Rear View Mirror
Backward glances at racing history

By Don Capps, U.S.A.
Atlas F1 Columnist

Rear View Mirror

Once upon a time, I read or subscribed to a fairly large number of magazines. Many of them were automotive magazines. For years and even decades, I read a number of magazines on a routine basis which covered motor racing. A sampling of these: Road & Track, Car and Driver, Sports Car Graphic, Autosport, Motor Sport, Auto Motor und Sport, Auto Sports, Auto Racing, Southern Motor Racing Journal, Southern Motor Sports, Formula, Racecar, On Track, Grand Prix International, Motor Racing, Autocar, Motor, Motor Trend, Car Life, Historic Race & Rally, Sports Car, Competition Press (and later Autoweek), Racer, National Speed Sports News, and many, many others over the years. Note, these were the just the ones I either subscribed to or read regularly. I also read (collected) Autocourse when it was a quarterly.

Lately, however, for many reasons too involved to go into, my reading such magazines, whether by subscription or from the newsstand, has tapered off considerably. As I was conducting some research for a topic, I realized that my stack of "contemporary" motorsports magazines was pretty lean and low. So, with the best interest of the public at heart, I decided to make a few trips to the local bookstore and see what lurked upon the shelves in the periodical section.

What follows are the various magazines I discovered over a period of several months. There is a spread of dates on these, but most are June through August 2001 issues. I looked at the publications from a perspective of a motorsports historian and then as a person just interested in motorsports. I am generally clueless as to the wiles and ways of modern Formula One to a large extent. So this was another way to catch up to how the print media treats the sport.

I did not purchase a few magazines since I decided to concentrate primarily on motorsports. So, no Road & Track, Car and Driver, Automobile, and so forth and so on and on and on. I also steered away from publications devoted to a single marque, such as Forza, MG Enthusiast, and Bimmer serving as good examples of this type of serial. Strangely enough, I did not find Autoweek on the rack.

Being a Roger Ebert sort of guy, I thought I would rate each serial using a star system:

**** Outstanding; consistently superb articles; accurate with the details; you must subscribe to this puppy!

*** Excellent; articles are always excellent; from time to time it either gets "cute" or flubs its facts, but not often; this is a magazine worth subscribing to and is recommended.

** Very Good; articles are generally very good, but uneven; tends to print trendy or "fad" articles; skim before buying; subscribe at your own risk.

* Good to Fair; articles tend to be uneven and facts are not always "factual," so prepare to be surprised; usually for those with very short attention spans; occasionally puts out a good to decent article proof of the blind squirrel and acorn theory; don't even dream of wasting your money by subscribing... .

• Don't Bother; enough said...

Vintage Racecar Journal & Market Report
Parabolica Publishing: Casey Annis, Editor.

This is an interesting little magazine. If I had noticed it before, I might have bought it earlier. It dates back to October 1998, but the "& Market Report" has always put me off a bit on plunking down my AMEX card and taking a copy home. Somehow I missed the July issue which was supposed to carry an article on the 1933 Tripoli race. Needless to say, this miffed me somewhat. I was planning to use this article as the litmus test as to whether it was "my sort" of magazine.

Pluses are Pete Lyons, Mike Lawrence, and Stirling sorry, Sir Stirling Moss as columnists. Pete Lyons and Mike Lawrence are in my personal pantheon of Exalted Scribes. I am still undecided as to whether I should subscribe or become a regular newsstand customer. But, it seems like a pretty good way to waste time. Any magazine which devotes about a half dozen pages with Davey Jordan is my kind of magazine. Oh, each month it selects a website to feature in a feature called, "Hard Drive". In the August issue this honor goes to Allen Brown's Old Racing Cars site,

Scribe Rating:      ****

Classic & Sports Car
Haymarket Specialist Publications: James Elliott, Editor.

Slick, slick, slick. Really pretty pictures, lots of color, great ads. Classic Cars is now in its 21st volume and apparently still going strong. I generally find that from time to it does have something I might actually want to read, but not that often. Oh, I do skim through it every month that is probably a matter of habit more than anything else. When Doug Nye had his column I rarely missed an issue. So long, Doug so long, Scribe.

Scribe Rating:      **

Thoroughbred & Classic Cars
EMAP Automotive, ISSN 0143-7267: James Pearson, Editor in Chief.

Thoroughbred & Classic Cars is now old enough to be well into 330-something issues. Like its competition above, it is pretty slick, but a "different" kind of slick. Over the years I have found that it still is interesting to read. Its historical articles and photo spreads are generally very, very good. Difficult to place in a neat clean category as "just" a general car magazine. Lately, I find myself far more inclined to purchase an issue of Thoroughbred than its competition.

Scribe Rating:      **½

Formula 1 Magazine
European Press: Nigel Mansell, Editor-in-Chief and Henry Hope-Frost, Deputy Editor.

