Our newest senior editor, Steve Madden, might seem an unlikely
NASCAR nut. An Ivy Leaguer from Boston, he spends much of his
free time climbing mountains, kayaking rivers and winning
masters' swimming medals. His ride? A mud-caked 1991 Honda Civic
wagon. But Madden knows auto racing inside out, having spent a
good part of his 10-year journalism career covering cars and
drivers. He is, by his own admission, "a racing junkie."
Thus Madden was the ideal person to execute the production of
our first auto racing annual, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED PRESENTS: The
1996 NASCAR Winston Cup Championship, a 160-page magazine that
commemorates the 1996 Winston Cup season, previews the 1997
competition and celebrates the series that draws the highest
average attendance--172,000 fans per event last year--of any
sport in the U.S. "We knew that the person to launch this
project needed a crewman's understanding of the technical
aspects of the sport, a fan's enthusiasm and a vision of how to
blend those together," says SI Presents editor David Bauer.
"Steve has all of that."
The issue, which will be available on newsstands throughout the
country starting next Monday, covers this year's 31 Winston Cup
races, from February's Daytona 500 to this month's season-ending
NAPA 500, and profiles each of the top drivers. It also
describes changes that are expected to affect the series in '97,
such as new rules and new tracks. All of this is accompanied by
the dramatic photography that is an SI hallmark.
Madden, 33, evolved into a racing diehard after his 1986
graduation from Cornell. In his first job, as a reporter for
Fortune, he covered the auto industry for three years. When he
moved to the now-defunct men's lifestyle magazine M as a writer
in 1989, he was assigned to follow driver Emerson Fittipaldi
during a racing season that would see Fittipaldi win both the
Indy 500 and the CART title. The highlight for Madden came at
that year's Detroit Grand Prix, when Fittipaldi went from dead
last to the checkered flag after puncturing a tire in the first
lap when he and Mario Andretti collided. "It was an incredibly
exciting race," says Madden. "That's when I became a huge fan."
Before beginning a five-year stint as the editor and then
editor-publisher of Cornell's alumni magazine in 1991, Madden
spent a summer hanging out with CART star Danny Sullivan with an
eye to collaborating on an autobiography of the driver (a
project that never came to fruition). Madden, an endurance
swimmer who has three times traversed Chesapeake Bay and a
mountaineer who has climbed Kala Patar in the Himalayas, gained
from Sullivan a new respect for the rigors of motor sports. "I
was one of those guys who didn't think of race-car drivers as
athletes," he says. "But Danny changed my mind. Driving on an
18-degree angle at 195 miles per hour for three hours through
heavy traffic--that takes enormous skill, stamina, concentration
and knowledge. Not to mention acute vision."
As the driver of our NASCAR issue, Madden has displayed no small
measure of skill, stamina, concentration and knowledge. And we
think fans will like the results of his vision.
COLOR PHOTO: PETER GREGOIRE Car junkie Madden steered our NASCAR issue. [Steve Madden]