The instructions were clear, post a motorsports photo every day for 10 days that represent a memorable moment for me. No explanations, just a picture, and then you nominate some other moto friend to do the same.
Here is the problem. I hate chain-mail. That and as a writer who has been accused of being "long winded", the rules of this one take away half of my ability to tell the story as to why it was memorable. Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words, but no truly great stories are only a thousand words long. I mean, by the end of this sentence i will have already typed 87 words and you still don't know where I am going with this - hey, I warned you I was long winded.
As I stomped all over the rules by providing a detailed explanation for my final Facebook entry, I decided that the rest of the pics needed the same treatment. So here ya go, 28,814 total "words" about ten memorable motorcycle moments.
Day One: Mad Mini Mike, Guinness World Record Holder: 15 Flaming Walls...
...Tonight: 2 Walls. That was what was the sign said on the left side of the micro inferno that Mini Mike rode through. I took this photo at the Dirtbag Challenge in San Francisco many years ago, but this moment captured, a measly 2 walls being split by a midget on a motorbike, was not the most memorable moment of the day for me. In fact, the memory really began a few months earlier at a photoshoot for the Dirtbag Challenge calendar. I was not the first choice of photographers. I had just started my business where I was known as a trackside photographer and had nothing even close to resembling a calendar in my portfolio. Hell, I had to borrow the flashes and triggers. But when the well respected first choice drops your name, you show up, do the job, and don't fuck it up, junior. I have no clue if the calendar ever got made, I know I never saw one, all I know is that up until not too long ago that photoshoot in 2013 was the most stressful photo job I had ever been on. This sounds stupid, even to me, but you have to understand that the Dirtbag Challenge was, and still is, a big deal and I was, and still am, a nobody. I do know that I was invited to go on the ride that year as a platform for an onboard photographer, something that I still consider an honor. The photo above was taken right before I geared up and headed home. It is the cherry on top of of a series of memorable moments.
That's me on the 34 bike. Behind me? That's the guy that gave me my most stressful photography assignment to date, pushing "Dirtbag Challenge Calendar Shoot" down a notch to number two. I know, it sounds stupid. I was riding motorcycles in far off lands, how could anyone be stressed? Well, I wasn't his first choice for a photographer either. Remember what I said about getting a recommendation from the first choice? That was all I could think about. I needed to be on from the minute I woke up to the minute I went to bed. Every day. That is, minus the 20 minutes per hour I spent on the track for our two days at Aragon.
These "smoke breaks" gave me the opportunity to focus on just riding the motorcycle. No shot lists, no worrying about if I missed anything from the day before or worse, potentially missing something the next. Just ride the bike.
This pic is a memorable moment because it is me, at work, 100% stress free while on the most stressful assignment I ever had the pleasure of doing. Looking forward to the next one!
Day Three: The Race Director and #53
Anyone that has been around the AFM for any length time knows the person on the left. That is Barbara Smith, Race Director for the American Federation of Motorcyclists. If she calls you down to talk to her by your race number, you probably did something spectacular. Like pass under yellow or punt someone into a tumbling cartwheel on the brakes. They are short chats, where she tells you what you did and how big your fine is. She sounds scary. She is... if you are the type to pass under yellow or take out another racer.
The person on the right is Dave Stanton, multiple class and club champion. I am sure he probably had been called down to the race director for something, at some point. But not this day, not with those smiles. Why is this photo special to me? I figured both he and Barb would get a kick out of it. They did. That's it. Sometimes the memory is made fresh, based on old data.
Day 4: Wisdom
I have known Andrew Lee (right) since before he could legally drive. He is currently the MotoAmerica 1000 Superstock champion, but back then he was just a kid on a 600 looking for his shot. On the left is Mike Canfield. He is calm. He is precise. He is wise. I have no idea what he was saying to Andrew, but I remember this moment at Laguna Seca. This photo was supposed to be a quick capture when I saw Mike pull Andrew aside as I was walking by. My flash settings were totally wrong for the environment, so the quick photo turned into me standing there for a minute fumbling with the knobs and buttons while two pros handled business, unphased by me or anything else around them.