The first issue I bought the one with Eddie Irvine doing the GQ imitation - was not an encouraging start if they were looking to make The Scribe a steady reader or even a subscriber. But I have the distinct feeling that I am not their target audience. Most of the issue seemed to be beyond me. The "personality" articles were not anything like my cup of tea. And as for "Michael and Corinna's big day out", well, it's fortunate I hadn't eaten much.

The David Tremayne article on the Ferrari Dino 156 really reminded me of the Doug Nye article on the same subject in a 1980 issue (the January 8, 1980, issue for those interested...) of Autosport. Perhaps, at least by accident, the article will provoke a few nanoseconds of thought about when it was still "Grand Prix" among a few members of the current F1 generation.

Not being a Sennaphile, I skipped the article on his pole positions. Ditto for the article entitled, "Simply the best lap of all time", on Saint Ayrton's first lap at Donington in 1993. Apparently it is a requirement that there be an article on Senna in every issue. This alone will send me away. For those looking for statistics, this monthly magazine will make their hearts go pitty-pat at a very high rev rate. The jury is still out, but not looking real good to this particular Scribe.

Scribe Rating:      *

F1 Racing
Haymarket Magazines, ISSN 1361-4487: Matt Bishop, Editor in Chief.

Confession time: I actually subscribed to this magazine at one point. Gasps of disbelief from the Peanut Gallery are deafening, I know, but we have our weak moments. In the name of market research, I actually bought three issues.

Seems that Michael Schumacher is a popular cover boy at F1 Racing: two of the three issues I bought had him on the cover. The June issue did provoke a question: in 1997, Schumacher won his 23rd through 27th victories, five wins in a season for which he was excluded from second place in the Championship. If you check the 1984 season, it is as if Tyrrell never existed it was like the ancient world when a general was disgraced and his very existence in the form of monuments and so forth were erased from the very surface of the earth. So, why not the same for Schumacher? Or, perhaps, Life is different these days. Oh, well, just more of an observation than a comment. Life goes on...

Not really much in the way for those interested in anything but the Here and Now. It was nice to see the magazine use two pages on the 1961 Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France it wasn't the Grand Prix de France until 1968 and the amazing Giancarlo Baghetti. However, overall, it simply isn't my cup of tea.

Scribe Rating:      ½

Sports Car
Racer Communications, a subsidiary of Haymarket Media, ISSN 0300-6387: Richard S. James, Editor.

The Official Publication of the Sports Car Club of America. It has been ages since I saw a copy of Sports Car on a newsstand. It is without any pretensions, exactly what it seems to be: a club magazine. The two issues I have cover Can-Am II in a two-part series. As long as it continues to pop up on the newsstand, I will continue to take a gander at it and see what it has to offer.

Scribe Rating:      **½

Le Mans Series & Sportscar Racer
Haymarket Specialist Publications.

I freely admit that this one puzzles me. At heart, I enjoy a bit of variety in my racing and lament the fact that there is so little room left for good ol' fashioned sports racers. This is one slick magazine, but one that I find myself liking far more than I expected. This one is starting to grow on me. I am willing to see where this one leads me. If I still like this one several months from now, who knows, I might even subscribe.

Scribe Rating:      ***

Historic Motor Racing
HMR Publishing: Graham Gauld, Editor.

Well, this wonderful magazine lasted five issues before the publisher pulled the plug. Graham Gauld deserves better. I have few doubts that this one was heading in the right direction. It takes a while for a magazine to find its stride and Historic Motor Racing was truly finding it. I found myself looking forward to each new issue. Should there be any doubt about the definition of Class, the publisher did something that I have seen done only on the rarest of occasions: he sent the money back on the remaining portion of the subscription. Alas, yet another worthy magazine bites the dust.

Scribe Rating:      ****

Vintage Motorsport
Vintage Motorsport: D. Randy Riggs, Editor.

The Official Publication of the Historic Motor Sports Association. True confessions time once more: I had absolutely no idea why I dropped my subscription to this magazine until I realized that it was the result of too many moves in too short a period of time. It had absolutely nothing to do with quality of the magazine or interest in the articles. Besides, any publication with Burt "B.S." Levy as a columnist is worth reading. I find this a nice magazine to hang onto and re-read. I really like that it finds space for features on gents like Jules Goux. Good stuff.

Scribe Rating:      ****

Racer Communications, a subsidiary of Haymarket Media, ISSN 1066-6060: Andy Hallbery, Editor.

Pretty much the same story as above: it was more an act of convenience than anything else that led to my dropping my subscription to Racer. Yes, it is slick and is now becoming more and more another Haymarket clone, but it is often worth a look. With the demise of On Track, there really isn't much in the USA in the way of a publication for those with a desire for a bit of variety in their motor sports coverage: some of us diehards still like more than a single racing series. Like F1, NASCAR, CART, IRL, or whatever. I did subscribe to this magazine for several years, starting from the very beginning. Whether I do the same again or not is open to question. However, it is still a better than average read. We'll see.

Scribe Rating:      **½

Motor Sport
Haymarket Motoring Publications: Paul Fearnley, Editor.

