Motoette -in forward motion

Maria Costello~ Catching up at Donington Park

 

Maria Costello~Donington Park

This past weekend at the round 2 WSBK race at Donington Park in dusky England, the Girlracer team was honored with an exclusive interview with the veteran TT racer, Maria Costello. A soft spoken, petite fair-haired lass from Northampton, who has proven her worth as a female racer by her abundant Manx Grand Prix and Isle of Man TT wins since 1995.

Maria talks candidly about her personal aspirations past and present and her infinite love for the two-wheeled sport.

Girlracer- Let’s first start off with your newly released autobiography book, Queen of Bikers. What inspired you to write it and how is it doing?

Maria Costello MBE- Well, it all started when I was approached by a man by the name of Steven Pitts, he is the editor of the local news paper where I live in Northampton. He remembered me when I did work experience for the same paper years ago and they had followed my racing career. He had just done a book on a famous footballer called 30 Days of Gazza and it had done really well. He was looking for a new project and he approached me about doing a book. I hadn’t really thought about doing a book myself, but everybody has a story to tell, so I accepted his offer. We went ahead and started it. It was quite a cathartic process, but interesting. I had kept diaries all throughout my racing career and it was interesting to see a lot of my old scrapbooks that I had forgotten about. We wanted to get it out before the Isle of Man TT in May/ June of 2010, so it was a bit rushed at the end, but we did it.

When we first started talking about doing this book, I wasn’t very keen on putting myself out there publicly. Just before the book was to be published I started to backtrack; I said to Steve, I don’t know if I’m ready to do this. Obviously, there are people that don’t always like you when you are known to the public and I didn’t know if I was ready for it. I can be very sensitive to this and I wasn’t sure I could cope with the negative press. Steve was absolutely brilliant and said you don’t have to do the book if it doesn’t feel right. Something told me to go ahead and do it and I’m glad I did because it was another thing that my dad saw me do right before he passed away. I wanted him to be proud.

Now we are talking about doing a revised version, more of an update to this first book.. After this last year, I feel I could write another book.

The sales are trickling along, I’m not pushing the book too much, but I’m happy with the sales and take them along with me when I race. It’s been fun having the positive feed back from people saying how much they didn’t know about me.

Girlracer– This year looks like its going to be a busy race season. You have two races coming up that are back to back the NW200 and the isle of Man TT. Is that a problem for you?

Maria Costello MBE– No, its always been like that and a lot of racers use the NW200 as a great shake-down to the TT. Its the closest thing to the TT in regards to road racing. I will be doing some other road races, such as Cookstown at the end of April. We have been building a super twin ER 650 Kawasaki, which has become a popular class that’s based on a commuter bike. We call it the pizza bike! My sponsor bought this bike that was originally going to become a pizza delivery bike, so we nicked named the project the Pizza Race Bike.

I’m also going to be building this bike. I’m actually going to be overseen by my boyfriend, Tim McGiven, who is a mechanic and engineer. It’s been brilliant, we are now close to having the project finished.

Girlracer– Last year your close friend and sponsor, Tony Morris bought you a BMW S1000RR, how did it go and will you be racing the same bike this season?

Maria Costello MBE– No, we sold the bike. I didn’t get on with it very well. The original plan was to test it by doing some endurance and short circuits and then take it to the NW200 and then on to the TT.

It was just too powerful for me and we just couldn’t get it ready in time. We took it to the NW and did a couple of laps and then parked it. For me, it just wasn’t ideal and I think a lot of the other boys were having problems. I think the only rider that was getting on with it was Keith Amor.

I had put a lot of pressure on myself and it was just too fast for me, getting the handling right and all that horse power. The technical guys from BMW in Germany came over to try and help set it up, but there just wasn’t enough time.

Girlracer– Any new projects on the horizon?

Maria Costello MBE– Actually, yes, I haven’t told anybody this yet, but I will be racing for Padgetts on a Superstock Honda Fireblade at the TT this year. I will still be racing my Yamaha R6, but the real exciting thing is that Mick Grant will be helping me with the TT race. He was a great help to me this last January at the South African Classic TT, where I raced a Suzuki XR69 owned by one of my sponsors, Steve Wheatman. Its been a long time since he raced the TT, but he’s a legend and has a lot of great knowledge and he’s really good at sorting out my head for racing, so it’s really good.

I just want to concentrate on relaxing and having a great time.

Girlracer– You mentioned racing the South African Classic TT. What is this race exactly?