Day Four, take two, because I failed to change the number when I copy/pasted: The walk
This was taken shortly after Bobby Fong crashed in turn six, Sears Point, .
He was pissed, and justifiably so, as crashing out of a podium spot was not in his plans for the day. The walk back to your team after spending some time on the deck can be frustrating, embarrassing, and difficult.
The walk back your team is never planned, and I do not wish it on anybody at any level. But it does happen and is part of the sport.
What this photo does not show is how his team got the bike ready for the next day. It does not show that same bike crossing the line in a podium spot in race two.
It shows Bobby Fong leaving the race one crash behind him. It shows what separates someone who is truly great at what they do from someone who just goes through the motions.
It is special to me because it shows determination. Without that, talent means nothing, and we all need that reminder from time to time.
Day Five: The unintentional finger
There was another photographer in this corner. He was directly in front of me, and this posed shot was for him. So why is it special to me? This is another one of those photos that reminds me of the whole event, and I had a blast. I was on assignment for CityBike at the time and with me was fellow contributor An. The racing was good, the weather was perfect, and I got to work with someone that I had not really gotten to know all that well prior.
Day Six: Super Rat
This was taken on the Bonneville salt flats. Racing a motorcycle out there, no matter the speed, is just you against the clock. There are no reference points other than those specs on the narrow horizion that are rapidly becoming the flags that mark your distance traveled. You, your machine, and the vast nothing ripping by at an indeterminable velocity. This pic, while stationary, shows all that is required to go racing on the salt. A bike, a rider, and a friend to cheer you on.
Day Seven: Super Hooligan Adventure
Before the Santa Rosa Mile in 2016, there was some short track racing at the fairgrounds. There were a variety of classes, my favorite was referred to the Super Hooligan. It was meant to showcase the new Indian machines, but that didn't stop a couple of KTM super Adventure's from joining the party...and an R1. Malcolm Smith once told me that I could do anything I wanted because I am a motorcyclist. This photo is proof of that statement, and serves as a reminder that there is no such thing as using a motorcycle inappropriately.
Day Eight: Max stands in the impact zone
Remember An from day five? She took this photo. We rode to a private vineyard in Calistoga to shoot an Italian flat track machine. I gave the rider instructions to hit the mark and not worry about me as I was smart enough to get out of the way if I needed to. I gave An instructions to keep shooting no matter what, because I was going to want to see the pics if I was not smart enough to get out of the way.
Bonus pic, my view of the situation.
Day Nine: A door closes
This is turn two on the second lap of the Formula Pacific race, round six, AFM 2012, and yeah, I know the pic isn't tack sharp.
Why is a slightly blurry pic special to me? I legit thought I was going to die.
On lap one, Chris Siglin (#1) was on a much-closer-to-the-inside line, with Ricky Corey right on his rear wheel. Siglin realized that he was two feet off of where he was less than two minutes prior, so he tried to close the gap. The problem was Corey already had wedged his R1 into the opening, so when the door closed, it shut right on the #3 bike. Contact was made, and Corey's trajectory was adjusted a few degrees putting him almost in my lap. I kept shooting, and am proud to say that I didn't drop the camera... or a twosie in my pants.
As a bonus, the full sequence is below, including some great shots of the ground I took whilst scurrying out of the way.
Day 10 (Really day 11 if anyone is paying attention still): I bring things full circle
Remember the Dirtbag Challenge Calendar Shoot? This pic was from that. The guy that built the bike also made the mace and the chain-mail armor.
I already explained why the event was special to me, I chose this pic because it reminds me that not all chain-mail is bad. If you get offered up for the 10 day motorsports challenge, don't be afraid to bend the rules and add an explanation.
After all, you are a motorcyclist. Make Malcolm Smith proud.