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For me the 2018 season has been a ‘classic’ year in every sense of the word. In May I was shooting at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix,  now I find myself at the 2018 Le Mans Classic. Having been there last year for the modern 24 Hour Le Mans race, I was really looking forward to seeing the difference.

The traditional Le Mans 24 hour race is as it says ‘on the tin’…a race lasting 24 hours. The Le Mans Classic is slightly different in that there are a series of races over a 24 hour period. The races were over differing durations & for 6 different ‘Grids’ of cars. These ‘grids’ have cars from different years competing against others from their period. Each car would compete in daytime & nightime races over the 24 hours of racing.

1930 Bentley at Le Mans Classic Motorsport & sports photography by Ian Skelton Photography

The 1930 4.2 ltr Bentley Gp 8242 leads the way through the Ford Chicane during the 2018 Le Mans Classic

1929 Bugatti at Le Mans Classic Motorsport & sports photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Jean-Marc Laffont looking ‘straight down the barrel’ in the 1929 Bugatti Type 51

As the grids progress through the year periods, the cars become more modern. The sleek areodynamic lines look a little more like the cars we see today in the 24 Hrs of Le Mans.

Lola T70 at Le Mans Classic Motorsport & sports photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Driver change over in the Pit Lane for the 1969 Lola T70

Group C Porsche 962 race car at Le Mans Classic Motorsport & sports photography by Ian Skelton Photography

The Tic Tac Porsche 962 leads the Group C cars through the Ford Chicane

Macari Maserati MC12 GT1 at Le Mans Classic Motorsport & sports photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Joe Macari’s Maserati MC12 GT1

Walking around the paddock area there are amazing cars everywhere to look at. Great to be so close watching the mechanics working on the cars to get them ready to race.

1962 Ferrari bread van Le Mans Classic Motorsport & sports photography by Ian Skelton Photography

…and he drove the fastest ‘Breadvan’ in the West

There is a fun atmosphere in the circuit paddocks too! Drivers getting into the Old-Timers spirit, while stars of WRC & F1 pose for photos on the grid.

racing drivers at Le Mans Classic Motorsport & sports photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Getting into the spirit & nostalgia at Le Mans Classic

Sebastien Loeb & Felipe Massa at Le Mans Classic Motorsport & sports photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Felipe Massa & Sebastien Loeb pose for photos on the grid with

The Le Mans Classic shares a special event with the Goodwood Revival Setterington Cup. Little Big Mans is a race for youngsters in some glorious miniature classic race cars. It’s a great sight as they do they traditional ‘Le Mans Start’ before heading off up the track.

Little Big Mans during Le Mans Classic Motorsport & sports photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Traditional ‘Le Mans Start’ …the children were a lot quicker than the adults at this!!

Just like the modern Le Mans 24 Hour race, the action continues through the night. Night time racing brings its own unique feel. I remember from my time as a rally driver really enjoying the night stages in the forests. The Pit Lane is still alive in the dead of night…

Night time in the Pit Lane at Le Mans Classic Motorsport & sports photography by Ian Skelton Photography

The Pit Lane at night takes on a whole different atmosphere

The noise & smell of these fantastic machines just takes you back to a golden age of motor racing. It is going to feel a long wait before the 2 years is up for this fantastic event to come around again!!!

A larger collection of photos from this fantastic Le Mans Classic can be seen on my dedicated Motorsport Photography website.  Or just

I have a little thing in my head, that I call a ‘Balcony Moment’. This is when you are sitting somewhere, on a hotel balcony with a cheeky glass of something cold. Looking at an amazing view, thinking “how on earth did I get here?!” Then you remember a moment back in time, a right place right time moment. In my case it was taking ‘a’ particular photo, that opened a doorway to an amazing journey. Those are my ‘balcony moments’…. & I was having one right now! My cheek pressed hard against the metal crash barrier Armco. Trying to get focus lock on, shooting through the gap as the Ex Niki Lauda Ferrari blasted into view. If you were standing next to me, even with ear plugs in, you would definitely have heard a slight giggle creep out…. “I’m only in the Tunnel, shooting the 2018 Monaco Historic Grand Prix!!?”

Ex Niki Lauda Ferrari during practice for the 2018 Monaco Historic Grand Prix 2018

I flew in to Nice Airport on Thursday morning. A waiting taxi whisked from there straight to the hotel (I’ll see about a helicopter next time!!) Dropped the camera gear & was off to the train station for the 10 minute ride into Monaco. After finding the Media Centre, signing on & picking up my Press Passes, it was time to walk this iconic circuit of all circuits.

