One of the greatest assignments I had an opportunity to do was a three-week assignment for Sports Illustrated on three brothers, the Whittington brothers, who inherited nine hundred million dollars. They had an affinity for cars, planes, and all things exciting. Their 1979 Le Mans entrance won first in their class. A small part of my assignment was to have the three cars together at speed, so I ordered a Mitchell mount from California, mounted a Nikon f2 with a motor with a 15mm lens, and a remote cord into the compartment where I sat on four roll bars. I explained that we only needed to go 40 to 50 miles an hour. Unfortunately, race cars like to grip at much higher speeds. We did one pass at about 100 miles an hour, I changed film, and on the second pass, I could feel the remote button and my camera was out of film. I believe my quote was “we can go back to the pits, I’m done”. I will never ever use those words again. Bill Whittington kicked in the turbo and we went from 100 to 160 in what seemed like a millisecond, until the rear end broke loose (please keep in mind, he had on his Nomex, his balaclava, his gloves, his helmet, and all of his racing belts. I had beech nut gum and a death grip on the roll cage). He took the emergency road, locked up all the brakes, came to a full stop, popped out of the automobile and I was still frozen. Paul Newman looked over and said to me “You must be out of your mind to get in a car with that wild man”. Once again, Paul was right.
As everyone knows, I was brought into the digital world kicking and screaming. Now that I’m working on my memoirs, I realize what I did with this series cost several thousand dollars and someone could have gotten hurt (namely me). In the world of digital, using two GoPros, one on the front and one on the back of the car would’ve been safer. I don’t have to be in the car, so if they would like to do 180, so be it. The overall cost would be less than $600 with a safety wire. God bless digital.
Shot at 1/15th of a second on Kodachrome 25 at f11.