have totally missed it.

At Goodwood I purchased a copy of the June 1958 Motor Sport as that's the first I ever bought. Although it was a fascinating period piece, I have to admit that it was neither as good or as comprehensive as I remembered. I honestly don't know whether I would buy one today.

But what is the alternative? Currently Octane does not come up to the mark. All the Classic Car type of magazine have too much MGB and Austin Healey for me. What I would really like is something like either of the Graham Gauld edited magazines of about ten years ago, I think they were called Historic Race and Rally and then Historic Racing. They all contained a good mix of articles on cars, drivers and races and I always felt I had learned something new. As some of the regular writers contribute regularly to TNF, I mustn't be too fulsome in my praise.

The issues regarding magazines covering contemporary racing - Autosport, Motorsport News, F1 Racing, etc are different from those concerning Motor Sport and I won't go into them here.

#187 Macca

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 13:11

I totally agree with everything you've said, Duncan, it sums up what I've been struggling to put into words.

Apropos the GT/GT40 article and some of the US partnerships; it does seem to me that for a couple of years they've been trying hard to be 'mid-Atlantic'.............the usual result of that is a dull splash followed by sinking.



Paul M

#188 Don Capps

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 13:27

This morning I found myself suddenly with unexpected time on my hands and so while twiddling my thumbs I re-read the October 2004 issue of Motor Sport as well those from the Octobers of 1974, 1984, and 1994. They have been in my briefcase for several days for exactly this purpose.

The Gordon Kirby story on P.L. Newman was typical Kirby -- a compliment. He is among those in that all too rapidly vanishing breed of literate and consistently interesting motor racing scribes. It was probably the best thing in the issue. The beating my senses took as I paged through the magazine was similar to what others have described -- it was such a hodge-podge mixture of styles and so haphazardly done as to be seen as an attempt to torpedo the magazine. Others have pretty much covered many of the points I could make, so I won't add much except to say that I sense that somewere in that mass of shit dumped between the covers there lurks a magazine that could be worth a hoot.

Let us not mince words -- the only reasons any sane person picked up, read, and purchased Motor Sport was DSJ, WB, and the odd morsel that showed up from other sources. I have heard tales similar to that which Mike Lawrence related about the Tees. I was not really surprised to hear that Old Man Tees wanted ML to dump WB and DSJ. One is only surprised that it took so long for DSJ to finally move on.

When I looked at the four cover styles, I was not surprised to realize that the one I liked the best was the one from 1974. The 1984 style is not bad, but now has that embarrassing subtitle -- "The Magazine that gave its name fo the Sport". Even 1994 was too bad, but now the cover photo covered the page.

I never realized that anyone actually would take the time to read the rally reports. I never did.

There is a great deal of commonality in the muddled layouts and incoherent jumble between the covers of the 1994 and the 2004 issues. The 1994 issue is really a mess in many ways, but a true gem sitting there, its retrospective article with Phil Hill.

While the 1974 and 1984 issues are scarcely what could be called templates for successful magazine design, DSJ and WB consistently bring something that often crackles to the page. Most of the other articles are eminently forgetable. They were always a bewildering mish-mash of material, a potpourri of whatever seemd to fit and/or interested someone that month.

While criticizing Paul and his staff for the current iteration of Motor Sport is about as easy as using consussion grenades to fish in a barrel, I wonder whether there really is a future for the magazine. I really don't know. I hate to say it, but it is not at all beyond the pale to think that a magazine which embraced the best aspects of the vision we have about MS and other similar magazines -- excellent writing, thoughtful analysis, and good visuals, would not survive alongside the current MS. I don't think thare is much of an audience out there for such a magazine.

#189 ian senior

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 14:04

It's a gloomy prognosis in your last sentences, Don, but I have to say that I think you are right. I reckon that the market for the kind of journalism you describe ( and which I would love to see) is at best static, and is more likely to dwindle away as years go on.

You can't really blame Haymarket for trying to gee things up a little. After all, if they don't keep the existing sales up, or even increase them, the magazine is ultimately doomed. But it's a difficult thing to manage. You need attract new readers but at the same time not turn off existing ones. They don't seem to have managed this yet, but it's early days. Keep your metaphorical fingers crossed.

Given that motor racing today is more popular world wide than it ever has been, there is (in theory at least) a massive market out there, ready for the taking. But is historic motor sport such a minority interest that any attempt to produce an erudite and well constructed magazine is bound to end in failure? I think that at present is probably is. Soundbites and quick fixes are all that count. Decent research costs time and money; the bean counters don't like that kind of thing.

Ultimately, and trying to cast a rosy glow over things, it may get better. If we are agreed that there is an increasing interest in motor sport, those who are currently on the periphery and have only a casual interest may want to find out more about how it all started, who were the key figures, name what you will. Then there may actually be more of a demand for a magazine (or even more than one) that will cover the kind of stuff that currently fascinates us on here. My fear is that, as we are currently seeing, it will be superficial in both content and presentation.

#190 Don Capps

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 16:14

Let us be honest, society as a whole is drifting more and more towards a different sort of literacy, one more akin to the needs for information acquisition from infernal devices such as these machines we stare at than that which suits acquiring information (and occasionally even knowledge) from the printed page.

Note how well the current Motor Sport replicates "screen literacy" on its its pages.

While RCR can fill a niche in the world that is difficult to fill in the traditional paper-based world at any speed above that of a snail, on-line magazines -- and their paper clones -- simply fall short of the mark when it comes to being what I would deem "literate".

