29 Jan 2015

Monaco Grand Prix 1976

John Crawford dug deeper into his archives after finding the shot of the Renault 16TS in the previous post and has come up with a great selection of shots he took of the 1976 Monaco Grand Prix.
John had the benefit of a media pass and he made full use of it to capture some great atmospheric scenes from the race including a shot of motoring journalist,Motor Sport magazine's Continental Correspondent Denis Jenkinson who signed himself as DSJ.

Now "Jenks" as he was affectionately known was more than a little eccentric and more than a little mad.He was very short and sported a bushy beard.Quoting from Wikipedia :-
"He spent his summers touring Europe and his winters in a succession of 'digs' in England; Jenks eventually settled near Crondall in Hampshire in a tiny run-down house with no mains electricity or water, largely full of his archives and of parts of vehicles he was 'fettling'. He was legendary in the sport for the lack of basic domestic amenities in his home; to Jenks nothing mattered but racing. He became accepted as the 'elder statesman' of British racing journalists due to his closeness to the teams and drivers, his conversational writing style and his obvious and enduring passion for the sport."

Jenks navigated for Stirling Moss in the 1955 Mille Miglia road race in Italy in the winning Mercedes.This was an extraordinary drive-they averaged over 160kmh for the 1000 miles over public roads.His account of that drive is considered a motor sport classic.Before that Jenks had been passenger for Eric Oliver when he won the 1949 world motorcycle sidecar championship.Being a pasenger in a racing sidecar on the unsafe tracks of 1949 required a special kind of madness which made Jenks an ideal navigator for Stirling Moss on that epic Mille Miglia.

Jenks was a great journalist and he played a key part in developing my personal enthusiasm for motor racing.He definitely triggered my enthusiasm for Porsches as he had a 356 as his company car and he used it to crisscross Europe during the F1 season visiting the tracks.What a wonderful life.He wrote about his travels in his monthly Motor Sport columns which I devoured with an enthusiasm which it is difficult to appreciate today.And they were long,detailed columns in a very small font-not a few paragraphs.He also wrote a number of books including the very readable "A passion for Porsches" and "A passion for Motorsport".At the time Porsche was almost unknown in the UK and Jenks' advocacy of the brand did much to put it on the map-not least with me.I even went and bought a 356 at the time-although regrettably it was only a Dinky model.

I met Jenks at the 1996 Goodwood Festival of Speed where Stirling Moss was driving the Mille Miglia winning Mercedes up the hill.Jenks was sitting in a secluded shady spot well away from the action and I came upon him quite by chance.He was very frail and obviously not at all well but we chatted for a few minutes.It would have been crass to take his photo so I did not.Sadly he died later that year.

One of the photos below shows three times F1 World Champion Jackie Stewart who had retired from F1 in 1973 and was in Monaco as a commentator for US ABC and for mixing with the rich and famous.
Now he is rich and still famous and is still mixing with the rich and famous.Along the way he has made a serious amount of money including the masterstroke of selling the struggling Stewart F1 team to Jac Nasser's Ford in 1999 for a very large wheelbarrow load of money.The team then became the struggling Jaguar F1 team before being sold to....but that's another story.I'm sure Jac Nasser is still on Jackie's christmas card list.

Niki Lauda won the 1976 Monaco Grand Prix in a Ferrari.A few months later he he suffered horrific burns-including losing both ears- in a fiery crash in the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.Amazingly he recovered enough to race in the Italian GP six weeks later and only lost the World Championship by one point to James Hunt after he pulled out of the rain deluged final race of the championship,the Japanese GP, due to the conditions.

The 1976 Formula 1 season was the subject of the film "Rush"- by far the best motor racing film ever made.It is definitely better than Steve McQueen's "Le Mans" because it has a storyline.

What a contrast that era is to today's highly contrived and controlled F1 circus.
A year ago I read a story on Australian F1 driver Daniel Riccardio which made a big point of how approachable and personable he was and how he chatted to fans and journalists without a PR spin person at his elbow.What a difference a year makes because this weekend I read a very tedious story on him based on a recent interview where a PR person sat in on the interview.Au revoir Mr Natural hello Mr Wooden PRspeak.Why do they do it? Jenks would have hated it.
Thank you John for these great photos and for stirring some personal memories.

