JOURNALIST Q&A: Lucas Mast

NASCAR's fan base - about 75 million strong - has a brand-new magazine that goes beyond race coverage and driver interviews. Debuting this month, American Thunder aims to get at the culture behind the sport.

NASCAR's fan base - about 75 million strong - has a brand-new magazine that goes beyond race coverage and driver interviews. Debuting this month, American Thunder aims to get at the culture behind the sport.

PRWeek: What kind of regular features will we see in the magazine? What kind of editorial tone will you take? Lucas Mast: Where the existing NASCAR publications cover races and drivers, what we're aiming to do is take it one step beyond and acknowledge that there's a common culture that exists among NASCAR fans. We've created a magazine that provides everything from driver interviews to fan participation to a monthly column by Jamie McMurray, who was rookie of the year for NASCAR last year. PRWeek: Has getting access to drivers been at all a problem? Mast: It isn't easy by any means, but we do have our ducks in a row. Our NASCAR editor, Ryan McGee, who's done a lot of stuff for Fox and lives in Pineville, NC, is the best of the best. He's a young guy, a talented writer, and has his finger on the pulse of NASCAR. He's led us to other writers who are, in a sense, underutilized. If you're going to a race every week and you don't have stories every week, then your stories can be wasted in the sense of not being shared with a larger audience. We're trying to get the best writers and the people who are at the track every weekend. PRWeek: How does being sold at a retailer with the sway of Wal-Mart help the magazine's brand? Mast: Each successive - and successful - step in our launch strategy has served to legitimize our vision and prove that others think that a magazine like American Thunder is needed. From getting a stable of the best NASCAR writers, to adding writers from other top-notch newspapers and magazines, to securing Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the cover of issue one, to reaching an agreement with Wal-Mart's distribution networks, to getting advertising from household American brands, we have been encouraged by the response from outside entities. Wal-Mart is the closest match to our demographic - with roots in the South and expanding nationwide at a rapid pace - and it seemed a natural fit to be sold there. The best part of this relationship is that it ensures that our readers will be able to go down to their local Wal-Mart and pick up the latest copy of American Thunder. PRWeek: Tell me about your jump from Cato Institute, a think tank, to a NASCAR magazine. Mast: I've always been a sports fan. Some friends of mine invited me to a race in Watkins Glen, NY, about three years ago. I was absolutely blown away from everything, from the patriotic things like the flyovers by military jets to the general reverence - feeling like I was in a place of worship. After being at several races, I still have that feeling. ----- Name Lucas Mast Publication American Thunder Title Editor-in-chief Preferred contact method lmast@getthunder.com Website www.getthunder.com

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