I was encouraged by Harvey Hudes to show my images around to anyone that would look at them. I decided I’d blow up my favourites and build a portfolio. Naturally any mistakes never saw the light of day and there were many mistakes mostly in the exposure department. I decided to continue the poster business and secured the rights to sell any image from 8 x 10 to poster size and larger at Mosport, Ste. Jovite and Watkins Glen. It was going to be a busy year with my regular work and the race track. Work was also becoming a bit of a problem. Being in the recreation department did not allow me to just take the weekend off and go to the track. Life being what it is, it presented me an alternative. I had been working for almost two years with handicapped children in Toronto. I was making just under nine thousand dollars a year. Hard to support a family of three on that so naturally my wife was also out working and our son was in daycare. My wife and I attended a party at a friendÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s home where I met a man that would change my life. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve all enjoyed party talk and suggestions that you get together at a later date. I call it Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbar talkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. Once the alcohol is gone so are the suggestions of getting together. At the party I was approached by a slim black man by the name of Fred Winn. He had boundless energy. He knew I worked with children. He also knew I had worked with the camera. He asked what I was making at the time. Being a little drunk I told him. He easily asked if IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to triple that. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be happy doubling it! He asked if I’d come with him the following Monday and see what he did for his living. Judging from his clothes he seemed to be doing quite well. He wouldn’t tell me what he did. He wanted me to see first hand. I was curious and very interested. The financial change would help my family to a huge extent. I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t to start my job with the kids until one in the afternoon on Monday so I headed out with my new interest to see what he was up to. I had no idea what it was. He picked me up and off we went to North York. He then told me he was doing family photography.
The very first home we went to he set up his gear and proceeded to display the most astounding act of love I had ever seen. He was doing portraits of little children! He played and entertained this three-month-old child and got exciting responses. Immediately I said to myself that the last thing I wanted to do was be a baby photographer! Weddings would be the next downward rung on the photography ladder! I knew I had only the morning to endure so rather than embarrass us both by leaving I carried on to the next appointment. Same thing…a display of a man entirely in love with his job and his subjects. He was a star! He did four sittings very rapidly. He set up and took down his gear in each location. On the fifth sitting he set up the gear and turned to me and simply said, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgive it a shotÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. Before I knew it I was enjoying this little child I had just met. I fell in love! I shot the next sitting then called in Ã¢â‚¬ËœsickÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. I shot the remaining sittings that day. I came home excited by the days events. I handed in my notice the next day. I knew I was going to miss the kids at the center, but I had to make an easy decision about my future and my real return to the profession of photography. I made my new employer, Canadian Baby Photographers, aware of my racing interests and was assured the time to attend races would be made. I happily headed off in a new and exciting direction. I got to meet some wonderful families who in some cases are still good friends and clients. I enjoy walking into a home at a party and seeing work on the wall that I had taken as long at thirty years ago and knowing it still gives them great pleasure. To this day I do portraits of little people with great enjoyment. When I was working full time as a sports photographer I would have appointments set up with families whenever I was home. I believe it kept my timing sharp. They were my little workouts.
The world of Formula One and racing in general would be set on itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ear again in 1970. Formula One had always had itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s audience, but the John Frankenheimer film Ã¢â‚¬ËœGrand PrixÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ brought world attention to the funny little cars with the big tires. Formula One was still reeling from a number of bad years that seemed to begin with the fiery death at Monaco of Lorenzo Bandini in 1967 and the loss of Jim Clarke and several other drivers in 1968 and 1969. The beginning of the 1970 season went well with the entry of the new March team. March had Jo Siffert and Chris Amon as itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s premiere drivers with American Mario Andretti handling a third car. Jackie Stewart remained with Ken Tyrrell who switched from Matra to the new March chassis. Stewart won the South African Grand Prix with the new design in itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first race. The South African Grand Prix would also see the debut of the new Williams-de Tomaso fielded by Frank Williams and in the capable hands of Piers Courage. Lotus introduced the 72 with Jochen Rindt as the team leader. Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme continued to present the Ã¢â‚¬ËœBruce and DennyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ show in both F1 and Can Am. Jack Brabham again fielded two cars leading the team from behind the wheel. Brabham took part on one of the most exciting displays at Monaco. He was being heavily pressured by Jochen Rindt when he came upon a slower car in the last turn before the finish. Unable to take a proper line, Brabham locked up the front brakes and slid into the barrier on the outside of the turn. Rindt slipped by for the win. All this was caught live on world-wide television!
