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.
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?
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.
Not up to the task of constant use, one of those hard drives failed. Fortunately I had set up my Drobo for double redundant backup, so I had time to replace the failed drive. The most reliable drives on the market are Enterprise-class, which are designed and tested for 24/7 use. Of those, HGST drives appear to be the best.
As of now I have replaced four of the five drives in my Drobo with Enterprise-class HGST Ultrastar 7K4000 drives. I highly recommend them to you for safe, secure storage of your digital data. You can learn more about them at
Finally, for those of you who will be in San Diego County on Saturday, Feb. 8
, from 9AM to 3PM you might want to check out the free festivities at the Grand Opening of TAG Motorsports at their new location: 2520 Pioneer Ave. in Vista, CA 92081. TAG Motorsports is a high performance, automotive aftermarket retailer and service center. To celebrate their move from Escondido they will have display cars, booths, raffle prizes, giveaways and what they describe as significant discounts on tires, wheels, aero and performance parts, and more. For more information, go to www.TagMotorSports.com.
As always, please write to
with your comments and suggestions.
Copyright © 2014 by Jan Wagner – #317
Juan Pablo Montoya’s NASCAR pit stop (Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA)