Its been a busy few weeks for me and my blog has been neglected somewhat of late and the distraction of the Olympics hasn’t helped so I thought it would be time for a bit of a catch up before I head to Snetterton this weekend for the British Touring Car Championship.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been taking photos for the local Pony Club Junior and Intermediate camps. Not quite the fast paced adrenaline fuelled action I see trackside but it is still good fun. The weather was good for both weeks, and I’m always treated well there by the organisers. Despite the hard work it is always worth it and I do enjoy covering the Camps. I don’t get to photograph equestrian events as much as I used to and I do miss it at times so it’s always nice to go back to where my sports photography all began.
The weekend just passed It was back to the track and the first weekend of three in a row at Snetterton. The British GT & F3 Championships headed to the Norfolk circuit and I was there to photograph my favourite UK championship. Initial weather forecasts were promising, but those who have been to Snetterton will know how unpredictable the weather can be there. The place seems to have its own micro climate and the best option is to pack for all conditions.
This was definitely the case as despite the dry relatively sunny conditions all morning, black clouds gathered during second practice for the GT’s and when a red flag was put out for an off from Ollie Milroy in the Ecurie Ecosse BMW, the heavens took this cue to open. Thankfully I could see this and the thunder and lightning coming and as soon as the red flag made an appearance I made a bee line for the safety of the media centre. Within minutes the down pour had flooded the circuit and the pit lane. The GT cars were not going to head out in those conditions and the session finished. Subsequent race and qualifying sessions were to be delayed until after the rain stopped so areas of standing water on the track could be pumped away.
The rain delay meant the GT qualifying, due last on the timetable had to be dropped. Grid positions for both 1 hour races were to be decided by the 2 practice session times. This played into the hands of the Trackspeed Porsches as it was pole in race one for the 31 car and pole in race two for the 33 car.
Sunday was to be a new day but the unpredictable weather returned. Heavy rain returned and disrupted the rescheduled timetable meaning the second Ginetta Challenge race of the day had to be dropped to avoid breaking the curfew. It also meant the F3 cars had to take on the elements but Both GT races avoided the wet and had two dry races. The new McLaren MP4-12C of United Autosports Charles Bateman and Matt Bell took a debut win for the car in the championships meaning it was a remarkable seven different winners from the seven races so far in the season. It looked to be a possible eight different winners from eight races in race two as after the pit stops the Trackspeed Porsche of Jon Minshaw and Tim Harvey led comfortable but a fuel pressure problem meant they dropped back to second place leaving team mates Joe Osborne and Steve Tandy to take their second win of the season. For full race reports, visit the Checkered Flag website here.
With just two points separating the top five drivers in the championship, it is all up for grabs over the remaining two rounds at Silverstone and Donington Park and it looks set to go right down to the wire. Despite Lotus not making an appearance in GT4 at their home circuit and the Jones Brothers Mercedes also absent an addition to the field was the Rhino’s Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini LP600 of Hari Prozcyk and Marco Attard. It was a welcome addition and even with the absentee’s 12 different manufacturers were represented on the grid with the possibility of this increasing to 14 for the next round. As you can see that is a pretty impressive field and one of the reasons British GT is so great.
So next for me is the British Touring Car Championship back in Norfolk after their long summer break. I haven’t photographed the Touring cars for some time due to calendar clashes and it seems like a long time since I last shot them at Donington. I really hope the weather stays dry and I’m sure the thousands of fans who I know will be heading there will be hoping the same.
Photos from the F3 and GT Races and sessions can be seen on my Facebook page.
Every now and then in life you have to face some tough decisions. Its just part of life, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Without the benefit of hindsight, you often never know which one is the right decision to take or the outcome until it has happened. This week I’ve been faced with such a decision. Do I go with my heart or my head?
Last week I was booked up to cover a three day equestrian event at the beginning of August. That wasn’t a problem. Its the same event I do every year, well almost every year, but I’ll come back to that later. I was more than happy to do it. After all, I need the money and in tough economical times, who would turn that down? However, this week, I was asked to do another Equestrian event over three days the week before. I also usually do this event each year too. So surely it was a simple decision to make right?
Wrong. This event was to be in late July during a time when I was making plans for something else. I was planning on going to Belgium for the Spa 24 hour race and the British F3 round there the same weekend. I was really looking forward to going and you are all probably well aware of my love of sportscar and endurance racing. I had even sacrificed my trip to Le Mans this year to help pay the costs. I was also going to go with my friend James who writes the race reports that I provide the photos for. I knew he was looking forward to the trip too. But could I turn down the money that the Equestrian event would bring me? It was a difficult decision. Do I go with my heart or my head. I’ve never been to Spa and I missed out going last year due to other commitments and I was pretty gutted about that. Do I miss out again this year?
I do enjoy photographing Equestrian events and it is something I used to do a lot of. In fact, its where I started with my photography business. It was only until years later that I started the motorsport photography and that was only due to more and more competition for work and less events coming my way. Despite keeping my costs down and coming up with unique products, bookings were becoming less frequent. So it is always nice to keep my foot in the door and the Pony Club who book me for these events are always very good to me. They are kind, polite and often provide me lunch. We all know the way to a Man’s heart is through his stomach, so I’m always happy to be there. I wasn’t booked for one of the events two years ago though, and I assumed that was it and my time as an Equestrian photographer was numbered. It was a pity, because I always enjoyed it. I wouldn’t have done it otherwise, so naturally I was disappointed. Was it something I did wrong? Were my photos not good enough? Was I just too expensive? I knew that the latter wasn’t the case. I’d checked the price of other photographers prints and I was one of, if not the cheapest around. After all, I’d rather sell two photos at £10 each than one at £16. I also knew I was always kind, polite and acted professionally at all times, so it probably wasn’t something I did wrong either. My natural lack of self confidence meant that I had assumed no one liked my photos and there were photographers a lot better than me getting the work.
So you can imagine my surprise when I get a call a year later almost begging me to come back. It had turned out that the previous years organiser had changed and she knew a photographer so asked him to cover the event. Apparently he was more used to taking pictures of minor celebrities falling out of nightclubs late at night, rather than horses and their riders. According to the woman on the phone, she had bought a number of my photos over the past few years and really liked them so when she took over as the new organiser knew who to ask first to cover the event. This actually really cheered me up. Maybe my work wasn’t so bad after all. So when she called again last week it was a yes straight away. I’m more than happy to repay other peoples kindness.
It was the other event booking causing me the problem though. Again, the organisers are very kind, friendly, treat me well and the atmosphere is always very good. But it would mean missing the Spa 24 hours. I needed the money the event would bring, but I felt that I would be letting James down if I told him I couldn’t go to Spa after saying I would. Deep down I knew I had to go with my head over my heart and if I turned down the event, the chances were I wouldn’t be asked back again and I know I would miss not doing the occasional equestrian event. Thankfully, although James was disappointed when I told him, but he understood the situation and that although it was a tough choice to make had to do what I thought was best.
The decision was made, I wont be going to Spa. I know a few other motorsport photographers have raised a few eyebrows at my choice, but despite the disappointment of missing the 24 hour race, I’m pretty sure I’ve made the right decision. It is the one that makes the most financial sense anyway. I am looking forward to doing the events though. Yes there is a lot of work to be done but they are always good fun and the weather is usually really good.
I would probably have chosen Spa if I wasn’t going to the Nurburgring 24 hour race in a couple of weeks. So at least I will be at one European 24hr race this year and I can’t wait. I’m sure there will be other opportunities for me to go to the iconic Belgium circuit in years to come anyway.