CAPTURING THE HIDDEN MOMENTS OF FORMULA ONE’S GOLDEN AGE
From the moment I entered the Formula One pit lane in 1972, it became a place that spoke to me so clearly and intensely, I couldn’t leave. I had been searching to capture the face of life lived on the limit, but I found so much more. I became immersed in making images that not only revealed resilience and grit, but taught me lessons that made my heart beat faster.
The chance to document the faces and the emotions of the men I found in that Grand Prix pit lane over the next decade did more than that…they changed my life forever.
WHO WERE THEY?
They were the sons of garage owners, sportsmen and millionaires. They began as mechanical engineers, or Olympic marksmen or concert pianists. Some craved the limelight; others hid from it.
Yet every driver shared the same obsession; to prove they were the best, whatever the cost. They saw the best life as one lived flat out…spent along- side a “band of brothers”. They had learned together in Formula 3, then fought each other in Formula 2. They traveled together, partied together and all too often, cried together.
Their comradeship was real and their deep respect for each other fostered trust as they battled just inches apart.
Each man intimately understood the unwritten rules of playing fair, avoiding contact and accepting responsibility for their actions. It was only after a race that they parted; some partied the night away, while others quietly gave thanks to have just survived.
THE BEST OF TIMES - THE WORST OF TIMES
Going forward from that morning in 1972, the Formula One I witnessed was the best of times and the worst of times; these men fought to survive a decade of unrelenting technical advancement that produced the greatest changes to the sport, the cars, and the technology over the shortest timespan in Grand Prix history. Some of those developments delivered unforgettable spectacle. But, from some of those spectacles came unbearable pain and catastrophe.
I had near total access and could listen, smell, shoot and ask questions while totally embedded in the atmosphere. The teams treated me like a member of their extended family. They saw me as someone who was doing a job that I loved as much as they loved their racing.
A WINK, A NOD, AND I WAS GOOD TO GO
Being so immersed within the human side of F1 immediately opened my very innocent eyes. I wasn’t documenting a simple sport; I was in the midst of deadly serious business, practiced by talented men who risked their lives each second. Consequences were swift and brutal; their first mistake usually was their last.
These truths demanded my very best. Whatever telling moments I would attempt to capture had to be portrayed as clearly and truthfully as possible.
Realizing the opportunity I had, it was a simple decision on how to go forward. I would try to tell the story of the emotional roller coaster Grand Prix driver’s were experiencing with absolute honesty.
I would shoot each image from an emotional point of view rather than merely illustrating a weekend sports headline. I would spend just as much time with the defeated as the victors.
And, I would do it invisibly.
FROM THEN ON I WAS “A FLY ON THE WALL”
I consciously backed away and didn’t go looking for moments; I just waited to let those moments compel me to make an image. I stayed silent and observant, as “a fly on the wall”, allowing the emotion and power of the moment to find my eye. And amazingly, I began to see better images.
Sometimes, I would anticipate moments developing and produce a series; other times I would go for minutes on end and be lucky for one frame. But, I put everything into making it a powerful frame. I stayed patient despite story paths that started and then evaporated. I never forced the results, and that’s the reason I didn’t make thousands of frames; my portfolio contains less than 350 images.
I tried to document those hidden instants when you were still allowed to see a driver searching for speed; mentally "racing" the track for an unconscious impression that might unlock their car’s full potential; those silent struggles with their managers, engineers and team politics; those moments when drivers of an insanely dangerous Formula One era calmly committed themselves to realise their dreams and remain alive, lap after lap, in spite of fragile machines and against overwhelming odds.
This collection is my attempt to preserve lasting images of these men in all their humanity and complexity during those quiet moments of waiting…to battle with their "brothers” for the adulation and the immortality of being called World Champion.