At the beginning of July I was lucky enough to get a Silverstone paddock-pass. It was the first practice for ‘The Masters,’ one of the support races for the British Grand Prix. The FIA Masters Historic Formula One is a series of championship races featuring the 3000cc engined F1 cars that ran between 1966 and 1985. I was there because Nick Harrison had entered his 1979 Shadow DN9.

I met Nick last year at Castle Combe when his son Neil was driving his Dalara F302 in the of the Monoposto Championship. This time it would be Nick’s son Mark at the wheel with Team Fox Racing doing the race prep.

The team have spent a few years restoring the car and the guys had been pushing to get the car ready to go to Silverstone. There was a genuine tension in the air as the car was being prepped. At nearly forty years old and practically a one off, engine and running gear spares are by no means cheap and parts for the rest of the car have to be machined.

This was part of the reason I chose the practice on the Wednesday as the day to go to the track. I wanted to take, (and to give the guys), some photos of the car both in the pits and on the track, and if the car wasn’t running there would be no pictures.

Between closed gates, cordoned off grandstands, big queues and hot sun my afternoon ended up being pretty frantic. I arrived in plenty of time but couldn’t get access to the site as a whole until 2pm. After queueing and stomping across the track I arrived almost as the car was leaving the paddock for the pits. The grandstand I had earmarked for the photo I wanted of the car on the track was closed, and I had to improvise from the bridge.

Once the car was back from the session I could photograph both the driver’s debrief and the ongoing maintenance and post session tweaking, before I had to leave.

I love shooting in the pits or in the paddock. there is so much focus, drama and intent tied in with the race to go fast. The tools are grander, more lightweight and both apparatus and the processes applied become wonderfully romantic. This is a sense that is only further amplified by being at Silverstone, the home of British motor-racing.

Given the compressed schedule and the teams understandable focus I was pleased with the story I was able to tell, and had my fingers crossed for much of the next few days. After I left that day the engine and gearbox were virtually dismantled, before reassembly for the following day’s sessions. All told the team had the car apart a few times over the next few days which made the early retirement in the race on Sunday a bitter sweet achievement.

The important thing is that Nick got to see his car lap Silverstone, British Grand Prix weekend, with his son at the wheel. I held off posting in the hope that the Shadow would rise once more for the championship round at Silverstone few weeks ago but further work was required. In the meantime, here a few shots from my afternoon.