Benjafield Bentley 100 at Silverstone Spring Start

The Vintage Sports Car Club had their annual Spring Start at the Silverstone Circuit where the Benjafields Bentley Club ran their 100th anniversary race of Vintage Bentleys. There was a whole whoo har whether or not the ‘Le Mans Start’ would be allowed to happen, and whether or not us photographers were allowed to capture this astonishing moment. As you can see were all allowed to play that day and what a sight it was. Never to be seen again, I needed to get myself in a perfect position for my short lenses. I use Leica and the longest I had was a 135mm but that is the lens I call ‘The Beast’ because he is such a hard task master. One false move and your shot will be ruined. I love the antique quality he gives me.

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Lister Jaguar ‘Knobby’ 1958 on the Goodwood Revival start line

The Sussex Trophy at Goodwood Revival, the evening race that goes into the sunset on the Friday night. Not often do I photograph this race as I am usually tucked up in a seat in a grandstand somewhere watching it  because – well, it is just simply fantastic to watch, however this time my friend James Wood and his co pilot Mr Nuthall were racing so, well, I took a photograph of them on the start line. I am less familiar with this period of sports car, but all I know, is that I love watching them race through the sunset.  The start line is so special, us photographers have about 3 minutes to play with our cameras and find that moment. We then hear the alarm and have to get off with a hop and often a skip. The start line is where all of us photographers have a what I always think is a ‘pickle’ where we all squash together and try to avoid each other. It is a pickle indeed.

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Katarina Kyvalova at Goodwood Revival in the pit lane during a driver change moment.

I love hanging out in the pit lane during driver changes and here my friend Katerina awaits her swap. I think she is about to get into a Jaguar E Type for the TT Race, the blockbuster race of the Revival weekend and a race where all the photographers want their photographic armbands for. I say that because there is a limited number allowed quite rightly so, as you cannot have too many photographers in the pit lane at once.  I love this photo as it really creates the atmosphere that I love about the pit lane, that everything is on hold until the action suddenly happens, then it is all calm again.

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Image size: 45cm image width, with 60cm x 50cm Mount.

The Audi comes into the pit lane during  Le Mans 24 hours

One of my favourite photographs in the ‘Through the Night’ collection where the splash and dash is performed by the most delicious bottoms in the industry. The Audi bottoms have to be the most trained, the most toned and the most agile in the pit lane. Second to the Audi team are the Porsche team, I have timed them! Their teamwork is astonishing to watch. Only about 12 of us are allowed in the pit lane at Le Mans at any one time and I always try for the midnight to 2am and 2am to 4am slot. I love it, so peaceful, well apart from the roar of the engines coming and going! For me this photograph is everything about Le Mans. Pure theatre and utterly gorgeous bottoms. Oh and some decent cars too.

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Image size: 44cm image width, with 60cm x 50cm Mount.

The Aston Martin comes into the pit lane during  Le Mans 24 hours for a splash and dash

I come from a theatre background and voila here we are full on theatre action. As a photographer, you have seconds to get this shot. Seconds to get any shot, so a bit of anticipation, rhythm and patience is required here. Make sure you get into position and get out of position super fast or you could get run over. I shoot with a manual Leica body and lens, so I really have to be prepared before I get on the pit lane. Have your camera set up ready, ready for that precise moment and never more is that saying truer here. I love how everyone dances around to get their team back out into the race. A quick change of boots and splash and dash here.

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Mercedes 300SL Gullwing

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Katarina Kyvalova in her Cooper Jaguar T33 MK1 during the Monaco Grand Prix Historic

The most extravagant race of them all, the Monaco Grand Prix Historic where, only experienced racers race. The circuit is tight and fast. Very fast. No run offs and the surface runs through the streets of Monte Carlo, with its own bumps and dips.

I always think that Katerina seems most happiest on this circuit because the challenge is a sold one. She knows her Cooper Jaguar well and the pair of them work the race chomping up the cars in front. I love standing at Rascass, seen here, where I can get up close and capture the scene. I forget that as a Press Photographer, that you walk 12 miles on race day, because there are so many ample spots around the Monaco circuit to shoot from.

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Mr Rauno Aaltonen at the start of the Valence to Monaco leg of the Monte Carlo Rallye Historic in the Mini at 3am.

