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The Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Owners Group: Discussion Forums

Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Owners Group :: View topic - Weekend at the Races


Weekend at the Races
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Thomas8
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:29 am    Post subject: Weekend at the Races Reply with quote

I go to a lot of races. I cover the AMA Pro Flat Track series and lots of amateur events, posting photos, race reports and other stuff on a Face Book page. I've done this for several years. The AMA Pro organizers have given me a media credential that lets me get really close to the action. This weekend I'm in Charlotte, North Carolina for a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where they have a half-mile dirt track, the paved NASCAR oval and the amazing 4-lane NHRA drag strip. I'll post some photos from today's race later. The internet connection at this hotel is really slow.

Two of my photos earned first place ribbons last week at my local county fair. Not exactly like winning a Pulitzer Prize, but it's nice to have people outside of my regular audience look at my work and find it worthy. And I just love going to the fair. My pals and I go to races at fairgrounds all the time, but I only get to go to an actual fair about once a year. The color pic is one of the top pros at a race in Knoxville, Iowa, in 2014. The B&W shot is one of the riders who lives close to me in Oregon at an amateur event in Sacramento, Cailf., in May of this year.

If you enjoy flat track racing, follow the link and hit the like button.

https://www.facebook.com/NorthwestTrackShots/



Last edited by Thomas8 on Tue Aug 09, 2016 6:46 am; edited 1 time in total
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tbpmusic
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2016 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice photos, and a nice site.....
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Thomas8
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two weekends ago I went to an AMA Pro Flat Track motorcycle race in Charlotte, North Carolina. This was my second trip to this track. Charlotte Motor Speedway is a large complex that has state highway #29 running right through the middle. The NASCAR speedway is on the south side of the highway and the 4/10 mile dirt track and amazing four lane ( Shocked ) NHRA drag strip are on the north side. Besides motorcycles, the red clay dirt oval also hosts Outlaws, monster trucks and other fun stuff. It takes about a week of preparation to get the track ready. They till it up, add water and then pack it down. It's really sticky when race day arrives.





Almost every team has two bikes in case a spare is needed during the event. At this track the top pro class (GNC1) riders are on Harleys and other makes of twin cylinder bikes, from 750-1,000 cc, depending on engine configuration. The junior varsity class (GNC2) riders are on modified 450cc motocross bikes. At longer tracks the GNC2 class will ride twins like the GNC1 class riders. Here are some shots of a Typical Harley-Davidson XR750 and a Honda CRF-450F.





Some of the riders use my photos to create autograph sheets for the fans. This is Justin Jones, a young racer from New York.



These bikes have a brake only on the rear wheel. Some riders will drag the brake a little to keep the rear tire from spinning up without having to back off the throttle. Overdo it, and the brake disc will glow red hot and start shooting sparks like on this bike.



Here are some race shots.











The trophies were cool. Each one had a miniature steel skid shoe, like the riders wear on their left boot.

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Thomas8
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Today in 1988 I nearly met my end at the Castle Rock, Wash., TT races on my Ducati 450 flat tracker. I'm still thankful for the tremendous support of family and friends during a hard time. No internet forums or FB back then, but I have a big folder full of get-well cards from racers and others that I'll keep forever. I'm in Peoria, Illinois, this weekend for a big race and really appreciate the life I have.

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spurlock
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2016 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great photos and stories Tom! Thanks for posting.

-Bill

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ol55
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2016 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All of your shots look great. Thanks for sharing your talent.

Larry

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Thomas8
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2016 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, guys. Last weekend I traveled to Illinois for the Peoria TT. This is a legacy event on the pro flat track schedule. This year was the 68th running. Most of these races are run on flat dirt ovals of various sizes. The track at Peoria also has a right hand turn and a jump and is a little bit less than a mile long.

The jumps at most motocross and supercross races are laid out in a straight line. At Peoria the jump begins on a left hand turn, but the landing zone is in a right hand turn. At this track everyone rides modified 450cc MX bikes. They hit that jump in 3rd gear, throttle pinned, at speeds of 50-70 mph. This always leads to a crash or two. This year two fellows left by ambulance after biffing the jump.

There was a lot of rain in the area in the days before the race. The ground was saturated and ruts and bumps developed quickly. Workers would go around with tractors between races to smooth the track, but the ruts would come right back when the next race started. That led to more crashes and another ambulance ride and the event ran a little bit late.

