Taking hold of the reins at ‘historic racing only’ Motor Sport
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the relaunch of Motor Sport by its then-new proprietor, Haymarket Publishing. I remember it well because at the time it was my name at the top of the masthead.
The magazine was in a dire state having received no real investment for years. I’d like to say it was fathomless courage that made me accept the challenge, but the truth is I wanted an editorship under my belt and was just about smart enough to realise that with even a small amount of money, anyone could make it look better.
The difficulty was the magazine was now part of a stable that included Motoring News, Autosport, Autocar, Classic & Sports Car and F1 Racing. Motor Sport would have to find an unoccupied home somewhere amid all this. Before I arrived, it had been decided that MS would be a historic racing title. I had no problem with this myself, but I did await the first post bag with interest.
It was worse than I could have imagined. Although some had been kind enough to write and say they appreciated the changes, an at least equal number wrote in the most uncompromising terms to tell me I’d wrecked one of the best things in their life. Happily sales, subscriptions and ad revenues started to improve.
The next three years were the best of my working life. The magazine was stable but not stratospheric, which meant the management felt neither the need to rescue it nor the desire to bathe in its reflected glories. I’m most proud that it was on that watch that both Nigel Roebuck and Simon Taylor started writing for Motor Sport, finding myself with the latter appointment in the unusual position of employing my boss.
I left when I’d taken the magazine as far as I could within that publishing structure and feared running out of ideas. The fact that 15 years later I still write for it every month is a matter of intense and personal pride to me. I imagine Nigel and Simon feel the same way. And because I am now a mere contributor, I can say it’s a far better title today under its current, independent ownership than it ever was with my hands at the wheel.