I am always impressed with the motorcycle camera crews. Their ability to capture the drama of racing, while often balancing at slower speeds, and not crashing either themselves or the riders is incredible; all the while having a guy on the back moving around to get the best shot – especially in the big alpine ascents or super twisty descents. So my question: Do these guys practice? Are there “superteams” who get to do the better events (kind of like NFL referees who get to do the playoffs)? Do you always ride with the same partner, or is it just mix/match of whoever is available? Do you need to qualify, i.e. some sort of test to prove that you have the skills to do the job? How do the riders feel about them? My guess is that they are happy when they can get a draft, and annoyed with them the rest of the time.
For an answer to your question I reached out to Chuck Hodge, the Technical Director at Medalist Sports (the company that organizes the Amgen Tour of California, the Tour of Utah, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, the new Exergy Tour and USA Cycling Pro Championships; these guys and gals know bike racing!). He coordinates an army of different crews, including local police, medical teams, officials and media. Here’s his response:
“The motor pilot for a camera bike job is pretty much the top of the heap as far as skill level and expertise goes. Many of the drivers have been doing the job for 20+ years – as is evidenced by their skill level. There is a mix of folks involved, but you tend to see teams who work well together. Sometimes these teams are hired by the race, while other times this is done by the TV production company. It is a tough job to break into, as there aren’t many positions available – in the US there are five or six races with live