PhotoGP is very proud to announce our second signed, limited edition with Casey Stoner. This image is from Casey’s final appearance at his home track on Phillip Island and features him cresting the famous Lukey Heights, one of the track’s landmark turns, and winning his home Grand Prix for the sixth consecutive time. Casey is wearing the custom helmet design created just for his last home GP.
The Weekend’s Story
As soon as Casey issued his surprise announcement that he was retiring, I knew I had to make it to Phillip Island. I’d tried to go each year for the past several seasons but each year something had come up to prevent me. This time there could be no excuse: I had to see Casey ride at his home track, and this was my last chance.
The weekend began with the presentation at Turn 3, now known as Stoner Corner, where Casey has so famously shown over the past few years why he is unique among even the most talented motorbike riders in the world. The way he comes through this challenging turn is different from all others, and in the pre-race press conference he was asked about his method of taming this intimidating section of tarmac. He joked that he wasn’t quite ready to reveal his secret for getting around Turn 3 so much faster than anyone else. At the time he had yet to win his sixth consecutive victory here at his home track.
Each session seemed a farewell to the fans who lined the track to see the national hero on home turf for the final time. Not only did Casey dominate each time sheet, but he acknowledged the crowd at the end of each session as if aware that some fans might come only for Friday or Saturday as some tend to do. He seemed to want to wave to each and every person who made the trip to see him ride for the last time.
Everywhere I looked people were wearing the free King Casey paper crowns the track was handing out to honor their retiring hero. There was a tangible feeling that this was indeed a special weekend to go to a motorbike race, and that to be there in person was one of those once-in-a-lifetime events that folks would talk about for decades to come. As a photographer, I set myself with the goal of finding an image that would stand as a recognition of what it was to be there that weekend.
When I saw that Casey had arranged a special helmet design for the event I knew my photo had to feature that, so all photos from Friday were discounted for the special one I had in mind since he’d worn his traditional crash hat until Saturday. I decided that Lukey Heights was my best chance of getting an image that offered a close up not only of this special helmet, worn uniquely for this special occasion, but also that showed Casey at home in a section of track that is uniquely Phillip Island.
When I presented the chosen image to Casey for his signature at Valencia as shown below, he gave me that same smile I got when he’d signed the Elbow Down image earlier at Laguna Seca. It was fantastic to see his own pleasure and satisfaction with the image I’d captured to commemorate his final home race.
I’m very pleased to offer this edition, which is limited to 50 copies, each of which was signed by Casey at Valencia on November 11, 2012.