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Tag: speed

Bill Ray and the Hells Angels of San Berdoo 1965

biker

“This was a new breed of rebel,” Bill Ray told LIFE.com, recalling his time with the Angels. “They didn’t have jobs, of course. They absolutely despised everything that most Americans value and strive for — stability, security. They rode their bikes, hung out in bars for days at a time, fought with anyone who messed with them. They were self-contained, with their own set of rules, their own code of behavior. It was extraordinary to be around.”

On the road

Ray spent some of the time with the Angels on a ride from San Bernardino (about 40 miles east of Los Angeles) to Bakersfield, California, for a major motorcycle rally. The Berdoo-Bakersfield run is a trip of only about 130 miles — but in 1965, it would offer enough moments (both placid and violent) for Ray to paint a rare, revelatory portrait of the world’s most legendary motorcycle club in its early days. The way in which the story came about, meanwhile, was as dramatic and unexpected as Bill Ray’s pictures.

talk to the hand

“It was exhilarating being around them, there’s no question about it,” Ray says. “You just never knew what they were going to do. You’re always kind of on edge, because — think about it! — these people have a lot of time to waste. They don’t punch a clock, so they fill the time drinking beer, smoking pot, screwing around. There was always a sense that anything could happen at any minute. Things could go from light-hearted to tense, and from tense to very scary, pretty goddamn quick.”

Biker Chicks

Ray and Joe Bride spent more than a month with the Angels in the spring of ’65, “mostly on weekends,” Ray remembers, “but the Bakersfield run was around the clock, three days and nights.” In Bakersfield,” remembers Ray, “I slept on the floor of the Blackboard Cafe — the bar that the Angels basically lived in while they were there.”

Brothers in Arms

“There’s a romance to the idea of the biker on the open road,” Ray says. “It’s similar to the romance that people attach to cowboys and the West — which, of course, is totally out of proportion to the reality of riding fences and punching cows. But no doubt, there’s something impressive about these Harley-Davidsons and bikers heading down the highway. You see the myth played out in movies, like Easy Rider, which came out a few years after I photographed the Angels. You know, the trail never ends for the cowboy, and the open road never ends for the Angels. They just ride. Where they’re going hardly matters. It’s not an easy life, but it’s what they choose. It’s theirs. And everyone else can get out of the way or go to hell.”

Up Yours Biker Chick

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Racing Is Life

Racing Is Life

1968 girl and F1

1968 Bristish Grand Prix 242 C V12

GP F1 Wet

grand prix wet

Ferrari

Jet Fighter

jet fighter

winning

Winning

McLaren F1 2013

McLaren F1 Car 2013

McLaren 50

LeMans

Klaus Ludwig

“This race is like a war. Nobody knows if they are going to return”.

Anthony Davidson Pictures - Le Mans 24h Race - Qualifying

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest active sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency, race teams have to balance speed against the cars’ ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining mechanical damage to the car and manage the cars’ consumables, primarily fuel, tyres and braking materials. The endurance of the drivers is likewise tested as drivers frequently spend stints of over two hours behind the wheel before stopping in the pits and allowing a relief driver to take over the driving duties. Drivers then grab what food and rest they can before returning to drive another stint. Today it is mandated that three drivers share each competing vehicle.

(Lion André de Lourmel)

The race is organised by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and runs on the Circuit de la Sarthe, a circuit containing a mix of closed public roads and specialist motor racing circuit that are meant not only to test a car and driver’s ability to be quick, but also to last over a 24 hour period. The competing teams will race in groups called classes for cars of similar specification while at the same time competing for outright placing amongst all of the classes. Originally, the race was held for cars as they were sold to the general public which were then called Sports Cars compared to the specialist racing cars used in Grands Prix. Over time, the competing vehicles evolved away from their publicly available road car roots and today, the race is made of two classes specialised enclosed-bodywork two-seat Prototype sports cars and two classes of Grand Touring cars which bear much closer resemblance to high performance sports cars as sold to the public.

Jan Magnussen Pictures - Le Mans 24h Race - Zim

Competing teams have had a wide variety of organisation, ranging from competition departments of road car manufacturers who are eager to prove the supremacy of their products, to professional motor racing teams who represent their commercial backers, some of which are also road car manufacturers attempting to win without the expense of setting up their own teams, to amateur race teams, racing as much to compete in the famous race as to claim victory for their commercial partners.

LeMans Map

The race is held near the height of the European summer in June, leading at times to very hot weather conditions for the drivers, particularly in closed roof vehicles whose cabins can heat up to uncomfortably hot temperatures with generally poor ventilation; rain, however, is not uncommon. The race begins in mid-afternoon, racing through the night and following morning before finishing at the same time the race started, the following day. Over the 24 hour period modern competitors will complete race distances well over 5,000 km (3,110 mi). The present record is 5,410 km (3,360 mi), recorded in the 2010 race. It is a distance over six times longer than the Indianapolis 500, or approximately 18 times longer than a Formula One Grand Prix.

Paul Newman driving LeMans 1979