It happens around the third floor-loose coins float in the VW Polo like bubbles, passengers lift in their seats, only to be held back by seatbelts.
What photographer Christopher Collingridge achieves in those frightening seconds, has cost the US government millions of dollars in training pilots and developing planes to get right.
There is a point, as Collingridge guns his car into that centrifuge of tight corkscrew spirals that leads down from level six to ground floor of The Star’s parking lot, when zero gravity is attained.
Then gravity returns, coins thud to the floor, G forces fall away as Collingridge exits the parking lot to terrorise Joburg’s traffic and continue to scare the bejesus out of the hapless reporter that is on the story with him.
Zero gravity might be an exaggeration but photographers do drive scary.
They turn staff cars into four wheel drives. They say they are chasing the light, a missed photograph is gone forever, they say.
Complain and they sneer. “You can always get the story by phone, I got to be there.”
Offer to drive and they get nasty: “Smillie, if I wanted my grandma to drive I would have asked her.”
The scariest is when police and photographer play chicken. There are occasions when detectives have to head out to a crime scene, and you happen to be at the police station “Can we follow?” is the question.
“Ja, if you can keep up,” is the challenge.
Wheels screech around corners, red traffic lights become meaningless. Reporters close their eyes, or if they want to pretend to be macho, stare down at their notebooks and jot notes. That only brings car sickness.
Then we are there, a cordoned off crime scene, and we are the only media.
“So you made it,” says the detective, with just a sniff of approval.
Sometimes that white knuckled chase through Johannesburg is enough to get the cops to lighten up. They might even give a quote.
Once a couple of detectives allowed us into a hospital, so we could get some pictures of a kidnapped baby being reunited with his mother.
It was an exclusive, thanks to a photographer’s scary driving.