Maria Costello MBE– Oh yeah, its a great race and I was invited down by the 7 time Isle of Man TT winner, Mick Grant. Its racing classic motorbikes in three different rounds on three different tracks in South Africa with the locals. There were a lot of legends that came out, not necessarily to race but to ride, like Steven Plater.

Girlracer– I’ve heard rumours of you possibly riding for Zero Electric Motorbikes in the TTXGP this year, is this rumour true?

Maria Costello MBE– I would love to and have wanted to since they first came out at the TT, but no, not at this moment. I did have an opportunity the first year they came out, but I missed out because they only wanted me to ride an electric bike and I still had another race to do at the Manx circuit. I had another chance to race for the TTXGP last year, but lost out at the last minute, but I have let the team organizers know that I am very interested.

Girlracer- How are you feeling this race season mentally and physically?

Maria Costello MBE– Good, I think I’m in a good place. I’ve been doing a lot of fitness workouts, including cycling, I love all my fitness workouts and I just feel good in general. Getting the pizza bike done and getting to Cookstown and making it to Ireland for the first part of the season.

I love racing the TT and its like going home for me, everyone has adopted me. After my dad passed away last year after the TT, my mum asked me not to race anymore and I wanted to do that for her. But the organizers of Ulster contacted me and asked me to come. My sponsor Tony and I went back and forth and finally with my mum’s blessings, I went and had a fantastic time.

Girlracer– Being that this is the first year that you are actually mechanically working on your bike set-up. How does it feel?

Maria Costello MBE- It feels fantastic! When I first started racing on 250cc I used to work on my own bikes, but then when the bikes got bigger and I started racing other peoples bikes it got less and less. I went off to Killalane last year and went off on my own with my Honda RF 400 and my sponsor seemed to be okay with it.

The ER 650 Kawasaki is the first bike I have ever built and we wanted to make it the best it could be, by trying new and different angles.

Tim has been doing the sub-frame and the electrics and I have done the rest.

Girlracer– Do you find it difficult to get sponsorship?

Maria Costello MBE– I had sponsorship from day one. I really don’t know how, whether is was the local news paper that got involved or not? But, definitely being female helps. I get a lot of comments on being a girl motorcycle racer. But it has worked against me too; I actually had someone say to me that they couldn’t sponsor me because they didn’t want to see me get hurt!

But, this is society and I don’t want to use racing for a gender battle ground. I want to be a positive role model and as a female rider, you do find a way.

Without sponsorship, I don’t go racing. I don’t get a paycheck from racing and all my money goes into racing, so without sponsorship, there is no racing for me. It seems the more money I raise, the more I spend, so its very easy to use up my budget.

Girlracer– As a female racer in a predominately male sport, do you experience any gender stereotypical comments about your racing abilities?

Maria Costello MBE– In the beginning it was much harder and it was more a comment from a father perspective, like “ I wouldn’t want my daughter doing that.” I had a good friend Jane, who used to come to the meetings with me as a race marshal. She would say to me; just smile and nod. She could tell some people were just trying to wind me up, so she was a great mentor for me. I now just know that its going to come up being a female racer and I just deal with it as it comes along. I started out in the media room helping out and then into the pits helping the racers out, so it feels good to be on the track meeting some wonderful people along the way.

Girlracer- What do you do to keep yourself relaxed in between races?

Maria Costello MBE– I used to be known for carrying around a walkman and playing music all the time at the Isle of Man TT. The reason I did this was because people were coming up and talking to me all the time and with the earplugs in my ears, I could just point to my ears and I wouldn’t have to talk to them. My mechanics got used to me with the walkman and would say; “oh yeah, there’s Maria going around singing again!”

I also will bring my laptop and watch movies. At the Wednesday TT Supersport race last year, we got rained out and I had time to actually watch the entire film Avatar while waiting in my leathers.

Me and Maria Costello

 

 

On a personal note; I would like to thank Maria Costello for taking the time to give this interview and to my very special www.Girlracer.co.uk team memebers, Matt Paines, Shirley Hughes and Jen Watson, Without them, this interview would not have been possible.

