Home Features My first photo, my first camera and a five-hour trek to Goodwood

My first photo, my first camera and a five-hour trek to Goodwood

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  My first photo, 1960
My first photo, 1960

This photo was taken by me at the 1960 TT (Tourist Trophy) sports car race at the Goodwood motor racing circuit in Sussex. The race was won by Stirling Moss, driving Rob Walker’s Ferrari 250 GT. The picture shows the Ferrari 250 GT of private entrant Pierre Dumay overtaking what looks like an AC Bristol on the back straight at Fordwater corner. Even in this poor picture, the Ferrari looks superb, but it retired early from the race with a gearbox problem.

It is interesting because it may well be my oldest surviving photograph. The race was in August. I received my first camera, a Halina 35X, on my fourteenth birthday in July, and this picture was taken with that camera. I processed the Kodak Plus-X film myself. The Halina was a Leica lookalike — made in Hong Kong — which at the time probably meant that it was made in China but exported from Hong Kong which was still a British colony and hence it did not attract duty coming into the UK. It had reasonable reviews at the time and it served its purpose as my starter camera. I had my eyes on either a Agfa Silette or an Aretta B but they were both out of my price range. The Halina cost just 8 pounds sterling, $12, the cost of 30 minutes’ parking at Sydney Airport today!

    Halina 35X (image: CameraPedia)
Halina 35X (image: CameraPedia)

Five-hour trek

I travelled to the race with a friend using public transport. I lived in Ewell in Surrey at the time and my friend lived nearby in Surbiton. We took a bus to Kingston-upon-Thames, then a train to Chichester and a Southdown bus to a village near the circuit. Then we walked some distance down lanes between hedgerows to the back of the track. We had a very basic timetable but only for the trains — and it was a long journey. It took us over five hours one way. We were very determined. 

We arrived after the race had started. There was no gate at the back of the circuit, so we climbed over the wire mesh fence. Free admission. We arrived home very late after a long walk back to a bus route and then the train to Kingston. My parents were completely relaxed about me heading out on such a long trip with so little information. No helicopter parents for me.

I clearly remember that there were no other spectators along the back of the circuit. It was a stellar entry and it was a classic race. The entry list reads like a who’s who of motor sport greats: Stirling Moss, Roy Salvadori, Innes Ireland, Graham Hill, Jo Schlesser, Willy Mairesse, Jo Bonnier, Mike Parkes, John Whitmore and more. The only big player missing was Jim Clark who must have been up on his farm for the weekend.

If you are not into the motor sport stars of yesterday, to put it into musical terms, this is like going to a concert and finding that the artists appearing that evening are the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Queen, The Who, Fleetwood Mac ,Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles and Dire Straits.

Stirling Moss

Stirling Moss was a superb driver. We stood on the fence and waved to him as he came through Fordwater, pedal to the metal and drifting, and he gave us a big wave with just one hand on the steering wheel. I can still remember it with absolute clarity. Magic. Forget the modern Goodwood Revival meeting TT race. I saw the real thing. I count myself very fortunate.

Twenty five years later I was living in Australia and I brought Stirling Moss out on a Jaguar Australian promotional tour and I had the opportunity to ask him if he remembered waving to two boys out on the back of the Goodwood circuit during his TT race win. Sadly he had no recollection of it. 

My friend’s name was Mike Worrell or maybe Worrall. I lost track of him a few years later. I wonder if he maintained his early interest in motor sport. I don’t do Facebook so cannot try to find him there, but if anyone out there knows a Michael Worrell or Worrall, formerly resident of Surbiton, Surrey, in the UK — now about 72 years old — please let me know.

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You can find more from John Shingleton at The Rolling Road and on Instagram at therollingroad.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks John. It was 4 shillings in for children on that day and what good value you got. Stirling Moss and Graham Hill were (and are) my great heroes from that era. I envy your good fortune at seeing such drivers in action. Moss and Hawthorn raced in Ireland during the 1950s but I was too young to have attended, but for some reason when I was old enough to attend in the1960s drivers of that calibre stopped coming here, but we did have a circuit in Dublin’s Phoenix Park named after Mike Hawthorn.

