Following Nigel Mansell at Goodwood

Assembly area team prepare the Williams FW14B

I had a great commission from GP Racing magazine to follow F1 champion Nigel Mansell’s weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed documenting all the highlights as he drove his championship winning Williams FW14B for the first time in many years.

Sounds straightforward but, at a event with 150,00 visitors and an ever changing schedule, it proved trickier than I planned. With cars going up the hill twice a day over the the three day event I was pretty confident I’d have plenty of chances to shoot the imagery required for a six page feature. I started off in the Williams pit tent to say hi to the team and explain what had been pre-planned to find out that Mansell was now only driving the car on Sunday , knocking out 4 out of my 6 opportunities.

There were many good things going for me. The weather was great…not too hot, or cold or raining and I knew my way around having covered the Festival of Speed more than 20 times, I had all right track side passes allowing me into the assembly areas to get up close and personal to Nigel. But come Sunday the news came through that Mansell would now only drive the car once, for the afternoon run and I started to get a little worried.

I was pretty sure I could get all the pre-run imagery of the car being brought down to the assembly area and ‘Our Nige’ getting into the car and heading out onto the hill but with just a single pass I would only have one chance to shoot the necessary action photos that would almost certainly be the lead image of the feature.

I placed myself track side opposite Goodwood house for the drive by…close enough to run from the assembly area and the best chance of seeing the car for the longest time as it passed at speed. Action photography is not an exact science and I didn’t want to freeze the car with a high shutter speed that would guarantee a sharp image but lack any movement.So I covered other areas by speaking to other snappers who would be in different spots up the hill asking them to send me their images …just in case.

I needn’t have worried, I got the shot and hitched a ride up to the top paddock in the team support van to photograph all the atmosphere there before heading back down to the house for the interview on the balcony in front of thousands of fans.