Race Dates – Provisional Dates For 2011

SOUTH AFRICAN CLASSIC TT
DATE EVENT
22-23 January East London
29-30 January Zwartkops
5-6 February Killarney
HOTTRAX ENDURANCE
DATE EVENT
11/12/13 March Brands Hatch
15/16/17 April Mallory Park
REAL ROAD RACING
DATE EVENT
May 21 International North West 200
May 30- June 10 Isle of Man TT
8/9/10 July Festival of 1000 Bikes – Mallory Park
22/23/24 July Silverstone Classic
August 7 – August 13 Ulster Grand Prix
20 August – 4 September Manx Grand Prix
AMERICAN HISTORIC MOTORCYCLE ASSOCIATION
DATE EVENT
October 7-9 AHRMA Barber
October 14-16 AHRMA Daytona
IRISH SUPERTWIN CHAMPIONSHIP – PIZZA RACE BIKE
DATE EVENT
Apr 29/30 Cookstown
May 6/7 Tandragee
May 17/19/21 NW 200
June 24/25 Bush
June 25/26 Athea
July 1/2 Skerries
July 9/10 Walderstown
July 16/17 Kells
July 23/24 Faugheen
July 29/30 Armoy
Aug 5/6 Mid Antrim
Aug 10/11/13 Dundrod 150/UGP
Aug 20/21 Munster
Sept 10/11 Killalane

This is Maria’s ‘wish-list’ of race dates. She will be aiming to do as many as possible – funds permitting. Keep an eye on her website for any changes.

March 30, 2011 Posted by | donington Park, girlracer, Isle of Man TT, Manx Grand Prix, Maria Costello, motorcycle racing, motorcycles, NW 200, queen of bikers, supersport, Superstock, WSBK, yamaha YZF R6 | Leave a comment

Andrea Wilson ~Shooting for the stars

 Meeting Andrea Wilson while attending Miller Motorsports park, has been one of my greatest highlights to date in my short exposure into the motorcycle industry. I found Andrea to be surprisingly unassuming in her talents as a professional photographer and in how respected she is on the track. In the short time I spent with her at the end of the World Superbike race, it was clear she was focused on her work, but never went without being cordial to the riders as well as other staff members. She is well liked by her piers and it’s easy to see why. 

As we sat under the Yamaha tent relaxing at the end of a very exciting weekend, sipping on our beverage of choice.  I was finally awarded my interview, and like the weekend, it was captivating! 

This interview was transcribed with a mirth and admiration for a brilliant young photographer named Andrea Wilson! 

Andrea Wilson

Andrea Wilson is a talented, young, attractive, independent photographer, who bases her business out of Hunting Beach CA. Discovering an eye for the sport, Andrea primarily dedicates her career to capturing the artistry of motorcycle racing through the view of her lens, covering AMA, WSBK and MotoGP races throughout the country. 

Not only does Andrea have an anomalous eye for the track, but what’s behind the track. Shooting some of the most poignant and expressively candid shots of the racers, earining her a prominent signature mark in the industry. 

We take for granted the talented efforts of the photo journalists that risk their lives standing trackside. To consistently deliver phenomenal imagery of our favorite professional motorcycle racers, when we, as spectators safely sit in the grandstands. 

We thought it would be fun as well as fascinating, to change it up and to investigate into the person who navigates from behind the camera, instead of the subject matter that lies beyond. 

Moto Race Reports Cindi Servante seized a rare opportunity to sit down with Andrea after an exhilarating WSBK Memorial Day weekend race event at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. 

Some of Andrea's stunning work

MRR- How did you get your start into photography? 

Andrea Wilson – You know it’s funny; I wanted to be a pilot, to join the military to get my training. That’s why I went to USC, I was just about to finish when I really took an interest in motorcycle racing. I had some friends working for Yamaha and Kawasaki, which led me to a race in Fontana. 

But where I started taking photos was at air shows, it was like a job fair to me. So, when I went to Fontana I took the same approach, just having fun, taking photos in the pits as a spectator. 

Shamus, my friend at the time, who also worked for Yamaha, told me I was really good at taking photos and I should do something with it. So, it sparked a flame for me, I thought about it and went to a few more races and decided to go for it. 

The first year I was paying my own way, and the second year it got a little better. It seemed to keep building and building every year. But I have to be honest, like anything, you have to pay your dues and there were times when I wanted to quit, I just didn’t like what I was shooting. But with the support of my family and friends I stayed with it. 

What brand of camera body do you use and what are your favorite lenses while shooting the track? 

Andrea Wilson – I have two Canon Mark II N bodies. It’s hard to pick a favorite lens, but I would have to say my 300mm f2.8, is a gorgeous lens. I usually throw a 1.4x converter on it. My 70mm/200mm f2.8 and I use a smaller lens, but it’s not an L lens. I mostly rent to supplement, something I did when I first started into the business. Photography equipment is expensive, for a camera kit and some of the lenses needed to shoot this sport; you would be looking at around at least $30,000 in camera equipment, and another $2,000 for a computer. People think it’s cheap, because it’s digital and there’s no film to buy, but what they don’t know is camera bodies, lenses and computer equipment become obsolete after a few years and have to be replaced. 

