Dukeries Rally With Owen

One of my goals for 2024 was to photograph a rally, ideally one in a forest. The Dukeries Rally, was not in a forest, it was a single venue tarmac rally at Donington Park, but it was a good opportunity to get some practice in. It was also an ideal rally to take Owen to, as it is fairly local and at a venue with good facilities, rather than in the middle of a muddy Welsh forest. I was not sure if he would want to join me, but was pleased with his excitement when I suggested it to him. As such the day was more about Owen’s first rally experience, rather than a pure photography mission, but we both managed to get some shots we were happy with.

We had a later start than normal, which was a good move, as it meant that we avoided the morning rain, and timed it perfectly to arrive at the Craner Curves viewing area just as stage three (of six) was starting. During the stage with worked our was up from the Craner Curves to the end of the start/finish straight stopping at various points to photograph the cars. As the last few cars were completing the stage, we went back under the track, and got an ice cream whilst waiting for the crossing to Redgate to open (the cars were entering the track next to the hospitality units at Redgate), as Owen had spotted the grandstand and wanted to watch from there. Which worked for me, as I wanted to see the part of the stage on the large asphalt area behind Redgate.

As stage four started, we watched the first few cars on the coned area behind Redgate, but with high fences it was not really ideal for photography, although it was good to be close to the cars as they accelerated away from a slow corner. From there we climbed up into the grandstand, which gave us a good view of most of the circuit, so we watched most of the stage from there. I spotted a gap in the fence which would give a nice view down the Craner Curves, so we went there next. I think it would be a good angle on a busier race weekend, as you would be able to see cars all the way from Hollywood corner almost all of the way to MacLeans. We did not have the cars for that shot, but the light played nicely, highlighting the cars that were there.

As the stage layout was being reconfigured for the fifth and sixth stages, there was going to be a long gap before any more cars came out, so we decided to call it a day after two stages. Owen really enjoyed himself, but struggled a bit with the shutter lag on the camera he was using, my old Canon S90 compact camera. Worryingly I think it might be time to have (another!) camera upgrade, as he is really enjoying photography at the moment, and has already outgrown my old camera.

Rally of the Midlands 2012: Escort mk1

Merevale Hall stage of Rally of the Midlands 2012 (Lewis Craik/Lewis Craik Photography)

Finally, on the third year of meaning to go, I managed to keep the weekend free and made it to the Rally of the Midlands. Having grown up in the McRae/Burns era rallying is probably my favourite form of motorsport, so it’s a bit rubbish that I haven’t been to many rallies. I’d decided to go to the Merevale Hall stage, as the only other Saturday stage open to the public was at Mallory Park and I’ve shot there before, upon arriving at the stage the first thing that struck me, as someone who has spent a lot of time at race circuits, was the lack of barriers, although there were some in the main spectator areas, most of the time the only thing between spectators and cars was common sense! The stage was run twice, once in each direction, my favourite angle was from the afternoon run, where a hay bale chicane had been placed infront of the main door to the hall, the gravelly surface allowed the cars break traction and the cars were running towards me, perfect!