Circle Track 's debut issue...
Circle Track's debut issue in 1982 featured a wide range of topics, just as we do today.
Circle Track Executive...
Circle Track Executive Editor Glen Grissom, 2002
Circle Track Editor Glen...
Circle Track Editor Glen Grissom, circa 1993
In 20 Years of Putting Paint on Canvas, our venerable Bob Myers tells how he got started with Circle Track and his continuing tour of duty with these pages. One of the most humble and decent guys youll ever meet, Bob deserves extreme combat pay for his stock car reportorial exploits, and survival for nearly 20 years at one magazine in the quick and the dead publishing world of racing titles.
Ive only accumulated enough stripes for six staff years total to currently hold down second in seniority here. This is my second tour on staff, although I originally contributed articles starting in 1988. I was editor/editorial director of Circle Track from 1992-1997, but was lured away to be the managing editor of TNN Motorsports Web sitesince defunct. (The Internet! The Future! The Busted Bubble!) Ive had the unique privilege to work with the major original players of this magazine, and now a second chance to contribute to its future. That somehow qualifies me for this editorial overview.
The two key names in Bobs hiring were original Editor C.J. Baker and technical contributor Smokey Yunick. They, along with original Publisher Harry Hibler, are the major reason were still assembling issues and generating articles for you, even though they are no longer involved. C.J. and Smokeys tenures lasted up until a few years ago, and that continuity helped in no small part in Circle Track s growth and survival. C.J. hired me (and plenty of other editors) and supplied a steadying editorial guiding hand. Smokey probably would have fired me if he had his druthers.
Unlike current Circle Track master technical contributor Jim McFarlandwhose tech articles in Hot Rod I read and reread as a kid, and who also worked editorially with Smokey for many yearsI apparently didnt have enough good sense not to edit Smokeys writing and tried to gently bend (hed say corrupt) it to conform to the Kings technical English. Smokey and C.J. taught me plenty. Jims still trying. C.J. and Smokey set and maintained the basic technical editorial tone of Circle Track , and its still valid and our mantra today: deliver in-depth and accurate how-to explanations that are useful for the real-world stock car racer. That in-depth, hands-on tech also attracted (and still does) racers from other types of motorized sports, and that is a pleasant bonus. C.J. came over from Petersen Publishings (now Primedia) flagship general-purpose gearhead magazine, Hot Rod , and editorially expanded what was a small department in its pages into a dedicated magazine title.
Like a professional racing car that cant race for long without sponsors, a racing magazine wont publish for long without advertisers. Archetypal salesman Hibler, who could charm ad orders from the flintiest account, be they a bucks-up major corporation or a boot-strapping entrepreneur, built the ad revenue foundation that helped keep the corporate accountants smiling, or at least bemused. C.J. learned the publisher ropes from Harry and eventually took over that role.
Launching a new title from the mothership had worked before for Petersen. In those long ago days when race cars still originated from stock cars, Hot Rod would explore what oval track (or drag, or boat, or motorcycle) performance technology could transfer to your personal street ride, and also offered some race feature and personality coverage. It was always more drag racing-oriented than stock car-based (originating in Southern California after all), but the management committed to a few dedicated issues of Circle Track in 1982, and then stepped up to monthly production the next year. Its remained monthly ever since.
Success was not guaranteed, as it never is with a magazine/media start-up, but Circle Track cut a wide editorial swath in those pre-TV and Internet days of saturation coverage of racing of almost all types. People still bought monthly magazines to get their racing news and results, feature stories about their favorite personalities, and technical articles. Circle Track examined to the rivets any racing hardware that had four wheels, an internal combustion engine, and turned left. It explained motorsports theory, and how to use it in practice. It also profiled the intense people that competed in stock cars racing leagues. The readership wasnt huge, but it sure was vociferousand that hasnt changed.
Even then solid content was king, and Circle Track has grown over the years because it has had top-flight writers and contributors. It was fortunate to have Smokey as the racing technical touchstone who could address any racing hardware and question, and contributing technical specialists like Bill Von Helmolt, Herb Adams, Tom Madigan, and many others from the sport who could zero-in on specific technical topics. Its stock car feature coverage was anchored by subtle Bob Myers (still is), and its equivalent Indy and Sprint car coverage secured by the unmatched Joe Scalzo.
Even though open-wheel racing was Joes primary domain, he was hired by C.J. at the 82 Firecracker 400 at Daytona on what must have been a busmans holiday. Joes writing style was as physical as the series he covered. Whereas Bobs writing wafted and seduced you like the smoke that churned off his chain-smoked cigars, Joes challenged your senses like the burning tip was coming at your face. Smokeys writing was more like a flamethrower hooked up to a fuel truck with the safety off. I got to be fireman to all of them.
As cable and network television have discovered racing at the top ranks and now produce hundreds of hours of programming to cover it, Circle Track s editorial mix in print has evolved, and it too has established a new media outlet. It was unthinkable in 1982 to conceive that every Winston Cup race would be televised, for instance, or that you could have a personal computer wired into a 24/7 worldwide network with more information than you could absorb in one lifetime. The instant-information age gives us unbelievable access to info, but places a premium on content quality more than ever. Weve placed a premium on quality content from our beginning, and will continue to do so.
Were dedicated to increasing our information quality for amateur stock car racers. Weve added www.circletrack.com to integrate with the monthly print pages. Racing event coverage has been shifted to our Web site for quick and all-hours access, and greatly expanded to cover race results and supporting information about stock cars from Winston Cup all the way to the regional racing level.
Not forgetting our roots, weve posted how-to technical material on the Web site too, and will continue to expand that portion of it for full-time access. For instance, check out the Comprehensive Circle Track Article Index1982-2002 from this anniversary issue, which is now available there. This is the first time a complete index has been compiled and made available from us in print or online, and we promise not to wait 20 years before doing it again.
We continue to appreciate the opportunity to produce top-quality stock car how-to edit for you, no matter the medium, now or in the next 20 years.