Magazines and motor racing – Print is NOT dead

It has been a turbulent time for employees and fans of motor racing publications recently. In the UK the running down of Autosport by its owners has drawn the ire of dedicated readers, some of whom have invested entire lives into the magazine. There is uncertainty over the future of its sibling – Motorsport News (formerly Motoring News) – and a third print product from the same family – F1 Racing – has been sold off to a publisher who does not specialise in motor racing content.

In the United States in the last couple of days the announcement that the iconic Autoweek magazine would also cease print has also given the impression that motoring print is dead. That is far from the truth. In the last few years both Motor Sport and Autocar have seen sales rise. Over on two wheels the Speedway Star had a very public bust up over surcharges with WH Smith and has managed to solidify and grow its subscriber base.

Niche and micro-niche publications in general are also on the rise and start up magazines are exploding at a rate not seen for decades. The UK is a powerhouse in the magazine market according to The Media Briefing and their ‘State of the Media’ reports. They claim that collectable and design led publications are “leveraging the credibility and authenticity that physicality seems to convey.” Or in other words we still like to pick up a magazine, even if it is still only something to flick through for pretty pictures. Despite the excellent design departments at some of the aforementioned magazines, it appears that race fans still value meaningful content via the written word.

Motor Racing UK launched earlier this year with the intention of filling a small gap in the market. We are one of those start up niche magazines referred to by The Media Breifing and we recognised that club and historic racing, although receiving news and race reports nationally, did not receive a fair share of feature based content. We have seen British Formula Three (even with the level of prestige slightly lower than it was a decade ago) reduced to being crammed into a report with other support series to the British GT championship. The coverage of GT racing itself in this country is fairly woeful compared to the size of its fanbase, and then there is the British Touring Car Championship.

During the Super Touring era the series often made national newspapers and regular features on the personalities within the sport featured in Autosport. With the increasing focus on F1 in print moving the goalposts the championship has also seen its coverage slide. Remember, this is a series that gets top level football sized crowds at most rounds and has enough viewers to justify seven hours of live coverage every other week on ITV4. The coverage might be handed to the broadcaster for free, but it still needs those numbers to justify its airtime.

We decided to launch our magazine to fill those holes and compliment the publications that were already available. There was never any intention to go head-to-head with what was on the news stand, and we have not gone into this with the idea of stealing readers or making pots of cash. We’ve invested a hell of a lot this year to kick start this magazine, and that will continue over the next 12 months, but we find ourselves in a different position to those around us. We do not have a board to answer to, we do not have to justify our existence with a profit of £X, we simply have our mandate to provide interesting stories that our readers enjoy.

There will be a number of places that will attempt to fill the void of those magazines with both print and online offerings, and we wish them the very best of luck, genuinely. Not everything that will be attempted will hit the target though. We live in a world that thrives upon rumours, click bait and so-called “fake news.” The act of reading a magazine takes you away from that battleground for a little while. Print and online can compliment each other but some content, we believe, is only suited to one or the other, that is what Motor Racing UK is all about.

While some magazines like to chunk bitesize pieces to appeal to the online reader, we do not. We like to think our publication has a certain amount of quality and consistency.

Because we are print, and we are monthly, we don’t have a need to hit editorial content targets 24/7. We have a website that we post the occasional article on, but we are focused on producing a quality magazine that connects with the reader and invites them to come back for more.

It’s easy to place yourself on social media or to curate a blog, it’s easy to set yourself up as a public service content provider where you drop snippets of second hand information. It’s easy to rewrite press releases, rip off peoples photographs and position yourself as a guru on Formula One or other forms of racing without ever coming into contact with the sources you need for credibility. There is none of that here as we craft each and every issue, we do the legwork, we go to the races and get the interviews that create the articles.

As a result of our work we can go in depth. Like the resurgent Forbes business magazine (who now has a regular readership of around six million) we know we have the option to run features that are of greater length than what is afforded in other magazines.

We know that people are prepared to pay that little bit for quality writing which is why we have decided to put together a couple of subscription packages for print and digital. They are for six issues, as a toe-in-the water trial. Of course there is an opt out at any point for those who find that this publication is not for them. We’ll refund the subscription price (minus the cost of any issues already delivered) at any time.

If you do have an interest in reading Motor Racing UK we have a sampler on line here: https://issuu.com/motorracingukmagazine/docs/sampler

We have our subscription packages here: https://motorracinguk.com/2019/08/06/motor-racing-uk-issue-4/

We are in need of some advertising. We understand the need for long term partnerships in that area, and we can connect with a defined market. We know that print advertising does not hold the attraction it once did, but with Motor Racing UK it is on the page for the potential customer to see. There are no fake views and likes inflating our worth. Currently we’re small fry and our rates reflect that. All we ask of readers and potential readers is that they let advertisers know when our little mag has helped you make a decision.

For information on advertising please email: gtr.publishing@gmail.com

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