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Meet The Team – Kim McPherson

Kim is the second of our valued team here at Caged whom we caught up with to provide you with an insight into the life of. Kim is most recognisable as an official photographer at both Kings Lynn and Stansted, although behind the scenes there is far more than just that.

As with the majority of our interviewees, Kim got into the racing via her family. She recalls, ‘My dad raced at Braintree before I was born, and once I was born they moved to Elsenham and started banger racing at Henham Raceway (now known as Stansted Raceway). My sister started junior minis when she was old enough, and then my brother did and I was their trophy girl at 9 years old. We used to all go to Mildenhall and Arena Essex as a family to watch the larger, exciting meetings until my dad and brother found an interest in drifting instead in around 2011/2012.’

Although Kim’s family members raced, the opportunity to get out on track never fully materialised for herself. ‘Terry Ratcliffe took over Stansted Raceway after the Townsend’s sold it. He put tyres around the banks of the track and my dad went and watched one of their first meetings and cars were rolling when they caught the tyres, so he told me I couldn’t race my car (this was after I nagged him to find out why he wouldn’t help bleed the breaks after months, as this was the last thing we needed to do). He told me he didn’t want me to get hurt like my brother and sister did. However, the first time I ever drove was my brother’s mini at Henham after the race day had come to an end. I drove from the pits up to the entrance gate and I clearly remember the moment he asked me to break as I was approaching the bushes/ditch and I panicked, didn’t know how to break and put both arms in the air. Thank goodness bangers have a kill switch!’ Kim’s near racing career would have seen her pilot a pink Vauxhall Tigra. ‘My Vauxhall Tigra was painted pink and was going to be sign written with Tinkerbell on the bonnet and ‘Powered by fairy dust’ on the boot. Tinkerbell is a part of me and if you’ve gotten the chance to know me, you’ll know something significant about this which very few people know about.’

It was several years before Kim returned to the ovals, however the passion never truly faded away. Kim informs us of how she reignited the spark for bangers. ‘A couple of family friends were racing at Mildenhall in November 2019 and I asked my mum if she wanted to go with me and watch as the reliants were on. She doesn’t like banger racing, but does love to watch the reliants and vans! I took my camera with me and fell in love with the pictures I took, so went to Kings Lynn for the first time the following month the day after I split up with my ex, and I haven’t looked back since.’

Look forward is something Kim has certainly done, but what made her follow the photography side of racing? ‘I started taking photos on my phone way before 2010 of cars in the pits at Mildenhall that made me smile and was then bought a small camera in 2010. The quality of the pictures are absolutely horrendous looking back at them now. So when I went to the Gala Meeting in 2019, I thought I’d take my DSLR with me to see what the quality of the photos would be like, as I’d only really taken photos of animals on it. I never thought it’d change my life the way that it has. To the point, when my car got written off, I used the money I got from it after buying it back for less, to buy a professional camera. I have no regrets, it was worth it! Funnily enough I photographed the 2010 Ipswich World Final when I was 13. Looking back at photos now, I unknowingly took photos of 100 Callum White, 222 Matty High, 362 Johnny James, 455 Ricki Finney, 791 Spud, 267 Frenchy, 190 Pikey, 617 Jack Overy. It’s insane to think that 12 years later I was photographing some of these key names again at the Unlimited World Final 2022, and now know who these people are!’

Since then, Kim has taken her photography to new heights and new strengths, which as mentioned earlier, sees her take photos on the centre at Kings Lynn and the banking at Stansted. ‘I got my licence in July 2021 once racing came back properly after Covid. I’d only photographed less than 10 meetings I think before getting it, but I knew it wasn’t worth it whilst Covid was affecting meetings being held. I’m sometimes described as looking lost,’ she laughs. ‘I absolutely love it. Meetings like the last one for Maai just make the whole experience a huge rush. I honestly felt so alive that day, my photos capture the mood I was in! However, I can sometimes find it extremely overwhelming when there’s complete pile ups after the first bend and there’s no where for cars to go other than into the middle to get through. I find myself watching what’s going on rather than looking through my camera for my own safety more than anything because sadly, some drivers do not give a crap about whether they’re supposed to go inside the white line or not, they do whatever the hell they like to get back onto the track even if that means nearly hitting someone. There’s been far too many near misses of drivers coming from the left to cut across.’ 

Kim makes a valid comment about the safety aspect, however, would prefer things to go back to how they were like when she was a child watching at Henham. ‘I’d take the health and safety back to how it used to be. I remember the days of marshalls running out on track as the red flag is being dropped to help someone. Whereas now there’s so much hesitation before stepping out on the track, not because people have stopped caring, but because of the regulations that are in place that could give them and the promoter a serious bollocking otherwise. It’s just a shame really that life has become this way.’ 

