A View From the Front…

Little did I know when I contacted Swap about shooting the Dallas SX that April 22, 2006 would be one of the most memorable days of my life (besides, of course, the birth of my son Jackson and the day I married my wife Courtney). On this day, I got to meet the GOAT…up close and personal.

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a berm on the track when RC blasts through the corner? Well I can tell you first hand how it feels. I am one of the lucky photographers that couldn’t get out of Ricky’s way fast enough when he lost control in the whoops trying to chase down James Stewart on lap seven.

I’m sure you have seen video of a missile launching off of a military jet. One second it’s there and the next it is exploding all over its intended target. That’s what it was like when I saw that big yellow Suzuki take an unexpected left hand turn in the whoops section. I had that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that he had a radar lock on my big, slow-moving butt. All I had time to think was, “John, you better get the hell out of the way!” Then I see a yellow blur and my world turned upside down, quite literally. As I was flying through the air all thoughts were on my precious camera that I refused to let go of. In fact, I held on to it all the way to the ground where we then had that explosion we were talking about earlier.

Instantly there were medical personnel on the scene checking me out. My left knee hurt like hell, but my first thought was, “Lord, I don’t ask for many favors, but please let my camera be okay.” But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. After a couple of minutes of being attended to by Doc Bodnar and the wonderfully trained Asterisk Medical crew, I was able to sit up. That was when I saw the carnage. A Canon body here, a flash there, my beloved lens over there. I almost cried.

After the race ended I gathered up my miscellaneous camera parts and headed out to the Suzuki semi to check on the ace pilot who had shot me down. The first thing Ricky did was apologize. I can understand how he felt bad, but he didn’t need to apologize to me. Just like him, I was there to do a job and accepted the risks involved with this wonderful sport. I explained that to him, but he held steadfast and that’s when he stunned me with his grace and generosity. RC pulled out his race jersey (BTW it’s the first race jersey with Ernesto’s signature on it) and signed it, “Sorry for the mess, Ricky Carmichael.”

I then proceeded to limp home and not sleep worth a damn for the next two nights. The bright spot in all this is that I went to the doc today to get checked out. I now have a nice big bottle of Lortab to help me through the night. For some reason I keep having these scary dreams of a giant, yellow, roaring monster chasing me.

For more of Cobra’s photos from Dallas, click the gallery link up at the top of the article.