Motoette -in forward motion

Day Four ~ WSBK Miller Motorsports Park- final day

 

From the day I arrived at Miller I was getting a lot of pressure about working the track for all three days. I had originally signed up for one day and to me, I completed my intended commitment. Ann was being asked daily by the two doctors running the staff, when I would be working. I felt bad for Ann, but I did specify on the form what days I would be working. I also was dealing with the guilt of staying two nights free of charge at the hotel with Ann, but like I said, I wasn’t feeling too warm and fuzzy towards how we were being treated, so the guilt soon dissipated.  I told Ann to just tell them I wasn’t feeling too well and I would try to make it down to the track later.   

I took advantage of the later morning start and went for a run before getting ready to head back down to the track.   

My intention was to achieve my second interview on my list, a very talented young professional photographer by the name of Andrea Wilson. I had contacted Andrea before I left for Miller requesting an interview with her while attending the race, she said great! I had a little history with Andrea prior to the weekend; I briefly met her in 2008 at the Las Vegas NV Femmoto event and most recently, a few months ago after requesting an interview with her. Andrea was great about keeping in contact with me, in letting me know she had not forgotten about me, but continued to put me on the back burner with her hectic racing schedule. I had an idea about her time lines, but I have to say, after meeting and talking with her, I completely understood.   

So, here it went again, she and I text messaged each other up until the last day of the weekend, trying to find a niche of time we could spare. It was looking more and more like it wasn’t going to happen.   

Troy Corser for BMW coming down the pit lane

  

I went down to the track about 11:30am, just before the first race was to start at 12:30pm. I decided to see where my media press pass would get me. I tried to get into the pit lane, no luck, I went up to the media room, and even though I could legitimately be there, it was pointless. I wanted to be on the track.   

I could hear the bikes lining up on the grid, feeling a little discouraged, I went back to the BMW Stansbury grandstands to watch the race. I had purchased this new DSLR camera before I left CA and wanted to put it to the test. I found a free spot along the fence line and switched out my 55mm lens for the 300mm. I have been to quite a few races, but I had never been close to the start line before. I couldn’t believe the sound and the speed in the group of bikes taking off at one time. Seriously a mind-blowing experience to witness. With the intensity and speed of the bikes, it just got me right in the pit of my stomach. It took me back to last year when I worked turn 8A at the MotoGP event at Laguna. I had the same feeling watching the GP bikes come around the blind corner entering into the cork-screw turn in unison. The sound, the speed and the tight mass of bikes, I just remember my jaw dropping in amazement, no drug could have given me a better high!   

I took some great shots of the Superbike race, but couldn’t get as close as I liked, even with the telephoto lens. The best shots I took were as they were coming off the track down the pit lane, where I was positioned. Getting a much closer angle and with the track workers traditionally waving all the colorful official track flags in the background, these became some of my favorite pictures of the weekend.   

After lunch in the BMW VIP tent, I went back up into the Standsbury grandstands to watch the next race. While I was sitting there, I noticed Peter, my moto-taxi friend stationed at the turn with the medics and track workers. I was trying to decide whether or not to go over and say hi after getting a lot of teasing from Ann in her text messages back and forth to me. It seems Peter was asking about me.   

I gave in and went over to the fence line and called his name. He looked to his left at me, then to his right, where one of the medics stood and tapped her on the shoulder, pointing at me. I shook my head and pointed at him, and then he pointed at himself. I nodded my head and he came over. I had to tell him who I was, shocked that he didn’t recognize me! He told me I looked so different without the hat and track uniform. I didn’t know if that was a compliment or not!   

We talked for a little bit and I had noticed several professional photographers at the line of the track, one looked like it could be Andrea, but, I wasn’t sure. After watching her and the different angles she took to the rest of the photographers, I was willing to bet it was her.   

Ann and Jordan in their "prized" mule

  

I told Peter of my frustrations in my attempt s to get on the track; he then pulled something out of his pocket and tried to subtly hand it to me. It was a green medic card just like the one I wore the day before. I told him I already had one. He told me to put it around my neck and it would get me on to the track. It didn’t even occur to me, but I later noticed the photographers retained the same pass. So between the yellow media and green medical pass I was golden!   

