600 Hillclimb images

This is all about an incurable virus I picked up when I was a child, maybe it was more significant, an artistic gene. I was already being quite creative with a camera at the age of twelve, with my father's fold out Kodak. Only this isn't about ancient history, well that ancient anyway. Keeping close to the relevant storyline after school I got a job with a builder so I had some money and gradually realised that I had a limited amount of talent. Initially it was social stuff, portraits and a few weddings. Distant faded memories, only some have a little significance. Fate and the internal combustion engine, she just had to get her hands on the throttle. One day I was in Reeves, the builder's merchant and one of the staff came over.

'I hear that you are pretty good with a camera,'he began. 'Could you take some photographs of me hillclimbing?'

'What on earth is that?'

'If you follow me to Gurston next Sunday just see what you can come up with.'

Well John Palmer you have a lot to answer for, forty odd years later and I am still chasing cars. I believe at that time most photographers were press trained and using black and white film, so when I started flashing colour prints around I instantly picked up customers. There are good and bad points about hillclimbing photography, especially as a profession, some are more obvious than others. Let’s see, the venue, that tarmac strip rarely changes, you are heavily influenced by the weather and you have a limited customer base, obviously you tend to repeatedly see the same people. Maybe there are just bad points!

Anyway, this is about cars so I had better start inserting the odd image. As I began my difficult career in Wiltshire I suppose it is a good place to begin. The start line at Gurston Down. Now I may taken a few hundred thousand photographs, perhaps even over a million, only I no longer have records dating back decades, or a vast pile of programs so most names escape me. Take this Cobra, I have an ember burning in the back of my mind only it won't ignite. I do have a pretty good memory though it is crumbling quickly, if this had been red it would have been Paul Channon, but no.

As I was initially living in Weston super Mare my nearest hill was probably Gurston, but once I realised how much I enjoyed the challenge I studied the calendar are began to visit other venues, initially Prescott, Shelsley and Wiscombe. It was something of a hike to reach Loton Park but that was soon in my circuit. Though the main focus of this book is the beginning of the digital age I am starting at the dawn of my emergence, near enough and will divide the groups of images into both years and venues. That means that I start in 1974, not because that was the first time out as I started clicking furiously in '72, only I do not have any files dating back that far. When the BOC put my nose out of joint and I fled to Spain I sold my negative collection having only scanned a few images, but what I do have does stir the odd memory.