The Start line seemed logical place to set off & I was soon at Saint Devote, swinging right I headed up the hill. Walking up the right side pavement, every so often stopping to look back down through the kinks of Beau Rivage. Camera location cut-outs in the crash fencing would provide some great views. Up to the crest & the fast left of Massenet leads straight in to the famous Casino Square. I imagined the cars braking before flashing right past the barrier & down towards Mirabeau

“I imagined the cars braking before flashing right past the barrier & down towards Mirabeau…” Monaco Historic Grand Prix 2018

A down hill straight leads to the right hander of Upper Mirabeau. From the pavement on the outside I could see it would provide a great view. The cars would swing through Mirabeau, brake hard into the tightest hairpin in Formula One. Renamed several times over the years, The Grand Hotel Hairpin or Fairmont Hairpin after the hotel. I remember it as being Loews Hairpin when I was younger. A short squirt of power would bring the car to the lower Mirabeau. A great view from above of the cars around these corners

Another blip on the throttle & the cars would be at the tight right harder, Poitier. From here it was into that world famous Tunnel, swinging right as the daylight changed to artificial lighting. There was no way I was going to miss shooting in here!! Further round the right hander you could see the bright sunlight burning through the tunnel exit. What it must be like at 170mph in an F1 car as your eyes adjust from dark to light…amazing drivers!

It was then down the hill towards the braking point for the  ‘New chicane’. The cars would turn square Left – Right – Right – Left around the chicane before heading down the straight to Tabac. The inside of the first left gives a unique view, one of the few place on a Grand Prix track where there are no barriers in front of photographers. Sat on the tarmac it gives a unique view of F1 cars & the boats in the harbour.

Left at Tabac & the cars would immediately be at the most modern part of the circuit, The Swimming Pool complex chicane.  Exiting the left would then bring the cars along a long slight left to another iconic corner. Named after the bar on the inside of the hairpin right, La Rascasse. A wiggle from the rear end as the cars put the power down to pass the Pit Lane entrance on the right, & to Anthony Noghes. Then it was flat out along the Start/Finish straight again, a lap of just over 2 miles.

La Rascasse during practice for the Monaco Historic Grand Prix 2018

There was nothing else for it after 2 miles around Monaco Grand Prix Circuit in 25 degrees… Another ‘Balcony Moment’ in the making with a large cold beer at La Rascasse & pinch myself!!

Friday, Practice Day…. Saturday, Qualifying…

Thursday was a normal day (if there is such a thing) in Monaco, the roads were open to traffic. Friday morning had arrived & the roads were closed, there was a crackle of excitement in the air. Engines revved, mechanics were going through final checks, trolley loads of tyres were making their way down the Pit lane.

Tyres arriving during practice for the Monaco Historic Grand Prix 2018 on Friday 11 May 2018. Photo: Ian Skelton Photography

The Monaco Historic Grand Prix runs every 2 years & is a massive event in the Historic Racing calendar. I was so pleased to have been asked to go & cover the event for New Channel Media. Growing up watching motorsport on TV, the Monaco F1 Grand Prix was always ‘the’ race not to miss for me. This narrow street circuit has always produced incredible as the cars threaded their way around the 2 mile ribbon of tarmac. Here I now was having my ribcage rattled by the awesome noise of F1 cars from the 1950s to the 80s.

At so many race circuits I go to, even with my Media Pass I can still be a distance back from the track. Not in Monaco!! Such is the narrowness of the street circuit, as photographers we are right on top of the action.

Max Smith-Hilliard in his Lotus 16 during practice for the Monaco Historic Grand Prix 2018

Home to the rich & famous, play ground to the stars, all phrases often quoted about Monaco…. but Monaco wouldn’t be Monaco without the sprinkling of famous racing drivers in attendance. Eddie Irvine, Mika Hakkinen, Jacky Ickx & Derek Bell were just a few to be seen driving a range of historic race cars throughout the weekend.

Mika showing Eddie how to Hashtag during the Monaco Historic Grand Prix 2018

Jacky Ickx at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix 2018 on Friday 11 May 2018. Photo: Ian Skelton Photography

Derek Bell at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix 2018 on Friday 11 May 2018. Photo: Ian Skelton Photography

Sunday… Race Day.

After 2 glorious days of Mediterranean sunshine, Sunday Race Day dawned grey & overcast. Rain was forecast & the clouds were already creeping down the mountains… it was a case of ‘When’, not ‘If’ the rain came!

This unfortunately wasn’t the only problem to effect the day’s activities. I decided to recce the route to the podium ready for the prize giving after each race. To check the route & also decide if I wanted to be shooting down from the track or from the Press Box position. Making my way behind the Pit Lane garages, I caught a toe on the metal grid walkway & tripped. I had my Nikon D810 with 24-70mm  set up on my left shoulder & the Nikon D4 with 70-200mm lens on my right shoulder. Try as I might to save the cameras but sadly I smashed the D4 hard into the staging!!

