They are the faces, they are the protagonists, they are the boys and girls with the expansive toys, playing around at the most famous motor racing tracks with their prestigious race cars.
Some of them are former professional drivers hired to drive race cars for private collectors, some of them are semi-professional with a team of mechanics behind, some of them are a one-man-shows, driver, mechanic, caterer all in one.
The most friendly guests in the pits are in my opinion the married couples, he drives the car and she makes everything around, giving a good-bye kiss at the grid, waiting until he comes back to give him a hug. Of course sometimes it is the opposite, she drives and he takes care of anything else.
Looking in the faces, taking pictures, most of the time, just right before the start is fascinating. Some drivers looks very relaxed, some look very focused, some look very confident, some have the visor closed to be alone with their minds, some of them talk to their mechanics and some waiting for the good-bye kiss. I think everyone has his own ritual to be prepared for what is upcoming and how the race or qualifying will be.
But all of them are Gentleman Drivers
They respect each other, they give enough space to overtake, they enjoy the performance of the others. But, of course they are also competitors, taking the win by class or better the overall win is the target. But, to finish first, you have to finish first, I think Ron Dennis said this. So, the first thing is bringing back the car in one piece and not only one piece of the car, and to stay safe outside on track, because racing on the edge can be very dangerous in these race cars, even on modern tracks.
My portraits of the racing drivers show all mixed emotions, but also the enthusiasm and passion about what they are doing and the determination to give the best possible performance even at qualifying or at the race and the most important having fun outside there and living their dream, driving a classic race car as fast as possible.
From the photographic point of view the classic style of helmets, googles and scarfs is the most beautiful, of course I can understand that this can’t be used in every car, but sometimes I wish that there is more passion about temporary style, a modern Arai or Bell Helmet wearing in a Maserati 250F is not that nice. But the faces under the helmets tell the stories and are important. They makes historic motor racing lively and lovely.
If I own a classic race car, I would drive by myself. Yes, I am not talented enough and probably not brave enough to do this, but the feeling of speed and traction of a race car would be overwhelming. And of course I would wear a crash helmet in temporary style. Until that dream comes true, my place will be still behind the barriers capturing pictures of racing cars with their brave girls and boys behind the wheel, driving around at their playground. Find out more about our photographer Ralph Lueker.