The years have not always been kind to this venerable journal. It ran into serious problems in the late-1980s and well into the 1990s. Even the Great DSJ (Denis S. Jenkinson) left Motor Sport, something that simply defied belief. For some time, Motor Sport could not figure out what it really wanted to be, much less how to be it. Nor did it seem to be Long For This World. With one foot make that both legs in the grave, Haymarket made the decision to provide those with an interest in The Past a slick, glossy monthly of their own. It is the past as perceived through the eyes of the present.

It is very, very, slick and glossy. Lots and lots and lots of color (make that "colour") pictures. Many of the articles lack the depth or wit we associated with DSJ, but perhaps that was the crux of the problem: WB (Bill Boddy) and DSJ made Motor Sport so much theirs that the loss of one or the other was bound to have a huge effect on the magazine. One always had the notion that Motor Sport was more a hobby or avocation than a vocation.

There are too few "institutions" left in the world of motorsports, Motor Sport (...sorry, couldn't resist...) being one of those few. I have stuck with WB through thick and very thin and see little reason to change course now. Truth in lending: I do subscribe to Motor Sport and have read it since the Summer of 1954. Things Change: Life Goes On. We need Motor Sport. Haymarket has the deep pockets to, hopefully, allow Motor Sport to continue on to its centennial and beyond.

Scribe Rating:      ***½

Haymarket Autosport Publications, ISSN 0269-946X: Anthony Rowlinson, Editor.

I am not sure what Gregor Grant would make of Autosport in its current form. I subscribed to Autosport for decades and picked it up at the newsstand for years upon years before that, all the way back to that Summer of 1954 when I discovered all the wonderful things one could find on a magazine rack. Several years ago I finally cried enough and terminated a relationship that had gone on for virtually my entire life. This is the first time in ages and ages that I deliberately bought Autosport with malice aforethought.

Usually, on the very rare occasions that I pick up a copy, it is while travelling as means to pass the time than for any compelling reason to read it. The half dozen or so new issues I have in my possession are not enough to convince me to renew my acquaintance on a regular and recurring basis. Like F1 Racing, it simply is beyond me. I just don't get "it" anymore. Perhaps it is my failing to connect with the doctrine of the Church of F1, but I am quite convinced the affair is over. I used to really enjoy Autosport. Perhaps my interest in gossip isn't what it used to be or that I stood still and the World moved on. Whatever happened, the only thing I find worthwhile on a regular basis is the Nigel Roebuck column. I do try to read it whenever I see an copy. Sorry, but ya' gotta say what ya' gotta say.

Scribe Rating:      *½

Classic Car • Africa
Classic Car Africa, ISSN 1025-384X: Andrew Reed, Ken MacLeod, Joint Editors; Robert Young, Associate Editor.

If you haven't read an issue of CCA, you are missing a real treat. This is a true labor of love. It is a superbly turned out magazine that is simply top notch. It is the sort of thing most of us wish we could produce. However, it's obvious that it is hard work to not just publish an issue, but to continue to publish issue after issue.

I have about 15 issues of CCA. I really didn't know all that much about South African racing after all was my first thought after reading about a half dozen issues. I am enjoying reading about the South African Drivers' Championship. I love these sort of things. I really like the article on an African driver I rate very, very highly ( was not often that Enzo Ferrari and I saw eye-to-eye on much, but this was one case where we did): Guy Moll. Hey, Sports Fans, last time I checked Algeria was in Africa. Another article I enjoyed was the interview with John Love discussing his greatest race: the 1967 South African Grand Prix. I highly recommend this excellent magazine.

Scribe Rating:      ****

Well, you've done it again: Wasted another few minutes from your life wondering what The Scribe was going to come up with next. Keep those cards and letters coming in folks, especially those cute postcards with Ben Franklin on them and "100" in each corner. See you.

© 2007 . This service is provided under the Atlas F1 terms and conditions.
Please Contact Us for permission to republish this or any other material from Atlas F1.
Email to Friend

Print Version

Volume 7, Issue 34
August 22nd 2001

Atlas F1 Special

1 to 51: Comparative Victories
by Atlas F1 Writers

Simply Supreme
by Richard Barnes

Time to Move On
by Barry Kalb

Hungarian GP Review

The Hungarian GP Review
by Pablo Elizalde

It's Magic!
by Karl Ludvigsen


Qualifying Differentials
by Marcel Borsboom

The F1 Insider
by Mitch McCann

Season Strokes - the GP Cartoon
by Bruce Thomson

Rear View Mirror
by Don Capps

The Weekly Grapevine
by the F1 Rumors Team

  Contact the Author
Contact the Editor

  Find More Articles by this Author

   > Homepage
   > Magazine
   > News Service
   > Grapevine
   > Photo Gallery
   > My Atlas
   > Bulletin Board
   > Chat Room
   > Bet Your Nuts
   > Shop @ Atlas
   > Search Archive
   > FORIX
   > Help