Flying Lizard Motorsports

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It seems that with every passing week we receive more sad and disappointing news from the TUDOR United Sports Car Challenge.

For ten years from 2004 to 2014 Flying Lizard Motorsports has been a constant presence in IMSA GT racing. First with Porsche and now Audi, the red and silver colors have provided many exciting moments for both the team and race fans through the years. Off the top of my head I can recall one epic battle between Flying Lizard and Team Corvette at Mid Ohio.

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It now seems to see the Lizard colors in the future you will have to attend Pirelli World Challenge events.

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Not having access to the inner workings of TUSC, I would think all this recent activity would have alarm bells ringing. Teams have always come and gone, mostly due to financial reasons. I am not sure if this is the case in more than a couple of instances this year. As of now no team has come out and admitted their reason for moving has anything to do with how the series is run, but that’s just common sense. No reason to burn bridges, things may turn around and make it worth returning to the series.

However it does signal that are more serious underlying issues involved, issues that may have made some just as soon not be there until they are resolved. We can only hope this tide does not continue.

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SRT Viper Racing Program


It’s hard to believe it has only been three years since its inception. The factory SRT Viper program came onto the scene in the 2012 American LeMans series. Fielding a two car team, they were competitive right from the start. Just two short years later under the Dodge banner they won the 2014 TUDOR United Sports Car GTLM championship.


I’m not sure exactly what the reason was for pulling the plug on the program. Chrysler’s press release was somewhat vague, but that’s exactly what they did at the end of a championship winning season. There will be other independent teams who will run the SRT Viper in future GT class racing, but the level of factory support for them is not yet known.


While Chrysler may feel they have accomplished what they set out to do, they may have (quite by accident) proved another point. With the right resources and motivation, a factory effort can be put together, and achieve success in a reasonable amount of time.



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.



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.





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.





The BMW M1

Since there have been cars, there have been discussions and arguments about which is best or coolest. All of us, myself included have our favorites. Weather it be affordable production cars or expensive exotics, any of us can go on for long periods about which we would or would not own.

Henry Schmitt’s 1979 BMW M1 at The Hawk with Brian Redman.

Speaking for myself, I can think of car companies who make some models I would consider owning, and a couple who do not make anything I would spend money on. Among these are Volkswagon, Suburu, and BMW.

Henry Schmitt’s 1979 BMW M1 at The Hawk with Brian Redman.

That brings us the subject of this article. While BMW does not make anything I would ever buy, they have made a couple of cars which I admire and respect. Both the BMW M3, and M5 make good looking cars in race form. Both are popular in various racing series from SCCA to Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, and have had a measure of success. The M5 in particular has a solid winning record in GT racing. Run in the American LeMans series by Rahal Letterman Lanigan, they recorded several wins in the M5 before moving to the Z4.

The BMW M3 of Rahal Letterman Lanigan at Mid Ohio in 2012.
The BMW M3 of Rahal Letterman Lanigan at Mid Ohio in 2012.

The one car made by BMW that I can honestly say I truly like was the M1. Manufactured between mid 1975 to 1980, the M1 is a sleek exotic sports car with stunning looks and performance. The total production run of this car was only 430 units. I can only remember ever seeing one on the streets. I was pleasantly surprised to see two of them running in “The Hawk with Brian Redman” at Road America this year. I can also say I like it as much now as I did then.

Fall Line Motorsports BMW M3 at Blackhawk Farm Raceway.
A pair of Fall Line Motorsports BMW M3’s at Blackhawk Farm Raceway.

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.


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.



Maple City Grand Prix

My first chance to shoot powerboat racing came in 2008 when I shot the Kankakee Regatta for the first time. Being the speed junkie that am, I was hooked from then on. Since then I have tried to add more powerboat racing to my yearly schedule. In 2013 I began to see post on the web about the inaugral Maple City Grand Prix in La Porte Indiana. As the details began to emerge, I became fascinated by the course layout. All other races I have seen have been on oval courses, so the addition of a right hand turn was too much to resist. I was not disappointed. Although the weather was not optimal the first year, I managed to get enough good shots to insure I would return in 2014.


The weather for this year was more cooperative, and yielded even better shots than the previous year. Spectators were treated to some of the most exciting racing they have ever seen from both classes. The nature of the course layout allows for unique perspectives, and some very dynamic shots. You get more of a sense of the action than you do in some places.