Niki Lauda on his way to taking the chequered flag.It's been a long time since a Ferrari has seen the chequered flag in F1 in recent times.They have Seb Vettel on the team for 2015.Best of luck-they will need it.
The start.Look at the lack of protection for the photographer and the officials .One touch and a car or debris would be into them.

What an atmosphere and what great weather.

View from an apartment towards the swimming pool .

James Hunt walking back to the pits after retiring on lap 24 with an engine problem.He looks pretty deflated
Louis Chiron.Veteran racing driver.Monagesque and Chief du Corse for the Grand Prix.He died in 1979.
Nikki Lauda -complete with ears -interviewed after winning.The interviewer seems bored.

Motor sport journalist extraordinaire Denis Jenkinson.And how about those high waisted pants on the guy standing next to him.Let's hope that they never come back into fashion-if they ever were in fasion that is.

Jackie Stewart.I've heard of a wing collar but never heard of a delta wing collar.Knowing JS it was very fashionable at the time.

27 Jan 2015

On the street Monaco -1976

The recent blog post mention of the Renault 16 prompted motoring sage John Crawford to dig into his files and find this wonderful atmospheric photo taken in Monaco after the 1976 Monaco Grand Prix.John was then editor of Modern Motor, an Australian car magazine, and was travelling with Steve Cropley another esteemed Australian motoring journalist the one time editor of UK Car magazine and now editor-in-chief of UK Autocar.They were walking to Monaco station to catch the train back to Menton where they had left their car.
The Renault 16TS is in the centre and it is in that very typical of the period eau de nil colour.It looks right at home in this setting.
Of particular interest to me is the yellow Porsche 911S.A supercar of the era.What a fabulous car to be driving on those wonderful roads in the south of France in 1976-before there were speed cameras.
The red car on the left is a mystery.John reckons that it is a Morgan but I am not convinced-the wings,streamlined tank and the wheels do not look right but it is impossible to tell.Note since posting Roger has suggested probably correctly that it is a Panther J72 - a replica of the SS100.
The whole scene is just wonderful and so is the light and it is so obviously shot on film.John tells me that it was shot on Ektachrome film on a Yashica FX-1 SLR camera-a great camera with a beautiful Zeiss lens.Where is it now John?.
In those days Monaco was still charming and classy.Today the charm has long gone along with the class.Much of the Victorian and grand Belle Epoque architecture has been demolished.Streets such as that pictured are lined with tower blocks of bland modern apartments and the place is now populated by dodgy types,sleazy Russian oligarchs,rich arabs and people from countries with names ending in stan.And the streets are full of blingy supercars.Crass sur le Med.Seedy by sea.
The 1976 Monaco Grand Prix was won by Niki Lauda in a Ferrari by the way.More photos of the race from John's archives to follow.
Thanks very much for the photos John .

Since posting Toby has commented as follows
An interesting piece of information you can also pick up from this beautiful shot is that the Renault 16TS is from Paris...Until 2009, the plate format bore a "number" of the following formats: either nnnn LL dd, or nnn LLL dd. With the last two numbers telling you where the car was registered.
The '93' on the Renault tells you it is from Bobigny a suburb in the NW of Paris. Whereas the Porsche with it's '83' digit is from the South of France Var/Toulon.
I learnt this information when I drove a borrowed Rover in the south in 1998 and copped a lot of agro as the locals thought I was from Paris.
This system no longer exists and another fun thing to do when driving long distances in France has been lost forever!

26 Jan 2015

Happy Australia Day

It's January 26th.Australia Day.Australia's national day.Happy Australia Day to all Aussies wherever you are.It would have been nice to tell you that it is a beautiful sunny hot day here but after a long vey hot spell today is cool ,overcast and wet.It's a relief from the heat and humidity but it could have waited one more day.
It would also have been nice to include a good photo taken today - I took one of the flag on our house but it is pretty gloomy-see below.I was out early this morning trying to find a suitable photo opportunity and there was no one around.Perhaps they were all sleeping in relieved to get a cool night's sleep at last.
Anyway an Aussie photo from way back.Taken at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney on my Leica M6 and Ektachrome film.
And to those of you reading this from other countries yes it is the British Union Jack on our flag and yes it is odd and it's time we had a purely Austraian flag.Maybe it will happen in my lifetime but most definitely not whilst we have the current right wing government.

