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Photographing the 2021 Season

Photographing the 2021 Season


For the first season since 1973 I did not attend a foreign Grand Prix, Covid saw to that. But I did take advantage of the government’s ERP scheme to attend the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the British Grand Prix on successive weekends in July bookended by the Thruxton Historic in June and a round of the National Hill Climb Championship at Wiscombe Park in August.

At Thruxton I was looking for a photograph of something more representative of the event than just an historic car. Whilst prowling around the garages during the lunch break I was taken by this scene of a single-seater entrant for the Jochen Rindt Trophy up on rear axle stands with its oil draining into a plastic bowl beneath the sump. The garage floor was strewn with relevant paraphernalia including wheels, tyres, a trolley jack and an assortment of tools. A driver’s race-suit was hanging up to dry. It was all so typical of a race track garage of a bygone era before they all became operating theatres.

One of the Formula One cars at Goodwood this year was the Brabham BT44B of 1975. In its predominantly white livery and Martini sponsorship it is to my mind one of the best looking Grand Prix cars ever. Its designer Gordon Murray was present and as I am interested in such things I asked him what the chassis number was. He told me it was number 5, ex – Carlos Pace. Interestingly, the records indicate only four chassis were constructed and the two that remain are under the ownership of one B.C. Ecclestone. Back in the paddock, one of the car’s mechanics told me it was a replica. Whatever, it is still a nice looking car and is photographed being taken up the hill by Marino Franchitti.

On my 47th Formula One and 60th visit to Silverstone I knew my only opportunity for a photographic variation would be to include the new (half-completed) hotel opposite the pits. I also knew that my only opportunity with a general admission ticket to include a car in the shot would be from the Club Corner grandstand during Friday when access was open to all. So here is the eventual race winner Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes exiting Club Corner in FP1 with the new hotel in the background. The red colour is protective covering, the hotel would appear to be white underneath.

I live only about 10 miles from Wiscombe Park and most years usually attend for a day at the National Championship or Historic meeting. I am always amazed at the money spent and time and effort put in by the competitors for what ultimately amounts to a couple of sub-one minute blasts up the hill. Apart from the purpose-built cars there are inevitably many interesting circuit racers or road cars adapted for hill climbing, their owners usually more than happy to tell you about them. Wiscombe is a photogenic venue and in certain wooded parts reminds me of a miniature Spa. And like Spa it looks more atmospheric in the wet under dark and gloomy conditions such as they were this year.