Ramblings

Monster Trucks etc
07th June 2013
The Midland Automobile Club hosted their first BHC round of the year at Shelsley Walsh last weekend and the sun shone. Yes, you read it right the first time. The sun shone.

It was a cracking meeting with some amazing racing. (A bad weekend for red single seaters though. Several of them got binned. Must be the colour) Great to see Simon hurling the Empire 002 sideways through Top Ess like a wannabe rally driver. That's the second meeting in a row he's done that so he must be getting the feel of the thing now.

The vehicle of the weekend was the Bowler support truck. Immense. Probably the biggest machine to ever ascend the hill but, it must be said, it recorded a poor time - and we had to take the finish line banner down for it to get through.
Sunshine, banana cake and retail therapy
09th May 2013
So, it always pours with rain on Bank Holiday weekends? Well, no, this year's May break was stunning. Shelsley was bathed in sunshine and, boy, did it look amazing. The Teme Valley never looked finer and we had a big crowd of motor sport fans hanging over the fences on Sunday. The meeting was excellent. Well done to my good friend Simon Fidoe on making both top-12 run-offs and shattering his PB. The Empire is getting faster and faster. Amazing what 998cc of bike engine can muster.

Trevor was, as expected, scarily rapid. I set about capturing his OMS sparking out through Ess Approach. My neck's still suffering whiplash from some pretty rapid panning but I just about managed to nail the shot.

Photos? Here they are.

On Monday, I went up to Loton to shoot some photos for use at next Wednesday's driver's school. Perfect roasting hot weather for helping to push a Caterham up a hill but I did get a piece of Roger Moran's excellent banana cake and then a stupidly rapid ride up the hill with Joy at the wheel. I learnt that Caterham's have amazingly strong bulkheads. I know this as I tried my damnedest to ram my foot through hers using my imaginary brake. What an amazing rush it was.

This weekend will find me lurking on a retail park near Shrewsbury as I help out with Loton's promotional day. We've got some cracking cars to show off and even some pet marshals to play with. If this doesn't raise the club's awareness, nothing will.
Spring Start
26th April 2013
Sunday marked my first visit of the year to Silverstone when I attended the VSCC's Spring Start meeting.

Like all VSCC events, this was run like a military operation and we were treated to some astoundingly fine grids of cars. I've attended loads of hill climbs and trials but this was the first time I've been to a vintage circuit meeting and I loved seeing such amazing machinery blazing round the track. Who knew that so many pre-war Aston Martin's still existed?

Aside from the trackside action, it was smashing to run into so many people I knew. If I'd attended something like this a few years back, I'd have slipped in un-noticed but these days, events like this are a true social occasion for me. What a great way to get the season underway. Many thanks to Gillian and the rest of the VSCC officials for inviting me along to shoot this. I'll certainly come again next year.

Here are a few shots of the day.

This weekend sees the opening round of the British Hill Climb championship at Prescott. I'm heading down there after work on Saturday for a quick look round as the bikes will also be there. Sunday will be a full day of shooting and I can't wait. See you on the hill, everyone.
Heading For The Hills
18th April 2013
Last weekend, we got the season underway with a typical, fun weekend up at the brilliant Loton Park.

The weather teased and flirted with us throughout the morning and it hosed it down throughout the lunch break but by the when the timed runs started it was drying fast. The only downer was the gale-force winds. In an effort to prevent Stella from disappearing Mary Poppins-like, we only shot one batch at Museum.

Great seeing the bikes and three-wheelers making an appearance and they provided us with some spectacular track action. I'm sure the new Loton Park Rider's School is going to be a huge success once we get it up and running. This takes place on July 12th - the day that proceeds the next competitive visit of the bikes at Loton.
Here are a few shots of the day's action.
Splendid work by Annie and the team in holding it all together on Sunday.

I'm off to Silverstone this weekend for the VSCC Spring Start meeting.
Wagons Roll
12th April 2013
Finally, after months of hibernating away and being battered by freezing cold winds, we're ready to roll.

This weekend sees the start of the 2013 hill climb season. A fortnight ago we should have been blowing off the metaphorical cobwebs with member's practise meeting at Loton but 14" of snow put paid to that. This weekend sees the whole shooting match lurch into gear with our first meeting of the year, the traditional start at Loton.

