Category Archives: The Focal Point

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A Second Opinion

Today is the last day of the Ferrari Under the Skin exhibition at the Design Museum in London. I have already had a look at this wonderful collection, motoring art of the highest order.

This week DDC’s resident star photographer, Simon Hildrew, beetled his way to Kensington to catch the show before the curtain came down for the final time.

What a collection of images he captured for us there…………enjoy this spectacle.

John Brooks, April 2018

General Winter

Since its reintroduction in 2014 The Goodwood Members’ Meeting has become one of the ‘must-do’ events on the motoring calendar. It features all the good bits of its more famous sibling, The Revival, without all the crowds that spoil that occasion, at least for an old duffer like me.

As with everything in life there is a price to pay for such pleasures. Held now in March, the Members’ Meeting is subject to the capricious late winter weather in Sussex. Some years that means sunshine turning the swathes of daffodils decorating the track into a golden ribbon.

This year that delight was not on offer. Instead bitter winds and snow greeted those hardy souls who braved the elements and displayed their stiff upper lips, though whether that was a voluntary state or the work of the climate is open to question.

I declared earlier that the Members’ Meeting was a ‘must-do’ however this year even the offer of a ticket on the eve of the weekend could not tempt me from my warm office. A combination of looming deadlines on a couple of assignments and the prospect of encountering “The Beast from East” ensured that discretion was the better part of valour. No Mentioned in Dispatches from the South Downs for me.

Which is what those who took to the track in F5000 cars on Saturday surely warrant. Bonkers does not even begin to describe this situation, but the show must go on, unlike NASCAR at Martinsville this weekend just gone.

Indeed for all the praise heaped upon the competitors, the real heroes of the weekend were the marshals, track workers, those on towing duty in the car parks, indeed everyone associated with making the event not only happen but making it a one to remember.

One figure that was absent from Goodwood was Henry Hope-Frost, who was tragically killed in a motoring accident a week or so before the event.

Henry was a thoroughly good bloke, the very definition of petrol head, with ‘#fever’ as his trademark. He had been the voice of Goodwood for a number of years and was, and will be, missed by all who frequent the track.

I managed to watch a fair bit of the action thanks to the comprehensive coverage provided by Goodwood on the interweb. Saturday afternoon was spent flicking between that tab on the browser and IMSA TV’s footage of the Sebring 12 Hours. Not sure which I missed the most but that is how the cards fall sometimes.

Highlights of the action…………I am always in awe of the pre-war racers………..the Bolster Cup was like watching a high wire act without the net.

As was the Caracciola Sportwagenrennen…………madness, utter madness but enthralling.

Touring Car hooliganism was on display in the Gerry Marshall Sprint, the old boy would have laughed his head off…………..and ordered another round.

Always eagerly anticipated the demonstration runs featured F5000 and Group 5 era sports cars. That would be worth the cost of the ticket alone, steep though that is.

Personal highlight was the irrepressible Rob Huff in an E-type, displaying all the car control that a World Champion should.

Despite the adverse conditions the 76th Goodwood Members’ Meeting was much enjoyed by all who witnessed it, from the hardy souls who braved the weather to the delicate flowers such as I who gazed at their screens, looking forward to 2019!

John Brooks, March 2018

Enjoy Simon’s fabulous gallery………………….

Excel as Expected

The classic car and historic racing scenes continue to grow like Topsy. Driven by enthusiasm for the past or speculation for the future, or a combination of both. They are like the Terminator, they cannot be stopped or reasoned with. How long this will go on for is anyone’s guess. But for now let’s enjoy the spectacle.

To cater for this wave of nostalgia a number of shows and events have sprung up in recent years. Some disappear almost as soon as they arrive but one or two survive, grow and thrive. A good example of this group is the London Classic Car Show, now with four editions under its belt at the Excel in Docklands.

In a smart strategic move it joined forces with the Historic Motorsport International thus achieving a broad appeal, covering all the bases.

The show is attractive to the dealers as it is in close proximity to London’s financial centre and the timing is optimal, close to bonus time too.

The ROFGO Collection has been one of the most popular features of shows and events over the past decade. In a recent development there has been a merger with the respected classic dealership, Duncan Hamilton. The collection and the business have relocated to Hampshire and are well positioned to be a major player in this market sector. I am hoping to pay a visit in the near future.

Celebrities seem to play an increasing part of the landscape in our daily lives. Some have more validity than others, and into that category would surely fall Sir Winston Churchill.  Widely regarded as the greatest Englishman of the 20th Century, his profile has been lifted by a recent Oscar-winning movie. Churchill was frequently seen in this Daimler DB18 Drophead Coupé during the years from 1944 to 1949 touring the country.

The car is one of just three survivors of the model and features unique bodywork from the Carlton Carriage Company, though the actor is an optional extra – allegedly.

