Images - Allan de la Plante DTM

Photographer, author, keynote speaker


Shutter Speed ??? from rural Ontario to on your knees in Monaco

Posted by allandelaplante on April 19, 2015 at 3:15 AM

Shutter Speed – from rural Ontario to on your knees in Monaco

The long journey to a Formula One grid and life as a professional photographer.

So it appears I’ve got your attention for the next few moments. I've been told by the ‘blog-masters’ that I can probably only hold that attention for the same time it takes you to sit on the toilet and get your business done. Just sit back and have a good one.

The question has come to me many times from both men and women who want to live the dream…not necessarily the dream to drive a racing car, but how to live in the racing world. I don’t really have an answer to that question, but I can relate to you how it happened to me. I’ve been lucky to have spent most of my adult life traveling from one racing event to another. It’s not all been motor racing. I have also covered World Cup Downhill events, bike racing, boat racing as well as many other sporting events with my present passion being horses, but this is getting way ahead of how I fell in love with this infernal machine – the car, and how it led me to the camera and motor sports. Lets just start at the beginning.

My first recollection of the car was when I was about four years old. My Father was a journalist in Northern Ontario and my Mother was a stay-at-home-Mom who tried to control this rambunctious kid who was into everything. My Father had come home from WWII and bingo I was born! Fancy that! Our first few years were spent in the Toronto area where my Dad worked for the Globe & Mail and the Telegram newspapers. He was soon assigned to Timmons and then North Bay as a roving reporter. His means of transport was an old pre-war Chevy. That deep blue car saw him all over Northern Ontario from the western provincial border of Manitoba to Ottawa, our nations capitol. It smelled of stale tobacco. Both my parents were chain smokers and the car just smelled of smoke. The seats were a wide corduroy material and the knobs on the dash and doors were a pearly white material. There was considerable chrome on the dash and the car was a large cavern to a small kid who could almost crawl under the front seat. My Dad loved that car. He had to…he almost lived in it while he did his job. I could lie on the back seat and not touch either door. I could and would lie on the deck between the rear window and the back seat and often fell asleep right there. There was no such thing as a seat belt or kiddie car seat. I could just float around in the back. If my old man was in a sour mood I sat right behind him with my back against his seat while sitting on the floor. He could still get me! Several events in this car come clearly back to me through the haze of time. The first was on a cold lonely stretch of highway between North Bay and Tamagami. At nearly -40 the anti-freeze was not efficient enough so the car came to a grinding halt – a frozen block of ice. I sat on my Mother’s ample knee while my Father tried to solve this serious problem. It was night and for some time not a single vehicle passed. It got colder, not that the heater in the car had been anything to write home about. I snuggled deeply into my Mother who kept me warm. From the south came the headlights of a large truck! The driver of the eighteen-wheeler spotted my Father frantically waving for help. He driver stopped, realized our situation, then pulled away heading north. My Father told us he was going to help, but he was nowhere in sight. Again lights approached this time from the north. It was the truck! The driver had found a place to drop his load and had come back to help us get into North Bay. My Father and he decided to chain the car to the truck and tow it the thirty or so miles to safety. My Mother and I got in the warm cab of the truck while my Father sat in the frozen car and struggled to keep it on the road as it was towed down the icy highway. The truck driver wouldn’t accept any money and didn’t even give my Father his name as my Dad wanted to tell the story in newsprint of our savior that night.

I would sit on my Mother’s knee in the front seat a lot in those days. There was room between them, but I liked to sit on her knee as I could then see out the window. On one trip north of Huntsville an owl hit our windshield and blew it right out! The dead bird and landed right between my Mother and I and my Dad. There was glass everywhere, but we were not injured in any way. I couldn’t say the same for the owl! It scared the shit right out of the three of us. As a young boy I was fascinated with, among other things mechanical, aeroplanes. Along with Dinky toys, lead planes with operational propellers were the rage with young boys. I had several which I liked to hold out the window of the car while I again sat on my Mother’s knee. On this particular occasion my Father was pissed about something and the noise of the prop got on his nerves. He told me to bring the plane in the window. It was warm and the vent in the dash was open. I held the plane up to the flowing air. Again the propeller whined and my old man quickly grabbed it and fired it into the back seat. My idle hands soon found something to fiddle with. I played with the few knobs on the dash and finally the door handle. I gave it a slight yank and suddenly it was gone! I guess I neglected to tell you the doors on the car were known as suicide doors. The hinge on the door was next to my Mother’s shoulder! There was an almighty banging as the door flapped in the breeze. The next thing I remember was the smell of smoke as my Father hammered on the brakes. The next smoke came from my arse! Knowing my Dad, I am sure of this part. So began the affair between the boy and the car.

Next: My own wheels!

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