You were there
Another chapter in the series for photographs taken by our readers.This month we cross a choppy Irish Sea, meet Damon Hill’s teacher and enjoy some Mediterranean sun in Monaco
In 1954, when John Patterson set off from Kent for the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod, it entailed a 24 hour journey by train and a rough ferry crossing to Belfast. But it was worth it. “It was a wonderful experience,” he remembers, “It’s hard to believe that real road races took place on narrow country roads with high banks and hedges. Having crossed the fields, probably trespassing, we arrived at the paddock. Everything was quite basic and primitive, with scaffolding and corrugated-iron pits. And everywhere was accessible — no entry tickets or barriers. So long as you kept out of people’s way you could go anywhere. The one thing I bitterly regret is my failure to get any autographs. I could have obtained those of Fangio, Ascari, Uhlenhaut — and perhaps even Neubauer himself. But I was too keen on my photography and getting the next shot…”
Patterson also attended the British Grand Prix of 1965: “It was quite informal. Just an entry fee and you could go pretty well where you liked. What a contrast to 40 years on!” His paddock shots confirm the relaxed atmosphere.
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You don’t need to possess sophisticated camera gear to grab an atmospheric picture. Before Mike Morrish obtained his first SLR camera, he used his trusty Kodak Instamatic for these shots from the 1972 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch
“You could just wander round the paddock and get right up to the cars.” Mike says. “I then positioned myself by the entrance to the tunnel under the circuit so I could see the cars being driven to the pits.” That’s where he took this shot (left) of Jacky Ickx in his cool shades threading a Ferrari through the throng.
In the 1970s, Morrish became a teacher at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School where one of his pupils was Damon Hill! ” In 1989 our paths crossed again at the Silverstone GP meeting where his win in the F3 race marked a turning point in his career. We had a friendly chat, and Damon was very kind to my nephew, who promptly became a fan.
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One of the recurrent themes of this feature has been how easy access was in ‘the good old days’. But by the 1960s, rules were tighter. Newy Nottingham hoped to make a career of photographing motor racing but, as a freelance he had trouble obtaining passes. He did manage to get to Monaco in 1966 and ’67, though. “I went by coach the first year,” he says “The windscreen broke and everything blew out on the autoroute!
“But Monaco was brilliant — the cars were in garages all round the town. I came across Bruce McLaren sitting outside his garage after a bad day’s practice. He was dejected, saying ‘I don’t know what the problem is’, but was still happy to talk. It was perhaps the best time for F1.
“But it was costing me more than I was earning, so I had to give it up. But recently I’ve been back to Monaco for the classic meeting — wonderful.”
We need your photos
Do you have photographs from races or rallies gone by tucked away in a drawer at home? If the answer is yes and you feel you have some interesting anecdotes to go with them we’d love to hear from you (see postal address on page 4). We suggest that where possible you keep hold of the negatives and send prints to us — and we of course undertake to look after your treasured items and return them safely after use. Get rummaging