The road to becoming the Grassroots Motorsports Publisher

Tom
By Tom Suddard
Feb 8, 2024 | Grassroots Motorsports, Column, Blog | Posted in Columns | From the April 2024 issue | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: Chris Tropea

For years and years, I’ve wondered under what circumstances I’d be writing my first column in Grassroots Motorsports. Starting out, of course, I wasn’t too worried about it–as an 8-year-old kid autocrossing go-karts, I figured my father, Tim, would keep writing these columns for the magazine while I climbed the pro racing ladder into an eventual Formula 1 seat.

The more I grew up in the business, though, the more I realized that not only was I never going to be a pro driver, but I didn’t want to be. Instead, I realized that maybe my parents were right about one thing: that the world’s greatest job is running a small family publishing company and playing with cars all day. 

I fell in love with our hobby, with our staff, and with our community. And I made it my mission to, one day, be the person in the front of the magazine welcoming you to this latest issue–even if my parents told me I’d be missing my chance to get a real job and just play with cars as a hobby. 

So how does one become the second generation of Grassroots Motorsports? Well, it starts with a huge head start: I’m extremely fortunate that I was born to parents with a rotary engine instead of parents in the Rotary Club. 

But I’m also extremely fortunate to have had the mentorship of so many of the magazine’s friends and partners along the way. I won’t name names, as this column’s limited to 750 words and it would be wrong to list only a tenth of them, but these people are the only reason I’m even half-qualified to fill these shoes. If you’ve ever learned something from one of my stories, odds are good I learned it first from a friend of the magazine. To everybody who’s ever taught me anything: Thank you.

Becoming the second generation also requires a fantastic staff. David and J.G., our two longest-serving employees, both started when they were younger than I am, helping my parents transform this from a resumé-building side hustle into a real company. 

All along the way, they and others spent an inordinate amount of time teaching me the parts of the business my parents couldn’t, from David marking up my grammar with a red pen at age 12 to J.G. marking up my stories on suspension theory at age 30. Today we work as equals, sharing our love, passion and expertise for cars and the stories around them. Thanks to Kevin, too, for joining our effort and helping to mentor the next generation. And my gratitude extends to our GRM alumni, who may have moved on to other ventures but still took the time to help me on mine. 

While some staff has been here for decades, I’m not the only part of the business transitioning to the second generation. It’s been so, so fulfilling to watch our next generation of employees, including Colin, J.A. and our youngest, Tad, learn the ropes and build their own careers at Motorsport Marketing, Inc. 

And speaking of the next generation of staff, this transition has required a fantastic family, too. So fantastic, in fact, that we’ve drafted four more of them to join the company as employees. 

Over the years we’ve been lucky to poach Sarah, Katie, Chris and Nicole from lives that any normal person would have called more stable opportunities than the ever-changing world of media. That list includes my amazing wife, Nicole, who’s far more than a partner, but also a fully committed member of the GRM family who’s busy chasing this dream with me.

There’s one more group of people this transition relies on: our community. Growing up, this business introduced me to many of the people, cars and companies that keep our hobby going. It wasn’t always obvious that those legacies would live on over time, and indeed some haven’t. 

But today, I’m thrilled to share the paddock not just with my parents’ friends, but with the kids I grew up running around with while our dads raced, as well as with others who are new to the hobby but bring the same passion that drove my parents to start this business 40 years ago. Today, these former paddock rats are our customers, contributors and competitors, and it’s so heartening to see we’re far from the only piece of this community that’s transitioned to the next generation.

This brings me back to my question of circumstances for my first column, and my immense pleasure to finally answer it: I’m writing my first column backed by everything I’ve mentioned and more, in a time when cars have never been better, track time has never been more accessible, and our company has never been stronger. 

My goal? For my successor, whoever they may be, to start on even firmer footing. Thank you, everybody, and here’s to the next era of Grassroots Motorsports.

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Comments
LD71
LD71 New Reader
2/8/24 1:32 p.m.

Congrats!

DavyZ
DavyZ New Reader
2/8/24 1:47 p.m.

Yes, congratulations!!

In reply to Tom Suddard :

Well said!

eastsideTim
eastsideTim UltimaDork
2/8/24 1:58 p.m.

Congratulations!

In a time when many media organizations seem to be desperately trying to reinvent themselves, this one understands where they fit in, and how to connect with their enthusiast community.  It has been amazing to watch the development of Grassroots Motorsports over the last 40 years, and I think it is in good hands going forward.

Katie Wilson
Katie Wilson Advertising Coordinator
2/8/24 2:46 p.m.

Glad to have you at the helm, Tom! Keep kicking butt.

paddygarcia
paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/8/24 3:02 p.m.

How cool is that?

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
2/8/24 3:16 p.m.

Tom, I've known who you were for many years but only interacted briefly on a couple of occasions.  Getting to hang out at Lemons last weekend was a fun experience and I have confirmed you're a good dude :)  Grassroots Motorsports is the only publication and place on the internet that seems to completely align with my approach to this hobby.   Good luck and continued success to you, Brother!

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
2/8/24 3:52 p.m.

That's fantastic!

Speaking as someone whose family business did not make it to the next generation, it's probably hard for you to recognize what a huge accomplishment that is for everyone involved!

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
2/8/24 4:08 p.m.

GRM is in good hands.

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