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AMA Superbike Racer Thad Wolff | Motorcyclist Magazine

I got to cover former AMA pro Superbike racer Thad Wolff on a shoot for Motorcyclist Magazine in a vintage exhibition race at Laguna Seca. The race was held during the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championships. It was a day with high temps, a bit of luck, gratitude, and oil stained boots. The feature is about Thad’s past and present relationship with a Suzuki GS1000 bike, and his friendship with the innovative guru mechanic Matsu Matsuzawa. Luckily it wasn’t just an editorial feature, but one hell of a cover.

Cover with Thad Wolff racing at Laguna Seca | Motorcyclist Magazine

“To work on the bike, to resurrect it to this point, and to be able to jump on it again, looking through that same fairing, sitting on that same seat, and riding it around the racetrack, thinking about the good times with Matsu, all those memories, was an emotional roller coaster. It just blew me away.” – Thad Wolff

4 Reasons Why The Cover Of Thad Is My Favorite Cover I Ever Shot:

1) Thad’s Suzuki GS1000 was only on track for a few laps during a brief historical exhibition race at Laguna Seca, and I could have easily messed this whole thing up. There are much less opportunities for the best angles when shooting motorcycles on track versus cars. For moto at Laguna – it’s outside right turns or inside lefts. Otherwise the rider will be leaning into a turn and the bike will block their entire head. This was shot at turn 9 aka “Rainey Curve” (an inside left) with every single busted stitch and worn patch on Thad’s leathers tack sharp.

2) The photo was originally just a key editorial image for the article, but later the photo editor called to say they chose it for the cover! Even though they changed the color treatment – they dropped it into a nice layout. God bless print!

3) Because Thad Wolff is THAD WOLFF! 

4) Thad was a pro AMA superbike racer. He has been on countless covers in the past and a top competitor in the early 80s. The feature in Motorcyclist covers the path of the Matsu built Suzuki GS1000 back to Thad almost 30 years after it’s last race. There was something more special than just a bike on the track this day. You’d have to read the article and meet Thad in person to understand it fully.

Full story on Thad Wolff in Motorcyclist Magazine.

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Jay Watson
San Francisco Bay Area based lifestyle and people photographer Jay Watson shoots editorial, apparel, automotive, corporate, and sports subjects for commercial clients. Published in over 70 magazines.

One Response to AMA Superbike Racer Thad Wolff | Motorcyclist Magazine

  1. […] I’ve got a soft spot for this bike for selfish reasons, as it was on the cover of the first magazine issue where I had a full feature story. It was a piece on riding the Royal Enfield Himalayan into a mine – I also had a much more in-depth story here on Bike-urious. Forget all that and instead go to the website of the photographer who shot the cover, as he has some nice thoughts about the capture. […]

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