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WHAT IS IT?
Autosport is a magazine covering all aspects of motor racing and rallying, published 51 times a year by Haymarket Specialist Magazines Ltd. It has been around since the early 1950s and comes out every Thursday, except over the Christmas period when there is a double issue on the last Thursday before Christmas, hence 51 issues a year. There are a number of free supplements throughout the year including previews of the Le Mans 24-hour race, British Grand Prix and Rally GB.
In addition, the first issue each year includes a pocket sized A-Z directory with over 5000 entries giving contact details for teams, circuits, clubs, manufacturers and suppliers World-wide, and some diary stickers for major international and UK national events (I tried these on my Palm but found I couldn't see the screen afterwards!). Before the season starts, you also get useful poster sized international and national event calendars – just the right size for the back of my kitchen door!
Autosport is the magazine of choice for most professionals and fans from Formula 1 right down to grass roots national racing and rallying. It is not unusual to see the likes of Juan Pablo Montoya (F1 driver), Richard Burns (World Rally driver) or even myself flicking through a copy during a quiet moment at an event. The magazine has correspondents all over the world, and 5 ‘star’ writers, these currently being Juan Pablo Montoya, Allan McNish, Dario Franchitti, Alister McRae and James Thompson.
HOW MUCH IS IT?
The cover price is £2.80 rising to £3.95 for the double issue at Christmas, and it is available from most newsagents and supermarkets. I have subscribed for many years and pay £92 a year in advance (by credit card) to have the magazine delivered with my post, although this offer isn’t now available to new subscribers. The current price for new UK subscribers is £58.20 for 26 issues, a saving of 20% over the cover price. There are varying rates for elsewhere in the World all with savings of at least 15%. You can pay by posting a cheque (UK banks only) or by credit/debit card via post, phone, fax or e-mail. Full details are in the magazine and at www.autosport.com where you can also subscribe online.
WHAT’S IT LOOK LIKE?
The magazine is usually just over 100 pages, with the 2002 Christmas issue weighing in at a hefty 188 pages. It is printed on thin, slightly glossy paper, with the cover and centre pages being on thicker, glossier paper. It measures approx. 12.9 by 9.0 inches, or if you have gone all continental, 302 x 228 millimetres.
The front cover features the logo across the top, which is a black & white chequered flag, followed by the word ‘Autosport’ in large red uppercase letters on a white background. This only differs when there has been a major victory for a Briton at international level (e.g. Damon Hill winning the F1 World championship), in which case the word ‘Autosport’ is changed to British Racing Green. The rest of the cover usually features 2 or 3 colour photographs and a few headlines in varying colours. It is always colourful and eye-catching. Most of the magazine is black print on a white or sometimes blue/grey background, although there are sometimes variations on this. Colour photographs of a high standard are used throughout.
SO WHAT’S IN IT THEN?
The sections inside are in the same order each week, interspersed with adverts, and take the following format:
After the cover is the contents page, which also includes a brief editorial message.
Next is the ‘Top Story’, which is deemed to be most important news story of the week. This is usually based on either F1 or World rallying and is at least 2 pages, sometimes more.
Then on to ‘Pit & Paddock’. This is usually around 8-10 pages and contains all the international racing news from F1, CART & IRL (from the US), F3000, F3, Sports Cars, Touring Cars & NASCAR (US again). There are a series of brief stories down the right hand side of some pages, and across the top are photos, comments and quotes relevant to the stories beneath. Next up is ‘Special Stage’ which is rallying’s equivalent to ‘Pit & Paddock’, and is usually 2-4 pages long.
The next 2 pages are readers letters (with a prize to the best letter each week), ‘Bamber’s View’ – a weekly cartoon which is usually very good, and ‘Media Digest’ which comments on the week’s motor sport stories in the regular press.
Then come 3 regular columns, ‘Fifth Column’ by Nigel Roebuck the Grand Prix editor, who writes (usually) thought-provoking articles on racing subjects. This is followed by ‘Soapbox’ where other staff writers air their views and ‘Driver Q&A’ in which a different driver answers questions each week. At the bottom of the third page is ‘One to Watch’, a brief piece about an up and coming driver.
During the racing season, the next few articles will be lengthy reports and results from Grands Prix, World Rally and other major events, and in-depth articles about teams, drivers, circuits and cars. Off-season this is the same but with season reviews in place of the reports & results.
Just past the middle is ‘Rear View’, an archive photo, ‘Where are they now’ about former drivers and ‘Then as now’ which tells us what the major stories in the magazine were 10,20,30,40 & 50 years ago. This is followed by more in-depth articles (as above) and reports/results from racing in the US, before we come to ‘World of Sport’. This section varies in length depending on the time of year and contains reports & results from major championships around the World.
Now come the classified adverts, where you can find anything from a ball bearing to a complete F1 car as well as a selection of road cars. This is also where all the Formula 1 and other major teams around the World advertise their vacancies.
Getting towards the end, there is the ‘Club Autosport’ section, which consists of the national news, followed by reports and results from racing and rallying around the UK.
Bringing up the rear is ‘Last Lap’, by a guest columnist. This can be someone from within the sport, other sports people or celebrities who are interested in racing. Finally, inside the back cover is a guide to all the following weeks fixtures and motor sport programmes on TV.
I have been reading Autosport for around 25 years (not all the time you understand) and find it indispensable as a racing enthusiast. There are other more specialised magazines focusing on F1 (not really racing though is it!) and rallying, but for the best overall picture of the sport, this is the magazine for me.
I subscribe to its' "Sister" magazine autocar and they are constantly trying to get me to take out a subscription to this. Trouble is that I'm not into F1, WRC is far more interesting as far as I'm concerned, having read your fine review here I think i'll leave this one on the shelf. Richard.
angeelu 02.02.2003 20:08
Excellent detailed review... Not really the sort of magazine I would buy, but found your opinion really interesting.