The McLaren team was heavily involved in the Indy 500 with the month of May consumed by testing and qualifying along with the Monaco race. During testing for the 500 Denny Hulme crashed heavily and suffered severe burns to his hands. Peter Revson took over his seat in a new car, but retired from the race. On the second of June, McLaren was in Goodwood to test the new M8D Can Am car. While running at an estimated 170 miles-per-hour the rear bodywork failed and separated from the car. With the rear downforce gone, the car spun and hit a marshalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s earth embankment on the right side of the track. McLaren died instantly. Ten days later Dan Gurney drove the number Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ48′ McLaren to the winnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s circle at Mosport. Hulme would win the season championship. I would enjoy five Can Am races that year with three of them in my poster booth and the others just shooting. I was using Mamyia 500 and 1000 DTL models. Things were looking up. I had two cameras! Both gave me spot metering and excellent results. I was learning more and more about shooting cars at speed and the close-ups of drivers in the cockpit while they sat in the pits or on the grid. Harvey had requested credentials at any track I wanted to go to. I now had proper access to the cars. In the press rooms I was making new friends. In the pits, I was also making an impression. During the Can Am race in Mid-Ohio I met Paul Cooke the chief mechanic for Canadian Roger McCuaig who drove a McLaren. After seeing my portfolio Paul asked me if I would do a portrait of Roger. Paul wanted to give the portrait to Roger for Christmas. I did do the portrait, but the word Ã¢â‚¬ËœportraitÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ presented a problem to me. I could shoot Roger in the car at speed and not see his face or I could shoot him in the pits and not see the car. I needed to find a way to put the two together. This request from Paul Cooke would cause me to create my signature in the world of sports photography. Paul would teach me more about my presentations but it would not be for another year when I finally presented him the portrait of Roger McCuaig.
The Formula One family would again be visited by tragedy with the loss of Piers Courage at the Dutch Grand Prix when on lap 23 his car left the track and rolled several times before it burst into flames. The race continued on with the cars passing the scene until the chequered flag. Rindt won the race, but all were deeply saddened. Rindt continued to dominate the year with a total of seven victories up until the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. On the fifth lap of the final practice RindtÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Lotus swerved sharply under braking for the Parabolica, a high speed corner that leads onto the pit straight. The Lotus hit the armco head on. The barrier split open and the carÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s front end was destroyed. Rindt had agreed to wear a lap belt for the first time. He slid down into the cockpit. The belt came up around his throat. He was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead. The Grand Prix Circus moved to North America in a very somber mood.
The home front and my final two races of the season
On the home front I was enjoying both my new found track access and my job as a childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s photographer. My success with my portraiture of little people had drawn the attention of my employer who wanted to open up the Ottawa market. He suggested I might want to take over the new office. I jumped at the chance. I moved my family to Hull just across the Ottawa River from the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s capital. In late September I was excited to be just over hundred miles from Le Circuit Mount Tremblant where the Canadian Grand Prix would be held. The Thursday night before the race I was at home. All our gear was packed. My friend Gerry Lang was going to come with me to help with poster sales. Around ten-thirty the phone rang. It was my Father. He never phoned me. I had been into the beer and listened as he told me how he was proud of me and how I should bring up my son. Looking back it seemed a strange conversation. The party continued until the phone rang again. This time it was my Mother. My Father had hung up the phone after he had talked to me, given her a kiss and said he was going to bed. Twenty minutes later she found him dead in their bed. I told her I was coming right down to Toronto. She insisted I had a job to do and to come on Sunday after I was finished. I am sure she knew I had been drinking. She said there was nothing I could do until Monday and again insisted I go about my job. The weekend was all a fog with little I can remember other than someone Ã¢â‚¬ËœborrowedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ either the nose cones or the body panels from the Matra team. The event was held up until they were returned. I drove to Toronto on Sunday after the race and buried my Father the following Wednesday. My Father was considered one of the best investigative reporters in the news business. His obituaries in some cases covered whole pages of the newspapers he worked for and competed with. To this day my only regret is I cannot remember his voice and I never told him I loved him. I vividly remember when I was a young boy watching my Father late into the night from my open bedroom door off our kitchen. My Father sat at the kitchen table at an old Royal typewriter. Smoke billowed up in the room as he one-finger-typed his story. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d bang away then stop, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d laugh loud enough to wake the neighbourhood, then bang away at the keys again. That was my Father.
The US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen held two weeks after the Canadian Grand Prix was exciting! Stewart proved the new Tyrrell was not a car to disregard. Ken Tyrrell had been secretly building the car that would carry his name while Jackie Stewart raced the March until the new car suddenly appeared at the Canadian Grand Prix. Young Frenchman Francois Cevert became StewartÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s teammate at the ill-fated Dutch Grand Prix. I did not bring posters to Watkins Glen. I went alone with my thoughts and my camera. The one thing I did bring home from the Glen was a very special souvenir. Stewart dominated the race until the 76 lap when the Tyrrell started to spew smoke from itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tail pipes. StewartÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s times had slowly been coming down over the last few laps. He was also having a rear tire problem. Either way he was going to have to pit. He retired with engine problems. The rear tire was inspected by the Goodyear people and the offending patches were removed. After the race I went to the various garages and shot the breeze with the mechanics who were packing up and also selling off team uniforms to anyone who had the ten bucks for a team shirt or a set of well used brakes. Nobody realized how these items would one day be great treasures sought after by fans with very deep pockets. I asked if they had anything they might offer up to a poor photographer in exchange for a picture from the Canadian Grand Prix. Ã¢â‚¬ËœYou can take that bloody tire if you wantÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. It was the tire that was causing the handling problems at the end of Stewart’s race. Home it came with me! It is now a coffee table in my office. It has been with me through my travels for almost forty years.
Next: Dewar, Cooke, Jackie and The Bog