Yesterday evening I arrived home to find my final issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Cars waiting for me on my kitchen counter. That issue was different, both in the fact that it was wrapped in plastic protection, and that it contained a letter announcing it would be the ultimate issue. My favorite esoteric magazine had been the latest casualty in the ongoing war of print vs. digital.
The Hemmings empire, stretching from the vast corners of periodical paradise, covers nearly every element of the automotive kingdom. Hemmings Motor News, the so-called "Bible" of the automotive hobby, sits atop the number 1 podium, being flanked by Hemmings Muscle Machines and Hemmings Classic Car. Hemmings Sports & Exotic Cars was like the orphanage of the special interest auto world, providing shelter to the cars that couldn't be categorized in either of the aforementioned publications.
While it would require mind-reading abilities to know exactly why certain decisions are made, especially when it comes to business ones, you could speculate for a month as to why the publisher deemed it a reasonable move to desist a magazine whose readership was growing year after year and still not arrive at an appropriate and satisfying answer. Logic, as they say, does not befall everyone.
Leafing through the pages afforded opportunities to discover the treasures held within; wicked wordsmiths wove expertly told tales of a barn-find this or an original-owner that. Average cars were allotted their proverbial 15 minutes of fame, while more obscure marques were revealed to readers who had never heard of such things. And then there was my favorite section, "Historic Racing," which featured archive images from long ago races, as interpreted by the men who pressed the shutter. All of the other sections, like "Drive Reports", "Auction Profile", "Supply Side," they all came together to form a magazine that was very difficult not to read cover to cover as soon as you removed it from your mailbox.
On occasion, I have a tendency of going to Barnes & Noble (or back then, more than likely Borders), and grabbing magazines whose covers catch my eye. Although I can't recall the exact issue, my first encounter with Sports & Exotic Car occurred sometime in 2011, and have held a subscription since November of that year. Each month, out of all the periodicals that filled my mailbox (and believe me, I have enough back issues to start an uncomfortably large garage fire), that was the title that I looked forward to arriving most.
I've had the pleasure of putting faces and voices to a few key bylines in the publication, including Dave LaChance, Mark J. McCourt, and Terry Shea. I don't think Hemmings could have had a better group of enthusiasts putting together the magazine each month. After meeting Dave, Mark and Terry at the 2015 Concours, we talked about having a Japanese category at the 2016 event so I could show my old Celica (not sure if it could be categorized as talking, or me pleading). More apropos was having a Toyota-only sports car category at the 2016 Sports & Exotic Show. I signed up, put blind faith in my 35-year-old Japanese sports coupe and made the nearly 400 mile round trip to Saratoga Springs without so much as a hiccup.
The hard work of all involved in putting together one of the best rags on the rack needs should be commended for years to come. The in-depth research was bar none and the stories reached beyond the English standard of covering the Five Ws. It was this thoughtful conglomeration that made this magazine so interesting. The void in my mail delivery will be duly noted, and for those reasons will be missed the most.
In a world that's quickly headed towards total digitization, it's easy to see how an analog magazine can get swept away in those waves. Content aggregators, whose main purpose is to take the hard work of others and spread it across as many channels as possible, many times conveniently forgetting to cite their source, are the new pastimes of pimply-faced preteens and computer-savvy self-promoters. Niches are exploited like the hot new song on New York radio, getting overplayed to the point of saturation until you're drowning in repetitious melodies. There just isn't any substance in some of those new digital ventures, instead relying on putting as many pictures as possible in your frantic scrolling. But I digress. I'm sure George Washington's kin wouldn't appreciate if his obituary focused more on him cutting down a cherry tree than winning America's independence.
It's tough to summarize 12 years of work by countless folks in one short blog post. There was so much that those talented individuals accomplished during their tenure that it would be easy to overlook many things. But it would be a damn shame if their names didn't show up in print for other Hemmings publications. While I am also a subscriber to the aforementioned Hemmings Muscle Machines and Hemmings Classic Car, I hope that something with a familiar vibe to Sports & Exotic Car comes along soon, whether in digital form or not. Because otherwise, I may have to steer the Bearded Mug Media name down a different avenue.
You can find my coverage of the 2016 Sports & Exotic Show HERE.
You can find my coverage of the 2015 Sports & Exotic Show HERE.
You can find my album of the 2014 Sports & Exotic Show HERE.