This will be an exciting year coming up for Loton with lots of new ideas being put into place. Parts of the track have been resurfaced and we've got a whole new way for spectators to get up to Museum at the top. (My suggestion of a chair lift or an elevator were given short shrift but the alternative will delight everyone, I'm sure)

If you've not discovered it yet, check out our Facebook page for all the latest stuff.

I'll be making an early start on Sunday as I want to savour that first bacon and mushroom sarnie of the season. See you on the hill, everyone!
Up And Running
06th March 2013
Time to start blogging in an orderly fashion now that the season's lurching into gear.

Race Retro went off very well. The light was a bit flat out on the rally stage but the D3 copes well in less than perfect conditions. Great seeing some of the show-stopping group B cars being thrown around like that. Inside the halls, there were some cracking displays to look at and I managed to get a fine cup of coffee of Tony Harrison on the MAC stand.

Last weekend I attended the annual marshal training day for the Midlands hill climb venues. It was held at Loton Park this year and, as always, it proved to be a fascinating insight into the background work that takes place around us at motor sport events. I spend massive amounts of time lugging my camera gear around circuits, rally stages and hill climbs so I owe it to myself to be aware what's going on when a marshal's radio crackles into life and fire training always makes for a spectacular thing to photograph.

This weekend is the Tour Of Epynt rally. I've really enjoyed this brilliant event for the past two years but I can't make it this year as its one of our big meetings for the Prescott Bike Festival. The longer I'm involved with motor sport, the more I'm having to make these kind of choices as many things clash due to a crammed calendar. Sometimes this is a pain but its a nice problem to have.
Race Retro 2013
22nd February 2013
Finally, I might get to attend an event in my diary. Having seen the Clee Hills Trial, the Red kite Rally, the Geoff Taylor Trial and the international motocross event at Hawkstone Park all fall foul of the weather, this weekend sees the Race Retro show rock up at Stoneleigh Showground.

The Live Rally Stage will be cold, that's for sure, but at least the show has the benefit of being primarily indoors. I really enjoyed Race Retro last year so I'm looking forward to this weekend. The rally line up is mightily impressive. It seems a long time since I had moving cars in my viewfinder.

I'll look forward to seeing a few of you there. Wrap up warm, people and take care out there.
Autosport International 2013
11th January 2013
The start of January signals the arrival at the NEC of Autosport International. This is the show that announces the beginning of the new season: a must-do for all motor sport fans.

Thursday is press and trade day so it tends to be quieter than the weekend. This makes it my day of choice because with more room around the stands, photography is easier.

The first person I saw when I walked in was Rebecca Leppard who was doing sterling work in the media sign-on centre.

My media pass gives me access before the show actually opens and inside the halls I found Matt Neal waiting the onslaught of the show opening. I interviewed Matt a couple of years back and he's a cracking bloke with no hint of being a diva. Speaking of divas, Jason Plato and Martin Brundle were interviewed at various times on the live stage and I also caught a lot of Gillian Carr's interview about the VSCC. Nice work, Gillian.

Roger Still was lurking on one of the MSA displays which was dedicated to their Year Of The Volunteer campaign. Roger obviously thought the stand was going to feature a variety of pork pies but, despite this not being the case, he stuck gamely to the task. Nice to have a chat with Eddie Walder who introduced me to James Bolton from Autosport, another handy contact from the world of rallies.

A big thanks to Autosport for inviting me along once more, have a great 2013 season and I'll see you all next year. Here are a few shots from the show.
Last (2012) Post
31st December 2012
I concluded my motor sport year yesterday with a trip to Mallory Park to shoot the motorcycle mob doing their annual 'Pie and Mash' track day.

Miraculously, the weather was bright and dry and it wasn't even particularly cold.

Its a lot of years since I'd been to Mallory and I'd never photographed there before. The people of No Limits Trackdays have their own photographer so I was more than happy to hang over the fence. For anyone interested in taking circuit photos for the first time, Mallory's a great place to cut your teeth on as there are no big fences obscuring your view. My panning skills were hellishly ropey after a long break from shooting any trackside action but I scratched out a few decent shots.

Mallory gives you a two-for-one experience with the circuit racing just yards away from the motocross track. There are some excellent places to photograph this from and the track was insanely muddy yesterday so it provided quite a sight. The gallery is here

So that's about it for this year. Many thanks to all of you who've supported this blog and the 2012stuff.com one when I was in London working at the Olympics. I'm in the throes of planning next year's campaign now. I've got plenty of stuff lined up to keep me occupied. Have a great 2013 and I look forward to catching up with you all soon.
Losing It
01st November 2012
Now the 2011 season's been well and truly put to sleep for the winter, I'm in tidying up mode.

