Sports Car Digest continues the series of photo retrospectives drawn from the film archive of Bob Harmeyer. The first installment looked at the 24 Hours of Daytona, followed by the 12 Hours of Sebring, 1977 Indianapolis 500 and the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans. The latest installment is a collection of candid, environmental portraits of drivers, owners and other personalities from four decades of racing. To see more of Bob Harmeyer’s images, visit bobh.photoshelter.com.
Drivers and Personalities from 1971 to 2008
By Bob Harmeyer
Many aspects of auto racing have changed dramatically over the decades — the circuits, cars and technology all have changed, and the “sport” of racing has been overrun by the “business” of racing.
But the intensity, joy, commitment and dedication of the drivers, owners, crew members and others have never changed, and these characteristics and emotions are documented and preserved by photographers every season.
Winning drivers and owners hoist, hug, and pose with their trophies, and spray champagne from victory podiums around the world. Although usually distinguished and composed, a momentarily gleeful Roger Penske gave photographers and his own crewmen a “champagne shower” at Nazareth in 2000 when he became the first IndyCar owner to reach 100 career victories. Along with Penske, drivers Alex Zanardi, Dale Earnhardt, Michael Andretti and others are included in the celebratory photographs in the following selection.
Also included are designers like Jim Hall, Colin Chapman and Derek Gardner who were, arguably, as innovative in their own eras as anyone working today. The tools have changed, with computers replacing pens and drafting tables, but the people behind the extraordinary ideas have always been the ones working on the conceptual, cerebral margins.
Most drivers seem to speak an occupational sign language, using their hands as illustrative tools when talking to engineers, designers, crew chiefs, or other drivers. Whether it is Rusty Wallace speaking to his crew at Daytona in 2005, or Mario Andretti talking to Colin Chapman in Sweden almost 30 years earlier, photographs illustrate these drivers’ hands are an integral part of their communication process.
And for sheer longevity wheeling a race car at the front of the field, it’s hard to imagine anyone surpassing sprint car legend Steve Kinser, shown in a photograph from Eldora Speedway early in his career. He’s been a regular on the World of Outlaws tour for more than 30 years, winning 20 championships during that period. Unbelievable.