Past the finish line

It was a pleasing end to my motorsport photography season to have the cover shot of the British Hillclimb Champion 2022, Wallace Menzies, on the front of the November/December edition of Speedscene magazine. Inside, there were a further five of my photographs from the Prescott event in September and six from the Loton Park finale at the end of the same month – including the all-important ‘class of 2022’ group shot.

It also marks the end of my motorsport photography ‘journey’ (for the time being, at least) having recently sold my 35mm gear to concentrate on medium format photography, which doesn’t lend itself particularly well to sports. For almost a decade I’ve enjoyed this fast-paced genre but I feel that it is time to move on now and explore other avenues.

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King of the hill (part 2)

It has been almost 6 months since I published the post ‘Hillclimb season begins‘ and, in what seems like a blink of an eye, that season is over and Wallace Menzies retains the title for another year. As usual I have managed to record all of the Midland rounds at Loton Park, Prescott and Shelsley Walsh for the Hillclimb and Sprint Association (HSA) magazine Speedscene and related website (the latest report from Loton Park is now live here) and posted a selection of photographs from each event on my blog.

So here is my final post about the British Hillclimb Championship 2022 with a further random selection of photographs from last Sundays event at Loton Park.

King of the hill 2022

The overall winner of the British Hillclimb Championship 2022 has been decided after yesterdays event at Loton Park. Technically the title race could have been decided at Prescott three weeks ago but changeable weather on the day put paid to that and so the cliffhanger result occurred on the last event of the season.

There was definitely an atmosphere of anticipation in the air with the highest number of spectators that I’ve seen this year at Loton Park. The practice runs had been carried out the previous day and so Sunday consisted of two timed runs and two top-12 run-offs, the latter adding points to the championship league table.

The ‘king of the hill’ for 2022 is Wallace Menzies (the third time he has held coveted number 1) having led this years championship from the start. He put in the fastest runs on both of the run-offs but the result was decided on the first when Alex Summers slid off the track at Museum bend which effectively handed Wallace the title.

So another great season of hillclimbing comes to an end. What will next year bring?

I couldn’t resist grabbing this image on the way || © John Hallett Photography
Top-10 for 2022 || © John Hallett Photography
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The long and winding….hill

Today saw the last Vintage Sports-Car Club (VSCC) speed event of 2022 – the second visit to Prescott but this time on the long course which takes in Ettore’s loop. It was a one-day event and so there were two practice runs in the morning and two competition runs after lunch. Prescott has a return road and so the on-track action is relentless which explains how they can get through the 150+ entries with relative ease, although it still takes about 2 hours for them all to take their turn. You could tell that Autumn has started with the low-lying early morning sun casting shadows across the track and the cold wind that caught you by surprise as a reminder you that you should have taken a coat!

Here is a very quick selection from the day and I hope to post more later in the week. Why? – because after the relatively relaxed pace of todays vintage meeting, tomorrow I’ll be attending the season finale of the British Hillclimb Championship at Loton Park. The overall winner has yet to be decided and it all rests on the two run-offs. Exciting stuff!

Getting ready for their run || © John Hallett Photography
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A climb in the park

This weekend the Vintage Sports-Car Club (VSCC) paid its annual visit to Loton Park in Shropshire. Coming just two days after the sad news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II there was a respectful two-minute silence held at 1pm (during which you could have heard a pin drop) followed by a round of applause. This was well attended by spectators, officials and marshals alike.

A full paddock of vintage machinery || © John Hallett Photography

I went on the Saturday instead of my usual Sunday because it was arranged that I would meet up with a fellow photographer. Unfortunately he had to pull out at the last minute but, on the basis that the entry list was pretty much the same for both days, I decided to carry on with the original plan. Unfortunately there were few Edwardian cars entered (just four on the Saturday) which happen to be my favourites but it was still a good day despite numerous stoppages for minor spins and oil spillages.

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Schools’ out for Autumn

It doesn’t seem like 5 minutes since I posted ‘Back to School’, reporting the first drivers school I attended this year (it was actually back in May) but yesterday saw the last drivers school of 2022 at Shelsley Walsh and I was once again the official photographer for the day.

