Hold on to your butts!
John McGuinness is synonymous with the Isle of Man TT. Despite racing in the British Superstock Championship and MotoGP for short stints, the English rider specializes in the Snaefell Mountain course. With 23 championships and 47 podiums to his credit, race organizers even named a left-hand bend after him.
Over 19 years of contesting the TT, few racers have been able to match the Morecambe Missile’s pace. The prospects of keeping up with McGuinness long enough to extract his strengths and weaknesses are slim. Aside from helicopter footage, road irregularities and high speeds of the mountain course make it practically impossible to capture clear video of the TT legend. Luckily, a small group of filmmakers bolted a camera rig to a superbike manned by four-time IOMTT podium winner Conor Cummins.
As an Isle of Man native, Cummins knows a thing or two about the 37.73-mile road-racing circuit. The 2007 Irish Superbike and Superstock champion has broken IOMTT lap records in the past and definitely has the speed to keep up with McGuinness. With a Libra MINI remote head mounted to Cummins’ bike, a pursuit car wirelessly controlled the camera to constantly reframe McGuinness’s movements.
The camera device’s three-axis stabilization works similar to a motorcycle’s suspension, soaking up road bumps or potholes and withstanding wind turbulence to provide fluid tracking footage. Used throughout the film industry, the Libra MINI not only helped the crew capture video of the elusive McGuinness from a camera bike but also gave us a look into the Morecambe Missile’s cockpit.
Mounted to McGuinness’ bike, the Libra MINI recorded his micromovements at the levers and the pegs. From shifting his weight to feathering the clutch to poking out his knee right before the apex, the images give the audience a more intimate view of the racer’s process. Many of these shots also included a pan or tilt that isn’t easily achieved with motorcycle-mounted cameras but feels so natural for the viewer that they practically go unnoticed.
Let's be honest, does the footage really divulge any of McGuinness’s secrets or bring any of us closer to his Mount Olympus status? No, not one bit, but is it cool to see him tear up the IOMTT course and wheelie into the distance in buttery smooth fluidity? It sure is!