The Other Side of The Fence – Six Decades of Motorsport Photography
By Bill Warner, with Forewords by Sam Posey and William Jeanes
Professional motorsport photographers live their lives and careers “on the Other Side of the Fence” meaning that they get to walk and work several major steps closer to the racing (and pit and paddock) action than does the civilian fan.
But this superior track access doesn’t automatically translate to superlative photography or artful images. Yet it did and does for the incomparable Bill Warner. For years he’s been “threatening” to finally share with the world a proper compendium of his great motorsport photography, and it’s finally happened; just published and making its debut in May of 2021.
Native Floridian Warner lived and grew up not far from Sebring International Raceway and Daytona International Speedway, so big game races, racers, and cars were close at hand.
In this new book’s dedication, Warner credits his late sister Harriet for “not only encouraging my photography but [that she] went to our parents and argued the case for my racing.” He somehow balanced a military career, photography, his own racing pursuits, and a rabid penchant for motorsport.
Bill developed into a marvelously skilled shooter, and his love of cars and racing colored his photography through those real and metaphorical lenses. And in his not so spare time, he founded and remains Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
The way the book is assembled tells you a lot about the work; the table of contents is headlined: Dedication, Forewords, Acknowledgements, Introduction, The Early Years, Racing, Portraits, and Racing – emphasis on Racing.
The design is by the veteran magazine, book designer, painter, and graphic artist Chuck Queener, who delivered a clean, elegant layout that properly honors the work.
The book is hardbound, and printed on heavy, silky, satin gloss stock that really punches the photos, and feels good in your hands as you thumb the pages. There is little “body text” per se, but the captions are meaty and tell the story perfectly. Warner has since graduated to digital cameras, but a vast majority of this book was shot on big banger Nikon 35mm pro cameras and medium format Hasselblads, on color and black-and-white films.
Equally impressive are the liner notes and testimonials from many of the personalities featured within the book, from Mario Andretti to Roger Penske and Brian Redman. Andretti said “A journey through road racing that shows us the people, the cars, the delicate moments, the fame, the glory, the disappointments. Warner’s affectionate yet realistic portraits and captions are the best collection I’ve ever seen.”
Don’t for an instant question that Warner exists in the same pantheon as other greats of racing photography, such as Bernard Cahier, Jesse Alexander, Pete Biro, Richard George, Denis Jenkinson, and Bob Tronolone. The work is so good, that you won’t blink for even a nanosecond at the $100 price tag, instead happy knowing you got a bargain on this marvelous artwork.