The Art of Speed: Bert Shepard's Amazing Flat Track Images #1
by Bert Shepard
Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Get ready to embark on a thrilling journey through the heart-pounding world of flat track racing, captured through the lens of the legendary Ohio photographer, Bert Shepard. With a career spanning decades, Bert has earned his reputation as one of the finest and most respected photographers in the industry. His keen eye for detail and unparalleled passion for the sport shine through in every frame. These photos not only document the high-speed action and daring maneuvers of the riders but also convey the spirit and adrenaline that define flat track racing. Join us as we celebrate the artistry and excitement of this exhilarating sport through Bert Shepard's lens.
The legend. RT. 66 Speedway, located just outside of Chicago, Illinois, provided the backdrop for this captivating shot during a practice session on turn four. At the time, Nicky was part of Tommy Cummings Racing, riding XR750s, alongside fellow riders Will Davis and Kevin Atherton. This particular photo holds a special place in my collection, as it's autographed by Nicky himself with the words, 'Great Shot.' Like many of my favorite photos, capturing this moment was a result of being in the right place at the right time and, most importantly, a stroke of luck. Shot with a Nikon F2 and a 300mm lens.
Du Quoin, Mile. This taken on the back straight. Ricky Graham leading Shobert and Morehead during a heat race. The event at Du Quoin was one of my favorites. The crew that flagged the event were friends of mine and let me stand anywhere I wanted. Standing at the end of the back straight on the outside where the riders popped up and turned into turn three was a special treat. Du Quoin in the summer was hot and humid. Once I was outside turn three kneeling on the ground changing film and almost passed out. Nikon F2/300mm
Wapakoneta, Ohio; a local half mile. Tennessee rider "Booger" Watson watching his XR750 burn, actually he tried in vain to throw dirt on it with little luck. Out of the photo on the right is a track worker with a fire extinguisher just about to put the fire out.
A D V E R T I S M E N T
"You're gonna need this ....". The Indy Mile TZ700. L to R: Jimmy Maness, Bubba Rush, Kenny Roberts, Skip Askland and Kel Carruthers. This is the moment that Kenny first sat on the TZ. Check out the Goodyears tires. Indy was the only time the TZ ran this tire selection. After Indy they tried hand-cut 17 inch road race slicks with limited success. Nikon F2/85mm
The Harley Wrecking crew at the Lima Ohio half mile National. L to R - Carr, Atherton,Springsteen and Parker. The image was recorded prior to the start of the main event. Nikon F2 / 85mm.
Kenny Roberts during qualifying at Louisville Downs in Kentucky. The Downs was famous for the deep limestone cushion that favored Midwest and Eastern Racers. The first 15 minutes of practice were some of my favorite moments in all dirt track racing. Cushion masters like Parker, Atherton, Springsteen and Roeder were in heaven . It was a delight to watch them work the heavy cushion. The limestone cushion quickly brushed off and the half mile event was held on the bottom 18 inches of the track favoring the "pole putters". The image was taken with a F2 Nikon with a 300mm lens in turn four.
A D V E R T I S M E N T
Ricky Graham, in Muzzy Kawasaki leathers, in turn three and a half at the Mile event at Du Quoin during time trials. When the track surface was perfect the mile could be run wide open and good riders never had to shut off. The two mains were won that way by Bub' Shobert and Kevin Atherton. Nikon F2 /300mm
Mert Lawwill in turn three at the Indy Mile. The event is held on the track at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.This was one of the last images taken when riders still used flat shields on open face helmets. Photos taken during that era revealed great images of intense faces and laser-focused eyes. Nikon F2/ 85mm
Camel Challenge Parkersburg, West Virginia. L to R - Parker, Day, Morehead, Shobert, Ingram and Carr. The stock car facility at Mineral Wells was rough and fast. Kevin Atherton raced the event once with a freshly broken arm to stay in the points chase. Rusty Rogers rode the event with reckless abandon and almost won a main event before the rough track got the better of him and threw him on his head. Nikon F2/ 85mm
A D V E R T I S M E N T
Steve Morehead at the Darke County Fairgrounds in Greenville, Ohio, in turn two. Morehead, like many other racers, attended the the non-nationals at Greenville in preparation for Lima and other pea gravel events on the National calendar. Current national pilots follow this practice today. Nikon F2 / 200mm. One of my favorite half-miles to shoot.
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