Shelsley Walsh drivers school – Autumn 2022 || © John Hallett Photography
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Penultimate climb

Yesterday was the penultimate hillclimb of the 2022 British Hillclimb Championship held at the Prescott in Gloucestershire. The overall title position is still up for grabs and it won’t be decided until the final round at Loton Park in a few weeks time – but any points gained yesterday could have a bearing on the eventual rankings.

It was a bit of a strange day with sporadic showers leading to a very slippery track at times and almost an hours stoppage to extract a spectator who had tumbled down a bank. However, in-between there was some very spirited driving.

Wallace Menzies has to wait until Loton Park to see if he has grabbed the title once again || © John Hallett Photography
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Only in America (part 1)

As a teenager in the 1970’s the television fed me a diet of America cop shows and movies – and with it their American cars. These seemed light years ahead of the cars in Britain at the time and absolutely huge – although they all seemed to have tremendous acceleration and handle like a sports car!

I can easily remember:

  • Starsky & Hutch – Starsky’s red Ford Gran Torino / Hutch’s battered Ford Galaxie
  • Cannon – Frank drove a Lincoln Continental befitting of a high-end private-eye
  • The Dukes of Hazzard – Bootlegging in a Dodge Charger
  • Duel – A Plymouth Valiant chased by a psychopath in a Peterbilt tanker truck
  • Charlie’s Angels – Jill Munro had a Ford Mustang
  • Kojak – The bald-headed cop drove a Buick Century
  • Shaft – He drove a Dodge Charger in the series
  • The Streets of San Francisco – Lots of Ford Galaxie’s (Ford sponsored the series)
  • The Rockford Files – Jim Rockford’s Pontiac Firebird
  • Hawaii Five-O – Mercury Marquis / Chevrolet Camero / Ford Mustang
  • Mannix – A Plymouth Barracuda (convertible)
  • Bullitt – A Ford Mustang on San Francisco streets
  • Ironside – Usually in a van, for obvious reasons

So when I found out that Oulton Park were having a new event devoted to American motoring (called U.S. Autoshow) it was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss. Maybe I could get photographs of some of those cars from my teenage memories.

Here are a few tasters from the day and I’ll upload a further gallery shortly.

A Ford Gran Torino – much larger and unwieldy-looking than I anticipated || © John Hallett Photography
Ford Galaxie – part car, part ship 🙂 || © John Hallett Photography
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Short circuit (part 1)

I don’t do a lot of motorsport photography at circuits, generally preferring hill climbs and the occasional sprint. However, one circuit event that I do look forward to is when the Vintage Sports-Car Club (VSCC) pay a visit to Mallory Park in Leicestershire, probably because for a photographer it is quite intimate (in that you can get quite close to the track) and has a great backdrop with the lakes in the infield.

And that’s where I was yesterday – watching cars from the early part of the last century battling it out around the 1.35 mile-long circuit (although this event uses the longer layout using the Shaw’s Corner hairpin it is still one of the shortest permanent race circuits in the UK). The cooler weather made it far more bearable than the the sweltering heat of last weekend at Shelsley Walsh – which was beneficial because circuits generally are devoid of many shaded areas – and thankfully the rain stayed away.

All-in-all a great day out – only marred when I learned that long-standing VSCC photographer and smashing chap Don Stringer has passed away earlier in the year. RIP Don.

Richard Fuller in his Cooper Mk8 leaves Shaws Corner || © John Hallett Photography
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Temperature climbing (part 1)

Yesterday was a round of the British Hillclimb Championship at Shelsley Walsh during a period of hot weather when a climb up 100m (328 feet) is really not something that you want to do – particularly when carrying a backpack full of camera gear. It had to be done though so that I could get some shots of the main protagonists as they battled for points in the final rounds of a championship that comes to an end next month.

Fastest up the hill – young Matt Ryder in a Gould GR59J took the run-off in 22.44s, almost the hill record || © John Hallett Photography
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