Blake Young's AMA win at Road Atlanta

MRR- What is the balance in the time you spend capturing photographs to the time spent editing them? 

Andrea Wilson – When I first started in this business I was told for every hour of shooting there will be 3 hours of editing. I haven’t really measured that formula, but yeah, usually at the end of a race weekend I’ll have about 16 hours of editing to complete as soon as possible. Editing is a very un-fun, unglamorous part of the job and it’s a one person show for me. I also have to do the marketing and accounting, so shooting is a relatively small part of my job. 

MRR- The motorcycle racing season is limited, when you’re not covering motorcycle racing, what do you do to supplement the rest of the year? 

Andrea Wilson- I work with magazines for road tests. I do occasional corporate events and portraits. But most of what I do revolves around the power sports industry. I also shoot Jet Ski and personal watercraft events. When I’m not shooting I spend a lot of time at the computer doing my own personal marketing to promote my photography business. 

MRR- Photography has a reputation for being a difficult business to get into as a career.  In your estimation, what has brought you to this successful level in your career as a professional photographer? 

Andrea Wilson – It’s not easy, especially in sports, but like anything it’s the top-tier that do well and you have to start from the bottom and work your way up. Probably in this industry, it’s the strong that survive. This job is a lot of work, I’m probably carrying around 20 to 30 lbs of gear, and it can make for a very long day, especially the AMA with their 4 classes. This job is not for the faint of heart! 

Danny Eslick at Long Beach Supermoto

MRR- Your work is very unique, when shooting, what are looking for within the frame? 

Andrea Wilson- It’s hard to describe, I generally I like to get as much of the human element as possible, being that I was a fan of the sport before I got into photography. Some of my favorite photos are the personal ones, which is why I prefer covering motorcycle events over a race car event. You don’t see as much of the racer in a car as you would on a race bike. 

With motorcycle racing you see the person work. The body positioning and posturing is different from rider to rider. To me, it’s one of the most stunning sports to shoot. 

MRR- What was the most unusual shot you have taken in the span of your career? 

Andrea Wilson – Well, the most recent would have to be at Supercross event, my lights photo shot of all four of the pro circuit guys coming over the hill together is my favorite. It was just perfect timing. But, if I had to look back, it would be Danny Eslick at the Long Beach Supermoto event doing this left-handed sweeper. He pulled me aside at practice and said “hey, you gotta go over to this corner, because I’m puttin’ a knee down and sliding the bike and everyone is going nuts!” Sure enough, he was right. It-was-awesome!!; dragging the knee, squealing the tires every time he came around, it was super cool what Danny was doing! 

MRR- Do you have any advice for budding young photographers, who would like to work professionally? 

Andrea Wilson – For anyone who really wants to do this profession, I would first tell them, not to listen to other people telling them they can’t.  Just stick with it and be prepared that it’s going to take a while, like anything, it’s not going to happen over night. But it’s worth it! 

Nicky Hayden Indy MotoGP 2009

MRR- How many shots would you say you take in one racing event and how many of those would you say are top quality in your estimation? 

Andrea Wilson- I take roughly around 3000 shots per race and out of those shots, I would estimate about 100 to 150 would be top quality. Usable shots, I would guess around 400 to 500. 

Basically what I do is stock sales, but I also some assignments. I try to get as much as possible that’s useful for selling. For instance, at an average race, there might be 30 or 40 bikes on the grid; my goal is to get a mixture of different angles on different corners and some lifestyle shots. 

MRR- What would an average day at the track entail for you? 

Andrea Wilson- I usually try to get to the track an hour before the race starts and set up my computer. On Fridays I primarily shoot all track stuff, because the light is only good at certain times of the day, so there is afternoon and morning shots. Some tracks are only good for shooting in the morning light, so I might do a little more lifestyle and pit shots in that case. Saturdays I do a little of everything and start focusing on the computer aspect of my job, sorting, renaming photos to get them ready for the end of the weekend. 

MRR- One last question, I have to ask; do you ride a motorcycle? 

Andrea Wilson- Shamefully, no! I really want to learn, I spend so much time on my job, that I put it off. But, I want to make it happen, especially in the off-season. I would like to start in the dirt first and then after at least a year move to the street. A good friend of mine gave me a lesson on a Yamaha TTR125 and I loved it, but I “ate” it! Not bad, but enough that it scared me. I knew at that point I needed all my limbs! 

I’m the type of person that likes to test the water one toe at a time, but I’m definitely going to do it, because I know it’s a blast! 