24 Jan 2015

On the street -Chicago

I just found this photo which I had previously overlooked.It was taken with the Leica X1 on a Chicago street on a very hot day in 2012.It was very much a grabbed shot and there was no time to think about the composition.The X1 is slow to start up and was slow to autofocus-it is faster now as there has been a firmware update- so getting this shot in focus was just pure luck.
The old guy panhandling on the fire hydrant is watching the world go by as he shakes his cup and he should not be complaining about the view of the world at this instant.It's a pity his interesting expression is not more visible.
I often/usually make this style of street photograph black and white but as it is high summer on this shot colour adds to the atmosphere.I tried it in black and white and it does not work.

22 Jan 2015

Porsche 911 3.8 Turbo R Monster

Porsche enthusiast David lives part of the year in Australia and part of the year in Paris-lucky man.He is currently in Paris and he sent me the email with the photos below

"I joined the Vincennes en Anciennes multi-marque car club  here in Paris but have not attended any of their gatherings until this year.

Amongst other things they run a twice-a-year 'Traversée de Paris' from a starting point at the Chateau de Vincennes (7am!!) via stopovers at various well-know Paris sites. On Sunday morning 11th January we visited the Esplanade d'Invalides and Place de la Concorde as well as the Esplanade du Chateau de Vincennes to see some of the 100s of vehicles taking part."

At the Esplanade d'Invalides we saw this fluorescent green Porsche 3.8 Turbo R monster amongst all the vintage vehicles.

I don't know what this Monster is but I suspect that it is is one of Gemballa's more extreme creations.I have Googled it without success.Does anyone know?Also what's the story on the rearwards visibility ?
I would not be game to be driving it around the Arc De Triomph-Place Charles De Gaulle.What would the insurance premium be for it in Paris? Mon Dieu-it does not bear thinking about.Anyway not to my taste but each to his own.
I do like the look of the Renault 16 beside the Porsche in the second shot.The 16 was an advanced car when it was launched and Lotus used the engine in the first model of the Europa.A fact to be memorised for the next motoring trivia night.The link to the club's website above is worth clicking on just to see a wide selection of unusual cars.The site has that chaotic look and functionality which French website designers seem to love.
Thanks for the photos and the story David.

A taste of France

 I reckon that French tourism will need all the help it can get in 2015 so I'm chiming in with my contributions in the hope that someone in the French Tourism Office will notice and thank me in the usual fashion-a return air ticket to Sydney to Paris will be just fine.Nothing fancy-I'll be happy to take the back of the bus if the budget is tight.Dream on.
Anyway some photos of French food -all taken on my meanderings in Paris.French food is just special.Enjoy and plan your trip to France for 2015.

19 Jan 2015

And still they turn up

The February edition of UK Octane magazine carries a story about what they are calling the barn find of the century-90 incredible cars found at a French chateau:Ferrari,Maserati,Bugatti,Facel Vega and more.
The Ferrari is a very valuable 250 California Spyder.Most of the cars are very dilapidated as they were stored in open sheds and barns but the Ferrari was protected in a garage under enormous piles of car magazines.The photographs of the collection in Octane are superb-well worth grabbing a copy of the magazine for.
Most of the collection is being auctioned in Paris on 6th February.You can find details of the auction with some of the Octane photos of the cars on

You would think that by now every barn,chateau,shed and outhouse had been searched but still long forgotten cars keep turning up.

The Porsche 356 in the photos below had been missing for about 40 years until found in Maitland NSW recently.
It's the last 356 T1 made and was built in September 1957.It was the second ever Porsche sent to New Zealand and now it is on its way back  there to undergo a complete restoration in the hands of its new NZ owner-a 356 expert.
It had been disassembled by the most recent owner who had abandoned the restoration.Prior to that it had lain stored somewhere in Newcastle NSW for 30 years.
Many restorations are abandoned.I personally know of a couple of cars which have been restorations of abandoned restorations.Owners start on a restoration full of enthusiasm but circumstances change,they lose heart or they run out of money and the car remains just a sad pile of parts.
I am told that this 356 is complete and all the hard to find parts-ashtrays and pieces of trim etc are still with the car.That's so important.
The first part of the car's return to NZ started last weekend when 356 guru David Nicholls,who took the photos,was part of the rescue team who manhandled the car onto the trailer on a very hot day.

