Road & Track Joins Car & Driver

In what is clearly the start of a full consolidation of Hearst automotive titles, the publishing company today announced the relocation of Road & Track’s editorial offices from Long Beach, CA to Ann Arbor, MI current home of Car & Driver.

Former Editor-in-Chief Matt DeLorenzo will shift to an advisory role while his replacement Larry Webster takes the helm.

While R&T’s Long Beach office will remain open through the Fall time frame, don’t expect the two titles to remain independent identities at least in print, and I’d question the value of distinct web brands. Together with Automobile and Motor Trend, these “Fab Four” consumer pubs carved out their respective loyal fan bases during an entirely different world order. R&T’s left coast roots brought a unique edge to its coverage which, as told to me by a colleague this AM, “California culture helped distinguish R&T from the others, now that’s lost.”

As with Time and Newsweek, general interest auto mags simply cannot deliver a timely news cycle while web reporting tracks nearly simultaneously with events as they occur. Advertisers seek direct contact with consumers using performance-based compensation schemes, and there’s the matter of escalating direct marketing costs for replacing lost readers. To say it’s a Perfect Storm would be an understatement.

So what do the suits at Hearst have in mind? I can’t answer that directly but for starters I can say with surety that all four cannot continue to endure the wrath of shrinking market share and lost readers so we’ll get down to three max, or just two if only to keep the competitive balance on keel. Re purposing legacy content such as R&T’s once vaunted road tests to the web or e-book form might ring a few cash bells. I’ve been a proponent of, yes you heard it correctly, moving deeper into print in the form of small-circ premium pubs carrying higher sub prices with rich content you can’t get anywhere else. Forgettabout the the insanely stupid pursuit of rate base: ” my circ is bigger than your circ.” There’s a market for subscriber-supported  high end content (aka the newsletter model) so it’s just a question of doing it. Then spin off a couple hundred category-based books from each magazine’s storied archives, engage the consumer in ways not yet exploited online with unique user posting tools, put buyers and sellers together and claim a slice of the action, and produce original video content delivered from Netflix and YouTube. Hmmm, I wonder what Henry Manney would say?

Message to Hearst Suits: Get the pain over with and execute fresh like there’s no tomorrow.

Oh, I just sold my 45-year collection of R&T on eBay. Some issues from the late forties and many from my high school years early seventies.  However, I kept a few special editions including the one depicted here, a one-in-ten-year Rod & Truck supplement that I’ll leave as a brain teaser among the more senior of this blog’s readership! The mags barely fetched its weight in postage, and the time spent photographing, listing, and packing made for too many self-inflicted blows to the head. A sad parting but I feel lighter already.

LARRY WEBSTER NAMED EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF ROAD & TRACK
Magazine to Relocate to Ann Arbor, Mich., from Newport Beach, Calif.

NEW YORK, May 31, 2012 – Larry Webster has been named editor-in-chief of Road & Track, it was announced today by James B. Meigs, editorial director for the Hearst Men’s Enthusiast Group. Webster joins Road & Track on June 4, replacing Matt DeLorenzo, who will transition into an advisory role for the magazine.

Since January 2010, Webster had been automotive editor of Hearst’s Popular Mechanics, overseeing the development of the magazine’s automotive content across print, web, broadcast and tablet platforms. He was also responsible for managing the auto staff, editing all automotive content and writing reviews and features. Previously, Webster was the Detroit editor for Popular Mechanics since August 2008.

“Road & Track is a storied brand with a deep footprint in the automotive world,” Meigs said. “I’m glad to welcome Larry on board to lead the team and oversee the transition to Michigan. His wealth of experience will deepen the relationship that Road & Track has with its readers and also enhance the offerings of the brand.”

Meigs added, “We appreciate all of Matt’s work on the Road & Track brand, particularly during its integration into the Hearst portfolio, and value his assistance during this transition.”
Road & Track will relocate its offices from Newport Beach, Calif., to Ann Arbor, Mich., where Hearst’s other automotive title, Car and Driver, is based. During the transition process, the Newport Beach office will remain open into the fall.

“Road & Track is the magazine that turned me into a car enthusiast, so it’s an incredible honor to be asked to get behind the wheel of this iconic brand,” Webster said. “Moving the team to Ann Arbor will put us right in the middle of all the exciting developments this industry has to offer, and that’s something I’m thrilled about.”

Before joining Popular Mechanics, Webster was technical director of Car and Driver from 2004 to 2008, where he managed a team of editors and writers, and was the magazine’s chief test driver and instructor. He was also the host of Car and Driver Television from 2002 to 2005, where he was the on-camera talent, as well as scriptwriter and stunt driver. From 1995 to 2004, Webster was technical editor for Car and Driver.

Webster is an amateur race car driver who has competed on over a dozen of North America’s premier circuits and is a serial collector of vintage cars, which he restores in his home shop. He has a mechanical engineering degree from Lehigh University and is a graduate of several Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) programs.

Road & Track (www.RoadandTrack.com), published by Hearst Magazines, is the longest-running automotive magazine brand in the United States. The content that is provided by Road & Track across a variety of platforms is intended for the passionate automotive enthusiast and contains information about cars and driving combined with wide-ranging feature stories and racing coverage. Road & Track’s road tests and comparison tests set the industry standard for precision, focusing primarily on domestic and imported sports cars and sports sedans that are a cut above the ordinary in performance, handling, engineering and efficiency-cars that are above all, fun to drive.

Hearst acquires Road & Track and Car & Driver.

 

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There Are 2 Responses So Far. »

  1. Eric,
    Out of interest how much did you sell your 45 year collection for? I have a 48 year collection that my wife would love me to sell but I have no idea what it is worth. Did you have any disappointed potential buyers that may be intersted in my collection?
    Kind regards,
    Stephen

  2. $650 and the buyer stiffed me for shipping charges (eBay)!

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