Looking over Mario’s shoulder: How to succeed as a photo journalist

Mario AndrettiBy Freddie Heaney

Captured here by photographer Dennis Gray, 1978 world F1 champion Mario Andretti studies tire temperatures and other data after qualifying for that year’s Long Beach Grand Prix.

Driving the Cosworth-Ford powered Lotus 79, the first F1 race car to take full advantage of ground effect aerodynamics, Mario and his team mate, Ronnie Petersen, enjoyed a decisive advantage, claiming first and second in the 1978 Driver’s championship and easily delivering Lotus the Constructors championship. During the season Mario recorded 8 pole positions, 6 victories, and 7 podium finishes.

Colin Chapman, founder of Team Lotus and Lotus Cars, was probably the single, greatest influence on F1 race car design. From1962 to 1978 while under his direction, Team Lotus won seven Formula One Constructor’s titles, six Drivers’ Championships, and the Indianapolis 500. Chapman died of a fatal heart attack in 1982. He was 54 years of age.

Colin Chapman, founder of Team Lotus and Lotus Cars, was probably the single, greatest influence on F1 race car design. From 1962 to 1978 while under his direction, Team Lotus won seven Formula One Constructor’s titles, six Drivers’ Championships, and the Indianapolis 500. Chapman died of a fatal heart attack in 1982. He was 54 years of age.

At halfway point during the 1978 F1 Long Beach Grand Prix, impetuosity overtook Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve while leading. Rather than wait until reaching the straight, the Canadian attempted to lap Clay Regazzoni in the twisty section leading up to Ocean Boulevard, running into the back of the Swiss driver and colliding with a wall. Villeneuve died in 1982, aged 32, when he ran into the back of Jochen Mass during the Belgium Grand Prix at Zolder.

At halfway point during the 1978 F1 Long Beach Grand Prix, impetuosity overtook Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve while leading. Rather than wait until reaching the straight, the Canadian attempted to lap Clay Regazzoni in the twisty section leading up to Ocean Boulevard, running into the back of the Swiss driver and colliding with a wall. Villeneuve died in 1982, aged 32, when he ran into the back of Jochen Mass during the Belgium Grand Prix at Zolder.

The racing photographer
Dennis Gray, a venerable master of US motoring photography who captured Mario Andretti in the cockpit of the Lotus 79, was attending last month’s Mont-Tremblant Historics event.

Gray was in his element: feet well-planted, swiveling around through 140 degrees to focus on the approaching race cars, left arm extended holding a 70-200mm F2.8 Nikon lens, the old master followed through the motion: click, click, click.

“What are you tracking Dennis—the driver’s face?”

“No,” came the brief rebuke, “his eyes!”

For many, Gray remains the definitive authority in debates about photography—the court of last appeal. Now in his sixties and with a lifetime behind the lens at the racing circuits, happily he shows no signs of slowing. And there’s news, good news. Next year, 2014, he and his firm, F8 Motorsports Photography Workshops, return to the circuits not alone but with students.

UOP Shadow Can-Am McLaren lola

Aspirations to become a better photographer?
Gray, who runs F8 Motorsports Photography Workshops, teaches exacting standards in motor sports photography and in 2014, should you have a desire to refine your picture-taking techniques, you can join him and his team: Jeffrey Dahl and Llew Kinst.

Dennis Gray

Dennis Gray
F8 Photography Workshop

For them, lacking picture-taking skills isn’t a barrier. Instead of instructing from behind a desk they hone your skills at the race tracks. They take you inside the walls, you get close to the cars, and you meet the drivers. The experience is memorable and you’ll learn techniques that last a lifetime.

To find out more about the F8’s 2014 student’s workshop program, contact Dennis at (415) 269-5419.

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