Going back to the photography element of the interview, Kim discusses her aims whilst photographing the racing. ‘My main aim is to photograph them racing/smashing, because ultimately that’s what they’re there to do. I absolutely love capturing the smiles of drivers after a race has finished! I aim one day to get out in the pits to capture memories, but for some reason I just can’t step outside of my comfort zone properly for that just yet when I’m on my own. Also, the wetter the meeting, the better! I love the shots that get shale spraying off the back wheels or clumps of shale flying through the air; it’s just another type of art really isn’t it. I’m a woman of colour and a gemini who gets bored easily! So if there’s a boring coloured car that doesn’t really stand out, there’s a high chance that I’ll likely not photograph it unless it’s a cool car that catches my attention that way. Apologies, it’s not an intentional thing, it’s just a part of me!’

The photography lead to a natural progression, seeing Kim create her own website alongside social media platforms garnering a great response. ‘I didn’t really have any expectations for my page, both on Facebook and Instagram to set off and gain thousands of followers/likes. I think the introvert side of me hoped to be hidden despite being stood in the centre of a well known track. I wasn’t expecting the response that garnered, however I’m completely grateful for it. I just feel like a lot of expectations come from it though, which doesn’t help a fellow perfectionist and someone with very little spare time!’ Without Kim’s social media platform and following however, we wouldn’t have spotted the sheer talent behind a lens she has, leading to her becoming a part of the Caged family. Kim relives the moment she was asked to join. ‘I was ecstatic; it was overwhelming, and didn’t feel quite real to be honest! I remember receiving a notification on my top bar saying I received a message from you but when I went to my messenger, it wasn’t there. I was so confused, I honestly felt like I was dreaming. I had an overwhelming feeling of “my photos are bloody good enough”  truth be told! It was a blessing in disguise really for my own self criticizing thoughts. A few months on, it’s like I’ve always been a part of the team. It’s like a family, where far too much information is shared and I stay up far too late crying with laughter. So now, I’m grateful.’ And forever grateful we are also, with Kim forming part of our big plans for the future.

Kim’s plans are just as stacked personally as they are for us collectively as a team. ‘I want to attend more meetings outside of Kings Lynn and Stansted. I ventured out to a couple of meetings to Mildenhall last year and the World Final at Ipswich which are my two more local tracks alongside Stansted. But my aim is to go to at least 3-5 new tracks, two hopefully this month. If all things go to plan, I’ll also be H&S trained with Spedeworth. I missed a couple of meetings at Lynn last year due to two operations and the wreckage that I call my back; so now that they’re out of the way, as long as I can keep my back in check, I should be there for all banger meets at Lynn too. 2023 will be the year of organisation, I hope. It’s difficult having three dreams and little to no time with the career I’m in to do what I want to do, but I’m hoping 2023 will be the year that  all three dreams can happen alongside one another without stress or things getting dropped.’ For those that are unaware, Kim is a teacher, whilst her spare time is shared by studying for her degree as well as the photography side; she certainly likes to keep busy!

Something that the limelight isn’t shone enough on is woman within the sport. With Kim being a significant of the racing, I asked her what it’s like for her. ‘It has it’s pros and cons. It’s a fantastic feeling being able to represent women for what used to be (or may still be) classed as a man’s hobby/job, but it does come with unwanted attention which isn’t always as pleasant, but it’s developed my “don’t give a fuck” attitude which I didn’t really have before. I think going back to my Vauxhall Tigra, and the key moral of Tinkerbell, teaching young girls that they can be whatever they want to be and no one or anything should be allowed to say that you should be something else. And for me, since becoming a photographer at Lynn, I’ve had a few trying to tell me what I can and can’t do and a lot of my fiery, stubborn personality then shows, which isn’t always necessarily a good thing.’

Kim has certainly provided a quality insight into her life behind the camera, as well as her life leading up to it, but what, if any, would she change about racing? ‘From a photographer perspective, being able to stand on the outside of the track between the fences at Lynn and in the middle of the track at Stansted. As a spectator, honestly? Probably the expense for banger drivers. Banger racing isn’t like what it used to be when I was a child and even before I was born. Watching back at old meetings, crashing was on a whole different level! Every car went home to be stripped and scrapped, but it’s very rare to see that now with car expenses and the enhancement of race gear and the cost people put into their cars.’

We leave you with an interesting fact provided by Kim herself. ‘1. I always wanted to roll the reliants back over! I think it was Arena that used to have 4 people run onto track for the reliant races, 2 on each end and if a car rolled over, they’d run out on track, roll them back onto 3 wheels so they could carry on. I just loved it at the young age I was!’

We’d like to thank Kim for being a superb individual, a valued member of the team and a key cog in the daily running of what we do. Be sure to say hello if you see her around the raceways.

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