I was lucky enough to follow the Rallye with my Leica Noctilux lens which allowed me to photograph at night and especially be present at the extremely early morning start, where I first met Mr Rauno Aaltonen (winner of the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally), who, noticed my Leica camera and lens. He popped the map reading light on for me to give me a tickle more light. To this day we are friends. Rauno was part of the  ‘Three Musketeers’, consisting of Patrick Hopkirk, Timo Mäkinen, and Rauno Aaltonen, who were part of the  Mini works cars dominating the Rallye throughout the 1960’s.

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Pendine Sands Flag at the start Line: Shot on Leica M6 with Kodak Kodak Cine Vision 3 Stills 250d film.

I first learnt of the history of the speed trials at Pendine Sands whilst researching my radio drama about the Honourable Mrs Victor Bruce who, was great friends with Sir Malcolm Campbell and whilst Mildred (Bruce) was driving to become the first woman to win the Monte Carlo Rally in January 1927, Campbell was attempting to regain his record at Pendine.

In September 1924 Campbell made the first World Land Speed record attempt in his 350hp Sunbeam Bluebird with a new record of 146.16 mph for the measured mile.  Parry Thomas in October 1925 attempted with his car Babs, complete with a 27litre Liberty aeroplane engine under the bonnet.  Campbell returned in February 1927 with the Napier Campbell 12 Cylinder Bluebird and regained the record with a speed of 174.22 mph.   Parry Thomas returned with Babs to get the record back, however fatally crashed on 3rd March 1927, and this seemed to end the World Land Speed records at Pendine. Record attempts moved to Daytona where speeds of 200mph could be achieved.

Another trailblazer was Amy Johnson who, in 1933 with her husband, Jim Mollison, took off from Pendine Sands in a De Havilland DH 84 Dragon G-ACCV ‘Seafarer’ to fly non-stop to New York. Blown off course, they landed down-wind in the dark at Bridgeport, Connecticut after flying for 39 hours over a distance of 3,300 miles at an average speed of 85 mph, overshot, and were both seriously injured in the crash.

Here we see the start flag of the Vintage Hot Rod Association return to the beach for their annual speed races.

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Rallye des Princesses driving amongst the poppies near St Tropez

This was a fun commission. I was invited to photograph the second leg of the Rallye from somewhere high up in the snowy Alps down to St Tropez. I was driving with another photographer in a 1960’s Porsche 356 and not stopping for breakfasts as we had to get in front of the stream of cars, I quickly grabbed what I thought was hard-boiled egg from the breakfast buffet to eat on the road, only to find when I cracked it, was indeed raw. The rest of the trip everyone knew me as the egg lady. Oh, and since then I have never grabbed food from a breakfast buffet! Meanwhile on the rally side, it was glorious. We started with snow and ended with sun. I didn’t pack the right clothes at all. I managed to capture some glorious ladies all having a jolly decent time of it. Lovely rally to be part of.

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The Aston Martin DB4/2 engine blows in the pit lane during the Spa Six Hours

We can see Wolfgang Freidrichs assisting the driver change with his Project Aston Martin, a car that has raced and blown up and raced so many times, that this was the first time I have seen the radiator blow. The rain and smoke with the light was captured once again by my Leica Noctilux, a lens that got me to places that no other lens could possibly do so. Something has happened to the car on the track because if you look closely you will see the head lights slight squewiff. It did go back out to race, but I think not for long.

The Spa Six Hours race is magical. I hope to return one day, in my own race car. However for now, I can dream and remember this special night.

If James Bond raced, he would have raced this car in the 1960’s

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Mr Yves Junne during a driver change in the Spa Six Hours

One of my first pit lane jobs where I was invited to work from their garage. Spa Six Hours is an incredible race starting at 6pm until midnight, my Leica Noctilux lens caught the rain drops so perfectly. Mr Yves Junne was the director of Motul Oil and I was subsequently invited to other motoring events with them. Sadly, Yves is no longer with us, but I  always remember his kindness towards me, a then young photographer trying my profession.

I would love to go back to Spa Six Hours, but as a racing driver, alas, I am still only permitted to race in this country due to the ‘signatures’ still required on my race card, as one needs to obtain 6 signatures to move onto the next race class, and I require another 2 on mine. One day it will happen. One day.

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Pit Lane  floor signage at Silverstone Circuit

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