Capturing Andrea at the parc ferme at Miller

Look for Andrea’s work on her Website Andrea Wilson Photography, her Facebook fan page and other well-known power sport publications throughout the country. 

Cheers Andrea! 

July 14, 2010 Posted by | American Motorcycle Association, Aprilia RSV4, BMW S1000RR, miller sports park, Moto Race Reports, Moto2, MotoGP, motorcycle racing, motorcycles, Road Atlanta, Salt Lake City, superbike, supersport, Superstock, Tooele | 4 Comments

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  

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 | Leave a comment

Day Three ~ WSBK At Miller Motorsports Park

 

The 2010 American Flags at turn 15 representing our troops

Today was to be an early start, arising at 6am to be at the track by 7:30am! Ann and I rolled out of bed, absently throwing on our mandatory khaki pants, white medic shirt a baseball hat and a lot of sunscreen. We met our medic crew downstairs in the hotel for a quick breakfast and some much-needed java! We drove the few miles back to Miller and on to the medic building, which was located near the racers paddocks, where the rest of the medical volunteer staff was gathering to get our announcements for the day.

Ann and I were stationed at turn 1, a tight left banking turn right after the strait. This would have been a great location if wasn’t for the fact that our post was almost 100 yards away from the track! We couldn’t believe this idiotic arrangement. Not only were we way the hell off what was soon to be a hot track, but Ann had to carry a 6ft back board while I heaved a good 10lb medical pack! This was a FIM standard and it didn’t matter if the rider was up and okay, we still had to schlep all our gear every time a rider went down at our turn. This is my second year in my volunteer efforts as a track side medic, and I have to say, the respect for us and what we do and how we put our time, not to mention lives on the line, leaves me very disillusioned lately. We receive very little money (Miller was none) and other than our perpetual pat on the back at the end of each day, I don’t feel we are treated as well as we should.

I was growing more and more frustrated after arriving at our turn. I had to fulfill my commitment to my duties as a track marshal, but my real interest was trying to get to garage E5, where I assumed Paul was to be conducting his podcast,  interviewing Jason Disalvo at 8:30am. The positive aspect of the situation; we were at the first turn out of the strait and I was able to park my rental car right at our turn, which is rare, and I still had time to make it to the interview.

Max Biaggi coming in from his first successful race of the day

With my growing impatience and obvious irritation over the situation, Ann just told me to go and she would “cover” me.  At first, I didn’t want to leave her, but knew it was only going to be about 30 minutes at the most and my desire to experience Paul doing a pod cast interview was killing me! At 8:20am, I jumped in the car and raced over towards the garages, desperately trying to get as close as possible. I ran for what seemed like a mile over to E5, passing Melissa Paris’s garage where I had been the day before. Out of breath and a little sweaty, I arrived at my destination only to find it occupied by a few mechanics. I looked inside and paced back and forth trying to find Paul; he was nowhere to be found. I asked one of the mechanics and they didn’t know a thing.

I should have been upset and disappointed, but after arriving back at my turn 1 post, I realized it was really about me following through with a commitment I had made. After I did, I was able to let it go and enjoyed the rest of my day at the track! In truth, I wasn’t surprised how it went. With Paul’s vague intructions on when I was to meet him and the way he initially acted towards me the day before, I felt it went the way is was destined to be.

It was a beautiful crisp day out and with the picturesque snow-capped mountains surrounding the over 4 miles of track, it was easy just to sit back and enjoy the moment. We also shared the turn with three young guys from Flagstaff, AZ, who drove up together to experience being trackside workers at Miller. Their enthusiasm was infectious, and to me, it helped to make the day a lot more fun.  The boys had worked the day before at the same turn 1 and had been complaining about the lack of action the day before. They weren’t expecting much for the day until I assured them from my experience, that it’s not about the turn you work at, but the day. The strange phenomena about working trackside is you can work a turn one day and the next day at the same turn it can be a completely different experience. I have not been able to decipher if it’s the riders or some strange universal alignment of the stars. Whatever it is, it makes it more interesting and proved to be more exciting for the boys!

Charles, Brian and Keith, "the boys" manning their post

We had several low side’s, which helped to validate my point, but the real thrill of the day was when Troy Corser low sided at our turn during the first of three Superpole rounds. It was towards the end of the afternoon and with the help of the boys, the headset and my Press Kit, we were keeping tabs on who was rallying for grid position. Watching the racers from our distant post, we immediately noticed a rider go down. Ann and I always hesitate to see if the rider jumps up or not before running out. There is no need for us to go if the rider is in visibly good condition. Usually, when rider low sides, they always try to get back on the bike and re-enter the race. And of course, this would be another one of those moments given it was the Superpole.  But this rider jumped back up, went to pick up the 50 thousand dollar + bike, looked at it and promptly dropped it like it was a cheap bicycle and ran for the nearest turn exit!

