January 1: It must be Brooklands for the classic vehicle gathering
Most people think New Year's Day is a time to lie in and recover from the excesses of the night before. Yet specialist events, such as today's Brooklands New Year Gathering, have never been more popular. For those of us who went easy on the lighter fuel at midnight, there's nothing more pleasurable than getting out of bed at the crack of dawn to drive to the nearest monster gathering devoted to whatever subject tickles our fancy. Today at Brooklands was just one example of the hundreds of specialist gatherings throughout the country.
In the case of this event, being a spectator is the easy part, early start or no. The real stars of the day are the owners of the vast array of classic and vintage machinery, from early Model T Fords to 1970s rust buckets, who bravely trundle towards the venue. On the M25, driving to Brooklands, I spied no fewer than three old cars pulled up on the hard shoulder, bonnets raised and drivers nodding sagely at the mechanicals.
Then, on the approach to the old race track, in Weybridge, Surrey, there was a strange mile-long traffic jam of motley vintage vehicles as they queued to get in through the old Campbell Gate. Inside, there was a shortage of display parking near the clubhouse and cars spilled over onto the preserved banked stretch of the original 1907 circuit.
As usual, instead of the old Bentleys, Astons and suchlike tasteybilia, I gravitated to the humdrum run-of-the-mill cars that I remember from my youth: The Vauxhall Victor, the Ford Prefect, the Hillman Imp (my first car and no rose-coloured glasses could ever turn it into a gem), the Volkswagen Beetle and, of course, the ever-present Mini.
I marvel at how pleased we once were with these cars and how odd the interiors now seem. Seats without headrests (which now looks exceedingly peculiar), spindly steering wheels and even spindlier gear levers, electric switches from Woolworths and certainly no airbags. It was definitely another world, and a world of simpler pleasures, not to mention the occasional spanner job and impromptu infusion of engine oil.
Most of these older brands or individual models have their own collectors' clubs and there were serried ranks of Lancias, Jaguars, Porsches, Aston, Fords, Vauxhalls and, even, Hillmans: To be a Hillman Imp enthusiast is a seriously challenging hobby in my opinion. But, clearly, somebody loves them.
All these Brooklands events are totally fascinating and fruitful occasions for photography.
Todays pictures were taken either with the Fuji X-T1 and 56mm or the Fuji X100T.