I have a nice job. I work for companies that sell nice things. Whether it's interior design, architecture, property, food, travel, cars, I'm often thankful that this is the sector in which I've chosen to set out my photographic stall, so to speak. I get access and experiences that I otherwise wouldn't in my normal day to day life.
Last weekend I had the commission of a lifetime at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix. My client, Grand Tourist Travel, design and supply bespoke luxury travel experiences for their clients. These range from food and wine tours, guided tours, yacht charters, through to 'experiences' such as driving Ferraris in Italy, luxury Grand Prix trips and much more.
I'm not a big fan of Formula One these days. I find it dull, sterile and too 'techie'. In fact I'm not much of a petrol head if I'm honest. The Monaco Historic Grand Prix appeals though. To start, it's in Monaco. Result. Second, it features cars from my childhood, cars I had Scalextric models of.
They smell of burnt rubber and Castrol R motor oil and they sound like armageddon. They are slightly primitive but they have soul and they look beautiful. Watching and walking amongst cars driven by the likes of Stirling Moss, Fangio, James Hunt, Patrick DePailler, Mario Andretti and René Arnoux can't fail to inspire some kind of romantic desire for a bygone age. To witness this racing on the streets of Monaco, without the bling, posturing and commercialism of a modern day Grand Prix, was incredible.
Our trip incorporated many things I'll never forget and several things I'm sure I'll never get to repeat. From our arrival dinner at Pulcinella, sat on the next table to Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert, to our guided Paddock tour amongst the legends with motor sport historian, Graham Gould, we experienced things money can't usually buy.
Saturday was spent at RM Auctions at the Sporting Club Monaco, where some of the worlds rarest and most desirable motors were sold for prices up to 5.7 million Euros. I was only meant to be there for an hour or so, but I was taken in (mainly by Max the auctioneer's addictive performance) and stayed for the whole 5 hours. A different world.
Sunday, race day was spent at the Hotel de Paris, of course. Morning on the Garden Terrace, overlooking Massenet, where we were eventually joined by Sir Stirling Moss (causing our esteemed American guests to, well, lose it). Afternoon was spent with a long lazy lunch on the Empire Terrace, trackside on Casino Square.
I was concerned this position may be a bit too civilised and detached, like a corporate box at a stadium. I needn't have worried, every car raced a few feet from our tables, ensuring everybody on the terrace was gripped by each race. In fact the build up of shredded tyre dust, asphalt and unburnt fuel on our pure white table linen and in our champagne flutes, only added to the occasion.
My job was to document the whole trip, the locations, the experience, the hospitality and the motorsport action. I've done some parts better than others but on the whole everybody's very happy.
A gallery of trip highlights can be viewed here
Thanks again to my client and hosts, the superb Grand Tourist who deliver a level of hands on service to their clients that has to be seen to be believed.