TALES FROM BEHIND
For over half a century three of the finest sports photographers have captured the most dramatic moments in racing. These are their stories, from the other side of the camera First Grand Prix: Iconic photo:
1984 British Grand Prix Randy Mamola highsiding his Cagiva at the 1988 Brazil GP
1953 Isle Of Man TT Dennis Ireland wheelying on a Brands Hatch service road in 1979 graphing British Superbikes. In 2003 we did the British Grand Prix, so that was my first. Then I did some work for a racing magazine, shooting portraits of the riders. I got asked to shoot Sete Gibernau and did it against the blue pit garage doors at Jerez – a fairly typical shot. But I lit it from the side, made it a bit arty, and David Goldman from a photo agency called Gold And Goose saw the photo in the magazine and wanted me to work for him. So I did, covering every Motogp since 2007.
What’s it like starting off in the Grand Prix circus? GH: When I was freelance, I went to Istanbul in Turkey in 2006 and I had to figure out my own way into the pad- dock, and didn’t know anyone there. I knew of some of them because I’d seen bylines, but I didn’t know what they looked like. PG: When I started working in Grand Prix, and first met someone like Don, it was quite intimidating to be sharing space at the track with him. But in those days it was a very friendly environment and you’d get to know a team mechanic or someone, and all of a sudden, because you feel welcome in a team, you can’t help taking more pictures of them. You can go into their garage and not get stared at. There’s none of the intimidation of going to big team bosses and being sh*t scared. And your love of racing grows because of the people you meet.
I remember flying into Japan in 1988 and hiring a car; I thought that was how you got to Suzuka. I was handed a map in Japanese and told Suzuka was that way. I remember getting to an eight-way toll booth and I just guessed. I’d been driving for hours and I just thought, this is wrong. So I stopped at a service station and tapped on the window of this sleeping truck driver. I said to him ‘Suzuka?’ and he said ‘No problem.’ He woke up and then drove for two hours to the entrance of Suzuka circuit, got out of his truck, bowed, turned around and went off. And I thought I love this place. These are amazing people. DM: In Japan I just used to buy a car at
the airport, use it, then dump it back at the airport. There was no secondhand car market in Japan so you could buy one for peanuts. It was far cheaper than hiring one for a week. You just used it, drove it back to the airport, and left it.
By the same token, when Virgin Airlines first started flying into Holland, I had a VW camper I’d leave in the free parking all year round. I used to fly in at the start of the season, drive to the various rounds in Europe, parking it back at the airport in between and flying home to deliver the film, then back again for the next race.
What’s your motivation for taking pictures? DM: My motivation was trying to persuade the rest of the world what they were missing. My mission was to put the reader into that scene and make them think ‘I’d like to go there and see that’. That’s always been my motivation. I do a lot of rear shots, and the reason is I want to put the viewer on the bike chasing Kenny Roberts or whoever. PG: One of the things I had in my head when I was shooting for MCN and I was stood at Rijeka in Yugoslavia, I’d be thinking ‘I’m here and all the people looking at my pictures would love to be standing where I’m standing – so I owe them a debt to show them what I’m seeing and what I’m enjoying.’ I remember being at Anderstorp in Sweden in 1989 and watching that amazing ding-dong between Rainey and Lawson and thinking ‘I’m seeing this with my own eyes and I need to get pictures of this so the people back home know just how bloody brilliant it is.’ GH: It’s great being a part of this circus, travelling the world, and being the ones who get to bring it to people so they can see what happens. It’s a privilege. And then seeing your pictures in MCN; that means you’ve done a good job.