The course layout has become popular among the drivers as well, who find the addition of a right turn a nice challenge. The more experienced drivers take it in stride and just go about their normal task of trying to get more speed from their boats.





This event has grown in attendance, and participation in the two years it has been in existence, and I see no reason why this trend should not continue. It is a good venue, great course layout, and very exciting racing.

Ford Mustang 50th Anniversary

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Ford Mustang. Being introduced in 1964, the Mustang was by no means the first sporty car either foreign or domestic. It was however the first sports car for the masses. With a base package starting at $2,368, it made it possible for the average person to afford something stylish and sporty. With a less than whiplash inducing 164 Hp 260 cu in V8 as the base engine, Ford was able to keep it affordable and still provide plenty of pep given the size and weight of the car. The engine was upgraded to the 210 Hp 289 cu in within six months of production. Each successive generation saw larger and more powerful engines.

One of Roush Racings Mustangs which compete in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

The Mustangs arrival had a much bigger impact on the automobile market than just a new stylish car. It created a new class of car. With the later introduction the Chevy Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, Dodge Challenger, Plymouth Barracuda, and the AMC Javelin, a whole new class of cars was created. The Pony car. New racing series were created to showcase the performance of  this growing class of cars. In drag racing, the pony car helped usher in the Pro Stock class. This is still a very popular class because unlike other drag racing classes, spectators can see the very cars they might own on track competing.

This vintage 1970 Boss 302 Mustang is similar to the one Parnelli Jones drove to a Trans-AM championship.
As seen here Cliff Ebbens composite body modern Trans-AM mustang is a long way from the original.

High horsepower, small wheel bases, and nimble handeling made these cars extremely popular, and lead to the inevitable, racing. The Mustang made it’s first track appearance not as a race car, but as pace car for the 1964 Indianapolis 500.

While competing in multiple racing series, where it really shined was in Trans-AM in the late sixties and early seventies. Run on North American road courses, this European style road racing was very popular, and the Trana-AM Series lives on to this day. The great Parnelli Jones and George Follmer drove a Boss 302 Mustang to the Trans-AM championship. The GT 350 R version, the race version of the Shelby GT 350 was very successful in SCCA racing.

Here we have a vintage GT 350 R, the racing version of the Shelby GT 350 Mustang.


From it’s inception to present generations (six in all), the Mustang proved to be a capable competitor in most every form of racing in which it has competed. It doesn’t look as if that will change anytime in the near future.

A Roush Racing SCCA Mustang.
The GTS class of the Pirelli World Challenge series has several Mustang competitors.
Another Mustang from the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

Jim “Fang” Maroney: A celebration of an Extraordinary Man

As I write this, my thoughts go back to this past Sunday. I decided to take some time and clear a bunch of old and useless email from one of my accounts. While doing so, I ran across a very complimentary email from Jim Marony from a few years back. I read it, smiled, and said to myself yeah, I’ll keep this one.


It was midway through the morning of the next day while at work that I received the text of Jim’s tragic accident. I’m not sure what others do, but in situations like this my head becomes flooded with memories of the times I shared with the person who has passed. In thinking of jim I was quickly struck by the thought that it was hard to remember a time I hadn’t seen him with a smile on his face.

I have read of Jim’s many accomplishments in aviation both in the military and civilian life. I’m pretty sure this list of people who have done the same or more is a very short one. I only got to see Jim a few times a year, but he would always take time to chat and share a laugh. The last time I talked to him was at Waukegan. I was explaining a shot I had of him taking off through the smoke from Paul Stender’s jet school bus. He was laughing when I told him it looked like his Chipmunk had caused all the smoke.


As photographer you attend many airshows, and see many performers. Many fly the same or similar aircraft. While all are talented, some really stand out from others who fly the same plane. Jim caught my eye the first time I saw him do the outside Waldo Pepper loop. I’m not sure if any other performers had this maneuver in their shows, but it was the first time I had seen it. However that was not quite enough for Jim. I think it was at the Quad City Airshow that I first saw him open the canopy and stand up in the plane while still in flight. I can still hear at first the gasp at the start, then cheers upon completion of the maneuver.


I feel lucky to have known such great person and talented performer. I feel good that our last conversation had made him smile and laugh, but I know that feeling of sadness and of something missing will hit next time I’m at an airshow without him performing. So take a bow my friend, you will be missed by so many.


