Whenever possible, we like to send Smithsonian photographers and writers out on stories together, as we did this month for both "Drawn from Prehistory," which documents some extraordinary cave paintings in Baja California, and "A Rally to Remember," about Italy’s premier sports car rally. The collaboration that develops over time spent in close quarters often yields richer articles.
Some quarters are closer than others. One fiercely cold, windy night high in the Sierra de San Francisco of Baja California, writer Donovan Webster and photographer George Steinmetz had to bed down in their automobile. At some point during the fitful night, Webster found himself staring at the ceiling of the Chevrolet Suburban. "These paintings," he muttered through gritted teeth, "better be worth it." Fortunately, they were.
And writer Bruce Watson and photographer Enrico Ferorelli spent nearly three full days together in a Mercedes station wagon, after Ferorelli, who grew up in Italy, talked his way into participating in the Mille Miglia. "We chased the other cars," Watson reports, "stopping only to grab cappuccinos and sandwiches, then roaring on. Outside the Colosseum, giddy after a full day’s drive, Enrico shot the cover photograph, then started shouting to passing cars in Italian: ‘Christians and Lions face-to-face tonight! Right inside.’"
At the end of the rally, many of the drivers gathered for a midnight meal. "When it was over, Enrico stood up and announced he was going to bed," says Watson. "He gripped an imaginary steering wheel and ‘steered’ through the dining room, making the sputtering drone of a Ferrari. After the long and magnificent thousand miles, it was the perfect arrivederci."