RACER turns 32: Endurance, commitment and the power of you

It was 12 years ago this past weekend that the RACER 3.0 Era began, as we revealed the first new-look issue featuring the radical Delta Wing IMSA racecar on the cover. This followed the company being reacquired by the founders only a month before. It was a brave reset of the magazine — and the ambitions of our small but mighty RACER team. As fate would have it, this was also on same weekend of the 20th anniversary of RACER’s original debut…

On the evening of April 11, 1992, RACER magazine issue No.1 was revealed to racing’s insiders on the eve of the Long Beach Grand Prix. My friend and media hero, the late Chris Economaki, raised a toast to RACER’s success, and added, “this sport is big enough for both of us” in reference to him being the publisher of National Speed Sport News (now I once had a discussion with Chris about who each of us, actually worked for. It’s you, our audience. You are why we do what we do, and this is something we never forget at RACER, because we’re also fans — just like you.

The launch of RACER fulfilled a long-held shared vision between myself and my friend Jeff Zwart, who is a talented photographer and director, and who would join me in investing in the business. I’m eternally grateful to him for his friendship, talent, wisdom, and commitment. The birth of the RACER dream is covered in Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 of our Forging Ahead video series on The RACER Channel.


Many were skeptical about our survival, but RACER magazine overcame numerous and daunting challenges because many more people believed in us than those who doubted us. It is gratifying to now look back and realize that RACER is still standing while other long-established titles have faded and died.

Call me Captain Obvious, but this is the result of those who chose to subscribe or advertise. A heartfelt ‘thank you’ if you did either, or both! If you haven’t yet done so, please click the links above to join those who believe in RACER — and in racing.

By 1996, RACER was well established and growing rapidly. So was our internal creative agency, that is today known as RACER Studio. We’d landed a deal to publish the CART IndyCar Fan Guide, and we’d been involved in creative projects for the Skip Barber Racing School, ESPN and the action sports fashion brand No Fear.

In truth, no fear was exactly what we’d need to get through the next five years, as the world of motorsports and media began to evolve rapidly. IndyCar was entering a period of painfully destructive division, NASCAR was ascendant, and IMSA in a period of decline. But media was in for an even greater period of disruption as the web 1.0 revolution began.

By this time we’d attracted new investors, led by IMSA racer, team owner and successful businessman Rob Dyson. My longtime friend Skip Barber also invested in our company, as did CART team owner Bruce McCaw, active racers Mark and Brian Simo, who’d founded No Fear, my colleague Bill King and the late Michael Dingman, who was a racer and served on the board of the Ford Motor Company.

RACER was ready, and on the grid early for the race to media’s future. launched in May 1997. This was a result of vision and hard work of RACER’s founding publisher Bill Sparks, and our original website editor Bill King.

During that same period, our agency attracted GM, Honda, Penske Motorsports and Porsche as clients. Our business was growing, and so was interest in racing.

Soon we were approached by several leading media companies to acquire our company, but one was particularly persistent, and ultimately successful. UK-based Haymarket media was the publisher of Autosport, F1 Racing, Motorsport, Motorsport News, What Car? and Classic & Sports Car. They pursued the deal for three and a half years and in January 2001, RACER became part of the Haymarket family. I remained with the company, as did all our staff. We soon had new teammates who spoke proper English, and were great fun and full of creativity and passion.

I won’t bore you with the details, but by late 2005, I was restless and wanted to personally evolve, and do something new and different. So I decided to leave the company I founded, and we continued with the agency work that Haymarket’s leadership had kindly allowed me to take forward. I was joined by RACER colleagues Bill Sparks, Celia Shambaugh and Paul Laguette. Our clients included ALMS/IMSA, IndyCar, The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, International Speedway Corporation, iRacing and Swift Engineering,

But what we really wanted to do was move into the world of video creation and online distribution. Bill Sparks developed plan for new business that would eventually be branded as OnCars.  In 2008, we formed a partnership with media entrepreneur Jay Penske, along with my friends, TV legends Terry Linger and Conrad Piccirillo, to develop a video-first website produced by their brilliant team at Innovative I. We would create video reviews of exciting cars and develop episodic features about new cars, racing and new technologies. Former racer, automotive designer and performance driver Emile Bouret hosted the shows, and RACER contributor Rick Graves directed all the programming while talented editor Andrew Snider pulled it all together. We Launched OnCars in May 2008, but a global economic storm was brewing just beyond the horizon. We produced hundreds of high-quality reviews and racing-related videos during the next two years, including the 2009 Launch Vehicle series introducing the prototype for the revolutionary Tesla Model S. Now, with 20/24 hindsight, OnCars was just too early to the marketplace, and badly timed in the context of the Great Recession and resultant Carpocalypse. Let’s just say we have unfinished business  there…

Regardless, we learned so much, and the experience gained helped us seize the moment to reacquire our company from Haymarket Media in the March 2012. That would have not been possible without the faith and investment of Rob and Chris Dyson. It is also important to acknowledge the wise counsel and hard work of racer and serial entrepreneur Chris McMurry, our Racer Media & Marketing, Inc. advising board member who has been working with us to plan what’s next for the RACER brand in 2024 and beyond.

Everything that’s happened since the RACER 3.0 era began in 2012 has been the result of the brilliance and hard work of my RACER teammates: Editor-In-Chief Laurence Foster; Editor Mark Glendenning; Editor-At-Large David Malsher-Lopez; Executive Editor Andrew Crask; Art Director Rob French; RACER Artist-in-Residence Paul Laguette; VP of Operations Sandra Carboni-Alexander; Advertising Director Raelyn Stokes; Advertising Operations Manager Victor Uribe; Global Sales Director John Chambers; partner sales representative Rick Bisbee, circulation and promotions manager Nick Lish; Racer Studio Creative Director George Tamayo; Racer Studio manager Molly Binks; illustrator Riccardo Santos; site editors Dominik Wilde and Cody Globig; digital interns Morgan Raynal and Maria Rojas; digital artist Ree Tucker; and digital pre-press manager Miguel Vega.

Kudos to our talented and tenacious correspondents: Marshall Pruett, Chris Medland, Kelly Crandall, Richard S. James, Stephen Kilbey, Michael Lomanato and Dominik Wilde.

Bravo to our awesome photographic team at Lumen Digital, led by Michael Levitt. Our sincere thanks also extend to the team at Motorsport Images.

Most importantly, thank you to our loyal RACER readers and advertisers for going the distance with us as we race onward to RACER’s future in print, digital and video content. Learn more about RACER magazine.

Last, but certainly not least, I also must also thank my understanding family, and the wonderful families of my RACER teammates, for enduring the brutal travel schedules and the commitment of time required to do what we do in a lifestyle that has no rev limiter.

But it’s been worth it. RACER was created to convey the winning can-do culture and brave spirit of racing, and the relentless passion that drives the sport forward in the endless race to the future.

We’re in it, to win it, so onward to what’s next.

Celebrating the RACER 3.0 Era

In this video, we look back at the issues produced by Editor-in-Chief Laurence Foster and the RACER team since the company was reacquired by the founders in the Spring of 2012. We refer to this period as the RACER 3.0 era. Every RACER cover since May 2012 through April 2024 is shown in this video.

Story originally appeared on Racer