“Here’s to infuriating, prejudiced, opinionated, obstinate, out-of-date, idiosyncratic… irascible, outspoken, Blimpish, honest, incorruptible, cynical, naïve, occasionally amusing, and always fascinating Motor Sport…” So wrote the editor of our former sister title Motorcycle Sport back in 1975. I’d like to think a few of those adjectives no longer apply – but I have to admit, his description of Bill Boddy’s magazine still rings a few bells today. There’s nothing else quite like this magazine. Never was, still isn’t.
As we celebrate this, the 1000th issue of ‘the magazine that gave its name to the sport’, I’ve reflected upon how far we’ve come, and paradoxically how little has changed. The dysfunctional eccentricities of the Standard House days, which Gordon Cruickshank recounts so vividly on page 106, are long gone (I wish I’d been there – but perhaps just for a few weeks). The world has changed, for better and worse, and the magazine has evolved with it.
These days when our enthusiastic band of contributors over-write, as some of them do (I won’t name names!), we no longer drop the font size to get it all in, and features no longer start on p102 and end on p63, as was the way in Jenks’s time. You are also unlikely to see the Exeter Trial featured on the cover in 2009 because unfortunately we are under pressure to actually sell magazines! Yes, the idiosyncrasies that both engaged and enraged Motor Sport’s readers for years have been ironed out – mostly.
But below the surface the magazine keeps to the spirit of what The Bod and Jenks intended: we don’t shy away from offering our readers the forthright opinions they expect and deserve; we kick against the trend for sound bites; we unapologetically embrace the colourful modern sport, while maintaining the healthy perspective offered by history. Motor Sport is a serious magazine for anyone with the heart of a racer – although I like to think despite our high ambitions, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. That would be dull. And we wouldn’t want to appear ‘Blimpish’, would we?
With all this in mind, our special 1000th issue reflects the world we live in today and the one we have left behind. Lewis Hamilton and Valentino Rossi are undoubtedly the biggest motor sporting stars racing today. One is a divisive, flawed and controversial character who is far from universally loved, and as I write he has yet even to win a World Championship. But his potential, and primarily his unarguable talent, has thrust him to the fore. As for the other, with eight world titles, a wonderfully corporate-free personality and most vitally a pure love of speed, he quite simply transcends his sport. Formula 1 would love a colossus the size of Valentino Rossi.
In stark contrast to these revealing interviews, we’ve indulged in a celebration of our own heritage. Forgive us, but I think we’ve earned it after 1000 issues – and more importantly, I know you’ll be entertained. As for the special fold-out cover, I hope you enjoy trying to name the famous (and not-so-famous) faces – without turning to the numbered guide on p12!
So take the plunge and read on. But be warned. There are an awful lot of words in this issue and it might take you some time. Motor Sport just doesn’t do half-measures.
Damien Smith, Editor