Peter told me to meet him around the back and he would take me on to the track. A minute later I jumped on the back of his little 125cc and he took me to turn 5, where Ann and Jordan were stationed.  Dodging the hundreds of spectators and climbing over some grassy Knowles, we made our way to the gate entrance to turn 5. As we pulled up and I tapped Ann on the back while she was on the phone. I had to laugh at her surprise after she teased me about Peter being my boyfriend and me jokingly telling her to “shut up!” so, here I was arriving with my “boy friend” , it just set me up for more teasing later on! But I didn’t mind, I was on the track and that was all that mattered!   

After Peter dropped me off and went back to his post, he said he would come back and get me in 15 minutes, right before the last race of the day was to begin. I hung out with Ann and Jordan and the rest of the track workers taking more pictures from the lookout. We had a couple of low siders while I was there, but relatively calm. Because I opted not to work the track, I was relieved that Jordan and Ann were able to score a good turn and mule (medic vehicle). Ann told me later, that if I had volunteered that day, we would have ended up back at the same turn one.   

Minutes after the Lucas Oil Superbike race was over, Peter arrived back to pick me up. He asked me where I wanted to go next. I told him to take me the best turn on the track where I can get up close and personal with the racers. I hopped on the back once again and we were off!   

Lucas Oil Superbike GTO race coming out of turn 5

  

We didn’t go very far down the by road when he slowed to a stop. I was kind of surprised at the quick trip, but then after I started to take a good look at where he was dropping me off, I completely understood.  It was not quite a hair pin right turn, but pretty close. All the turns at Miller have a name and this one was appropriately called the “right hook!” Peter told me once again he had to get back to his post and he would come back for me after the final race was over. I think I thanked him 5 times, as I looked around me in disbelief. Peter was fast becoming my new best friend!   

There was only a short 4 foot metal barrier between the side of the track and the tarmac, closer than I had ever been working track side, so close that when the riders made their first lap, it made me feel a little uncomfortable as the bikes one by one, half encircled me with minimal protection.    

There were no other photographers here, with the exception of a two-team local camera crew, who left before the race started, I was by myself. I don’t know why but I decided to text message Andrea Wilson telling her of my fabulous find, there was no reply. I soon forgot about my unanswered text and began to plot where the best camera angles were on my desolate turn. Not that I would really know what the best angle was, I had no clue how to work a camera I had bought the day before I left, nor did I have any idea how I was going to shoot a group of motorcycles going around a corner at 100 mph with a 300mm lens and not have it come out a total blur. I remember reading in the manual while on the flight over about the rapid shot mode. I could hear the mass of two-wheeled engines take off in a universal roar in the near distance as I fumbled with the settings finally finding the right one. I set everything to “auto” mode and hoped for the best!   

Troy Corser coming out of the "right hook"

  

I planted my feet firmly in the dirt and waited for the pack to make their way to my turn. Waiting to see the first bikes come by; I saw several flashes of color in the view finder. I looked up and there they were, but I couldn’t capture them in the miniscule square! Finally after a couple laps, I got the hang of tracking the camera with the riders as they sped by and just pressed my right forefinger down and let the frames fire! I did this for most of the race, but trying different positions in the turn. At one point James Toseland low sided on the opposite side of the track and managed a few quick snapshots before he was gone.  

I was having the time of my life, this was what I was hoping for all weekend, to be unbelievably close to the track and not have the constraints of being a track side medic, and I felt like I was in heaven! I could tell it was getting close the end, Max Biaggi, Leon Camier and Cal Crutchlow holding their three top positions for most of the race.  

I was on my cloud snapping away when I heard what sounded like a vehicle of some sort coming up the dirt by road—-fast! I turned around and the white van came to a screeching halt right in front of me. With the side door wide open, I heard a female voice from the passengers’ side, asking if my name was Cindi. Dumbfounded, I answered yes and she told me to get in quick, that they only had minutes to get to the podium. I grabbed my backpack and jumped in. I could now tell it was Andrea Wilson, the girl I had noticed earlier on the track. I knew now, she had indeed received my text!  

There was another photographer in the van sitting next to me. He extended his hand introducing himself, a gesture I experienced many times at Miller. I loved the cordial introductions and the frequent offers in getting a lift by drivers in the numerous golf carts going back and forth within the park. I found it was another unique way to meet people affiliated with racing.  

