Following the now annual tradition of choosing my favourite illustrations and photos that have appeared in the year's four issues, here are my favourite shots from issues 44-47. This was particularly difficult, because Sideburn 44 was a Photography Special. I have purposely not chosen old photos from the likes of Flat Trak Fotos and Mitch Friedman that we have featured, concentrating on contemporary stuff and shots we've commissioned. It was really difficult, choosing from 440 pages of Sideburn.
1. Terry Deboard by Evan Senn
I love the cinematic feel of this photo. It looks like a still taken from a movie, and perhaps that's no surprise, because the person who took it, Evan Senn, is better known as a filmmaker. Evan came onto our map when he made the Fast & Left film. Evan and I worked together, when he asked me to write the script for his XR750: 50 Years of Wins film. This shot was featured in Sideburn 44.
2. Sammy Halbert by Scott Hunter
Another from the photo special, this image of Slammin' Sammy at speed was the opener of an interview with Scott Hunter, AFT's official photographer. What makes this such a great action shot for me is the blur both in the background, and the wheels, combined with the pin sharp bike and rider. Not easy. Lots of action shots manage to get the subject sharp by shooting at such a fast shutter speed that the bike is frozen, all the motion is taken out of the wheels. The tension in the rider's hunch, and the way the almost luminous chain matches the leathers is great too.
3. Clementine by Nevin Pontious
This was in the running for the cover of Sideburn 44, but it was slightly too grainy, and we couldn't crop it in a way that would show enough bike on the front page, to my satisfaction at least. Nevin is an old pal of the mag, and the delight in his daughter's face at 'grown-ups' being daft on little motorbikes is infectious. The event was BA Moto's minibike race in Long Beach, California.
4. Sam Neville by Kayadaek
The white dust makes this such an unusual and visually arresting shot. It also helps that it was taken by Kati Dalek, aka Kayadaek, one of the most enthusiastic people we've come across in the whole motorcycle scene. We featured a portfolio of Kati's photography in Sideburn 46, that included this shot of UK dirt track racer Sam at the Wheels & Waves 'ghost' event of 2021.
5. In Dust We Trust, Moscow by Vsevolod Rozhok
When Sideburn launched in 2008 dirt track wasn't in a great position. The US sport was under-funded, and while there might have been big entry numbers at races, crowds had dwindled, there was no investment, and no mainstream coverage. California had had a decade-long stretch without hosting a national race. Hard to believe that now.
The grassroots had shrunk too, tracks had closed, series were struggling or had disappeared. Now dirt track is happening all over the world, and this photo of short tracking on a pop-up track in the Russian capital really summed up the way the sport has spread around the globe, and the way racers, promoters and brands have mutated dirt track to make it work for them. This photos was in a feature on this Moscow event in Sideburn 45.
6. DSC by DSC
This is a self-portrait of DSC - Death Spray Custom for a portfolio feature on his artwork in Sideburn 47. I'm really proud of the interview that accompanies the portfolio, because it feels very much like a Sideburn article, but is nothing to do with dirt track. Dirt track is the core of everything Sideburn does, but with out the extra ingredients, art, film, travel... Sideburn wouldn't be Sideburn.
DSC wears the custom Alpinestars leathers he designed for various art projects.
7 Co-Built by Ian Roxburgh
Geoff 'Co-Built' Cain contacted me to say he had a couple of interesting frames nearly ready to leave his workshop, would we like to shoot them? We asked local photographer Ian Roxburgh to come up with something radical for the shoot, and knew he'd been experimenting with these sparky long exposure shots, perfect for a feature on a master welder.
8. Ryan Zahn by Jessica Jane Hart
Ryan Zahn was born without arms, but it hasn't stopped him from doing much, including racing dirt track, or changing tyres. We featured Ryan in Sideburn 46.
9. Todd Marella by Ed Subias
Todd really helped Sideburn keep operating with his handling of the US side of shipping out orders. It's a Heath-Robinson solution to yet another Government-inflicted situation thrown at small businesses like ours. So there's that, that helps make this photo a favourite of mine, then there's the story of Todd driving down to Lodi to race his old Yamaha 250, and then there's the California lens flare, and the fact our best buddy Ed took it. Read about Todd at Lodi in Sideburn 47.
10. Chastin Brand by Drew Perlmutter
Chastin is something else. He manages to find things at yard sales that no one else can. He and his partner are building an incredible dwelling on land they own in Georgia. He is a pro sign writing and pinstriper, and old bike lover and racer. He and his dad pulled this International Harvester Metro out of some local woodland, where it had been rotting away for years, and, well you'll have to read Sideburn 45 for the story. That's Chastin on his backyard track too. He really has got it worked out, it seems.
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