Mdina Grand Prix… The last great street grand prix …

posted in Editorial

Mdina Grand Prix… The last great street grand prix …

Where better to spend a long weekend in October to escape the Yorkshire weather…. Malta, don’t mind if I do.

The destination in the Mediterranean for one of the last remaining truly classic street races left, the Mdina Grand Prix. Traveling out there with Sam (News Editor – Classic Cars Magazine) who also was one of the drivers of the Ex-works TR2 alongside owner Neil of Fender-Broad classic cars.

The long weekend is comprised of a Hillclimb event, the concours d’Elegance and finishing off with the remaining two days of qualifying and the final races.

Being over 4 days you can imagine I shot a few frames! so I’ll here’s a selection from the whole trip…

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Thurs mid late afternoon we head up to St Pauls bay North of the island, with the sun starting to fall I’m met with the Maltese time keeping. You basically just sit back relax and let things happen in their own timing. The Hill-climb was on a  dual-carriageway with some great sweeping hair-pins and some make-shift chicanes…

I knew I had only a limited amount of time the TR2 would be on track be it for the hill-climb or the race so I had to make every pass count. I think we only had 3 runs on the hill-climb due to cars leaking oil on the track, wheels hurtling down back down the hill, with no car attached etc etc… The image above of the first run was to try and get the sea, landscape and track in one shot for the double page opener. Having time between each of the TR’s runs I had time to run up and down the rocks trying to find the best location…

As a side note theres a selfie of me… the photographer bottom right (shadow 🙂

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The variety of cars was great to see, having some sun on the back seeing these cars which are shipped in for this vary popular event is the commission I like.

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The make-shift pits, at the side of the road, a nice ‘persuader’ aka a hammer, the final preparations before we were off. By the way do go and pick up a copy of the Current Classic Car magazine (March 2016) as I think to read the article from the drivers point of view makes a great read.

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Sam at the wheel after his second and best run… This image was used as the opener to the article. Again using every opportunity to capture the car on track.

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The image above shows the few photographers on the bend where I took the other images from. This one was to try and show the surroundings and location to give a feel of the place. Unfortunately the our TR didn’t run within the 10 min window of this sun set. Although out of shot there were locals, holiday makers etc just sat out on the rocks and cliffs just taking in the sights and sounds of this first great day of the weekend.

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This image was also used but as you can see the event ran over by some time !!!! seriously dragging the speed up here.

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Moving on to the next day for the Concours d’Elegance in the stunningly beautiful city of Mdina (above). I’m not one for sightseeing but this place was special. I think having a personal guide for us did help and if you are going to Malta and want a truly professional guide (also funny 🙂 then can I recommend Clive from Malta Private Guide to you.

Moving on…

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Not all the cars here were racing in the Grand Prix put was the islands car show if you will. A few also dressed up and made a day of it which just added to the rich texture of culture, history and diverse car mix in one space.

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One car that did get a mention in the Febs issue of Classic Cars mag was this Vauxhall. Fully restored by a local guy and his son to the highest level. He’d built his own English wheel, fashioned many tools just to be able to restore the thing. Parts are scarce on Malta so he used old computer cabinets for the metal work.

Unfortunately it didn’t win but for me that was a top drawer restoration which incidentally was the guys first project.

This day was grabbing various cars to use as news features as Sam was gathering worthy stories for print. Really laid back day, some great and interesting cars to walk around and in an incredible setting…. this does beat the NEC for location, and also weather.

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I shot this frame a few times through-out the day. Wanting the sun to come right around it found its way through some clouds at the same time as a gap in on-lookers.

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Moving onto the few days of the race which saw the paddocks (above) situated by the walled city of Mdina. The course was about half on a dual carriageway and the rest on single winding roads…

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Sam lined up for his first run… (see the ‘safety’ marshal on the right….keep looking 😉

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Again looking for another DPS opening image, hence the framing. Loved these hay bales 🙂

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I think I counted that our TR had about 12 laps in total for me to get a variety of shots. We weren’t sure if it was going to run on the final race day so I was running around diving through trees, bushes looking for another different location, angle for the next pass. Fortunately the car ran so we had a good few added laps to grab more images.

I soon got used to the engine sound as this was the only was I knew the TR was on its way. many of the locations the cars would come round fast and then the moment was gone, without shooting every car it was good that the car had a great unique sound. Think I got it down to one of two cars in the end. Not like having ear defenders tuned into Silverstone commentary to help with when to move and whats coming on track nerxt.

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A few stills whilst in the pits and checking one or two things before the next run.

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Neil, sat waiting for his next qualifying run…

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Sam moving it into an opening to try and get a few static shots…

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With the city of Mdina in the background and with these extra laps we could get a few more images in the bag…

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One of the make-shift chicanes… again with some straw bales 🙂

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For me this was my favorite image for an opener which shows the tight local roads and the stunning location of Mdina. I took this image when Sam was racing the previous day but the weather wasn’t as clear so took the opportunity again with these extra laps to get another in the bag.

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Could have put a load more images in here but I like this one of the Riley (the same one above in the Concours d’Elegance)… again great to see, hear and smell these cars giving it a good run around Mdina.

This was a pleasure for me and I’m thankful for the opportunity to see, experience and shoot such a place and event.

Till next time.

Jona