by Kevin McNicholas
My interest in motor racing began when I was just a young boy. As I grew older, I became fascinated in not only the racing aspect of the sport, but increasingly about the cars, how they were designed and built. Like most motorsport fans, I was limited to following it by either watching it on TV, or by reading about it in magazines, which was hugely frustrating to me. So, I began to think of ways that would enable me to get closer to the action, to be able to see where the cars were designed and built and to meet the people involved.
I knew and understood that this was never going to be an easy task, as motorsport, especially Formula 1 (F1), is highly technical and the participating teams are renowned for being extremely secretive and guarded about their work. This made it highly unlikely or impossible even, for a normal fan like me to be entrusted with access to their facilities.
However undeterred, I came up with an idea. I enjoyed painting and believed I was reasonably skilled at it. So my idea was to paint a picture of an F1 car, then offer the painting to a team owner, or CEO, in exchange for a visit to their Head Quarters (HQ).
As my favorite boyhood team was Team Lotus, my first car painting effort was completed and a photograph of it taken and then sent to Frank Dernie (Technical Director), along with my offer. To my absolute astonishment he agreed to my ‘deal’ and I spent the most enjoyable day with him at Ketteringham Hall in Norfolk, where the Lotus F1 cars were made.
Following the success of that venture, I approached Ron Dennis (McLaren CEO) with a similar proposal. Surprisingly, this resulted in another favorable response, and I was subsequently rewarded with a visit to the McLaren HQ, a trip to the British Grand Prix and a book signed by Ayrton Senna. This now ‘tried and trusted’ method allowed me further adventures, including a visit to the Williams HQ, where I met Sir Frank and my painting was hung in the Williams boardroom. So, I think I have been extremely fortunate in having realized my dreams. I have since continued with my F1 themed paintings, which are now on permanent exhibition at the North East Art Collective, or can be viewed on www.f1paintings.com .