Joel Love

Vintage Auto Racing

It’s hard to truly describe vintage racing to someone who has not seen it. When you see vintage race cars on display at an auto show, or in a museum, you can’t help but be impressed by these machines. Compared to today’s computer designed and controlled marvels, it is hard to imagine technology from 1926 as state of the art.

This 1927 Bugatti 38A is one of the older classic racers on the vintage circuit.

Whenever I talk to someone, and show them pictures of vintage racing, the response is almost always the same. “That looks cool”, or “that’s nice”. This was pretty much my response before I attended my first vintage racing event. All of that changed however when I attended the Spring Vintage Weekend at Road America.

A very rare one indeed is this 1965 Causey P6 Special.

I think to truly understand, and appreciate vintage racing you would have to have been a car enthusiast pretty much from childhood. Just seeing these mechanical marvels is one thing, seeing them do what they were built for is quite another. Before this I had only seen these cars in pictures, and read about them in books which recounted the tales of their glory days.

This Jordan 197 Formula 1 car was powered by a Peugeot V12 engine.


One of my all time favorite european sports cars, the Austin Healey. Here we have a 1960 3000.

Hearing engines that were innovative, and state of the art when they were designed is yet another thrill. These cars were designed to do one thing, go faster than the other cars they raced against. Seeing them do this decades after they were originally built is a real treat.

From year to year, and event to event you never know what gems you will see till you get track side. From european sports and open wheel, to american muscle. One thing you can be certain of is that you will always see something truly amazing, and most likely something you have never seen before.

From the days of the CART series we have this Lola T97/20.


Lola is one of the oldest names in racing. This is their 1967 T70 Spyder.

The photos included in this is a very small sampling of what you will see at any vintage event.

A 1969 Brabham BT29.


Another rare one, a 1959 Devin DeMar MK II.
A 1997 Lola T97/20 former CART racer.


1964 Ginetta G4, another rare bird.



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Concept Cars

When I go to shoot the Chicago auto show, my main motivation for going are the concept cars. Before we go further, we have to understand just what a true concept car is. The original idea was to give designers a way to flex their creative muscles so to speak. Designers could let their imaginations run wild, and build whatever they could dream up. These were often visions of what they thought cars, and the driving experience would be like, years into the future. Clear bubble tops, seats that seem to float inside the car, and doors that opened in every conceivable way, were just a few such ideas. The thinking behind the program was by providing this outlet to designers, some of the ideas from here would make it into their day to day work designing production cars.

From 2008, this first incarnation of the Lexus LF-A is in my 0pinion the best looking.
From 2008, this first incarnation of the Lexus LF-A is in my 0pinion the best looking.

However in recent years the title concept car has come to mean something completely different. Today’s concept cars are often little more than mock ups of future production vehicles, meant to illicit feed back on how well they might be received. Many of these cars are on the street within two years.

Before there was a Ford Flex, there was this Ford Reflex concept.
Before there was a Ford Flex, there was this Ford Reflex concept.


Built on the Chevy Cruze platform, is the oddly named Chevy Tru 140S coupe.
Built on the Chevy Cruze platform, is the oddly named Chevy Tru 140S coupe.

Still in these modern market research driven times, they do still make the occasional true concept car, with no intent of future sales.

One thing I’ve noticed from going through past photos, is Ford and Lexus seem to be two companies who still offer the most true concepts on a regular basis.

This 2004 Chevy Nomad concept is one I wish they had put into production.
This 2004 Chevy Nomad concept is one I wish they had put into production.


Here we have a 2004 Shelby Cobra concept.
Here we have a 2004 Shelby Cobra concept.

We can only hope a few car companies will continue to tantalize us with more true concept offerings in the years to come. However from what I’ve seen, 2014 is not that year.

One of the most unique concepts of 2005, the Ford Shelby GR1 concept.
One of the most unique concepts of 2005, the Ford Shelby GR1 concept.


The 2008 Dodge ZEO.
The 2008 Dodge ZEO.


Concept car interiors range from minimalist to high tech, as in this Lexus LF-LC interior.
Concept car interiors range from minimalist to high tech, as in this Lexus LF-LC interior.


The Saab Aero X concept is an extremely sleek clean design. Note the lack of seams in the wrap around glass.
The Saab Aero X concept is an extremely sleek clean design. Note the lack of seams in the wrap around glass.


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