    In those days Formula One drivers drove throughout the year in many different strands of motor racing, when safety was not what it is today, for quite small amounts of money. It was a real case of when ‘men were men’ etc. Today Fernando Alonso is trying to emulate the triple crown of Graham Hill and, however a good driver he may be, he will not have the same standing in my mind as the men from the 50s and 60s. I recall as a young fellow admiring Jim Clark but not really liking him as he was too machine-like good and seemed to win every time that his Chapman designed Lotus did not break down.

    I watch the Goodwood Revival from here online and I have promised myself that I will go some day. I like the concept of keeping alive the good things from the past and the racing at Goodwood seems to be much more exciting than what you get in Formula one these days. It also stimulates interest in historic cars and racing. You might like to note that I received notice this week that the Dutch model maker Matrix is introducing a model of the Rob Walker Ferrari 250 GT SWB No 7 as driven to victory by Stirling Moss in the 1960 TT. Available in February 2019. They are also doing a model of the same car as used by Stirling to win the 1961 race.

    William

  2. Great story! I followed Phil Hill just remember reading about battles between Moss, Hill, and Von Trips. Like early pro baseball or football players these drivers really did not make a hell of a lot of money and most did not get any recognition.

  3. Thanks John,
    This reminds me of a trek I made from Epsom where I grew up (for other readers Epsom and Ewell are adjacent and form one borough) to Biggleswade in Hertfordshire in the late 1960’s. I went to photograph vintage aircraft and borrowed my father’s camera. When faced with the bewildering numbers for aperture and shutter speed I asked him where I should start. “1/125 and f8” was his reply. Not bad advice, then and now.
    Kevin

  4. I still have my Halina 35x and case John. It hasn’t been used for many a year. The shutter sticks and it leaks light through the back, but let’s face it the manufacturing tolerances were quite loose. I bought it when I was about 12 years old and if I remember correctly paid £7 13 shillings and three pence for it.
    I’m pleased to see that your lens was no sharper than mine, but it was a great entry level camera that looked very much like the Leica at first glance as you say. I too had a darkroom to process and print my photos, using a Gnome Beta 2 enlarger which had an equally poor lens.
    I didn’t start taking motor racing photos until I accompanied my uncle to an Aston Martin Owners Club meeting at Silverstone a few years later, arriving in style in his gorgeous Aston Martin DB2/4. By that time I had bought a Praktica Nova SLR and used it to photograph the very first Lamborghini Muira that we had all seen which arrived in the paddock to much acclaim from all but the Aston diehards who thought it a poorly finished load of rubbish!

    • Mike, I cannot blame the Halina for the poor quality of the photo- I put it down to operator error viz incorrect focussing exacerbated by a rather feeble attempt at panning and maybe some camera shake thrown in as well.
      My Halina was capable of taking some surprisingly sharp photos from time to time when focussed correctly and well stopped down and if I avoided camera shake.
      I also used a Gnome Beta enlarger with the dodgy lens-it must have been the kit lens.
      John

  5. I think your first picture is terrific, along with accompanying memories. Moss never waved at me. We had a wonderful track nearby, Bridgehampton, which he called the most challenging in America (I have never been sure if that was said with affection, but I think so).

    "Some of my fondest memories are the great times running for Shelby at the Targa Florio in Sicily, Le Mans, Goodwood and Bridgehampton."
    ~ Dan Gurney

    If you can get past the first minute or so of our regional accent and hyperbole, this is an excellent little video that makes me a little misty about the departed "Bridge", the racing, and the cars of the time: https://youtu.be/UnT4d_Mt6kg
    It was such a quirky, wonderful spot.

    -TR

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