Monaco: Crossing the Threshold

When I entered the pits at the Monaco Grand Prix I had a reaction quite unlike any other I had experienced in motorsport.  I’m always excited when I arrive at any race from local club outings to top tier professional competitions.  But at Monaco my heart was beating so strongly I thought it would burst out of my chest.  I could hardly breathe so I began photographing intensely because usually the act of photography centers me.  But in the space of the first few minutes I made two dramatic errors that I have never made before or since. The first mistake was dropping a camera.  I’m a tool person and I’ve always had a reverence for the instruments of the profession so I was stunned that I’d lost my concentration enough to see one of my Nikons hit the ground.  Fortunately it was built like a tank and the landing was relatively gentle so no damage was done.  It took a while to notice the second mistake.  I had been shooting wildly when I thought I should have reached the end of the roll of film by now.  I looked at the counter and it indicated no exposures.  I realized I had not properly inserted the leader of the film into the take up reel so the film never went through the camera. Basic Photo 101. That was enough for me so I found a relatively quite place to sit for a while and just observe my surroundings until I calmed down.

Through the years I’ve thought a lot about this intense experience. Monaco is a sensory overload but I realized the Monaco Grand Prix was the spiritual ground zero, the point of origin for my love of motor racing and when I stepped into the pits I was walking into my dream.  All the reading, imaginings and aspirations of my youth were suddenly and quite profoundly real.  My mind couldn’t grasp it at the time but my body sure did.

The Benneton pit:

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