The boys ran out to retrieve the bike and as they picked it up I could see it was one of the two BMW S1000RR’s in the provisional line up. As they pushed the featherweight bike towards me and our post I could see the number 11 on the front, it was Troy Corser’s bike and the smiles beaming from the boys was just priceless! Within a minute, the transport wagon arrived. Shit, I still had my telephoto lens on my camera! By the time I got the right lens on, I managed a few shots of Troy’s bike on the trailer before it was hauled away.

Troy Corser's downed BMW S1000RR

What made the experience more fun was we had heard when the moto-taxi came to pick up Troy; he grabbed the handlebars from the moto-taxi guy and basically high jacked it from him so he could get back to the pits and into the race ASAP. We later found out he blew the engine on the little 125cc dirt bike and was fined by the FIM! He also, ended up getting a poor grid position as a result! It was the talk of the track that day!

The moto-taxi was something I had not witnessed before while volunteering on the track until Miller. There is a dirt by-road that encompasses the track enabling the little 125’s to retrieve a downed rider and get them back to the pits in lightening speed. Being that our post was right on the by-road, we had several visits from Peter, one of the two moto-taxi volunteers. On one of his visits he asked Ann if she wanted a ride around the track. I could tell she wasn’t really interested and I was chomping at the bit waiting for her to go ahead and say no, so I could jump in and say yes!!

Peter gave me the 15 minute tour around the track and it was great, because I was able to really see all the turns from the extensive and winding track. Weaving through workers, and some spectators, Peter got me back to my post just before the next practice session was to begin; he soon became my moto buddy! Later, Peter turned out to be very instrumental in the remainder of my weekend.

This is my favorite shot I took of #3's Aprilia RSv4

That evening Jordan, Ann and me decided to take a ride into Salt Lake City and check out this hole in the wall pizza place called The Pie. This cute girl who Jordan had his eye on at the track told him about this place and if it wasn’t for the fact that the girl was married with two kids, I think Ann and I would have been left in the dust!

We had some great pizza and good conversation about our day. We decided to drive around Salt Lake City to see some of the sights. I was so impressed with the architecture of the buildings. I had forgotten how beautiful it was when I came here to ski one winter several years back. Incredibly ornate brick and stone structures that gave a historic impression, yet the city seemed relatively modern. The dramatic mountain ranges that surrounded the intimate city just added to the visual pulchritude. I liked this city, even though it was painfully silent.

~Cindi

June 9, 2010 Posted by | American Motorcycle Association, Aprilia RSV4, BMW motorcycles, BMW S1000RR, melissa paris, miller sports park, Moto Race Reports, motorcycle racing, motorcycles, Ruben Xaus, Salt Lake City, superbike, supersport, Superstock, Troy Corser, Utah | Leave a comment

Day One~ WSBK at Miller Motorsports Park

 

Salt Lake City

My decision to go to the World Superbike event in Tooele Utah, 30 minutes outside of Salt Lake City UT was to originally be a solo trip for me. It was to mark the second trip that I had ever taken on my own without knowing a soul. My first was two years ago at the Femmoto women’s track day in Las Vegas NV, which turned out to be an exceptional experience. Not only because I went there alone, not knowing a soul, but because of the reason I went; to demo more than 12 motorcycles by a dozen or more manufactures at the Las Vegas Speedway, making it one of the most memorable trips of my life.

 I determined Miller was to be my next independent trip I would take.

This idea lasted about 2 days, when I found out 3 of my NMP (National Motorcycle Patrol) friends were planning to ride to Miller to work the track. I was thrilled about this idea, how fun would it be to ride to Utah and work the track? My original idea was to do some reporting for Moto Race Reports. Who I was going to report on and how, was the bigger question!

With the hastening of these past few months, rapidly morphing into today, the first day of my trip, it amazes me how many times it has changed.  I ultimately decided to use my flight ticket I had purchased prior to all the alterations. Time and weather became the deciding factor for me. And so I sit, at 9pm in my cozy hotel room, with a gorgeous view of the snow-capped mountains in the distance waiting for my NMP friends to arrive.

