Photo Stories: Anatomy of an Incident.

It’s an inevitable part of what they do. Anyone who races for a living knows it can happen in a heartbeat. But you put it in the back of your mind and try to concentrate on the task at hand. While coming up through the ranks every racer has had their share of crashes, spills, and near misses. The very nature of being fast means you have to operate on that thin edge between control and disaster. You do what you can to avoid the latter, but it’s not always in your hands.

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All of this brings us to todays story. We are at Road America for the 2014 AMA Subway SuperBike doubleheader. It is race (1) of the Daytona SportBike class. Joe Roberts is on his number 3 M4 Motorcycle Road Racing Honda CBR600RR. As he enters turn five he goes wide onto the rumble strip. Not sure why, maybe to avoid crowding Elena Meyers on the number 21 Triumph on the inside. Whatever the reason things began to go wrong from that point on. At first he looks to have things under control, then the back end begins to slide to the right. As he attempts to correct it, the back end slides too far left causing him to high side, and go over the the front of the bike. The photos tell the rest of the story.

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After landing chest first on the rumble strip, Joe Roberts attempted to get up. He was only able to crawl to his bike, and then sit down. He was taken away in an ambulance, but was back in action at the next AMA event at Barber Motorsports Park a few weeks later.

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Photo Stories: The Ferrari 312 T5

While it’s a great looking and sounding car, in vintage racing, this 1980 Ferrari 312 T5 was one of the least successful of Ferrari’s Formula 1 efforts. Plagued by a lack of power from it’s naturally aspirated flat 12 engine (most other manufacturers had gone to turbos), indifferent handling, and all around poor performance. Even with reigning World Champion Jody Scheckter at the wheel, it failed to qualify in Canada. Earning only 2 points for the 1980 season, it was the second worst performance by the company to date.

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Still in all Ferrari took what few gains they had made with the design, and incorporated them into the 1981 126 C & CK the following year, and thus ushering in the era of the twin turbo Ferrari’s. While the twin turbo CK proved a bit problematic, the C yielded better results. However there were still reliability issues that would not be worked out until the 1982 season with the introduction of the 126 C2.

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Photo Stories: Turn Five

As you approach turn five at Road America you have to stand hard on the brakes to make a 90º left hand turn. Seems simple enough if you are an experienced race car driver, but things that appear simple aren’t always simple.

Core Auotsports number 54 GT3 Cup Porsche locks up the brakes headed into turn five.

Core Auotsports number 54 GT3 Cup Porsche locks up the brakes headed into turn five.

So let’s go back just a little bit. By this I mean to turn three where it all starts. Turn three is a sharp right hand turn which reduces your speed quite a bit. Once through it, you hit a strait stretch with a slight up hill climb to turn four. Turn four is not really a turn, but a slight left hand dog leg. From here it is a short downhill strait into turn five. Since you did not have to brake for turn four, you are carrying a lot of speed into turn five.

By now you should have an idea of what could go wrong in this scenario. Now factor in drivers racing for position and you can see it coming. Someone may not be able to slow up enough to make it around the turn. I guess what is most surprising, and a testament to these drivers skill, is how seldom this happens. Many end up just taking a rough ride over the outside rumble strips.

After slowing up enough, it's onto the run off road.

After slowing up enough, it’s onto the run off road.

In our photos Core Autosports Porsche GT3 cup car is the victim of our story. Locking up the brakes doesn’t help. So it’s to the run off road, a quick turn around, kick up a bit of gravel as you cut through the gravel trap, and back into the action.

A quick turn around, then on the gas and back into the action.

A quick turn around, then on the gas and back into the action.

Photo Stories: Used Bikes

When you shoot pro motorcycle racing, you are use to seeing shiny new bikes in pristine condition. At the pro level teams have spare parts to replace any that are damaged in practice or qualifying. At the semi pro and amateur ranks however, things are quite different. Small teams on small budgets don’t have the resources the pro’s have. Improvisation is the name of the game for them, and duct tape is there best friend. It makes for some very creative looking bikes.

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This second shot is one of the most creative uses of duct tape I have ever seen. See if you can spot all the pieces applied to various parts of this bike.

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Photo Stories: On the Edge

We airshow photographers love shots with vapor. Give us jet aircraft on a humid day, and we’re poised and ready. Vapor normally occurs when the aircraft reach speeds around 400 mph, and conditions are right. The amount of vapor depend on moister content in the air, and the make up of the plane. Jets with broad wing surfaces tend to develop more vapor and at lower speeds than others. Either way the effect is quite dramatic.

Lots of vapor at the morning practice for the 2010 Gary Airshow.

Lots of vapor at the morning practice for the 2010 Gary Airshow.

There is another type of shot that to me is more impressive. This shot can only be achieved when the aircraft is right on the edge of breaking the sound barrier. Without getting into the physics of it, this happens at the speed Mach 1.0 (between 662 – 760 mph) depending on weather conditions. When light is right you can see the shockwave created by the plane. I have captured this effect twice here is one of those shots, from 2010 at the Quad City Airshow.

Shockwave from Superhornet at 2010 Quad City Airshow.

Shockwave from Superhornet at 2010 Quad City Airshow.