This photo was shot during the first National Motocross round at Hangtown in Sacramento, CA, on May 21, 2006. James Stewart is one of the most talented and exciting racers in the world, and a favorite subject of mine. When I’m shooting motocross, I try to find the most interesting angles where the riders are in the most critical positions. This particular 180-degree corner had an enormously deep rut and was very muddy. James was one of the only riders who could attack this corner at speed, and was leaned over so far that he was dragging his handlebars on almost every lap. It’s hard to see how far over he’s leaning, since the shot is so close up, but the angle of the handlebar gives some indication of this.
My favorite angle to shoot from is as low as possible. I often try to find a hole or ditch to climb into and shoot from the ground. For this shot, I was as low as I could get, with my elbows in the mud, just off the track. It was a little tricky to get the right angle, where James was leaning over in the apex of the turn with a good, colorful background of flying mud and fans crowding the fence. I like the way his eyes look — so focused and determined. James is always looking ahead for the next obstacle (usually a rider he is about to lap) when he races, and this adds to the dramatic effect of the image. The green blur across his goggles is actually a reflection of the front fender on his Kawasaki KXF450.
One funny thing about this particular corner was that, during the entire weekend, I never saw anyone else shooting here. It was a very short section of the track, over a slight rise that, for some reason, did not register on anyone else’s radar. I shot different races here and have more good images from this corner than from any other spot on the track.