Originally written in January 2006.  

 

 

 

I’ve been here for 32 years now. I’ve seen a lot of incredible things in my life, and still have yet to scratch the surface to what this world really has to offer. I mean, I’ve never been to Hawaii, I’ve yet to see the Grand Canyon, and I’ve never seen a sunset from the west coast as the center of our solar system dunks itself in the Pacific at the end of a day.

 

Luckily though, I have seen the beauty of the Royal Gorge from atop the World’s Highest suspension bridge, I’ve swam in deep blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, hunted deer in the deep woods of Eastern Oklahoma, rode BMX bikes through downtown Dallas in the wee hours of the night when there was only one car for miles and miles (and that guy tried selling us ecstasy).

 

I think it’s difficult for any one person to say they’ve seen it all. It’s how you appreciate and remember what it is you have seen that truly matters. I once flew to Pennsylvania in late summer of 1996 just to watch a motorcycle race. But really, I wasn’t there “just watching”. I was there soaking in a great weekend that saw two gladiators of motocross square off in a two moto showdown to determine a championship that had come down to a single point. I can specifically remember the smell of the early morning grass, the dirt still moist from the moisture of the night before, and the familiar smell of food being cooked out in the open early in the morning….bacon, eggs…..I can almost smell it now.

 

The weekend came to a close and one of my childhood heroes, Jeff Emig, was crowned as the #1 rider in the country (some could even argue the world). I took some photos that day and since then, I’ve been hooked. I can sit here comfortably knowing that I’m not Fran Kuhn or Chris Hultner or Simon Cudby or Jeff Kardas.

 

But you know, they inspire me to improve. Sometimes I do with a giant step forward with a great photo. But on the flip side, I’ve had several occasions where it felt as if I’ve been pushed back a hundred feet or more by not paying attention to my lighting, surroundings, or shutter speed. But thanks to Hultner and Tony Scavo for the advice and the encouragement to continue to improve.

 

Fast forward a few years. I made my way east to Tennessee to attend the AMA Amateur Nationals at Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch in 2003. Before I go though, I take a few photos to have enlarged. Photos of what you may ask? Well, it’s seemed to me that over the years too many people have gone out of their way to beg, plead, and all out harass our heroes of motocross for some sort of souvenir. Whether it be a simple autograph, a sticker (or ten), a jersey, and even their pants. Imagine that if you will, grown men (and often times women) talking other grown men out of their pants. You get the idea.

 

So I decided it would be a nice gesture to return the favor. In my hand, in a protective sleeve, I took several 8x10 photos of Emig to him as a gift. Now, as much as I’d like to post them with this little story, I can’t. They were shot long before the days of digital cameras and I don’t have a scanner to scan them in. For that matter, I’m not real sure where the negatives are either.

 

Upon handing over my printed images, I could sense the swelling emotion in Emig. Those images were an instant flashback to the day he won one of the hardest fought championships in recent memory. He bragged to friends and fans standing near him that this was from “his day”. Almost in tears, he shook my hand and patted me on the back and thanked me over and over and over. Sensing how important these simple photos were, I struck a deal with him. I’d let him have them all (Some of them were a sequence I took of the 2nd moto start on the uphill of Steel City’s infamous start straight from the mechanic's area I snuck into) if he would sign just one of them for me. With his hands quickly fumbling for a Sharpie, he signed my glossy 8x10 and handed it to me thanking me once more. I walked away feeling great. It was like Christmas in August and I just played the part of Santa.

 

Jeff Emig is a multi-time champion, but on this August day in 2003, he was a regular guy loving a few photos some other regular guy handed him in appreciation for his past greatness. I would like to think that before anyone goes to a race demanding a set of goggles, a jersey, or a fender from a hard-working professional racer, they would ask themselves, “What have I done for them?”. A simple handshake or a “Thank you” would carry a long way with our moto heroes.

 

Now, back to my checklist of life’s goals.

 

Swim in the ocean, check.

Go fishing with my Dad, check.

Climb a tree, check.

Meet a famous actress and have a normal conversation with her, check.

Take a great photo and give it to one of my heroes, check.

Meet the girl of my dreams, still working on this one…..

 

Have a good day.

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