'Racing Fan' launch: Time breaks into Nascar territory

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Next year Time Inc.'s Time4Media unit will publish two issues of Racing Fan, a magazine aimed at Nascar Nation.

Should the project succeed, said Mark Ford, Time4Media's CEO, Racing Fan will eventually move to a monthly frequency. Time4Media is launching an all-terrain-vehicle magazine next year, but a full-on launch of Racing Fan would be its most ambitious move since Time Inc. purchased what was then called Times Mirror Magazines in late 2000.

big leagues

At this juncture, even inveterate blue-staters have heard that Nascar is the nation's second largest sport after football. Mr. Ford cited figures that find 35 million Nascar fans in America, of which 22 million qualified as especially avid. Yet Racing Fan will be the only broad-reach magazine bid for the Nascar fan. The news of the project, ironically, comes just weeks after the independently published American Thunder, which targeted a similar market, was shuttered after publishing for less than a year.

In response to a question about American Thunder, Scott Mowbray, Time4Media's editorial director, touts his company's pure-play bid for the space. American Thunder devoted about half of its editorial pages to what Mr. Mowbray termed "chest-beating man stuff," non-Nascar topics such as salt-water fishing and deck building. Racing Fan will zero in on what Mr. Mowbray calls the "spectacle" of Nascar and its personalities, in order to capitalize on the still-human-scaled dimensions of this sport. "You can still shake the hand of your driver," he said.

big and photo-heavy

Currently Time4Media publishes 16 consumer titles and three trade titles, all of which aim at male-dominated enthusiast niches. Its three largest titles are Field & Stream, Popular Science and Golf magazine.

Racing Fan will be oversized-specifically, 10 inches by 12 inches, about the size of ESPN the Magazine, a joint venture of Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Magazines, and run decidedly photo-heavy.

Mr. Mowbray's reasoning on this point is that racing fans are already well-served by the Web (for up-to-the-moment stats) and TV (for live events). Time4Media has no relationship with Nascar for Racing Fan, and talk of any tie-ins with Nascar sponsors "is premature," according to Mr. Ford.

Recurring features in the magazine will include first-person accounts of races told by both drivers and crew chiefs, and a stars-out-and-about paparazzi section called Face2Face-which bears a strong resemblance to Star Tracks in Time Inc.'s weekly title People.

Other recurring sections will include the "gossip garage" and a photo feature illustrating key moments in the sport, like one in the prototype that depicts "10 Crashes That Shook Nascar's World." (No. 1 is the one that claimed Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s life at 2001's Daytona 500.)

Newsstand distribution is set at 250,000 copies. A one-time full-color page rate is $10,000, and Mr. Ford said spreads will be priced at $17,500. The title's newsstand price is $3.99.

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