With numerous text messages back and forth from Ann, I was able to keep up with what was going on below, as I cruised 35,000 feet above them. Ann made it to Winnemucca before she gave into the grueling elements that was getting the best of her half way through the trip. I had to laugh, what a perfect place to “crap” out! Paul, Jordan, Nick and Eric rode on through freezing cold and wet conditions. Paul’s girlfriend, Casey drove the chase truck with Ann’s SV in tow, which served to save the day on more than one occasion, along with another friend, Dimitri driving in tandem with his car.

It’s now 9:44pm and they have just arrived at Miller. Thank god!! I decided to stay the first night at my originally booked hotel in downtown Salt Lake City, while the gang is staying in Tooele, so I will not see them tonight. With the exception of a few out-of-town motorcycles parked out front of the hotel, it’s virtually a ghost town around here. Strange and disturbing.

Tomorrow, since it’s a light race day, my plan is to interview one of the two people on my list. I would love to divulge who it is, but my Chief Editor would have my head, so I will just leave it at that!

And with the exceptionally successful efforts from Moto Race Reports, and a BMW Motorrad pass it will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings….. I’ll be sure to let you know!

~Cindi

June 3, 2010 Posted by | American Motorcycle Association, BMW motorcycles, BMW S1000RR, daytona 200, melissa paris, miller sports park, Moto Race Reports, motorcycle racing, motorcycles, Ruben Xaus, superbike, supersport, Superstock, Suzuki GSXR, Troy Corser, yamaha YZF R6 | Leave a comment

Maria Costello ~ Paving the road for women and racing

Maria Costello

Maria Costello was born in Northampton England on June 9, 1977, and even though she’s not quite 33 years old, she retains a racing career that dates back to 1995. In her 15 years, she has diligently set the bar for female racers who have preceded her, especially when it comes to the Isle of Man TT road race.  

Becoming one of the first female solo racers to stand on the podium at the Isle of Man TT and the Manx Grand Prix, Maria has had an unprecedented historical racing career and continues to strive for excellence as a professional racer for 2010.  

Maria has a lot to prove this year. With a two-year span of setbacks due to injury and a 5 year standing TT record that was broken by Jenny Tinmouth; a fellow British racer and contending rival, means Maria will be even more competitive than ever. To add to the adventure, Maria has opted to race a BMW, a bike that hasn’t been seen on the TT grid in over 30 years.  

Her fans affectionately call her “Elvis”, making it obvious that Maria has a radiant charisma about her that shows in her style and successes as an established professional racer.  

Moto Race Reports contributing editor, Cindi Servante visits with Maria to unveil the many layers of her multi-faceted life and career.  

MRR- What inspired you to become a motorcyclist, when did you start and what was your first motorbike?  

Maria Costello MBE – Does a Honda Melody 50cc scooter count as a motorbike? I was 16/17 years old and needed transport to get to work, training to be a Veterinary nurse. So, I bought the moped with some money I’d earned from looking after peoples pets. It didn’t give me any street credibility, just independence. I would say that my first proper motorbike came a year or so later when I got a Yamaha TZR125, it was derestricted pretty soon after I got it.  

MRR- With a racing career that dates back to 1995, can you give a brief summery of your racing career?  

Maria Costello MBE – Started short-circuit racing on a Suzuki RGV50 in 95’, I loved this bike. The following year I was approached by Sandra Barnet, a former female TT lap record holder and joined her and another lady Bridget McManus in 1996 in an all-girl team. That team took me to the Manx Grand prix for the first time. Since then, I’ve been hooked on road racing and have raced at the Manx Grand Prix pretty much every year. I think my race history is listed on my website until 1999 when I went to the TT.  

I continued to do short-circuit racing on very meager budget, but raced in some fantastic one-make series, such as the Honda CB500 Cup and Honda Hornet Cup.  I also competed on a Fireblade in the British Superstock Championship in 2000.   

In 2004 I became the fastest woman to lap the TT course and in 2005 I was the first woman to stand on the TT podium, 3rd in Ultra lightweight race, MGP.  

In 2006 I broke my leg at Keppel Gate (MGP) and it took until last year for me to regain my confidence. In 2009 I was awarded an MBE for services to motorcycling and I realized then that I’d become a role model in the sport and particularly to women. I am now proactive in supporting my fellow female competitors. I want to do more to encourage women everywhere that they can succeed in a sport, work or life in general, despite the odds, even if the arena is male dominated.  

This year I’m returning to the TT, in attempt to regain my 1995 title!  

MRR- Becoming the first female solo racer to stand on the podium at the Isle of Man TT and the Manx GP, can you describe how the experience was for you?  