At the 2017 LCCS there was a fabulous display of Ferraris to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Maranello’s finest, the curation being the work of Joe Macari. For 2018 the theme was less exclusive, being Getaway Cars.  OK the Excel sits somewhere between the ’60s Manors of the Krays and the Richardsons but I cannot be the only one who questioned the taste of this collection. Some of these cars were connected to actual crimes not film or TV make believe.

Perhaps the highlight of this group was the Volvo P1800 that was used in the first series of the British TV show The Saint. Dating back to 1962 this car is highly original, even featuring the number plates used during filming.

The Show was opened by Quentin Wilson and two blokes I had never heard of, celebrity power has its limits.

Mention of Joe Macari brings to mind Ferraris and Maseratis and all manner of Italian exotics but the car that caught my eye on his stand was this 911 GT2. It was dressed up in the livery that it ran at the 1998 Pokka 1000 Kilometres held at Suzuka. It was a familiar sight as Nigel Smith, one of its drivers, was a client back then.

A name from that time that was also a client was Lister. Now under new ownership it launched a new car, the Lister Thunder, at the show. There were claims of 200+mph and 666bhp, certainly it looked muscular, almost on steroids.

Another Jaguar-based special was the elegant XK140 with unique Pinnifarina bodywork, apparently inspired by the legendary Max Hoffman, North American importer of both Volkswagen and BMW during the ’50s and ’60s. Even in such company as this show attracts the XK140 was a standout feature.

Perhaps the biggest star of the show was Nigel Mansell, 1992 Formula One World Champion. He is seen here in conversation with Henry Hope-Frost. Henry was killed in a motoring incident last week, a good man gone way too soon, he will be much missed.

Simon Hildrew was on top form as ever with cameras in hand, so enjoy his stunning work in the following gallery.

John Brooks, March 2018

Scenes at a Festival

Time to wrap up the coverage from Goodwood. Simon Hildrew was clearly on pole position in the Photographic Grand Prix……………here are some highlights from his triple stint.

john Brooks, July 2017

Sportscars at Goodwood Festival of Speed

As one might expect, at Goodwood there was a fine display of sportscars from the early days right through to the 2017 winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours. There was also a special tribute to the Great Dane, Tom Kristensen, nine-time victor at La Sarthe.

Our great snapper, Simon Hildrew, was also on tip top form, so enjoy the penultimate gallery on DDC from the Festival of Speed.

John Brooks, July 2017

A Thin Red Line

 

Ferrari at 70 has been a theme wherever the great and the good have gathered in 2017 to celebrate things motoring. The Goodwood Festival of Speed was no exception to this wave of enthusiasm, and being the Festival it was pretty much top rank, with iconic Ferraris at every turn.

Simon Hildrew brings us an authentic Italian flavour from the Sussex Downs……….

John Brooks, July 2017

Donington Historic Festival

The Donington Historic Festival continues to grow in scale and importance, 2017’s version was evidence of that. Our award-winning shutter-meister, Simon Hildrew, was on hand to capture the action for our edification………………

John Brooks, June 2017

Tip of the Hat

I have the good fortune to edit this irregular website, I have a great bunch of contributors who are all champions in my view. Well, this opinion is shared by others as the work of our master photographer, Simon Hildrew, has been chosen as Sports Picture of the Year, at the National Association of Press Agency Awards.

You can see more HERE

Congratulations from us all, the award is well deserved.

John Brooks, June 2017

Kind of Blue

Here in the UK we honour those who have achieved something special in many ways, titles, medals, honours, even good old cash and sometimes we put up a Blue Plaque on a building associated with them.

Earlier this year such an honour was bestowed to a school that was built on the former site of John Cobb’s house in Esher, Surrey. John Cobb was one of a band of intrepid British speed merchants whose exploits made them household names in 20’s and 30’s Britain.

Cobb held the Land Speed Record on three occasions and died while trying to add the Water Speed Record to his roll of honour.

On 7th October 1935 he smashed the lap record at Brooklands posting a 143.44 mph average speed round the banked track at Weybridge, driving the fearsome 24-litre Napier Railton. The track closed with the commencement of World War Two in September 1939 and Cobb’s record will stand for all time.

Allan Wynn of  the Brooklands Museum brought out the Napier for a demonstration that enthralled the school kids of all ages who were present on the day.

Amongst the guests of honour was Richard Nobel, the modern day successor to the lineage of Sir Malcolm Campbell, Sir Henry Seagrave and Cobb, who raised the bar to 633.468mph in 1983.

John Brooks, June 2017

The Members Assemble

The recent 75th Goodwood Members’ Meeting was a timely reminder of the good things about our sport. Great cars driven with verve and élan in front of a knowledgeable and enthusiastic audience, even the Spring weather held up, a great way to kick off another season.

Simon Hildrew was on hand armed with cameras, here is his brilliant catch.

John Brooks, March 2017