Barrie “Whizzo” Williams and the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb

Barrie “Whizzo” Williams and the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb

Much of my life has been focussed around shooting anything that has four wheels and drinks gallons of the black stuff.

So as an enthusiastic petrol head I never ignore opportunities to shoot good looking cars – especially when they’re the vintage sports variety racing on my doorstep.

Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb – the oldest motorsport venue in the world – is a stone’s throw from my home in Worcestershire, in the English Midlands. A place of green rolling hills, ruined castles and preening middle age men with beautifully expensive beautifully ancient racing cars.

A few weeks ago I went along to the August Hill Climb to do some hobbyist shoots. Play around with visual ideas about vintage sports cars, historic location and the like.

As well as stills, I wanted to shoot video to get within the spirit of the occasion, amongst the hubbub and gossip of these earnest, enthusiastic vintage motorsports fans.

What was my idea?

I wanted to film from inside one of the cars gunning up the circuit, while filming and photographing the same car from track side. I also wanted to give the final stills shots an old fashioned feel. A pastiche of the car as it would have looked back in the day.

Luckily I got talking with Barrie “Whizzo” Williams, one of the most famous British motorsports drivers. Whizzo is a sprightly 74 year old who was driving a Lotus 15 v8 Buick on the day. A beautiful machine owned by Stewart Couch and put together in the late 1950s by Dizzy Addicot and John Dabbs, old friends of Williams.

Barrie Whizzo Williams

Barrie Whizzo Williams

After explaining my cunning plan to Whizzo that involved a short film of his driving the circuit, the veteran racer happily agreed and we set to work. I first attached a video camera to the frame inside the car, just above Whizzo’s head. I then trudged up the hill and set the video camera track side.

Barrie Whizzo Williams, Lotus 15 V8 Buick

Barrie Whizzo Williams, Lotus 15 V8 Buick

After doing all that I persuaded the marshals to let me stand dangerously close to the track and shoot Whizzo and his fellow racers as they thundered up the circuit.

After a long day’s filming, photographing and general schmoozing, I went back to my studio and distilled the essence of what I’d done.

The accompanying short film, podcast and pastiche shots are the results. Let me know what you think…

Barrie talks to Harniman about his driving carrier:

Click to listen to the Podcast Interview


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