Donington Park Historic Festival 2018
In the 12 months since I last went to Donington Park for the Historic Festival, there have been a few changes to this motorsport circuit located in Leicestershire, not least Motorsport Vision taking over the lease of the track until 2038. Donington Park is an interesting circuit for motorsport photography, having a number of gradient changes that on paper should make for some interesting imagery.
This change of owner has introduced some welcome changes, including the freshly laid tarmac to cover some areas of the paddock that was once a loose hard-core and gravel surface, and a refurbished refreshment facility.
A slightly less welcome change was to the media accreditation process. What once was an email to the organiser now involves a more lengthy online application and, for me, an unfortunate refusal. Whilst a number of event organisers have opened up to the idea of allowing people media access if they have some published images to their name, and/or an online presence (whether social media based or a personal website/portfolio), MSV still want to see requests for access backed by guaranteed magazine/newspaper coverage or from a large online publication.
However, getting media access for motorsport photography is only part of the equation when shooting at a circuit, and not having that access does not prevent anyone from capturing images on a day out, it just makes it slightly trickier when trackside having to shoot through/over fences, and generally rules out pit lane action unless you keep your wits about you and keep moving around. It doesn’t prevent the ‘what if’ scenario playing through your head when walking around however, especially when photographing through the chicken wire; ‘what if’ I was on the other side here?, ‘what if’ I was another 15 feet closer to the track?, ‘what if’ I could shoot this lower down rather than having to be above the fence? etc.
Not having media access also ensures that us photographers can discuss our other favourite topic of the non-accredited; The ‘how did he get access?’, the ‘who is he mates with to have got a bib?’, and ‘who is he shooting for to have got in?’ questions that are usually aimed (silently) at those seen huffing, puffing and apparently unable to walk from their car to the media centre without getting out of breath, never mind a day walking the circuit, or those shooting everything on their phone, or those vLoggers who arrive for lunch, spend 10 minutes filming a few pieces to camera about how they just love these old cars that they have no idea about, and then pop into the car park to talk about the car they turned up in or spot some other novelty supercar that we are supposed to drool over.
This may sound like sour grapes, and in truth it is, because its difficult to accept that sometimes the value we perceive in our own work is not shared by others, and what we think we provide as a service to event organisers in shared content is not necessarily what they want or require. However this does not stop me from going out there and doing my best to produce quality images that I am happy to share with the world, and if the organisers get added exposure to their events as a by product of my endeavours, hopefully one day they will recognise this as a valuable contribution to their own efforts.
Sour grapes notwithstanding, here are some motorsport photographs from the Donington Historic taken without media access, but hopefully just as enjoyable to look at. Most of the trackside images were shot through the chicken wire, sometimes with the lens being pushed right up against it, others were shot through the various small openings that you find as you walk the track.