As the van aggressively accelerated towards the pit lanes, where the parc ferme and podium was located, the driver, Andrea and the photographer sitting next to me laughed and joked during the short ride, obviously, they knew each other well and didn’t hesitate to include me in the fun. It made me feel welcome and I was still reeling in the fact that they made a special trip to pick me up; the realization of where I was going had just hit me like a ton of bricks!  

First place winner, Max Biaggi

  

I would guess Andrea to be in her late twenties,  attractive and slender in stature with a smile as big as Texas, that made me feel like I knew her. She told me she would be happy to give me her time for an interview after she took the last shots of the day at the podium. She didn’t invite me, but I knew I was going to follow her into the hot pits, I was not about to be polite and wait in the media room for her while she had all the fun!  

The three of us jumped out of the van and I followed Andrea with the other photographer behind me. She walked through a door that took us right to the U-shaped parc ferme. I walked around the enclosure with all the other paparazzi and pretended I was meant to be there and thanked god I had the right credentials hanging around my neck.   

Looking around, I couldn’t believe where I was and how I had gotten here. Ten minutes ago, I was on my own private turn having a ball taking pictures, and now all of sudden I end up in the winners circle. I was trying to stay focused and take in the entire experience, not missing a thing.   

First in; Leon Camier, the second place winner, followed by Max Biaggi, in first place and Cal Crutchlow, in third. I was the closest to Leon Camier, so close I could have easily touched him. He had some emotional moments with his Aprilia team and I almost felt like I was infringing on a very personal moment, even though the entire world was watching with the infinite amount of cameras surrounding them.   

Andrea was doing her thing, and I made sure not to get in her way. It was interesting to watch her in action; I could tell she was focused and serious about her work. Occasionally coming out of her professional trance to give a friendly European kiss on the cheeks to people she knew. But always back to business. It was like watching an artist paint, but with a camera, in the short amount of time I was with her, she was truly amazing to watch.   

triumphant hugs for the Aprilia team

  

The three winners celebrated their win on the podium, which was located on the second floor, off of the media room, accepting their trophies and shooting off numerous bottles of champagne. It was a lighthearted moment for the racers and the Aprilia and Yamaha racing teams below, creating a jovial end to an exciting race.  

After, Andrea and I settled under the Yamaha tent to do my much anticipated interview, I couldn’t believe it had finally arrived! I was still feeling euphoric from the last 20 minutes, and wasn’t even nervous about my interview.   

Andrea was my third in person interview, and to many, it’s no big deal, but for me it is quite the opposite. To take into consideration that I have been a hair stylist my entire career, focusing on running my salon and tending to my clients is all that I have known. I have loved my career and I am grateful for what it has afforded me over the years, monetarily and personally.   

To be at the race track interviewing women achieving goals most of us can’t even begin to comprehend, is like being in a dream to me.   

Andrea Wilson, creating masterful art

  

I absolutely LOVE doing in person interviews! By taking my communicative skills as a hair stylist and using those skills in my interviews, it feels totally natural. Something I did not expect or equate. 

We talked for 20 minutes, I found it surprising after Andrea told me she had only been interviewed a few times, she was very easy to talk to and articulate in her responses to my questions. I think she enjoyed herself,   

As the racing teams and concession stands dismantled around us, I thanked her for her time and the great photograph taking experience.   

She gave me a friendly hug and asked if I was attending MotoGP in Laguna Seca? I told her I would be there, and with her big smile, she said “Then I’ll see you there!”   

After saying good-bye to my NMP friends, wishing them a safe ride home, I made my dash to the Salt Lake City airport to make my 8pm flight home. On the hour and 40 minute flight, I thought about how special my trip was and how everything just seemed to line up for perfection. I thought about the people I met and the experiences I had. My one regret; not being able to properly thank Peter, my mototaxi friend for all his generosity. But, like they say, “there’s always next year!”  

The three winners on the podium

  

My next adventure: July 23-25 MotoGP Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca! ~ Cindi  

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June 16, 2010 - Posted by | American Motorcycle Association, Aprilia RSV4, BMW S1000RR, melissa paris, miller sports park, Moto Race Reports, motorcycle racing, motorcycles, Ruben Xaus, Salt Lake City, superbike, supersport, Superstock, Tooele, Troy Corser, Utah

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