It must have been back in 2007, when I first saw Simon McKinley drive. It was the Saturday of a two day hill climb event, near my grandparents’ house in Co. Wexford. There were a lot of cars that day, certainly more than what would normally be expected navigating those roads on a Saturday afternoon, that’s for sure. We were close to the start line, but our view was obscured by the trees. Even though we were temporarily blinded, the sound that erupted beneath us, was a sure indication of what was coming. A scream of revs, upshift, more revs, upshift, more revs again, upshift, and just as the noise couldn’t possibly get any louder, a white MKII Escort appeared before us, sideways. Before you could blink, it was already past and into the next section, out of sight. The smiles, applause and laughs of disbelief tell you everything you ever need to know about Simon McKinley’s driving style.
It’s almost shameful that it took me nearly seven years to catch up with him again, this time for a dedicated shoot for Speedhunters. Mondello Park had been kind enough to let us loose on their school course, and we were definitely going to take advantage of it. The shoot style was low key. The overcast skies provided gentle light, which I wanted to take advantage of. I think the majority of the static shots came down to two lenses: 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS & 35mm f/1.4 L with my trusty 24-105 f/4 L IS used for the tracking shots. It was a joy to shoot. Processing, again, was kept simple. Some minor colour grading and exposure correction and it was online before I knew it.
The chase shots, whilst slightly risky, were probably the most difficult part of the shoot. With a Canon 7D attached to the front of my car, I chased Simon as he killed another set of slicks. Drifting from corner to corner, whilst I tried to keep on his corner bumper. It might not look it in the shots, due to the wide angle lens, but you would have struggled to fit a small car between his rear bumper and my front bumper.
For the full shoot, and an awesome write by Brad Lord, you can read the feature on Speedhunters.