As happy as I am for Nancy and Jon, part of his post made me wrinkle my brow
in genuine concern for safety.
Focus Point: "with about a zillion TV cameras focused on her - and the
concomitant psychological pressure"
A racer should not be pestered by the media at the beginning of a run. It
is to achieve speed that the racer comes to the great white dyno, not to be
gloried on tape, film and the radio waves. Distractions can cause accidents.
I mention this because it was I that one who brought some of those cameras
and sound people to Nancy's start. For that I am duly sorry and grateful to
the Almighty that she was able to shake off our confusing input and get down
the track as well as she did. Nancy and I laughed and joked, about the fact
her eye shadow matched the bike's paint and I was the first one to notice,
we were comfortable (I often try to help the nervous and tense chill out
about what's about to be done and it is usually welcomed), but when I
brought along those cameras and sound folks, the developing friendship was
compromised because I injected strangers into her racing program.
In my zeal to chronicle this sport, to expand the historical record while
also educating the general public, I forgot the main mantra of the salt --
It is a wake-up call that I shall heed and if there are other media types on
this list I urge them to do likewise. For us shooters, there are always
longer lenses that allow us to stand back but focus up close. Sure, people
get in the way, but the starting like officials do a good job of controlling
activity, so patience is a virtue.
Further, there are those who never get ruffled, Tanis Hammond is always
delighted to have me around (bless her) but she has the concentration of
fissionable material, and always lets me know where the boundaries are. Don
Vesco would have been happy to have any of us ride along with him if he had
the space and we had the courage. Rookie drivers ought to be off-limits for
close quarter shooting; they have enough to do without being self-conscious
about the added pressure cameras recording their every move.
It is a fine balance to be sure. I want to "show and tell" the world what
wonders unfold on the salt, the extraordinary feats accomplished by ordinary
women and men, and American pastime of meteoric proportions -- unblemished
by the corruptions of corporate influences and marketing morasses, but I do
not want to tell the tales at the expense of someone's safety. I have
reported on every form of motorsports in the world and after visiting the
salt and it s folks, I have no further desire to cover any other form except
land speed racing for the rest of my career. Hence, the recording of its
story must be done with care as well as conviction.
In the future, I will ask the rider/driver before we invade their sphere of
concentration and focus. When welcome, I'll capture the moment and be gone,
when asked keep a distance, the request will be honored with respect. It is
obvious that I had forgotten to be a witness and not interject my presence
on the events at hand.
I look at this point as an opportunity to act -- not react to a tragic
outcome. These are first impressions after reading Jon's commentary.
Perhaps, I am overreacting, some of you may not care a fig about who is
around and you will do what needs to be done.
Having said that, it ought tob e noted that unlike most media personnel, I
have considerable experience driving high performance automobiles at many
tracks, courses and races throughout the world in both controlled
environments and in in the wilderness. I know what such pressures can do --
something as minor as a momentary flash from a strobe light can be
devastating. Other sports have addressed this situation, it may be time we
do also. The sport is growing, new fresh, smooth faces are appearing and I
hope they will stay until they as wrinkled and tanned as the ones who sped
I invite commentary on this point and believe the sanctioning officials
might find the dialogue useful in the future when working with the media.
"LandSpeed" Louise Ann Noeth
"Telling stories with words and pictures"
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