I guess it is really irrelevant if Motor Sport had a red banner or one that is shocking-lime-puke-green since those who would once been its traditional customer base have long sense departed -- both literally and figuratively. To cater to an audience that cannot be more than a handful and who do not subsidize the magazine with generous under the table support (think of Vintage Motorsport and even Vintage Racear Journal & Market Report), Paul has got to do what Paul has got to do.

Not that I like it one damn bit, but such is life.

#191 Jack-the-Lad

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 16:23

Perhaps the magazine could be better produced and have some financial viability if it went to bi-monthly or even quarterly publication. After all, the editorial content really isn't perishable and I for one would certainly give up some frequency for a better overall product and experience.

That wouldn't help the used car dealer advertisers too much and they would need to be replaced by other advertisers, one would think.

What say those of you with professional publishing experience?

Jack

#192 oldtimer

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 18:21

Out of interest, does Haymarket have access to the Teesdale issues of Motor Sport? On the few occasions when I bought a post-DSJ copy, I was sometimes left wondering why the author of a retro piece had not referred to an original report for something more than the 'Ooh wow' perspective?

#193 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 18:33

As an aviation fan as well as a motor sport fan, I have always been surprised that the writing on historic motor sport sems to fall way behind that in the aviation world. Surely there could be some inspiration from aviation magazines.

In the UK we have three "historic" themed magazines. The market leader is "Flypast" which has been running since about 1980. The main alternative to "Flypast" is "Aeroplane Monthly" which has been going since 1973. Both magazines are excellent with reports on the current historic scene and lots of articles by former aircrew and groundcrew. The quality of both mags is top notch with very readable and informative articles. These two publications are monthly.

The third magazine is called "Aircraft Enthusiast" and is quarterly. It takes a more in-depth look at sometimes very obscure historical areas - such as Equadorian F4U Corsairs, or Thai F6F Bearcats.

All the above mags are extremely readable and produced by people who seem to care about the quality of what they publish.

In addition to the above there are a number of aircraft modelling mags which, although biased towards modellers (naturally) and modelling techniques, also contain very interesting research material - including colour scheme drawings (nearly all in colour these days too). The three magazines that stand out are "Scale Aircraft Modelling", "Scale Aviation Modelling" and "Model Aircraft Monthly".

I am really surprised that the motor sport publishing world does not seem to be able to produce and support even ONE magazine that can match the calibre and accuracy of these aviation titles. Is it because there are more "anoraks" (people who care about accuracy) involved in aviation compared to motor sport? Or are the people behind the magazines (the owners as well as the contributing writers) genuine enthusiasts for the subject matter - and not just slaves to shareholders' power?

#194 Don Capps

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 18:44

My initial notion was to write, "You make the great leap of faith that they actually understand how to conduct research and the utilization of archival materials," but upon reflection it does seem interesting that anything from or apparently using the archives are so rarely used that it makes one wonder.....

While on that thought, Paul and Motor Sport could mine the archives and make half the magazine material from the archives with the other half being associated stories, updates, and analysis/commentary on that from the archives.

Ooops, sorry, I don't know what I was thinking, that might actually might make things worse since it is such a contrarian notion to the few words flashy graphics culture.....

Then again, perhaps Motor Sport might benefit by being as much of a throwback as possible. It certainly has not a thing to lose. I think it will be either dead or incorporated into another glossy within a year or perhaps two to three at the latest.


Eric has a point. While I have generally let most of my aircraft magazines lapse for simple lack of time, the aircraft industry history folks as a whole blow the car guys right out of the water. I still get a few and they are superb, far superior to anything automotive -- much better in every respect. It makes one ponder....

#195 D-Type

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Posted 30 September 2004 - 23:14

Today I received a PM from a TNF lurker who pointed out that it was Clive Richardson who edited Historic Race & Rally and Graham Gauld who edited Historic Racing .

Both were excellent magazines with in depth articles from many authors including Doug Nye, David McKinney, Mark Hughes, Hugo Spowers, Ed McDonough, and Andrew Ferguson. Paul Fearnley should have a look to see what Motor Sport could be like.

#196 SEdward

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 07:26

Mine arrived late last week and I read it over the weekend. My previous gripes about the content remain valid (too bitty, lacking depth, nothing I can really get my teeth into). I could not detect any drop in the quality of the content following the "face lift".

But the new layout is appalling and far from easy on the eye. While I'm not in the least opposed to the magazine being "relooked" in principle, I feel that this particular example is a glaring failure. Motor Sport now looks like a teeenybopper fanzine.

Edward.

#197 ensign14

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 08:39

Originally posted by D-Type
Both were excellent magazines with in depth articles from many authors including Doug Nye, David McKinney, Mark Hughes, Hugo Spowers, Ed McDonough, and Andrew Ferguson. Paul Fearnley should have a look to see what Motor Sport could be like.

And how long did they last? 6 or so issues each?

#198 David McKinney

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 09:26

Originally posted by ensign14
And how long did they last? 6 or so issues each?

The failure of neither had anything to do with content

#199 ensign14

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 09:43

Originally posted by David McKinney

The failure of neither had anything to do with content

I had no complaints about the content, but it shows how difficult it is to get something fresh yet esoteric to the wider market.

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#200 Lec CRP1

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 10:09

Originally posted by Eric McLoughlin
As an aviation fan as well as a motor sport fan, I have always been surprised that the writing on historic motor sport sems to fall way behind that in the aviation world. Surely there could be some inspiration from aviation magazines.

In the UK we have three "historic" themed magazines. The market leader is "Flypast" which has been running since about 1980.


Ah, "Flypast". My granddad was a wireless op in the RAF during WW2, and never missed an issue. He would have been 81 last Thursday. I presume appreciation of old machinery misses a generation :)