Not long before we left the UK, I finally got around to doing something I had meant to do many times and always forgot about until it was too late. A visit to the Good Friday meet at the velodrome in Herne Hill. Since it was south London, it was a pretty easy place to get to by train so no need to fight the traffic in to Town. It was a big deal in those days – maybe it still is – and it attracted a great selection of riders. Some pros showed up to race or to be seen. David Millar was there being interviewed but didn’t race. I was really pleased to see Stuart O’Grady, I rider I really enjoyed watching race.
The track scene had a selection of established stars and up and comers that I new about vaguely from reading Cycling Weekly. Chris Newton was a big deal in those days although he never became a widely known cyclist. However, there were two young guys competing that day that I knew were pretty good. I didn’t know they would go on to better things. One was a chubby young sprinter called Chris Hoy. The other was a good pursuiter called Bradley Wiggins. Olympic and Tour de France glory awaited them later in their careers. I was very tempted by one of the t-shirts on sale that day. It said “I’m not fat, I’m a sprinter!”. If you’ve ever seen the physique of some of the fastest sprinters, you would find this funny.
More from the archives today. Only once have I made the trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. For car enthusiasts, this is quite the event. An enormous variety of motor vehicles are on display and the drive them up the hill across the estate past the main house – a place I am quite familiar with having spent a summer living in the stable block around the corner. Oh how I wish they had done this when I was there!
My one trip would have probably been in 2003 shortly before leaving the UK. I only got a few photos but there are some rather unusual cars in the shots I did take. I thought that a few of you are in to cars and might be interested in what was there. Maybe some of you were there too? One day I will try and be back when it is on again and make another trip.
The hydroplane races at Oak Harbor had a variety of classes of contenders. Many of the boats appeared on course from a marina across the harbor but the most exotic of the boats were operated from alongside the spectator area. A pit area was set up on the shore. Here the crews were busy preparing the boats to race – occasionally carrying out engine runs. There was no slip so the way boats were put in the water involved a crane lifting them up and depositing them alongside a jetty close by. The initial lifts seemed to be a bit slow and inaccurate but a little practice and they were soon moving them across and back after the races with ease.
It’s been a long time since I watched any hydroplane racing. The Kankakee event in Illinois was a fun one to attend, not least because the constraints of the river meant it was possible to get really close to the action. Racing is quite popular in the Pacific Northwest and one event was scheduled for Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. I decided to head along and see what it was like.
I was quite surprised how easy it was to attend. I found parking conveniently close and got a waterfront spot to set up with ease. Plenty of people came and went during the time I was there but it never felt terribly busy. The racing took place in the harbor and it was a bit distant for all of the spectators. The good spot to watch from would have been across the harbor but that was within the naval facility so out of bounds for the rest of us.
The course provided for some good angles on the boats as they made the first turn. The second turn was rather distant. The PA system was well away from me and the program seemed to be only vaguely related to what was happening so most of the time I was oblivious to the classes that were racing at any one time. The more powerful boats were staging from the pits near the crowd but many of the smaller boats would appear on course from the marina across the harbor. I would just watch them going around and try and figure things out from the flags on the course boats.
It was a sunny day so sitting next to the water and watching the occasional race was pleasant. Not knowing what was going on was a bit harder and the random feeling of when a race would occur left me a bit confused but I got to watch racing and get some photos so hardly a bad was to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Ineos is a name I hadn’t heard until recently. They took over the Sky cycling team and that was the first time I became aware of them. I guess that sporting achievements are something that their management are quite focused on because, while waiting to catch the ferry at Portsmouth, I got a look at the building in these photos. It is their America’s Cup challenger facility. The building looks pretty impressive and I hope that the boat that they come up with is similarly so. It would be good to see the cup make its way to the UK after all this time.
We recently had the 40th anniversary of the Fastnet race that ended up with a significant loss of life and boats. Weather forecasting technology and the methods of communicating were very different forty years ago and some of the boats were ill-suited to open water racing of that nature. Growing up in Cowes, the Fastnet race was always a big deal. It was every other year as part of the Admiral’s Cup. Some of my school friends got to crew on it. I watched the start of one of the races when we still lived in the UK and I scanned in some of the shots I got that day. The start was always frantic. Boats are jockeying for position, often very close to shore. Lots of shouting goes on. With a good wind, big sailing boats look so cool to me.
My visits to Exotics@RTC provide an interesting mix of different vehicles. On one Saturday morning, there were a few older BMWs on display. I have never been particularly interested in owning BMWs but the old ones catch my eye, probably more for nostalgia than anything else. The simplicity of them compared to the modern vehicles is striking. The hard edges, the bumpers, the sparse interiors – it is so far from what you get now.
Of particular interest was a racing 6 Series coupe. This was tricked out with all the normal accoutrements of a racing car of that vintage but it looks positively gentile compared to a modern racing car. The details in the rear wing were very cool and the finishes looked very well taken care of. I wouldn’t say it was a good looking car but it was definitely noteworthy.
I make one trip on a regular basis. I have a number of options as to where I shall change planes en route but I have been through Phoenix a few times. One time I was looking out to the right side of the plane as we were on the final stages of the approach and I got a good view of the Phoenix International Raceway. I didn’t have a good camera for the shot at the time but I had to make the same trip a short while later. I took the camera this time and made sure I was able to get the shot. I like the way the circuit is tucked under the hills. It is quite a way from the city but I guess it is easily reached by racing fans.
My friend Ben Kristy is a keen cyclist and his son has been competing well in various cycling events. As a result, Ben has been to a number of races and has shared a bunch of pictures of racers competing. This all triggered in my mind some cycling shots that I got quite a while back. Chicago held a criterium race series once a year for a number of years. I have no idea whether it is still taking place but I did go and watch it one year.
The races were held in Grant Park and made use of the roads around the park including Michigan Avenue. There were different classes or race and various age groups. Plenty of people came out to watch things but it wasn’t too crowded so it was possible to move around to see things from different locations. I had only shot cycling a couple of times before and never had I previously thought about what shots I wanted. Then I had just taken pictures of whatever was going on from where I was standing.
This time I tried various locations to get different perspectives on the riders. I tried getting low down and being both inside and outside the turns. Getting something that conveyed the speed at which they were going was what I was interested in. This is now quite a few years ago. If I were to do it again, I suspect I would have tried a bunch of other things but these shots I what I came out with on that day.
It has been a long time since the National Championship Air Races took place at Reno. I wrote about them here and my feature for Global Aviation Resource ran a while back. However, as with the previous year, I did shoot some video while I was there. I actually edited it quite a while back but I had not got around to adding any music. Various distractions meant it was a while before I did. However, the music is now included so here is the video.