Feature

Vintage Moto

Craig Abell Champion’s 4 year project to document his friend going faster than anyone, ever, on a modified 1000cc vintage motorcycle.

This Vintage Moto series is a selection from the last four years documenting my friend’s self-funded effort to go faster than anyone, ever, on a modified 1000cc vintage motorcycle.

When I was six or seven-years-old I vividly remember watching Bruce Brown’s movie, On Any Sunday. Dave Aldana, Gene Romero, Steve McQueen, and a pack of other guys hurling themselves around motocross tracks and across deserts with reckless abandon. It was filthy, rebellious, and dangerous. Soon after I eagerly stood by while my dad crudely attached a rusty pair of motorcycle shocks to the back of the banana seat on my Schwinn.

Six years ago, forty-eight years old, I showed up on a hot day at a dirt track outside Perris, California to watch a friend race his vintage Harley. I brought a camera with no real purpose in mind. I shot only two rolls of 120. When I looked at the film a week later, I was transported back to Bruce Brown and trying to jump my Schwinn off poorly built wooden ramps. Calls to my friend about his upcoming races began.

It didn’t take long before I stopped showing up as a spectator and started showing up as a photographer. Eventually I was travelling longer distances and multiple days to races. By this point I was familiar with other racers and event organizers. Showing my face around this tight knit family of gear heads, moto clubs, newcomers, old timers, and pros, all who were there to race but mostly have a good time, had started becoming comfortable. However, a real purpose for tagging along and taking pictures, other than all of it looked super cool, was still MIA.

Then it happened. I learned my friend had a special vintage bike I hadn’t seen yet. He’d rebuilt the engine of a 1939 Harley flathead and was working on setting a land speed record with it. Boom. This was my purpose.

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The photographer

Craig Abell Champion

Craig’s photography may have sprouted from his nomadic youth, bouncing from campground to campground while living with his family in an RV. He’s chosen to carry on the tradition, traveling and diving deep into wide varieties of people and subcultures.

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