Unfortunately, this isn't going entirely to plan. Right now, I'm missing a voice recorder with some interviews on it that I desperately need and also my small Maglite. I'm sure these are buried deep in some cavity of one of my many camera bags so this weekend I intend to methodically work through them all.

I sent in some entry shots for the Prescott photography competition this week and I'm about to start the brutal deleting bombing raid that is part of my winter house-keeping regime. I've also got a few driver's photos to seek out, post-process and send off.

If any of you have experienced problems accessing the website over the past 48 hours, apologies for that but we've been severely effected by hurricane Sandy which battered the East coast of America which took down power to the main server. The standby power supplies did a pretty decent job so hopefully it shouldn't have caused too much downtime.
The Final Countdown
25th September 2012
In keeping with the rest of the year, Shelsley served up another good drenching for us last Sunday.

To be fair, Saturday was bright and sunny but the forecast for Sunday was right on the money so the trick was to can as many shots in the morning as possible before the rain rolled into the valley.

Great to see the motor cycle mob at Shelsley Walsh. Ben Wilkins clinched the 2012 championship. His dad won the title in 1968 so its dead cool that Ben's followed in his footsteps.

Our thoughts are now turning to Loton Park this weekend. I'm hoping the hideous rainfall that we suffered yesterday won't be repeated as this made a real mess of a lot of roads and it seems that Shropshire suffered more than most areas. The British Championship concludes on Sunday and I'm chuffed to bits that we get to see the end at Loton Park.

The Loton Park Facebook Page is now gaining momentum and we have a healthy number of followers. This is a cracking way to help raise the profile of the place. Take a look and join in
Loton Calling
08th September 2012
This week's been virtually the best weather since March so it looks highly promising for this weekend's National B weekend at Loton Park.

I love scuttling about at Loton and the B meetings allow so much more time to scuttle. Tomorrow looks like a smashing line up with another bunch of Lotus machinery for us to admire. Paul Matty really does need congratulating for pulling all this together.

I'm about to overdose on Loton this month (not a bad thing) Next weekend sees their annual visit from the VSCC and then the last weekend in the month they'll be hosting the final round of the British Championship. In real terms, that's a lot of bacon and mushroom sandwiches but I've just had my NHS health check and my BMI and my blood pressure are both rated as low so I've got some slack to play with.

Last weekend's Prescott BHC shots are here to see.

See you at Loton in the morning, good people.
A Plague Of Lotus
22nd August 2012
I've now just about got myself straight after my two weeks in London doing the Olympics.

I got back from the Games on Friday the 17th and I went to Loton Park that weekend. It was great to be back chasing cars (queue for a song) again. Loton Park looked as fabulous as ever and the meeting ran spectacularly well thanks to Annie and the gang.

Last weekend saw the Big One at Shelsley with the heftiest hill climb of the year. It was a huge entry of cars and a mightily impressive number of lotus badged machines. Paul Matty did an amazing job in assembling such a rare collection of cars. Even the car park was all Lotused out.

We had another grand-stand finish from Scott with a blistering final run, taking BTD and the all important top-12 run-off points.
Just Brief Pause In Proceedings
29th July 2012
Spent a great day at Silverstone last weekend shooting the Silverstone Classic. I could only make it there on the Sunday but it was a fantastic line-up of machinery and I had a smashing time working my way round the circuit. Challenge of the day was definitely doing panning shots halfway down Hangar Straight. I had a 50mm lens on and the touring cars were so rapid down there that I was practically swinging myself off my feet as they tore past. Here are a few shots from the day.
Just to let my regular site visitor's know that I'm away right now working at the Games. My next motor sport will be at Loton Park on August 12th. Until then I'm blogging on www.2012stuff.com
Driver"s School - July 11th 2012
11th July 2012
Not long back from an excellent driver's day at Loton Park.

We dodged the showers this morning but the sun shone on our pupils after lunch and an enjoyable day was had by all concerned.

I was particularly grateful for the water splash that's appeared on the exit of Triangle. I've put a motion together to make this a permanent feature of the course but I fears that certain spoilsports will have rectified the 'problem' by this weekend's meeting. Shame.

