Being an automotive photographer, sometimes you put yourself on the line to get the shot. There have been many a time that I thought to myself, “Well, that wasn’t the smartest thing I ever did….but I got the shot!”
There are many, many people that are required to run a single event. The logistics alone are enormous. You have the guys that set up the course, work with city officials, line the streets with barricades, set up the pits, make sure there are plenty of concessions, seating; the guy who handles credentials for more than 300 photographers to only allow 130 in (he isn’t the most popular race weekend), the medical staff, the teams, the media – whewwwwww! I think you get my “drift” (Ha ha! Just had to put that in there) of just what it takes to pull off any event. And then there are the few within any series that take on more of iconic status.
In Formula Drift, one of those iconic individuals is Bil Baldwin. Bil Baldwin is also known as Wild Bil or because of his very obvious long, white beard; Baldwin is also known in the Formula D world as “Santa Claus”.
He has to be the bravest man I’ve seen on course – or maybe the craziest. You will see Bill in his normal stance, with his leg planted firmly at the end of the jersey barrier and as we all know, he has the closest view of all the action.
With cars screaming out of turn 9, pitching it sideways to setup to go into turn 10, it wasn’t uncommon for cars to scrape wall just feet from Bil. During Saturday’s top 32 we got to see just how fearless “Santa” really is.
Robbie Nishida had a brief run in and tapped the barrier wall when he went up against Conrad Grunewald:
With a simple turn of his head, his foot remains planted!!!
After Robbie’s Crash, Darren McNamara suffered the same fate.
Standing at one of the most clipped walls on track, Bil is still just your average fan. Hanging out with Jay Canter and a handful of drivers cards, Bil stood in line waiting patiently for drivers’ autographs.
Wild Bil, opportunity to meet Rhys Millen
Now that we know where “Santa” spends his time in the off season, we realize that whether it be marshaling the most dangerous corner on the track, or flying around the world in one night. He truly lives his life at speed.
From Will Roegge: