Raw Japan

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Call me “Crasher”

October 19, 2009


My nickname among the Reuters photographers in Tokyo is “Crasher”.

They call me that because I always seem to get pictures right at the moment of a crash whenever I cover motorsports.

One colleague sometimes teases me saying “You’ve got to stop pouring oil on the track,” and I answer: ”I would never use oil — I only use banana skins!”

In motorsports the most exciting moment you can capture in a picture is a crash.

That instant can be the difference between life and death, and it’s a picture that is most difficult to capture.


My technique is to pay attention to any unusual movements. Racers usually all try to keep to the same optimum path through a curve.

Any deviation from this can mean a crash may be imminent.

This is how I  caught the full sequence of Dani Pedorasa’s crash in the 2007 MotoGP (top).

In much the same way, in the 2008 Formula One race, I caught the crash of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa as they fought hard for the championship.

But my crash experience at this year’s Formula One Japan Grand Prix was very different.

During qualifying, I heard the voice of our chief photographer crackle over my walkie-talkie, “Toyota crash… Looks serious…”.

I ran to the scene and when I arrived Toyota driver Timo Glock was lying on a stretcher with an oxygen mask.

At that instant, I feared I was looking at something that motorsports fans never want to see happen to the drivers.


But the next moment, Timo Glock’s hand moved, and in a moment he was clearly waving to the crowd as he was put in an ambulance.

As I took another picture I felt my camera’s shutter clicked with a sense of relief.


Photo credits: REUTERS/Toru Hanai


Crasher-san great pictures but guess who won’t be driving from stadium to stadium in South Africa in June/July…..?

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