First and foremost, I would like to welcome D.J. Randall aboard. Whether through the pages of this magazine, our website, or at various events throughout the year—you will be getting to know this talented young chap. D.J. hails from the Tampa area and is not only quite the car guy, having owned several rides that would make any enthusiast jealous, but he also possesses some impressive driving skills as demonstrated on the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (Grand Am) circuit. We plan to take full advantage of these abilities when he isn’t chained to the desk writing stories.
As I type this, it’s been two weeks since D.J. started, and I can breathe a sigh of relief that not every single task is left up to me anymore. Despite having a great core of contributing editors and photographers, it’s been more and more difficult for me to truly immerse myself in writing and in this great hobby. Simply planning and editing a magazine is so time consuming, now throw in social media and marketing efforts, a website…the list goes on. Being thorough and responsible while putting your soul and passion into a magazine is an exhausting effort. It tends to be very give-and-take, and inevitably something suffers. To some extent, only an editor or a business owner will understand what it is like to build something from the ground up out of thin air, as we do every month, and what it takes to do so. Every month this product goes out, and you hope that people like it—but all you really know is what you put into it.
I can assure you that the perception of what it’s like to be an editor does not match reality. Some people believe that you just fly around the country like a rock star, driving and racing fast cars, taking a few pictures, while people shower you with free stuff, and at the end of every month you write a little column (like this) about it. Nope. If that is all you are doing, then you aren’t being an editor and you should probably be fired immediately then pushed down a porcupine staircase. Being an editor (or should I say a real editor or a good editor) is all about the grind. It’s about being an enthusiast like the people that read your magazine, not trying to convince them how awesome you are. It’s also about taking the time to make sure every story and column looks clean, and that your staff knows exactly what they need to produce the best quality product that is in line with your magazine’s mission. And at the same time, you need to be producing content yourself, which not only adds value to the magazine, but inspires your staff by the quality, style, and thoroughness of its substance. You have to be devoted to the craft of making a magazine and the material in which you are covering.
Some of my best experiences over the last nine years have been when I was able to interact with enthusiasts, readers, and potential readers at the ground level. It really is rewarding and invigorating to see the joy on a racer’s face from winning, gratitude to another guy at the track for helping fix his car or even to an editor for featuring his car. Though I’ve definitely been to more than my share of test and tune nights at Bradenton, this past month was the first time in a long time that I participated at an event (let alone two in two weeks). And I couldn’t have felt more connected to the car, the hobby, and the many great people involved in it. From my pit stall neighbor at Sebring to the guys at LSR Performance that lent a hand to Vengeance Racing and Detroit Speed & Engineering at the Chevy High Performance Nationals (not to mention the hardworking staff at both events)—this hobby is carried on the backs of many great people. Understanding this transcendental nature is what puts your finger on the pulse.
If there is one thing that I can instill in D.J., it is that first and foremost you must be “one of us.” In fact, that is why he was chosen in the first place, because there are some things you just can’t teach. The tradition and success of GM High-Tech Performance (in my era at least) is steeped in this connection to the hobby. However, being thorough, honest, fair, and devoted to your craft is also a large part as well. I hope that D.J. finds his job as rewarding as his predecessors, and can help shape and grow the magazine as we enter a new era.