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Discussion Starter #1
I've spent the last few summers following the AMA Pro Flat Track circuit. I post photos, race reports and other stories on a Facebook page called Northwest Track Shots. Travels in 2015 took me to Florida, California, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois (3 times) and Nevada. It's so much fun. I cover the pro events and as many local support races as I can get to. I shoot with a Canon 7D and two Canon lenses, an EF 70-200mm f 2.8L is II USM and an EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM. I also carry an old Canon 10D body for a backup. Here are some random shots and a link to my FB page.

https://www.facebook.com/NorthwestTrackShots/?ref=hl











Here are some shots from the short track.





 

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My favorite racing bar none!
Yes, I'm that old. Search you tube for Roberts on the TZ. A few years ago he did a few exhibition laps on it at the Indy Mile after around 30 years off the bike. Great clip.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
On April 9 I covered the AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Lone Star Half-Mile at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. I had never been to Texas before and wanted to look around a bit. I flew into Dallas and drove 300 miles south to San Antonio before doubling back to the races in Austin. I visited the Alamo and the San Antonio Riverwalk.

The Austin flat track is sort of a temporary affair located next door to the fabulous Formula One / MotoGP circuit. It's just a big oval scratched in the dirt. The track was bumpy and a few guys went down hard. This was also the MotoGP weekend, and you could hear them running in the background. Some friends from home went to the road races, but I didn't get over there.

Here are a few shots from the flat track races, including Johnny Lewis (10) on the Ducati Scrambler, Davis Fisher (67) on the Harley-Davidson Street 750-powered machine in its debut race, Jarod Vanderkooi (20) on a Kawasaki, and Sam Halbert (69) on a Harley-Davidson XR-750.









 

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Discussion Starter #8
Two of my photos earned first place ribbons last week at my local county fair. Not exactly like winning a Pulitzer Prize, but it's nice to have people outside of my regular audience look at my work and find it worthy. And I just love going to the fair. My pals and I go to races at fairgrounds all the time, but I only get to go to an actual fair once a year. The color pic is one of the top pros at a race in Knoxville, Iowa, in 2014. The B&W shot is one of the riders who lives close to me in Oregon at an amateur event in Sacramento, Cailf., in May of this year.

 

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Love your shots Tom, so action packed and stunning. The sport is also a winner in so many ways.
I use Canon as well, but I wonder what setting you use for these action shots. Nice lenses help a lot, but I just don't have the moolah for too much extravagance. Nice of you to post here!
 

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Excellent photos! Crisp and right in the middle of the action.

I was in Austin in August and volunteered as a track marshal at the MotoGP races. I wanted to go to the flat track races, but the ticket prices were outrageous!
 

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/---/
I wanted to go to the flat track races, but the ticket prices were outrageous!
You're close enough to Springfield to go see the Springfield Mile. It's awesome!

Keep an eye on Duquoin, it might come back some day.
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Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting these great shots!

We really appreciate it.
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Discussion Starter #15
Love your shots Tom, so action packed and stunning. The sport is also a winner in so many ways.
I use Canon as well, but I wonder what setting you use for these action shots. Nice lenses help a lot, but I just don't have the moolah for too much extravagance. Nice of you to post here!
Thank you, and thanks for asking. Settings are important, of course, but equipment does matter. Shooting pictures of fast-moving objects in changing light is affected by how quickly the camera will focus and then cycle for the next shot

The starting point for me is a Canon 7D MkI, with EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM and EF 24-70 f/2.8L IS II USM lenses and a 580 EXII Speedlite. That kit focuses right now. I carry an old 10D body for a spare. For podium shots and such I'll use my Lumix FZ200 point 'n shoot. I use that camera almost every day around the house, in my shop and when I travel. The Lumix does not have the brains or glass for great action shots, but it's remarkable the rest of the time.

You don't have to spend a ton of money. I bought the 7D body and big lens refurbished from Canon. The 24-70 lens and Lumix I bought brand new. I found the Speedlight used on Amazon and the 10D was a gift from a friend when he moved up (they're just about free on ebay). It all adds up to about the value of a nice late model used dirt bike.

I use shutter priority mode. I set the shutter speed and the camera sets the aperture automatically. I like to get the subject in sharp focus yet keep the spinning wheels blurred to convey motion. I set the shutter speed at 1/250 or 1/320, never faster, depending on the track. High speed mile tracks get 1/320, at shorter tracks I'll slow it down a bit. I use single point AF servo focusing.

I use the lowest ISO setting possible, usually starting at 100. I just leave the white balance set on "cloudy". That was a tip from Bryan Peterson's book, "Understanding Exposure". I shoot in JPEG and edit in iPhoto. Almost every photo is edited for sharpness, tilt, crop and I like to boost the saturation a little.

At a typical pro race I might shoot 1,000 - 1,500 photos and about 10% are keepers. I'm proud of about 1% of the total. I do not use burst mode very often. It greatly increases the number of photos to wade through after an event.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The Sacramento Mile is always a favorite of mine. This plays out on the horse race track at the Cal Expo state fairgrounds. The weekend in late May started with a short track race at the Lodi Cycle Bowl, about thirty miles south of Sacramento. That was followed by the pro racers on the mile track on Saturday night, and an amateur/vintage mile race on Sunday. I like when they have an amateur meet after the pro event. It seems wasteful to go to a all of the effort to prepare the track and then use it for only one day. There are very few opportunities for an amateur rider to get seat time on a mile track.











 

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Discussion Starter #17
Here are some shots from the Pro flat track races in Lima, Ohio, on June 25. The AMA has been racing there since 1984. The 1/2 mile oval at the Allen County Fairgrounds is unique on the Pro racing circuit because the surface is loose pea gravel. The other tracks we visit are mostly packed clay or packed sand with some calcium carbonate stirred in to help retain water. The gravel roost off the back tire is amazing. Bikes that are usually bright and shiny arrive here covered in blue painter's tape to fend off chips from the flying stones. Riders show off bruises on their arms and chest after the race. Those little rocks sting right through a leather suit. There was a good spectator turnout, and lots of people arrived on motorcycles. The parking lot photo below shows just about half of the motorcycles ridden to the event. That's a lot of Harleys. I didn't see any Ducatis. They don't know what they're missing.















 

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Thanks for posting the pics of the Lima race Tom. Even though I grew up and spent my first 45 years in NE Ohio, I never got over to Lima.

But I would go to a little 1/4 mile track on Friday night before the Lima race, just in case a couple of Pros showed up. It was the Wayne Co Speedway, over near Canton Ohio, about 135 miles from Allen Co Fairgrounds. It's a pea gravel track also.
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Springfield Mile race times.

All times below are Pacific Time. Tune into Fanschoice.tv to watch.

Practice/Qualifying: 8:15 a.m. PT

Heats: 2:30 p.m. 11:30 a.m. PT
GNC2 Main: 1:15 p.m. PT
GNC1 Main: 1:45 p.m. PT
 
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