When Indira Flack started photographing British race motorists, she wasn’t sure who – if anyone – would get to see the pictures. Yet now 100 of them can be seen at The Silverstone Experience, which celebrates the past, present and future of British motorsport, and was recently officially opened by the Duke of Sussex and multiple F1 world champion, Lewis Hamilton.
From the outset, Indira Flack realised that she needed to get some big names under her belt.
“I merely envisioned I need to show people what I am doing, ” she says. “The operators didn’t know me of course, so I needed to show I was a proper photographer, and not a random stalker.”
That, of course, signified a meeting with Sir Stirling Moss, arguably Britain’s greatest racing driver. With 212 acquires from 529 starts across both Formula 1 and sports cars, and often described as the greatest driver never to have won the World Championship, Sir Stirling was sure to add load to the project.
Flack photographed him in his home, and recollects lots of laughter and astounding fibs of his time behind the wheel. It was Moss who chose to wear the union jack poises, which perfectly fitted in with the project.
John Surtees, the only person to have won the world championships on both two and four pedals was next, and then it was on to three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart.
Flack went to meet Sir Jackie at his house, and arranged to photograph him in his garage.
While setting up the illuminations, she was careful to avoid touching any of the priceless cars in the garage, including Stewart’s race-winning cars, alongside others such as Mark Webber’s Red Bull F1 automobile, in which he won the British Grand Prix.
When Sir Jackie came in, Flack presented him with some home-made jam, having understood him on television declare his liking for it. Stewart proceeded to hang the pouch of jam on the wing of the Red Bull – her coating followed, stirring it “the most expensive coat hook in the world”.
Now Flack was up and running, with a long list of operators she wanted to photograph, from those just starting out in their motorsport career, to those currently vying at the figurehead of the grid.
In the latter group is Jamie Chadwick, who has a long list of wins behind her. Last-place year she was the win of the inaugural W Series Championship, and continues as Williams F1 Development driver. She was also the first lady to acquire an F3 race.
They met at Donington Park, with this final image shine the freezing climate outside.
“Whoever I am photographing, my aim is to not make it into a big trauma, ” says Flack.
“Most beings don’t like having their drawing taken, so I explain it is only the two of us. I need to get the picture – but otherwise we can have a good time while we are doing it.”
Flack spent the day with Alice Powell and Ella Stevens at Shenington kart track in Oxfordshire. Powell, who came third in last years W succession, is supporting Stevens, a 13 -year-old karting champion.
“We did some static shoots in the morning, but once I encountered what their relationship was like – and I felt the films didn’t capture it – we filmed some more, with Alice demonstrating Ella a piggy back. It was exactly what I wanted, ” says Flack.
Although that may have taken all day, others – like the one of Johnny Herbert, David Coulthard and Martin Brundle – were far quicker to execute. The planning, however, took months.
The three former motorists now cover F1 for a range of broadcasters.
“They were brilliant, ” says Flack. “All three turned up bang on time with microphones. Five a few minutes later, they were gone.”
In 2015, Nicolas Hamilton became the first incapacitated driver be participating in the British Touring Car Championship – he returns this year for a full season.
Born with spastic paralysis, Flack describes him as “one inspiring person”. She be remembered that, with a big grin on his face, he informed her: “You don’t want to worry about my brother, you’ve got the most important Hamilton.”
It took Flack a while to meet up with Nathalie McGloin, the first British female with spinal line hurts to be granted a machine racing licence in the UK. She was paralysed from the chest down after a auto gate-crash as a 16 -year-old, and is now the only female tetraplegic racing driver in the world.
Racing in a hand-controlled Cayman S in the Porsche Club Championship and Classic Sports Car Club, McGloin contests against able-bodied souls.
“I wanted to do something with her hands, ” says Flack. “We did have limited period of time, but this says what I wanted it to say.”
Some of the drivers came up with their own suggestions for the pictures. Louise Cook, a big Star Wars fan, have brought her lightsaber.
In 2012, Cook was the first woman to prevail an FIA Rally Championship not specific for women – the FIA Production Car Cup for Drivers of 2WD.
Chris Ingram, the first British motorist in 52 times – along with co-driver Ross Whittlock – to win the FIA European Rally Championship, brought along his dog.
Scottish driver Dario Franchitti has a string of acquires to his call, including the Indy Car Series four times and the Indianapolis 500 three times. He wasn’t easy to pin down.
Flack approached him at Goodwood early on in the project, and it took a few years before she managed to take this portrait.
“This is a small proportion of the moves I would like to photograph, ” says Flack. “There are quantities more, especially girls like Jade Edwards and Divina Galica, but now it is a time and fund edition. Without sponsorship, I probably can’t continue.”
Great British Racing Drivers can be seen at The Silverstone Experience.