In the end they got it done. The top class was won by #17, Henry Wiles. It was his twelfth consecutive win here. He owns the place. No one else has that kind of record at any other track this series visits.

The first photo was taken from the outside of turn one. Pit tents are lined up along the front straight on the left side of the image. Turn one leads to the jump and S-curves on the right side of the image. In this photo the track has just been prepped and the dirt is nice and smooth.



Here's a shot of turn one at the start of the main event and another after a few laps.





This fellow tripped on a rut and flew over the high side. The race was stopped while he laid on the track for awhile, but he got up and made the restart.



More random photos:















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Thomas8
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The final two rounds of the pro flat track season played out at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Labor Day weekend, and at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in California on the last weekend in September. The two events each featured national championship mile dirt track races on Sunday, preceded by pro-am short track races on Saturday.

The Springfield Mile is one of the oldest events on the calendar, and it is also the fastest mile track. The surface is hard and smooth and the corners are very broad. It was won this year by Kenny Coolbeth Jr., a journeyman racer. He was not in the hunt for the season title, but his win helped to mix things up a bit. The Springfield short track is one of my favorite tracks to shoot photos. The soil has nice color and texture and so do the backgrounds.

The Santa Rosa Mile was the third attempt to run a pro race at that venue. I did not attend the first event there. I was at the second try, two years ago, when it rained out halfway through the event. This horse track has tighter turns than Springfield, and the soil is soft and fluffy an does not hold water or pack down well. The pro-am short track, run in a small arena at the fairgrounds, has a smooth clay surface. The short track was a fun event. The short track was also where Indian debuted it's new flat track racer with some demo laps at halftime.

The season championship was decided at Santa Rosa, with Kawasaki rider Bryan Smith coming out on top of Jared Mees and his Harley-Davidson. This was Smith's first championship after several near misses. Mees is a three time champion. Both are good fellows and either would have been a deserving champion.

Here are some random photos from each race.













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Thomas8
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Santa Rosa Mile was marred by the deaths of two junior class riders. Charlotte Kainz and Kyle McGrane were killed in separate incidents, she in a qualifying session and he in the main event. Kainz turned twenty the week before this race. McGrane was seventeen years old. I have strong feelings about the circumstances of their deaths, and after several years of traveling and being embedded in this series am now trying to decide if I will ever again be willing to attend an event organized by AMA Pro Racing.

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05c50
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a terrible loss. Motorsports are known to be dangerous, but you hope to never hear about such a loss. I don't know all the circumstances, but I can understand your thoughts about continuing to attend. Take some time to think about it.

........Paul

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spurlock
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thomas8 wrote:
The Santa Rosa Mile was marred by the deaths of two junior class riders. Charlotte Kainz and Kyle McGrane were killed in separate incidents, she in a qualifying session and he in the main event. Kainz turned twenty the week before this race. McGrane was seventeen years old. I have strong feelings about the circumstances of their deaths, and after several years of traveling and being embedded in this series am now trying to decide if I will ever again be willing to attend an event organized by AMA Pro Racing.



Thomas, my deepest sympathies to you. Those are two beautiful young lives lost, and reading between the lines of your post it sounds like this did not have to happen. There are no words to help in a situation like this. I'm sorry.

-Bill

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Thomas8
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last weekend I covered an indoor race at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, the state capitol. I love events like these and have raced at many myself. It was the first race of the season, so everyone was especially happy and excited. Some had new bikes, others had new gear and looked bright and fresh at the riders meeting. This track is somewhat large for an indoor circuit, and the turns are banked. Besides motorcycles, they also race karts and I think legends-size cars, too. It's a busy place.

Yamaha TT500s and old Honda singles are popular race bike platforms at this level. There was even a Hodaka.

We have several national championship racers who live in the area. Most of them were there that night, which made it seem more special. There were not a lot of crashes, but one of the pro racers fell off and his bike tumbled end-for-end through the turn. It was pretty spectacular. One of the amateur racers fell off while he was in the middle of the pack. I saw two other bikes run right over his body, but after "resting" on the ground for a few moments, he got up and joined back in.













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Thomas8
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was kind of exciting recently to have a sponsor ask to use some of my photos for a series of posters advertising the local winter indoor flat track series. Each one features a shot of a local racer.





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spurlock
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very cool. Your photos are adrenaline producing, perfect for promo posters!

-Bill

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MR.CHocko
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great photos! Please keep attending and taking photos. Also remember this is a dangerous sport to be involved with and has always been dangerous from the beginning.
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