A New Perspective | The Glen Helen USGP
It’s been over 10 years since I’ve attended a professional motocross race as a spectator behind the fence line and in the beer line. I’ve been traveling the world as a motocross photographer and magazine editor for my entire post-college adult life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been great—I’ve seen and done more things than most people get to do in a lifetime. I’ve tested factory bikes, gone for a ride in Chad Reed’s rally car, ridden the Motocross of Nations track—in France—the day after Dungey and Villopoto clinched the championship, visited some of the most iconic tracks around the world, gotten to know many of the sports greatest riders… that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. But what I haven’t done is enjoy a foot-long hot dog and ice-cold beer while dodging roost and hanging over the trackside fence at a National or Grand Prix.
With the Glen Helen USGP slated for this past weekend, and no real reason for me to trudge around all day, snapping endless photos, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to experience motocross the way it should be. Like a true spectator, I didn’t even have access to the pits—just a regular general admission wristband, because lets be honest, pit passes are expensive. I still slung my trusty camera over my shoulder, though, only this time I put on one short lens—no 300mm 2.8 or quiver of various lenses weighing me down—just my camera in one hand and a frothy beer in the other. What I found was that I still love this sport of motocross just as much as my 12-year-old self, and that’s a good thing.
I’ve become a little jaded by all the glitz and glamour of the professional racing scene; all the long nights of writing race reports and editing photos have worn me down and diminished my enthusiasm for watching dirt bikes. But getting to be a fan again showed me the energy and excitement that’s in the crowd, and that standing in the heat and dust all day is actually quite fun. It reminded me what the sport of motocross is all about—battling the elements, conquering fears, overcoming hardships, but most of all, fun.
In the second moto, as Eli Tomac made his way to the front from a horrible start, the crowd erupted every time he went by—beer spilling, roost flying, and air horns blasting. It was truly cool soaking it all in, wandering around with my wife and buddies, as we looked for the next gnarly spot to watch the riders navigate. Standing back and observing from a perspective that I’m not used to provided a new perspective on everything. I did get into the pits for a brief second, though, thanks to a buddy (whom shall remain nameless) who loaned me his wristband. Racing is badass, and I’m going to be reliving this day where I didn’t bother getting the all access photo pass, but instead roamed around the track, snapping photos that told the story of my day and the fun we all had at the races. We didn’t necessarily care too much about missing great passes or insane battles. The day was all about watching some of the world’s best riders tackle one of the world’s toughest tracks.
1. Eli Tomac (Kaw)
2. Antonio Cairoli (KTM)
3. Tim Gajser (Hon)
4. Max Nagl (Hus)
5. Gautier Paulin (Hon)
1. Jeffrey Herlings (KTM)
2. Jeremy Martin (Hon)
3. Mitchell Harrison (Yam)
4. Max Anstie (Hus)
5. Keremy Seewer (Suz)
Photos and Words by Brendan Lutes