2 mechanics saw me go down & helped me back up. Apart from the massive lump on my right knee the Nikon D4 had taken a huge impact & hadn’t survived. My ability to cover Race Day was now very compromised. I use 2 cameras all the time with a wide angle & long lens mounted. This way I can quickly react to the action as it happens. Now with only 1 camera working, I would have to decide what the shot was going to be at each location & fit the appropriate lens. My leg was getting stiffer by the minute & this made getting down to low angles very difficult… getting up again even harder!!

Then the rain came….& boy did it arrive!! This would make changing a lens tricky out on the side of the track. I really was down to choose the shot & stick to it, but the job was back on.

WET TYRE SAVING MODE – ACTIVATED!! The Token RJ02 jumps across the chicane kerb

At the end of long & tiring 5 days in Monaco all I can say is what an awesome experience. To shoot beautiful Historic F1 Grand Prix cars in such an iconic location has been a dream come true. Here’s to crossing everything I get an email land in my InBox inviting me to shoot it again in 2020.

To see a larger collection of my photos from the 2018 Monaco Historic Grand Prix please Click Here

Racing driver Liam Sullivan with his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft

While covering the recent Masters Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch, my Blog post & Gallery can be seen here. I had pleasure of working with racing driver Liam Sullivan & his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft.

Racing Driver Liam Sullivan & his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft at Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch motorsport photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Racing Driver Liam Sullivan with his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft.

Part of my day was spent with racing driver Liam Sullivan & his team. I was there to take some Branding & Promotional photos for his sponsors Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft. He will be competing this year in the Pre-66  Touring Cars driving a Mini Cooper S. My brief was to capture some natural shots of Liam around the garage plus some action shots out on track driving the Mini.

Racing Driver Liam Sullivan & his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft at Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch motorsport photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Bespoke custom steering wheel by Moto-Lita

Racing Driver Liam Sullivan & his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft at Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch motorsport photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Liam Sullivan’s Mini Cooper S in the garage during Masters Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch

Racing Driver Liam Sullivan & his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft at Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch motorsport photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Bespoke custom steering wheel by Moto-Lita

Racing Driver Liam Sullivan & his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft at Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch motorsport photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Liam’s crash helmet & his very stylish Aviation Leathercraft jacket

The Mini is shared by 2 drivers, so the test day was to be split between them. While out in the first test session the car developed a clutch problem & returned to the Pits early. Repaired, it went out a little later for the second session but unrelated engine problem terminated that day. Luckily I had managed to get a few shots on the opening laps, but with Jonathan, the other driver at the wheel.

Racing Driver Liam Sullivan & his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft at Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch motorsport photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Jonathan driving the Mini during first test session Master Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch Circuit

Time to think ‘out of the box’…

Unfortunately Liam was due to drive in the 3rd & 4th test sessions, which meant action track shots weren’t going to be possible. We still needed to get some usable images for Liams’s sponsors. While Liam quickly changed into his race suit, I got the lads in the Pit Crew to turn the car round facing the Pit lane.

We had to wait until it was time for our session 3 to start, then we quickly pushed the Mini out of the garage! We would have to get Liam in the car & stage a few shots there was nothing else we could do.

Racing Driver Liam Sullivan & his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft at Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch motorsport photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Mini Cooper S in the Pit Lane at Brands Hatch Circuit

Racing Driver Liam Sullivan & his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft at Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch motorsport photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Liam Sullivan

Racing Driver Liam Sullivan & his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft at Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch motorsport photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Gloving Up

Racing Driver Liam Sullivan & his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft at Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch motorsport photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Liam finally gets his hands on his new Moto-Lita steering wheel

Racing Driver Liam Sullivan & his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft at Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch motorsport photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Master Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch Circuit

We had to work quickly. We were only allowed out in the Pit Lane during our Pre-66 Touring Car session. As the session ended we pushed the car back into the garage to get the last few shots. Other than Liam driving the car on track we managed to get everything his sponsors wanted.

Racing Driver Liam Sullivan & his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft at Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch motorsport photography by Ian Skelton Photography

New Season…New Sponsor…New Race suit.

Racing Driver Liam Sullivan & his sponsors, Moto-Lita & Aviation Leathercraft at Historic Racing Test Day at Brands Hatch motorsport photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Liam Sullivan

This year The Masters Historic Racing championships have added a new race series. We have Historic Formula One, Historic Sports Cars, Gentleman DriversPre-66 Touring Cars & now Endurance Legends for the first time. There are going to be some truly awesome cars & fantastic race action this year for sure!

Liam’s day sadly didn’t quite go to plan. I guess that’s what a Test Day is for, so it doesn’t happen on Race Day. I’ll be keeping an eye out for him in the Pre-66 Touring Car Series. I shall be certain to add him to my shooting list at Silverstone Classic & get some on track images for him!!

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