Crertm6 Exposure Prrt2

Steue got hooked on classic racing in the 1990s and in an ted to giue the neuj Central iTluscle Cars class a hand. Find so it begins.

So I set about creating a website for Central Muscle Cars, aiming to have it ready for the start of the inaugural season. I created individual pages for each car and driver containing vital info such as engine size and power, but also personalising the drivers by getting them to add a few details about themselves. I knew photos were important, because car people love photos. So I found some photographers who would be attending each of the CMC meetings and asked that they contribute to the website at no charge, in return for exposure. Then I wrote a race review after each round and linked everything together with news items about cars being built, race previews and so on, so the website was constantly changing and people would visit it regularly, building to do it, and certainly didn't get paid for it. It was a struggle for me to break out of my monotone-mumble and sound like a newsreader. I had to spend a couple of hours practising before each session. But I figured it was a way to keep pushing the CMC brand, being careful to plug the sponsors each time. By the end of the second season, CMC was appearing monthly in NZCC, NZ Tarmac, and had a single season review in AMC, plus I was pushing the brand through The Breeze, although I doubt anyone listened. Because the website was now two years old, I scrapped it and built a new one. That was 2004, the same year NZV8 mag came on the scene. Its then-editor Sean Craig was keen to have a few cars featured in the mag. So in the first 10 or so issues I wrote articles on three CMC cars then did a season review at the conclusion of season three, although around this time NZ Tarmac died. I also added Australian magazine Auto Action to the list with a short review of each round and single photo. Australia's off-season is our racing season so it was grateful for the coverage.

When Todd Wylie took over as Editor for NZV8, he was happy to continue the season reviews and feature car articles, but I wanted to push things a little more and sold him on the idea of a round review in each issue, accompanied by 10 photos, which CMC would pay for. That worked well for Todd; who got to increase the CMC coverage, which was proving popular with the growing NZV8 readership, but he didn't have to pay for the photos. One of the problems any club has is losing momentum over the off-season. I wanted to keep CMC in the headlines, and when Todd asked if we could stick a few NZV8 number plates on the back of our cars, I figured that was a good time to launch my next idea as a bargaining tool. I wanted to have a page each issue dedicated to CMC for news about new cars being built, cars being rebuilt, calendar dates and so on, with the sponsor logos at the bottom so that when the new season kicked off, everyone was pumped and momentum was already running strong. [Hey wasn't that my idea - Ed] I also contacted MotorSport New Zealand and asked if I could run reviews of some of our higher profile meetings on its website. So by 2008 CMC was in NZV8, NZCC, AMC and Auto Action, plus NZ Racer and the MotorSport NZ website. It was hard work, and although my magazine connections helped get my case across, it didn't guarantee me anything. I still had to do a sales pitch, I had to produce interesting articles, supply photos, make my deadlines and

"I calculated that after siH seasons I'd spent more than $10,000 of my oun money promoting CfTIC, including gate charges at race meetings"

up some sort of fan base. Then I wrapped the whole thing up in an attractive package that was easy to navigate and enjoyable to view. Sounds normal now, but back then nobody was doing this sort of stuff. As the season was winding down, I contacted Allan Walton at NZ Classic Car magazine, Mark Oastler at Australian Muscle Car mag, and the editor of a new locally produced mag called New Zealand Tarmac, asking if it'd be possible to do a bit of a season review. All agreed, and CMC was now in print. One year after the formation of CMC I'd managed to build a website quite different from what other clubs were using at the time, and got the class into three magazines, albeit with modest coverage. It was hard work and my connections with some of those magazines didn't automatically give me right of passage. I had to sell them on the subject and create articles that fit with each magazine's content.

Heading into season two, and Mike Eden of GDM Group stepped up to become the first CMC sponsor. I wanted to increase momentum. I asked Allan Walton if I could do a brief review of each round accompanied by a single photo as the season progressed, as I wanted ongoing coverage, and the same with NZ Tarmac. I'd also been contacted by The Breeze radio station to do a two-minute motorsport news section each Friday afternoon. I really didn't want be constantly creative.

For the first three seasons with CMC, I did everything for free. From the fourth season it began paying me $25 per hour for my website updates, then $40 by the seventh season. But I paid my own way for everything for the first six seasons, including travel, petrol, food, accommodation and even gate charges at race meetings. After six seasons I calculated I'd spent more than $10,000 of my own money to promote CMC!

There were things I would have liked to have achieved, such as more coverage in Speedsport magazine, and I tried in vain to gain published in Australian Street Machine and the UK mag Classic American. I'm no longer with CMC. But I'm pleased with what I achieved. My goal was to ensure everyone knew what CMC was, and magazines provided an excellent medium to do that. They were accommodating, if only because I was persistent and had a product of interest to their readers. However, I made sure I made the absolute most out of each opportunity. So when any club or team thinks magazines are unfairly ignoring them, they need to ask themselves the same questions I asked myself: am I doing everything I can do? Can I do more? Remember, magazines go where the news is, so you just have to make yourself the news. V8


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