As I left my driveway in St. Cloud and headed towards the Isanti County Fairgrounds in Cambridge, MN, I knew that I would finally get to photograph a sport I had been dreaming about shooting for a long time. As I grew up out in the sticks of Sperry, Iowa, I had created a labyrinth of trails on our 40 acre piece of timber complete with a short track in the middle of a 3 acre field of prairie grass. I would spend my afternoons racing around the track pretending to be a flat track rider on my dirt bike, racing against imaginary opponents. Although I never had the chance to take my hours of practice to a real race track, I sure developed a love for the sport of flat track racing.
This weekend I had my first opportunity to photograph the sport that I had grown to love. It was an interesting experience being able to view the sport as an outsider, yet get right next to the riders as they raced around the track on their bikes and quads. As I have learned from the other kinds of racing I have photographed this summer, today would be a day full of experimenting with camera settings, understanding the riders, and the location until I could nail down some consistently nice shots. One of the first things I recognized about this group of riders, promotors, family, photographers, and helpers was the sense of community that they all shared. I often see this in the racing community and this group has a very strong sense of it.
When the riders hit the track the fun really began. The playful attitude turned serious and the throttles were pinned wide open as they made their way around the oval. I found myself watching the action from behind the camera as I snapped away at the shutter button.
You could really see how much each rider loved this sport by looking at their game face. As they would roll up to the start line, they would lean into the bars and their eyes would focus on turn one.
As the riders put more laps on the track, I put more laps on the camera and started to find my rhythm. It takes some practice to be able to pan the lens right along with the riders as they whip past you in a hurry.
I want to give huge props to the young ones out there on the quads and bikes. To see them fly around the track with the throttle pinned open showed their fearlessness. The future is surely bright for these youngsters.
I want to thank Bayley for the opportunity, and I look forward to making it out to another race before the 2014 season ends.
You can purchase and view more images from the weekend here (Cambridge 2014).
Also to the riders, if you would like to use an image for social media, shoot me an email at [email protected] with the image name, and I will send you a low-res file to use for your liking.