Maria Costello MBE – Euphoric! It remains one of the best days of my career. I can pretty much remember every detail about that day and the race. The best part was crossing the finish line and then as I rode up the return road I was waved into the winners’ enclosure. I only wish I’d ridden a 400 at the MGP earlier on in my career, as it was so much fun.  

The podium finish made all the work, money and effort in getting to the Manx, all worth while.  

It gave something back to all my sponsors & supporters and it showed what women can accomplish in a man’s world. I hope my achievements have inspired some women to take up riding and even racing, to have the opportunity to experience the feeling. I was high on cloud nine for months and months!!  

MRR- In holding the record as the fastest female solo racer for 5 years, how do you feel about competing against Jenny Tinmouth this May at the Isle of Man TT and how confident are you in beating her 116.8mph aver. lap record?  

Maria Costello MBE – I have total respect for Jenny, she is a highly talented racer and a lovely person to know. I think that our rivalry will be used a lot in the run up to the event. I only see it as a positive and the TT is surely all the better for having more women compete there! I look forward to the challenge!  

It has given me a boost and I will be attempting to regain the female lap record in the forthcoming TT.  

MRR- Can you expand on what you and your team are doing in preparation for the TT race this year?  

Maria Costello MBE – The plan is to get as much track time as possible before we hit the main International events of the NW200 and TT. The team tested in Portugal at the start of the year at the fantastic Parkalgar circuit. Then some other test sessions have followed at various tracks including Pembrey and Rockingham in the UK.  

I have competed in two short-circuit events and my teammate, Davy Morgan competed at Scarborough. We both contended in the Cookstown 100 in North Ireland at the end of April, where I raced my CMS Honda RVF400. On my return, I commenced testing the S1000RR BMW. I was also able to race the Yamaha R6 at Snetterton before we, as a team, head back to North Ireland for the International North West 200 and then on to the TT.  

MRR- Can you explain your involvement with BMW and the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy?   

Maria Costello MBE – I have an amazing personal sponsor and good friend by the name of Tony Morris. He bought the BMW for me to race at the NW200 and Isle of Man TT races.  

It was a magnificent gesture by Tony to buy this bike for me and I fully intend to repay his faith in me. The BMW S1000RR has had fantastic reviews and BMW WSBK racers Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus have proved this bike is competitive. I think it will make a great TT bike.  

MRR- Is there a person(s) that you consider to be an idol or mentor to you?  

Maria Costello MBE – My idols in this sport are no longer with us, David Jefferies and Steve Hislop. I have admiration for many others, especially those who compete at the TT. I have a small group of people who I consider as my ‘team’ and they include Tony Morris my personal sponsor and the head of CSC Racing – Steve Caffyn My team-mate Davy Morgan and performance coach David Sutton. Between them all, they keep me on track – in more ways than one!  

MRR- This past year, you were appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire by Prince Charles. What did this mean for you and is it true you arrived by motorbike?  

Maria Costello MBE – I’ve always loved riding and racing and pushing boundaries, in particular becoming the fastest woman in the UK to lap the TT course. Getting the MBE made me realize that I have a larger role to play in this world of motorcycling, it has made me even more determined to achieve more for all women.  

If it wasn’t for my friend Damian Rowley, who works for Virgin limo bikes, I probably would have missed the ceremony. Thankfully he rescued me from a terrible traffic jam, on the back of his motorbike! So, yes, it’s true!  

MRR- What is the story behind why your fans call you “Elvis?”  

Maria Costello MBE- It’s a nick name that was given to me when I was about 9 years old by my friend Eve Jones. It’s all down to my surname. Like the famous singer Evis Costello! I guess it got around and the nick-name took off with the fans.  

  

It’s hard to believe it’s been over thirty years since the official BMW team has made its presence known at the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race when German racers, Helmut Dahne and Hans Otto Butenuth last represented BMW in the late 70’s. For this race season, Maria Costello has been given the honor of piloting the BMW S1000RR in three key races, Superstock, Superbike and Senior TT races, thanks to her personal sponsor and close friend, Tony Morris.   

With the aide of her team, sponsors and BMW and an extraordinary talent for the two-wheeled machines, its obvious Maria has a prodigious edge to her competitors for 2010.  

To stay up to date with Maria, don’t forget to check out her Website Maria Costello racing and her Facebook fan page.

May 26, 2010 Posted by | BMW motorcycles, BMW S1000RR, Honda CB500 cup, Isle of Man TT, jenny tinmouth, Manx Grand Prix, Maria Costello, Moto Race Reports, motorcycle racing, motorcycles, NW 200, Ruben Xaus, Superstock, Tony Morris -CSC Racing, Troy Corser | Leave a comment