16 Jan 2015

Local colour

                                                              "Love Junk Emporium" - Kincumber,Central Coast,NSW.Leica X Vario photo.

Under an old gum tree...

Porsche 356-Pie In the Sky Roadhouse,Cowan,NSW.7th January 2015.
Leica X1 photo

14 Jan 2015

Always Paris

The events in Paris in the last 7 days have been truly evil .But so for that matter have been events in Nigeria and Syria and Pakistan.There are a lot of evil people on the planet currently.And the west cannot take the moral highground.Invading a country without a UN mandate and any justifiable reason and using drones and fighter jets to assasinate people in foreign lands and then passing off massive civilian casualties as "collateral damage" strikes me as being evil too.

So I won't resort to social media superficiality and add the words or hashtag "Je Suis Charlie"to the blog.My voice or silly hashtag sadly will not change a thing so all I can do is to flip to distraction mode and think of the good things in life and in France in particular and what better place to start than lunch.

Lunch in France and in Paris in particular is still a big deal.If you have not found a seat in your favourite restaurant by 12.45 you may well be unlucky.It's a tradition I heartily support-long may it continue. Here's my personal take on the Parisien lunch- with sunshine and laughter -commodities in very short supply in the last 7 days. Let's hope that I get many more opportunities to add to this personal portfolio.Leica X1 and Canon G7 photos.

The jacket

 A vintage,and still regularly used,motorcycle jacket I spotted hanging in my neighbour's garage a few days ago.I had my camera with me and grabbed this quick shot.
I have posted this for a frustrated photographer I know, Stefan,-a Leica X1 owner who laments that he cannot find anything to photograph.
Leica X Vario photo.

12 Jan 2015

Bathurst 12 hour race

I'm planning to go to the Bathurst 12 hour GT race at Mt Panorama Bathurst on Sunday 8th February.It will be the first modern motor race I have been to since the Le Mans 24 hours in 2011.I don't do the Aussie F1 GP nowadays and I definitely don't do V8 Supercars.
My only concern is that it will be scorching hot.I am getting too old to stand on the side of a mountain for 12 hours in heatstroke conditions which it was last year.
The entry list for this year's race is looking good.See ENTRY LIST
It will be worth going just to see the Bentleys hurtling around Mt Panorama.
In my opinion there are only 6 classic motor race circuits left-the Nurburgring Nordschleife,Monza,Indianapolis,Spa,Le Mans and Bathurst Mount Panorama.I don't include Monaco because really it is a silly circuit really totally unsuitable for racing.If it wasn't in Monaco it would not be considered suitable for racing.

Some photos from my archives of glorious Bathurst.Firstly John Goss on his way to winning the 1985 Bathurst 1000km touring car race in a TWR Jaguar XJS.Photo taken at the top of the mountain.
The rest of the photos are from the Festival of Motor Sport held at Easter on Mount Panorama a few years ago.These photos give a good idea of the nature of the circuit.
I am planning to try and do some serious motor racing action photography at the 12 hours with some serious gear.This will be a bit of a turnaround for me.More details later.

10 Jan 2015

5 photos in 20 minutes

I'm out on my daily exercise walk at or even before 6.00am almost every day of the year.It's a routine I have had for many years and which I try and maintain even when I am travelling.I don't do lying in.I often, but not always, take my camera-invairably the Leica X1 because it is compact and light and has a fixed lens and a very easy to use viewfinder.It's a great "street" camera. I carry it in my hand with the strap wrapped around my hand so that I don't look or feel like a dorky tourist.
I am very fortunate to live in a beautiful place and the weather is usually kind to me on my walk. Over the years I have taken many worthwhile photos on my walks -at home and away.This morning was exceptional.I grabbed 5 worthwhile shots in just 20 minutes.The camera metadata confirms the timing.I actually took 8 photos in total but 3 were different angles on the 5 subjects.
The first,inevitable,cat shot was taken just up my street.The pick of the crop for me has to be the lady with her dog.People ask me how do you get a shot like that.It's easy. I saw this happy lady and her seriously big dog strolling along the esplanade and I just asked her outright-"please can I take your photo." She was delighted to pose.If you don't ask you won't get the chance.
Here they are -5 photos taken between 5.58am and  6.17 am today 10th January in Terrigal.