Here are the photos.
Slammed Out
27th June 2012
This past two weeks has been pretty manic. No motor sport but the Worcestershire Literature Festival made up for that.

I'm on the Committee for the Lit Fest and I'm their 'official photographer'. Roughly translated this means pelting around covering as many of the events as possible. Last Thursday was the most extreme example with a shoot at the Whitehouse Hotel at 6.30 featuring MP, Michael Meacher followed by two events at The Art House Café and Drummonds both of which started at 8.00. It was certainly a night to keep the adrenalin running and I managed to grab shots from all of the events.

Sunday was the last night of the festival with the amazing Poetry Slam at Drummonds. An astounding variety of talent was showcased that night with James Dalton eventually coming out as the winner by beating our Poet Laureate, Maggie Doyle in the final.
Gosh!
13th June 2012
Very occasionally you're present at an event that is so thrilling that it reminds you why you seek out live sport rather than sitting at home watching second rate tripe and a million adverts an hour on Sky. Last Sunday's meeting at Loton made all the soakings and all the early morning starts more than worthwhile.

Cards on the table time: I love Loton Park anyway. Whether it's a full-on British meeting like Sunday's or a nice gentle B event, the place and the people always make me realise why I like the sport of hill climbing so much. The BHC meeting at the weekend was always going to be good and the weather, which had threatened and growled at us all week, moved on leaving us with a decent, bright day. We even saw a slither or two of sunshine. Perfect track conditions and spot on weather for taking photos.

The drama that unfolded throughout the day was astounding. Eight class record's tumbled and there was already talk of Scott's hill record going but what followed was nothing short of breathtaking. Having broken his own record from last season with his morning qualifying run, Scott watched as Jos Goodyear tore nearly half a second off it with with Loton's first ever sub 44 second climb. Minutes later Scott shot off the line and we stood grouped around in the paddock staring at the clock. It stopped at 43.57. Unreal stuff.

Best. Meeting. Ever.

The photos are here.
The Law Of Averages
09th June 2012
The law of averages is a funny old thing. If you throw a coin up in the air and it comes down as a tail 20 times in a row, the twenty first time you throw it up there's still even chances it might fall as a head. The weather's the same really. Just because we got horribly wet at Shelsley last weekend doesn't mean we've got great odds of a lovely day at Loton tomorrow. Still, live in hope, eh?

Whatever the Weather Gods throw at us tomorrow, this is Loton, so it'll be an amazing day. Early start on the road, a coronary inducing bacon and sausage triple decker and a cup of tea then head for the hill.

Last weekend's wet Shelsley shots are here.
Drying Out
04th June 2012
Well, we couldn't have had a bigger contrast from last weekend's eye-ball meltingly hot weekend at Prescott to this weekend's soaking wet Shelsley Walsh British Hill Climb extravaganza.

The aftermath of a working at a meeting as wet at this is far reaching. First issue is to dry out clothing, camera bags, straps etc. Next trick is to tackle cameras and lenses that took a drenching. Cameras have to be dried off using around nine miles of kitchen roll and then every compartment is opened up to air.

Lenses took a real battering so they had to be dried gently then cleaned to remove smears before letting them slowly return to normal.

The photos from Sunday were spectacular in parts but ruined by mist and condensation to a large extent. Typically I had an enthusiastic email from my editor this morning proclaiming that we should do a big spread covering this meeting. Great news usually but not when 75% of your shots are photos are trashed by the conditions. Result was a lengthy post processing stint. Just about rescued things so now working on the article.

My boots? Well, they're another story. I reckon they'll just about be dry by by the weekend ready for Loton's meeting. I've just about had enough of the wet meetings now. Please can we have some dry weather?
A Day In The Countryside
22nd May 2012
If a meeting's going to run out of control and I'm going to be on the hill for a lot longer than expected, I want it to be at Loton. As venues go, there's nowhere nicer to kill a few hours whilst Porsche 944s and Audi Quattros are rescued and tyre walls are reconstructed.

I spent a lot of time exploring new shooting areas on Sunday like a WWII sniper lurking amongst the undergrowth. It paid off as I ended up with some very different shots to the normal ones I churn out.

The confusion on people's faces as they tried to work out if, during the hour long church service break at 11.00, they were eating breakfast or lunch was worth the trip on its own.

As ever, Big Jim, the lovely Annie and the rest of the H&DLCC mob looked after us very well. Thanks everyone for a fine day's entertainment. The photos are here.