Scott Jones, Ducati Corse
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One of my most abiding motorcycle racing memories comes from my first trip to Indianapolis for the 2009 MotoGP race. On the Saturday night, I joined the majority of the paddock in making the pilgrimage to the Indiana State Fairground for the Indy Mile flat track races, the first time I had ever visited a flat track race. In addition to the overwhelming visceral experience of having a couple of dozen thundering twins roar by at over a hundred miles an hour, rear wheel sideways and looking for grip, came something very special indeed. Kenny Roberts Senior, three-times world champion took his Yamaha TZ750-powered flat tracker, one of the most legendary motorcycles ever to grace a racetrack - though Roberts would probably reject the verb "grace" - out for a spin, 34 years after it made its debut at the State Fairground.
Ducati, in partnership with Italian telecommunications company TIM, presented their 2012 bike today in an online launch for a reported audience of 96,000 fans and media around the world. Much excitement had surrounded the launch of the new livery, the color scheme feature a lot more white than in previous years. A hint to that effect had been seen in the new team gear sported by Ducati staff at the Sepang tests, which also had a lot more white than last year's all-red clothing.
The best of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novels is, in my opinion, his last, the title of which I've borrowed for this piece. In The Long Goodbye, Chandler shows us more of what makes Philip Marlowe tick than in any of the previous novels, and along the way, as observed by my old professor Thomas Steiner, the book itself seems often to be Chandler's personal farewell to Marlowe and to the hardboiled detective novel itself.
This off-season has been a kind of Long Goodbye of my own, in this case not to a genre of fiction or to a fictional character, but to a real one. My main task over the past few months has been to go through my photos from each race weekend I've attended since 2008 and pull out the best images to show on Photo.GP, my online archive. Each time I open a new catalog or revisit one partially processed, I'm confronted with more images of Marco Simoncelli to edit and decide if they belong on Photo.GP or not.
You don't get many chances to get an image like this, with the entire grid together on track. Some circuits don't have a good first couple of turns, or it's hard to get there from the grid in time for the shot, or a good plan to get there is ruined by some unforeseen problem like a broken down shuttle, V.I.P. traffic on the access road, etc.
The San Francisco Dainese D-Store welcomed me and Jensen Beeler last week to share some of our thoughts and experiences in MotoGP. For my part of the presentation, I showed some photographs on a projector and told the stories that went along with them. A few folks asked if I could video the show, but that turned out to be a non-starter for various reasons. So instead I thought I'd write up the stories to share here for anyone who is interested. So here is the story behind...
The annual launch of Ducati and Ferrari's season got underway today at the Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio. The Wrooom event was opened with the official presentation of Ducati MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, alongside Ferrari's Formula 1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, followed by an official dinner.
Though Rossi and Hayden are present, the expected star of the show will be absent: Ducati will not be presenting the 2012 Desmosedici GP12 at Wrooom, and the bike will make its first public appearance at the Sepang test on January 31st. Ducati Corse project leader Filippo Preziosi told French journalist Michel Turco of Moto Revue that Ducati had planned to do this since November. The bike will be taken to Jerez for a shakedown test; however, it is as yet unclear whether the bike will be tested by Carlos Checa in Spain, or if only test rider Franco Battaini will take the new bike out on the track.
Much will be cleared up about the new bike on Wednesday, when Preziosi will face an extended grilling by the assembled motorcycle media. On Tuesday, it is the turn of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden to face the press.
We at MotoMatters.com are very privileged to be working with a man of such prolific talent as Scott Jones. His blog posts and photo stories are always some of the most popular items on the website, and his sharp eye and uncanny knack of capturing the perfect motorcycle racing image have seen his star rise rapidly among the ranks of professional motorcycle racing photographers.
Now, Scott has finally got round to organizing a website showcasing his own portfolio of work, to be found at PHOTO.GP. On that site, you can browse through a selection of Scott's work, organized by race series, year, rider and photo type. The site gives an outstanding overview of Scott's work over the years.
If you'd like to learn more about Scott personally, you should also check out the blog on his own website at www.scottjones.net. You can also sign up for his newsletter there.
I'm going to be appearing at the San Francisco Dainese store again in February and I anticipate still more questions about photography in addition to those about what it's like to work in the MotoGP paddock, so I thought I'd post something photography-related here for those of you who enjoy taking pictures at the races.
The above image of Marco Simoncelli at Indy is one of my personal favorites from 2011, and I thought it would be useful when talking about what a photographer can do in the darkroom, whether that's one that smells of chemicals or the digital version. While some photographers still lament the loss of film as a medium for various and often quite legitimate reasons, I am grateful for the opportunities to start with one image and end up with another via digital tools more powerful than those in the wet darkroom. This image is a good example of how digital tools turned one image into something much different, and ultimately a photograph that I place among my best of the season.