befriending a phoenix
Meeting my friend Dan was an experience I will never forget. He was a ladies man through and through and hooked up with one of my new drinking buddies that I met through an old school friend. They had a brief relationship but remained close friends due to his physique and use as a creep deterrent from unwanted male attention. Dan had somehow slipped through the net was able to entertain this female friend and he too established a brief relationship with her. We talked at the bar finding little in common other than we lived in the same area. As the night drew to a close I never thought that this loud-mouthed guy would be such a close friend.
Several weeks later it was my female friend’s birthday party. I attended with a couple of friends as did Dan. Unlike our bar sessions I was drinking, as I was usually the designated driver on bar night, and got into conversation with Dan on his normal level of sobriety. He told me he raced go karts was a winner of multiple championships and one day go into cars or radio which he was studying. This fascinated me as an old electrical engineering friend raced cars before I lost contact with him.
Unlike the bar times, we exchanged numbers with the promise of lifts to and from the bar. As Dan liked a drink on non racing weeks I had to drive more. This wasn’t as bad as you would expect as he knew the bouncers of nearly every bar in North Sydney which made clubbing so much easier without waiting in lines or paying for a meaningless membership. For months we were nearly inseparable as on top of his radio study, I was helping his background in social media and subconsciously managing him.
For a time we were able to use “This is my manger” “He’s the next big radio personality” routine to entice the ladies. Also being a go kart racer helped too. Because of the motor racing in his blood, Dan began to invite me to his place to hang out and watch races which I used to decline until I was basically forced. I met his brother and his parents and basically became a local in their house if I wasn’t doing anything related to advertising, capoeira or ladies. I had told Dan early on in our friendship that I was an amateur photographer specialising in sport and action scenes with a little video experience. He utilised this when he took me to the race track.
The race was the V8 supercars. We filmed stupid things like the drive to and from the race at Homebush Bay, cars racing and interviews with racing drivers of different classes. Unknown to me, Dan rubbed shoulders with the elite drivers of Australia as he had raced with them when they were in karts or knew their families from kart days. On top of that Dan knew some of the head of radio in Sydney and spoke to them while I vanished into the background. Once the day was over we went back home and I edited his first few films and designed his logos for his radio show.
It was around this time when Dan began having trouble with his karting team. His team leader wanted more money for the team and Dan supposedly had big pockets. This lead to Dan quitting racing to focus on radio to the dismay of the team and go karting community as Dan had become the “Bad Boy Voice” that blessed everyone’s ears when he commentated. He sold his racing gear and moved towards the radio waves.
I had moved on with my life and gotten a full time job as a telephone help desk person. We stayed in contact but were to absorbed into our lifestyles to actually be as close friends as we once were. Around this time Dan was the top of his class as his show was the most popular in the area. Unfortunately his partner on the waves wasn’t the nice guy Dan thought. As Dan missed out on a radio gig in Sydney and didn’t want to move to Canberra where he would actually have a radio show, he went into promoting.
I knew the promoting gig Dan got was an amazing thing but I didn’t know what it was doing to Dan mentally. Dan was one of the club’s most popular promoters. What he posted on facebook was liked in the thousands, what he invited was solidly booked, whatever the event people would be there. The club loved him as much as the crowd but this stirred the weasels into action.
Several factions of the club’s lesser promoters saw an opportunity to good to pass up. They knew Dan came from the north shore and that his ability to get an instant crowd was an amazing skill and this would lead to some big easy money. Luring Dan into a business partnership, they used his skills to increase their profits but as hard as they tried, they couldn’t pry open Dan’s Wallet.
Dan is a very controlling person and his wallet is very tight. As he refused to finance these new friends’ habits and business requirements, they made his life hell. Dan escaped into the booze and the women of the clubbing scene but that didn’t help but turning him away from that scene. Dan quit and escaped from that world as much as I escaped from my dead end job behind a phone.
When we started talking again I was a freshly graduated graphic designer and Dan was working as a clerk in a office in the city. Dan had escaped the sharks but they still were harassing his every move keeping him away from the clubs and also alcohol. As a graphic designer I found this very funny as I had always been apart of the boozy creative culture. I helped him through the hectic part of his life before getting him back to his normal self. Dan had learned many valuable lessons the hard way as I had tried to teach him before living my own life which too was a total disaster before I was a graphic designer.
As he had a lot of money saved up from the promoting days, Dan returned to what he did best. Race.
Dan signed up with a formula ford team and bought his own chassis. He got behind the wheel and became his old self again. His confidence was back and he was able to do what he wanted to do dramatically changing his surroundings.
Dan went from being an annoying promoter into a person you could stand on facebook. His pictures posted were motivational and a different side of him than before his clubbing days.
In March Dan took me to Melbourne to see the F1 at Albert Park. Unlike V8 supercars, F1 had always intrigued me. As V8 supercars and Australian Motorsport go hand in hand, Dan was able to talk his way into the V8 pits and talk to his friends who were now driving these cars when Dan took off two years to club. I was in awe as nearly everyone behind the wall that kept spectators out, looked on enviously to a person that talked to their heroes as mere mortals.
When we came back from Melbourne Dan and I spent a lot more time together and when he asked me to come to the track to shot him in his new car that had arrived from France I jumped on that opportunity.
His bright red Mygale named “Cherry” was unloaded from the truck on Eastern Creek Speedway and it was love at first sight for driver and machine. We both inspected the vehicle seeing if she had any flaws which she didn’t. Dan took her on the track several times as it was an open practice day and handled her brilliantly. Then it was time to go home to look at several hundred photos on and off the track.
As Dan was busy with his office job, I was being an intern in the city dreaming about bigger and better things. Dan contacted me and asked if I could build him a website that was easy to update. I jumped at it and did it while being able to use my photos that I took as a filler until I could get race day photos and footage. I built it and showed Dan how to use it which he could effortlessly.
Several weeks passed when I got the call from Dan asking me to a race. Three days of cars going around the track is not something many people would do apart from diehard fans. My job was to make Dan look good behind the scenes. Take photos here and there telling the story of what happens in the garage as the crew works on the cars and drivers. It was amazing.
Being a shadow to Dan was a great way to get some amazing photos of interaction with the crew, other drivers, fans and more. Learning the lessons from test day, I came armed with two cameras with different lenses to make for easy transitions. Also this time I worked with the crew getting to areas that most photographers can get to only when they are decked out in media gear. Taking photos and footage from three perspectives was an excellent way of learning how to shoot.
When the weekend was over I took a look at the several hundred photos on two cameras making the hard decisions of which makes it to the web. Of these lucky dozen, Dan would select which would go on his website and social media feeds. Here is where he got an amazing idea. He wanted to go into business with me…
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