July 12, 2002

It's good to be king. The latest circulation numbers are in and I'm happy to report that your favorite magazine, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords, remains the undisputed heavyweight champion of Ford magazine circulation. In fact, MM&FF experienced unprecedented growth in the last 12 months. We went from being the largest Blue Oval magazine on the planet to one of the elite car magazines in the business.

When you're as big as Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords, the industry practice is to have the Audit Bureau of Circulation audit your subscription and newsstand sales. Among other things, it gives you a certified circulation figure that you can present to advertisers. Because it is generated by an independent company, the advertisers don't have to worry about whether the sales people from the magazine are fudging the actual circulation. Other magazines use what is called "sworn" circulation numbers. In theory, the magazine will add up its subscribers and newsstand sales to arrive at its number and then swear it's true. Problem, of course, is that without an audit, how do you know for sure?According to the most recent audit, MM&FF's newsstand circulation rose 26.3 percent from December 31, 2000 to the same date in 2001. Subscriptions are up an insane 38 percent. When you consider an MM&FF sub goes for $29.97 a pop, that's fairly remarkable (no $9.99 giveaways here!).

Think about this: The magazine you are holding in your hands now generates more overall revenue from newsstand sales than any other periodical in the United States that is exclusively about domestic hot rods. For this I thank you, the loyal and faithful readers, both old and new. In a tough economy, an average of 122,705 of you decided that MM&FF's hardcore approach is worth five bucks every four weeks. You have a lot of other places this money could go, including food or other forms of entertainment. I'm humbled that you think that highly of us.

While most people think this is a cake job, you have no idea how hard it is to produce a near 300-page (and sometimes larger) magazine every month. It takes dedication, sacrifice and hard work and I get that from my staff every day. On the East Coast, Evan Smith, John Hedenburg, Steve Baur and Darren Bergstein continually go above and beyond the call of duty. Fighting the good fight on the left coast are art director Pete Brower, senior managing editor Debra Wentz and production coordinator Kim Flicker.

Of course I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my boss, Tom Vogele, vice president of the McMullen Argus Street Rod and Performance Group. Tom pretty much gives me free reign to guide the magazine as I see fit. That's a rarity in publishing. He definitely gives good advice based on his decade as editor of Street Rodder and he talks me in off the ledge when things start coming apart at the seams. Tom is the sensible guy who lets me know when I've crossed that line between clever and stupid. And he never interferes just to prove his name is higher than mine on the masthead.

We've also been lucky because of the tireless work of the people in the circulation department. Honchos Rich Baron in New York and Nick Singh in California have made MM&FF available on virtually every major newsstand and the subscription department, with names too numerous to mention, busts its collective hump to ensure that anyone who wants MM&FF can get it.Publisher Tim Foss, and group ad sales director Glenn Bornemann and his crew deserve props as well. The result of their diligence is evident by the size of this package. Just weigh it. If nothing else, MM&FF is, pound-for-pound, the best value in the Ford market. I break Glenn's chops all the time, but a lot of magazines that were publishing this time last year are out of business because they didn't have enough advertising to be profitable.

Don't think for a minute, though, that we're going to get cocky and rest on our accomplishments. I've been in publishing long enough to know that if you're not going up, you are probably going down and I refuse to let MM&FF stagnate. I personally still read every single letter and email that comes to MM&FF. I may not agree with everything you write, but I sure take it to heart. Magazines are constantly evolving and I'm well aware of the areas where this one needs improvement.

The one thing this magazine won't become is an apologist for Ford Motor Company. The first letter in Mustang Mail this month accuses us of being a pro-GM magazine because we sometimes criticize the Blue Oval. I had a writer from another Ford magazine tell me I was a traitor because I wrote that the Camaro SS was faster than a Bullitt. He said I was disloyal to Ford.

Let me dispel a myth here and now. We at MM&FF toil for the near 123,000 hard-working folks who buy this magazine every month. Our loyalty is to them, not Ford. As journalists, we're obligated to tell the truth. If you have a problem with that, MM&FF might not be for you. Besides, I correct my children when they do something wrong. That doesn't mean I love them any less. It just means I want them to do better.

I've had people from Team Mustang tell me they use our critiques as ammunition to improve the car. If it was up to some, the Mustang GT would still have 215 horsepower and the Cobra would probably not exist. Forget about the Mach 1, which we understand finally got the green light for production. I'm certainly not trying to take credit for these cars--their creators fought long, arduous battles to make them happen. But we're not going to make it easier for the Mustang's enemies by damning it with false praise.