By chance I stumbled across a Banger and Stock car racing meet at Wimbledon Stadium last summer and became immersed in this world of fascinating contradictions. What came across strongly was the sense of camaraderie mixed with a fierce competitive spirit. Despite being a multitude of warring tribes competing for pride and honor, they in fact make up one big, supportive community sharing the joy that a combination of speed, danger and destruction brings to both competitors and spectators.
‘Bangers & Smash’ captures the sport and community in its most revealing and honest form to expose the cultural, social and personal complexities behind it. This project has taken me to regional racetracks via family homes and scrap yards where I have photographed and interviewed the people I have encountered.
Racing runs in the blood as a unifying force at the center of many families’ lives, providing a positive focus, purpose and a real sense of belonging. Behind the scenes competitors prepare meticulously for weeks, creatively liberating spare car parts to reconstruct vehicles purposefully stripped of glass and interior trimmings, leaving behind the bare necessities of the car so they can race across the finish line, preferably fully intact.
At first glance, the beauty within this eccentric community isn’t obvious – builder’s bottoms, oil stained tracksuits and barely recognisable car constructs. But look below the surface, there are so many beautiful, subtle details to be found within this cultural phenomenon, not only in the spirit of the participants but also in the physical fabric of the sport.
Whilst shooting I became obsessed with small details - the quirky textured surfaces of the car exteriors, doubled bowed ribbons that bind car parts together, the unorganised mess of the exposed wires and the charming slogans covering the cars.
Participation is based on mutual support, respect and hard work - collaboration at its best. Banger & Stock car racing brings individuals together in a unique cultural melting pot to revel in the excitement and escapism it offers from everyday life.
The race track is a fast paced, noisy environment. In contrast, the ‘Bangers & Smash’ images have a still and peaceful presence. All are frozen moments captured from this frenetic environment, allowing you to stop and appreciate an unconventional and unobvious beauty within the sport. The images that are presented as diptychs work in unison to tell a more complete story.
Bangers & Smash offers a refreshingly positive commentary on this colourful, unique and often misunderstood social aspect of British culture.