Private View

A ‘You Were There’ special
Photos shot close enough to see the whites of the drivers’ eyes deserve special attention…

Were our latest Private View contributor to have his life turned into a film, it would be a mixture of Grand Prix and Born Free. As an amateur photographer London based Nick Loudon mixed with some of Formula 1’s finest during the 1960s, but after taking early retirement from his work as a chartered surveyor in ’96 he became involved with the Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire and has since dedicated his time to looking after various big cats, including a hand-reared 15-year-old lion named Turkana who thinks of him as ‘mum’.

In fact, our deputy editor Gordon Cruickshank recalls having a phone conversation with Nick and asking what the rumbling noise was in the background. “Oh,” said Nick, “just a tiger leaning over my shoulder and purring…”

Nick got the motor racing bug while living in Kenya and after returning to the UK in 1959 started frequenting racing paddocks around the country armed with a Zeiss Ikonta camera. That gave way to a Pentax with a short 135mm telephoto lens, and soon his pictures were attracting attention.

Nick says of his shot of Chris Amon in the 1968 Oulton Park Gold Cup: “Chris later confided that he had been deliberately hanging out the tail for my photographs.” And of the Jim Clark shot again at Oulton in the Lotus BRM: “Jimmy was very keen on this photograph, and when I gave him a copy at Brands Hatch in October 1966 he summoned Colin Chapman over to show him. However, Colin appeared too
preoccupied to enthuse, his mind, no doubt, on loftier matters…”

By the early ’70s Nick had decided he needed a break from the sport having seen too many people killed, but to this day he remains great friends with many drivers including John Surtees, who was also the subject of some of his best pictures.

“I remember I drove my boss and his son to the 1965 International Trophy at Silverstone. Both were keen to meet John, then reigning World Champion, and I introduced them. John took a keen interest in all they had to say, and clearly it was a highlight of their day. That’s typical of John – always patient and courteous.”