AutoMatters: Motorcycle Racing, Hard Drives & Prizes!

Flat track motorcycle racing at the South Point, Las Vegas
Flat track motorcycle racing at the South Point, Las Vegas

By Jan Wagner

I recently covered Gene Romero’s West Coast Flat Track Series indoor motorcycle racing at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas. I covered this event last year too, and told you about it in AutoMatters #265.

It is truly amazing what a liberal application of sticky, gooey, Pepsi cola will do to slippery concrete. Suffice to say, it creates an ideal (and tasty?) surface for exciting indoor motorcycle racing.

The racing was close, loud and hard. So it went until the very last race of the evening. I had been circulating around the entire track, taking photos from a variety of vantage points and looking for just the right one at just the right time.

On-track racing incidents don’t just happen. They are often the result of a combination of interactions between competitors. The trick is to look for those situations as they develop and then follow them, ever ready to take photos.

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Tight racing

I sensed that a situation was developing. Two riders were really mixing it up, close to each other and taking chances as they jockeyed back and forth for position. I followed the action with my camera and, when they inevitably made hard contact with each other, I was ready and able to capture the entire thrilling sequence from start to finish, as they came together and one went sliding (safely) across the track.

In other developments, the other day I received an unexpected phone call from an AutoMatters reader. He was calling from Michigan, clear across the country.

I learned that he is an engineer who works for an auto manufacturer, and he is the author of a soon-to-be-published textbook entitled “Physics for Gearheads.” While he was reading an issue of AutoMatters that was archived online in the Del Mar Times, he noticed a photo that he wanted to use to demonstrate a concept in his new textbook. As he said, “I've tried to use the best examples possible everywhere I could, and this was the best for forces. I struggled for weeks to find just the right image.” It was a photo of a perfectly coordinated pit stop performed by the NASCAR race team of Juan Pablo Montoya at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. He asked for my permission to use that photo and to get a higher resolution version of it sent to his publisher. Naturally I agreed. Who could have imagined that my first photo in a book would be in a physics textbook?

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Getting close

What if I no longer had that photo? Photography has always been a major part of AutoMatters. It tells stories in ways that words alone cannot. Over the years I’ve literally taken tens of thousands of photographs. These are stored on computer hard drives, but not all hard drives are created alike.

When I needed more storage space I decided to buy a device called a Drobo. Mine can hold up to five large hard drives, yet my computer conveniently sees it and its contents as one large external hard drive. To fill it I opted for low-priced drives. That proved to be a mistake, and by so-doing I put the safety of my irreplaceable photo and column archives at risk.

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