Shelsley Walsh Drivers School

Two or three times a year I have the honour of being Official Photographer at the Shelsley Walsh drivers school. Here, 30 or so drivers turn up in their own cars (some under their own steam, some on trailers) so that they can be taught the best way to traverse up the steep hill. The aim is to learn the correct lines to take for each corner which should, in a competition, lead to a faster ascent. For some it was their first time, for others they had been many times before – but all entrants get at least 8 runs up the hill with a debrief from 4 instructors every two runs.

My job is to take photographs throughout the day – a group shot on the start line, at as many different locations on the hill as possible, and finally the small presentation at the end.

It’s a long day. After the obligatory group shots under the start-line banner the 4 groups have a walk up the hill and back being briefed on the best line for each corner. Then, for me, there is about an hour of photography with a car going past every 30 seconds or so. After their two runs there is then a 40 minute lull whilst the drivers are debriefed on their actual lines – and then it repeats itself 3 more times (with an hours break for a cooked lunch). At the end of the day there are 3 presentations and it’s home for tea.

But it’s not over for me. I then have to check through, on average, 400 photographs and then sort them into a collection for each driver so that I can e-mail them a Dropbox link to their courtesy photographs from the day. This is usually another 4-5 hours – and you’ll be surprised how many cars look very similar when you are trying to sort them out, and that’s not including the dual-drives when two drivers share the same car!

But it’s a great day and I often get very complimentary e-mails back from the drivers after receiving their photographs.

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