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Autoweek Prints Its Last Hard Copy

Published on Mon, Nov 11, 2019

By: Doug Stokes

60 year old motor journal issues its final magazine … the web wins again.

Yesterday … November 9, 2019, I was peacefully sitting in our living room when my wife brought in the day’s mail and dropped my stuff in my lap.

There was the usual run of bills and advertising fliers … and my copy of Autoweek. Great, I was relaxing anyway and that magazine was always a great way to catch up on “my” world: cars, racing, people who like cars, people who race cars, and stuff like that.

By this line (based on the title of this dirge) you know that the “was” in the preceding sentence was intended.

You should also know how unpleasant it was to have to write that.

The cover was unusual; it was a rare black and white shot of a famous French racing driver of the ’50s and ’60s named Jean Behra. Obviously just having finished a race, he’s quaffing a bottle of something cold and (most likely French) after winning a race … and that might be Stirling Moss next to him.

Above the magazine’s name, there was what I thought to be a story title: THE FINAL ISSUE it said. I know that my chest tightened a bit reading that line, but I thought it was simply a clever title for an interesting feature story inside.

Reflexively, I turned to the publisher’s page and got slapped across the face with the news: GOODBYE was Rory Carroll’s one-word title for a short explanation that I indeed was holding my last ever print copy of Autoweek.

Hearst Publishing which also owns and (still) prints (last I checked) both Road & Track and Car and Driver decided to pull the plug on the printing machines at Autoweek and publish the 60+-year-old magazine on the web only.

And, damn it, I must know how ironic it is that I’m what I’m writing right now will be not be seen on the printed page … don’t remind me.

We relied on Autoweek when there was no world wide web and when racing news only made the newspapers when something untoward or tragic happened.

We relied on Autoweek. There was a sort of an organic network among us racing nutballs … whoever got their copy of AW first was honor-bound to call at least a couple of friends to let them know the latest.

And then, there was a Saturday when I received a bound stack (15-20 copies) of Autoweek(s) a number of years ago. What the? I untied the stack (with mine on top) and there were the latest issues for everyone in my zip code.

And you are right. I did not take them back to the TOPO (I lived in Thousand Oaks at the time). I got in my car and delivered them one by one. It was fun.  I knew that those other AW subscribers relied on their copies just like I did and that taking them back to the PO, IF it was even open, would mean that these readers wouldn’t get their latest copies of Autoweek until Monday.  

So … sure you have no problem with limitations on stuff like page count, the PO is not involved, the words can be read and the pictures seen the second that they are printed … er, published on the web.

Instant gratification, no troublesome page-turning or anything like that. And no pass along or carefully stored collections of back issues … and, most distressing of all, no friendly stack of magazines in the small private “reading room” down the hall.

 … So it’s another e-good bye to an old standby that’s been replaced by something that’s better, faster, “smarter” cheaper, and nowhere near as handy (and friendly) as a plain old print magazine… Damn.

So … So long print Autoweek and thanks for 61 years of great reporting. Thanks Denise, and Leon, and Keith, and Mom Crain, and Dutch and all the rest.

I’m sure that I’ll check in and check out the site from time to time, read the headlines, get the news … you know, stuff like that.

And I know that the same people will be pouring their hearts and talents into the e-version which I’ll try very hard to appreciate … as truly I enjoy the work of Autoweek staff and contributors.

… Sorry and I know that this has gone on a bit too long, but we went steady for a long time and I needed to vent.

See ya on the web, I guess.

Doug Stokes, Editor-at-Large (11.10.19)

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