Russ Paulk (left), Jimmy Adamo (center) and John Long (right) celebrate on the AMA Pro Twins victory podium at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1987. Adamo was the greatest Pro Twins/Battle of the Twins rider in the history of the class, winning 31 BOTT Nationals during his decade in the class. That’s almost three times the number of wins by second ranked Gene Church, who won a total of 13 BOTT Nationals. Adamo will always be associated with Ducati. He won the 1982 and ’83 Battle of the Twins titles with Ducati machines tuned by the legendary Reno Leoni.
Two of the best motorcycle racing photographers of the 1980s are pictured here. Tom Riles (looking at the camera and sporting a massive Nikon 600mm lens) and John Flory (with the Michelin hat and trying to ignore me). Riles has perhaps the mot comprehensive collection of motorcycle photography dating back to the early 1970s. During the late ’80s and early ’90s Riles didn’t shoot a lot of motorcycle races, he was off doing a more lucrative gig with NASCAR.
All the other photographers used to give Flory grief because he would just burn up film like nobody’s business. I think he worked in, or at least had access to a photo lab at Yale University at the time and did all his own development work and was the only guy I knew in the film age who really gave his camera’s motor-drive a serious workout. Of course today we’d all kill to have Flory’s file photos.
These guys had serious talent, shooting in the days before auto focus and immediate digital feedback. Motorsports photography in the film era was a craft that took years to master.
Riles is still in the game, shooting some of the best photos today alongside business partner and fellow photographer extraordinaire Brian J. Nelson. Flory is MIA. He still shot races at Loudon for years, but we haven’t seen him at the nationals since the film age.