You were there

Another chapter in the series for amateur motor racing photographs contributed by our readers. This month’s selection takes us to Le Mans, Silverstone, Sebring and Spa-Francorchamps.

The Andrettis were unceremoniously slung out of the 1982 Le Mans just hours before the start — because the oil cooler on Harley Cluxton’s Mirage M12 GpC car was deemed to be in the wrong place. Mario and Michael were furious but Jean-Paul Montupet was pretty miffed too. He was a guest of his friend Cluxton and the Grand Touring Cars team, and took these pictures. Born in Paris, Jean-Paul was a regular spectator and amateur snapper at French meetings in the 1960s but moved to the USA not long before these pictures were taken. In June 1982 he stayed with the team at the Hotel de France in La Châtre — the traditional Le Mans base of the legendary John Wyer who, though retired was also with the squad.

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Graham Hill’s stirring drive through the field in the 1960 Grand Prix at Silverstone grabbed 15 year old Rob Palmer’s attention. He also remembers getting free entry into two practice days at ’60s GPs included in the price of a South Grandstand ticket (35 shillings) and sneaking over to the race control hut to acquire duplicated copies of practice time sheets. Those paddock visits also brought the opportunity to snatch some snaps of stars and team members. In ’67, he took a shot of the BRM team in action in the paddock — Mike Spence, who died while testing at Indianapolis the following year, leaning into his car and a sports-jacketed team boss Tony Rudd supervising. In ’68, he caught Bruce McLaren and Piers Courage (both to die in racing cars two years later) chatting, while his ’69 snap is of the extravagantly winged Rob Walker, Lotus 49, driven by Jo Siffert, who was killed when his BRM crashed at Brands Hatch late in ’71. Vivid and poignant memories.

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A chance encounter with Jim Clark on a garage forecourt near Stavelot provided a fantastic memory for Hein Van Uchelen. It was 1962, when the Scot was driving the innovative monocoque Lotus 25. It had already shown its speed but not the reliability to win. When Hein saw (and photographed) him at the garage, Jim was working with his mechanics on the Coventry-Climax V8. The original unit had blown in practice and a new one was sent out from the UK. A little later the engine was fired up, Clark clambered aboard, donned goggles, and drove off up the public road for a test run. Before long, the 25 was back and Jimmy was indicating to the team that all was now well. Later that day — despite spending the first few laps putting in the practice he’d missed due to the engine woes — Clark and the 25 won the Belgian Gran Prix. It was the first of 25 grand prix wins for Jim — and the first of 14 for the 25.

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Jack Wilkening has worn out three 35mm cameras taking racing pictures. These shots were taken at Sebring in 1956, with one of those hard-working devices: a Bolsey. The number 17 Ferrari 860 Monza driven by Juan Manuel Fangio/Eugenio Castelloti won that year’s 12 hours after a battle with the Mike Hawthorn/Ivor Bueb D-Type Jaguar. After the Jag retired the number 18 860 Monza finished second in the hands of Luigi Musso/Harry Schell. The 857 (19), driven by Alfonso de Portago/Jim Kimberley retired because of an engine failure after 137 laps. Jack kept on snapping and latre competed himself. He became a member of the Sports Car Club of America in’61 and campaigned a Lotus Eleven through the 1965-67 seasons. The passion for all things Ferrari so evident from these shots also developed, and Jack has been a member of the Ferrari Club of America since 1971.

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.