MOTORSPORTS IN PRINT
by Larry Roberts
For most auto racing fans, exposure to the sport amounts to watching races in person or more likely, on TV broadcasts. But there are a few magazines for those interested in in-depth coverage of the sport and herein are listed those that first come to mind:
CIRCLE TRACK - This monthly "slick paper" magazine started life as a periodical for fans who simply went to the races as spectators. It still covers a certain number of events, but with the advent of magazines that come out weekly or every two weeks, Circle Track evolved into a do-it- yourself vehicle for low-profile semi-professional car builders who look for technical advice on the basics of race car building. Lots of photos go with the how-to articles and almost all the ads are for race car parts. It's technically written, so don't expect cutesy driver profiles.
NATIONAL DRAGSTER - National Dragster is the official weekly publication of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and it's written for NHRA spectators more than for do-it-yourselfers. It's tabloid sized printed on news print and goes into minute detail on the events that occur on drag strips all over the U.S but not if the track isn't NHRA sanctioned. Like Circle Track, its ads tout merchandise aimed at weekend-warrior drag racers, but its features are about the doings of the top-flight and high-profile drivers like John Force and major professional drag races. NHRA membership goes with a subscription fee.
NATIONAL SPEED SPORT NEWS - Once long ago, Chris Economacki told me that he started this National Speed Sport News (NSSN) in the mid'30s so that he could get into local New Jersey auto races for free. Economacki is retired from active duty now, I understand, and his daughter is in the publisher's seat. NSSN must cover every American short track event in existence and its list of stringers who cover these multitudinous events could fill a small town telephone book. It comes out every week and if you can't find the results of a particular race in NSSN, chances are it didn't happen.
AUTOWEEK - This venerable publication started out life as Competition Press many years ago, but Crain Communications bought it and made it into a paying proposition by concentrating most of its editorial content to new vehicles and their accompanying ads. But on the last 10 pages or so lives the ghost of Competition Press. In them are the latest goings-on of big-time racing and especially the political struggles between the IRL and CART, the PSCR and SCCA's Pro Racing and the machinations of the NASCAR and Formula One monarchies. Published weekly, it's enlightening and accurate, but it won't tell you about amateur SCCA racing or any other low-key motorsports.
SPORTSCAR - If you really want to know about the amateur side of racing, you'll find it in SportsCar, the monthly publication of the Sports Car Club of America. Join one of the SCCA Regions that comprise nine or 10 national Divisions and you'll get this folksy publication that is filled with amateur race results and people-profiles. The dichotomy of SportsCar is that it's also the official "word" of Pro Racing, a separate entity owned by the SCCA and locked in mortal combat with the PSCR (Pro Sports Car Racing) for control of pro road racing.
ON TRACK - This bi-weekly magazine covers most major aspects of auto racing from Formula One to international rallying. When it was acquired some years ago by American City Business Journals, Inc. of Charlotte, NC, its format became more upscale, the pages changed from newsprint to slick, the coverage became more grandiose (Formula One, CART, IRL, etc.) and the ads more revenue-generating. NASCAR receives more coverage now and items on the European Touring Car Championship, for instance, are now less apparent. It contains lots of editorial comment on the politics of auto racing, but covers events in-depth.
All these publications can be found on major magazine racks but they're cheaper if you subscribe or join the clubs that put them out. Bone up on then and you'll soon be the recognized racing expert at work.