Matters of moment, October 1971
You, the customer…
The motoring year ends for some people with racing at Brands Hatch on Boxing Day, for others with the Brighton Run for veterans in November. Generally, however, the advent of yet another spate of Motor Shows marks the close of the season, because at this time of the year new cars are revealed, rendering obsolescent some of the previous models. Winter is round the corner, although this no longer implies carefully laying-up the precious motor-car, as once the practice, So, with Earls Court opening its doors to the motoring world on October 20th, this is a time for looking back and taking stock.
It is an appropriate occasion for saying thank you to our vast family of readers, those keen and knowledgeable enthusiasts who are generous with their praise when we please them, quick to point out errors when these creep in. Motor Sport has been published since 1925 (since 1924, as The Brooklands Gazette), so we can claim to be rolling steadily towards our first half-century. We were not the first motor magazine but we were the first one devoted primarily to motor racing, and today we have a larger ABC-certified net sale than any other motoring journal in the country. We are proud of having come out every month without a break for so many years, including throughout the war, in spite of bombs, paper shortages, petrol rationing, go-slows and strikes. To have been first merely proves antiquity. To have become first proves merit.
In case this sounds infernally pompous and complacent we want to explain that we are well aware of the difficulties of producing a worthwhile motor journal and maintaining its readership. It is for just this reason that we wish to show appreciation of the help we derive from reading carefully the very large volume of readers’ correspondence which we receive daily. Only a small proportion of your letters can be published but we would assure all those who communicate with us that the interesting information made available to us is highly valued.
We are aware of the special problems which face the publisher of a paper devoted to such a fluid field as motoring. Motor racing has undergone great change since Vol. 1, No. 1 of Motor Sport appeared. A new generation of readers has arrived, with different ideas about cars and journalism from those of their fathers. Rising costs of paper and printing have to be countered. Our contents have thus changed, in order to keep pace, or a step ahead, of requirements.
For example. while the Editor defends strongly at office conferences his traditional coverage of motoring history and current veteran, Edwardian and vintage affairs, he allows that we must now cater for “souper-uppers” of already fast modern cars. While we have no intention of cutting back on the long-standing unique and authoritative reporting of Formula One racing by the Continental Correspondent we now include regular features on Canadian and American racing and International rallying, review F2 and F3 races, etc., and devote what space we can to Club affairs. Candid and detailed road-test reports and reviews of worthwhile motoring and aviation books have been important features of Motor Sport since the present publishing house acquired it just before the war; in respect of this, and of outspoken reporting generally, we are happy in the knowledge that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery….
News from the Continent of Europe is another regular feature of this journal but articles special to individual issues are as important to it today as ever they were, although, in order not to diminish the anticipation, we do not advertise them in advance, as some other papers do, for this is just a sales-grabbing gimmick. We also provide the best possible colour pictures of competition cars, ancient and modern and those in between.
One thing you will never find in these pages are those elaborate computerised forms which timid Editors alarmed about falling circulations ask their readers to fill in, giving in profuse detail information about what sort of contents they prefer. These are fair game for that special kind of human being who is hypnotised by the printed form. The result is that the fool of an Editor who falls for the result changes the contents of his paper to suit these form-filling cranks instead of listening to the requirements or the bulk of his readership, and then wonders why a sliding circulation slides still further. Consequently, while flattered that so many of our readers tell us to make no changes whatsoever in Motor Sport, we rely on the opinions expressed in your letters when any alterations are under discussion. There is no better way for an Editor to keep his finger on the pulse of the motoring world and to assess what his paper should contain than by digesting the contents of the letters addressed to him. Analysis-forms are for kids and cranks.
Nor do the Editor and staff flatter themselves that they are sufficiently photogenic and newsworthy to warrant space being wasted by publishing their pictures specially featured with potted biographies in these pages….!
The strength of a magazine is measured by how solidly its readers are behind it. We like to think that you, the customer and we, the publishers, are pretty close-knit. We want to thank you for your support in reading us, writing to us, heeding us, and chastising us when you think fit. We are truly proud of this publisher/reader relationship.
Perhaps we may be excused for feeling a little buoyed up over the manner in which Motor Sport, from a humble start, has attained its present position. This could not have happened without an enthusiastic publisher to back up a motor-crazy editorial department, a loyal office and printing staff, our advertisers, whose support makes possible quality production allied to top circulation, and you, the customers, whose obvious interest and sometimes critical comments keep us on our toes.
We shall look forward to going on hearing from you and we hope we shall continue to please you, retain you, perhaps collect a few more of you, in the challenging years that lie ahead. So write to us and, if you can, call on us at Stand No. 5 at Earls Court. We shall be pleased to see you and hear your views, on motor racing, motor cars, motoring, and the world in general.