Road & Track Drives Lifestyle Into Magazine

Redesign to feature 'thought pieces'

Move over, GQ? Road & Track, the 66-year-old car magazine has gotten a serious tune-up. The Hearst Magazines title is introducing a new look, content and focus with the May issue that editor in chief Larry Webster and publisher and CRO Felix DiFilippo are hoping will set the book apart from its car-obsessed competitors and give it a men's magazine feel.

The overhaul began last summer when Webster joined Road & Track from Popular Mechanics, moving the magazine’s headquarters to Ann Arbor, Mich., and hiring a slew of new staffers. “As we looked to the other car magazines, we saw that they were gelling around a center which was very focused on new car, new car, new car, and a lot of car reviews,” said Webster. “We think our natural niche for Road & Track is more magazine-y. It’s more longform stories, it’s more thought pieces, it’s all the stuff around the car as well as the car itself…We’re trying to pull in the romance and excitement of cars.”

The new Road & Track will include more lifestyle-focused content, from style coverage to restaurant recommendations for a road trip. Many of the magazine’s new writers, like executive editor Sam Smith and senior editor Josh Condon, have written for men’s lifestyle and fashion titles like GQ and Esquire.

Design-wise, the magazine has a new logo, retro (and more upscale) cover look and an emphasis on photography, plus a larger trim size and heavier paper stock. The look was overseen by new design director Dave Speranza and takes many of its cues from the early issues of Road & Track.

The changes have been attracting more high-end advertisers, both in the auto world as well as luxury goods manufacturers. Thirty-five percent of advertising revenue in the May issue came from new or newly reintroduced brands, like Jaguar, Cadillac and Indian motorcycle.

A new website is also being rolled out, and a redesigned tablet edition will make its debut with the magazine’s June issue.