I got a long letter from Carnut99, a reader of Turbo for six years, and it brought up some interesting points-some of which I have been mulling over in my own mind for some months now. Mr. Nut99 says he realizes the importance of Hondas but has seen enough of the Honda nameplate. While he may have a point, he really got my attention when he wrote, "Can you guys spend a month without featuring a butchered Civic that will never see the streets [and write instead about] some good old 12- or 11-second street cars?"
Turbo has been at the heart of import performance since Day One. There have been numerous other titles with big money behind them created to "bring us down." Running a magazine from a small publishing house (prior to the acquisition by McMullen), I have learned the most powerful commodity is reader loyalty. As these bigger companies introduced titles that targeted Turbo, I saw that no matter how much money is thrown at a title, its reader loyalty cannot be bought. I have tried to put out a magazine that has what the readership wants more than what I think they want-in order for a reader to be loyal to a magazine, the magazine must be loyal to the reader. Carnut99's letter starts out, "I have been a reader for six years and I must say that I have been satisfied. No matter how hard you try, you can't please everyone every time." It is this sentence that made me take notice. It is easy to write and bag on the mag if you have a pet peeve or something but the way this letter is worded gives its following comments more validity (at least in my book).
We have strived to be the tech leader in the import scene since that was where our passion was before Day One of the import scene. We have built up quite a reputation for having the leading edge technology and straight-out fastest imports in our pages. Have we gone too far? Has this thing gotten to the point that a 10-second Honda/Acura is a novelty? What about nine-second imports in general? Have imports peaked in their quarter-mile tenacity? Do we need more street cars in Turbo? More non-Hondas? More domestics? More Buick Turbo Regals? More tech? Dare I say, fewer Hondas?
The February issue was an experiment to see if non-Hondas taking a dominant role in the magazine would antagonize the core readership. This issue featured Craig Paisley's 8.72-second stock-engined Supra on the cover, a Supra-only event, a 10-second single turbo racer, the world's quickest JZA80 (the 8.70-second Performance Factory Outlaw Class racer), Supra-specific tech and two pristine 600-horsepower street cars. These articles were joined by Battle race coverage, a Japanese Nissan Silvia Spec-R test, CMI race coverage, a neat tech story on Crower's stroker kit for 1.8-liter Hondas, Pitcrew's 10-second Civic, and Nopi Drag War race coverage. That's a pretty righteous mix-especially considering the February issue's seasonally small package size.
Carnut99 also wanted more East Coast cars. That's another area where the power of McMullen comes into play. Now Turbo has the ability to line up a number of right coast cars and dispatch a photographer to get the goods. Carnut99 mentioned The Performance Factory and it just so happens we recently had a photog there and shot two of the shop's cars-look for them in these pages soon. The DRT Civic in the last issue was also shot on the same trip so we are focusing on the East Coast for more than event coverage and plan to increase this focus in 2000.
So where are we going from here? I think we are on the right track. Turbo will include more street cars but will in no way abandon its motorsports roots. Turbo will remain the leader in import technology and drag racing coverage and we will mix in a broader selection of imports. But as long as Hondas are hot Turbo will feature them. Domestics will get love as well. What do you think? This is your magazine. I would like to know what you want more of. What you want less of. What you want none of, etc. Contact me via e-mail at www.turbomagazine.com.
Well, I certainly feel better. I would like to thank Carnut99 for his letter. This month's column has saved me a session on the psychiatrist's couch and better still, I have escaped those nasty electrodes. Until next month, stay tuned.