Captured Moments: The 2017 Zink Ranch National Enduro Experience
By Dale Spangler
In 2017, I was making a go of it with my offroad dirt bike website, Dirt Buzz, making my best effort to impersonate an authentic motorcycle media outlet. I’d wanted to attend a few races for Dirt Buzz and had a shortlist of events in mind, including the J Day Offroad Series in New England, the Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series based in the Carolinas, and a round of the National Enduro Series in Oklahoma. A quick analysis of travel costs revealed the Oklahoma National Enduro was within my small self-funded budget. So I booked the flight, a hotel room, and a rental car with a plan to experience a National Enduro race.
Held at the much-storied John Zink Ranch—location of the 1994 ISDE (International Six Days Enduro)—the race site is situated roughly ten miles northwest of Tulsa on 30,000 acres of private land. On the drive to the paddock the day before the race, I was surprised by the rolling terrain and had no idea northeastern Oklahoma would be such a picturesque place to hold a dirt bike race.
My initial plan for covering the race was simple: document my personal “Zink Ranch National Enduro Experience,” which would include touring a few of the local breweries based in Tulsa. My plan changed when on Sunday morning before the start of the race, promoters Alan and Melissa Randt offered to allow me to ride along with series photographers Shan Moore and Darrin Chapman, as well as videographer Rob Mitchell. As a result, my experience evolved into one of shadowing these three seasoned media pros as they ventured out to capture as many sections and special tests on the racecourse as possible and see what it takes to create the race coverage that appears on websites and in publications.
After watching row after row of racers take off from the start in small groups and hit the first grass track special test, we loaded up in an SUV driven by promoter Melissa Randt and headed out to spend a day in the woods. Almost immediately, I realized how these media people capture content at an offroad race is eye-opening. Shooting photos and getting video when a course is spread across such an enormous stretch of land requires efficiency, planning, and a familiarity with the area only obtained through years of attending races. I did my best to stay out of the way while shadowing the pros, which involved nearly five hours of driving to remote locations, hiking sections to capture content, getting back in the vehicle, rushing to the next site—then doing it all over again.
“Shooting photos and getting video when a course is spread across such an enormous stretch of land requires efficiency, planning, and a familiarity with the area only obtained through years of attending races.”
The Captured Moment highlighted in this installment was taken at a water crossing a few miles from the start and paddock area. In the photo, the longtime offroad photojournalist and publisher of On the Pegs magazine, Shan Moore, captures the eventual 2017 National Enduro Champion Steward Baylor Junior (now a four-time champion) as he wheelies across a creek crossing. Despite using an iPhone, I lucked out and timed the snap to include Shan and Stu in the same photo in what I like to call a “capture of a capture.”
That day was a lot of fun, while at the same time exhausting. It was enlightening and inspiring to shadow seasoned moto media pros and watch them operate. To say that I gained a new level of respect for field photo and video journalists would be an understatement. I was also impressed with Melissa Randt and her knowledge of the course layout. Without her piloting us around to the different sections, it would have been next to impossible to experience the race and gather content in the same efficient manner. I learned how much effort it takes to obtain the photos and footage seen in race reports and recap videos. It was an honor to be allowed into their circle—if only for a day.