On the Curb at Watkins Glen, 1952
I adore this shot of Bill Spear’s OSCA MT4 thundering past the start-finish line of the Watkins Glen street circuit in 1952. Bill went on to win the Queen Catherine Cup race for small displacement cars.
The composition of the photo though, puts it in a different light that makes me love the photo all the more. The biggest thing in this photo isn’t that gorgeous little barchetta. Just as important in the photo are the three spectators crouched behind a streetlight, ready to leap out of the line of danger.
I don’t think there’s many of us that would want motorsport to return to the closeness and peril of this spectator experience, but there is a sense of loss that we’ll never feel the adrenaline rush those three spectators felt as a passing racing car sent a blast of air over their bodies. It’s a sense of immediacy that connected racing fans to racing drivers. If you found yourself at the Seneca Lodge after the race, you’d have been able to swap stories with drivers and other spectators in the same way that drivers talked amongst themselves. You had your own harrowing experience. You had your own adrenaline coursing through your veins—not in support of your favorite driver, but for your own very real brush with death.
Does part of me want to be able to watch a race this way?