Motorsport: Formula 2 1966
It seemed that the crews operating for the first two races had taken easy options, giving themselves less work to do. They treated the event as if it were a news story instead of a commission from a paying client. Unfortunately, I was never shown their coverage.
The next Formula 2 race was due to be held at Crystal Palace and Dick Clark, Head of UPIN, suggested that I went along to take charge of proceedings.
I had a crew of three cameramen and I deployed them around the circuit with secondary and tertiary positions to give a wide variation to the coverage. For the first lap, one camera was placed at the start and the second about a hundred yards down the track. After filming as many laps as possible, all the crews were expected back at the finish line to cover the end of the race.
Before the race, we did a amount of filming in the pits where the cars were being given their final checks. With all the crews assembled near the finish, we were able to get shots of the cars going back into the pits.
It seemed to work fine and the film was sent off to Tokyo. The response was amazing. They were full of praise for the coverage and said something like “Surely this race coverage was ‘organised’ by someone”. Indeed it was and it was decided that I should be present at every Formula 2 event from then on.
This was to lead me to cover a number of Formula 1 and 2 Grand Prix in the next two years. There were Formula 2 races at Brands Hatch, Goodwood, Snetterton, Silverstone, and more at Crystal Palace. In Europe, there were races at Zandvoort, Rheims and Monza. However, the frequency of the events made it impossible for me to attend every event. What I did do was to make sure that a crew that had worked with me on a race, could go to another race without supervision, knowing what was expected of them.
The Formula 2 races attracted the major works teams as well as the greatest drivers of the day. These included Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Jacky Ickx, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Jochen Rindt and Piers Courage. The races attracted large crowds.
The race at Crystal Palace was very interesting in that it consisted of two heats of thirty laps each. What was good for Honda is that Jack Brabham and Dennis Hulme came in first and second in both heats. They were each driving a Brabham BT 18 – Honda S800, known as a Brabham-Honda.
The first job overseas was at Montlhery Race Track fifteen miles south of Paris. It was on the “Royal Road to Orleans”. I chose to take with me Nick Lera the Movietone cameraman who spoke fluent French. We flew into Paris Orly where we were met by Jacques Chaudensen, one of the Paris cameramen. He drove us down to the circuit where we met up with Julian Botras, a second Paris cameraman.
We drove around the circuit and I was able to find some good positions for the crews. I also used the technique of moving them after a few laps to vary the coverage
At Montlhery, the start line was quite wide, but soon the track opened out to be fifty metres wide. The line of the track was marked by straw bales and some still photographers stood on the bales to get a better shot of the start. Nick Lera wanted to do the same, but I told him not to , and I asked him to take up a position further down the track.
The flag went down and the cars in the second and third rows spread out all trying to get in an early overtaking manoeuvre. One car ploughed into the line of straw bales and we saw a still photographer sailing through the air. He went so high that when he returned to earth, the car that had struck his straw bale, had gone and he landed back on a straw bale. He got up and carried on taking pictures during the rest of the race.
It was a triumph for us and Honda when Jack Brabham won the race from Jim Clark, driving a Lotus 44-Cosworth SCA, with Dennis Hulme in third place driving a Brabham-Cosworth.
What was most memorable for me and Nick Lera was the journey back to Orly. We were driven in Julian Botras’ Deux Cheveux which rattled considerably on the road. Of course the road was packed with cars bumper to bumper all the way. It was a balmy early autumn’s evening and the ride was becoming more and more tedious. Of course there were no autoroutes then and we passed through every little village that existed on that route. We caught our flight by the skin of our teeth.
Here is a summary of our work in that first year for Honda. I can be heard interviewing Jack Brabham at 4 minutes 39, as in the top photograph.
The experiences we all gained in filming Formula 2 helped us to develop filming techniques for Formula 1 in 1968. We were to follow John Surtees driving a Honda powered car for Honda Racing. The filming of Formula 1 as well as the Monte Carlo Rally and the Safari Rally will be covered in future articles.
© Terence Gallacher and terencegallacher.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and terencegallacher.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
For other articles about UPITN click here.
www.formula2.net – excellent website with details of all races and winners for the 1966 F2 season
oldracingcars.com – detailed website on Formula 2
Racing at Crystal Palace – recalling the time Crystal Palace was used for racing.