Insight: Paul Buckley

Insight Paul Buckley

December 16, 2013 5:55pm

Looking for some cool and personal—and last-minute!—Christmas gifts for the motocross enthusiast in your life? Paul Buckley has probably shot more motocross photos than anyone. Going back to the mid-seventies, he has shot every major race in New England, both professional and amateur, as well as supercross and outdoor national work. But gone are the days of bringing out loads of Buckley Photos each weekend at NESC races for potential buyers to purchase, as technology and customers tastes have changed. Which brings us back to last-minute gifts for this holiday season, as we asked Paul to explain.

Racer X: First of all, how have you been? How’s motocross in the New England Sports Committee world going?
Paul Buckley: Well, I am doing well, and the NESC has still been pretty much kicking butt as far as the races and turnouts go. It still drives the fast guys from New England, like Jimmy Decotis and Robby Marshall and all those guys go, and of course John Dowd still shows up every once in a while with his son Ryan in tow, so that’s pretty cool. I guess it’s all going pretty good up here.

Wintertime and all of the snow means everyone has probably parked their bikes for a little while, and now Christmas is now upon us. I’m one of those guys that seems to wait longer and longer to get my gift shopping done, but fortunately you’ve got more and more stuff available online than ever before—some really cool motocross stuff to get online and shipped out right away.
Yes, I have a few things going on—some opportunities for people to grab some of my older vintage motocross shots, plus some other things that are moto-related, as well as not just moto.


Let’s start with my favorite site for classic motocross photos and posters and all,
Sure, that’s a lot of my photography from the eighties, nineties, and even early ‘00s of classic motocross shots. Stuff like David Bailey, Johnny O’Mara, Ronnie Lechien, RJ, Wardy, Broc, Bob Hannah, and those guys—I hate to say “golden era of motocross” because it seems like every era can be a “golden era” in this sport because things just seem to be getting better and better. But this was from back in the days of the true works bikes, with a dozen guys on the line that could win every time. So for guys who grew up back then watching all those heroes, they can find memorabilia and classic shots of just about everyone back then.

Hey, I have a Buckley Photo on my wall: #1 David Bailey leading #1 Broc Glover at the 1984 Gatorback 500 National, when Bailey was the GNC #1 but Broc was the 500 National #1. One of my favorite photos ever.
Thank you.

Another one of my favorite photos is of Guy Cooper coming out of the first turn at the 1991 Southwick 125 National, with #42 Brian Swink right on his leg—great shot, and it’s available on for posters, prints or whatever. Which photos really jump out for you—something from the ‘90s?
Thanks—there’s a bunch of Doug Henry photos that I still really enjoy seeing and talking to people about, back when he was still coming up through the ranks, like the mechanics’ hill at Unadilla when he was on a factory Honda CR125. And there’s also one of Jeremy McGrath at Daytona ’93, the year he won his first championship, and he’s wearing white on that red Honda and the dirt behind him is just that dark, rich, black Daytona soil. I probably shot it on Fujichrome Velvia and it just really all pops. I think one of the shots even made it into Fran Kuhn’s Inside Motocross magazine, so I’m very proud of that—Jeremy’s not doing a nac-nac or anything, it’s just him powering out of a corner and it’s a really nice shot that’s available on the site.


Your famous shot of Erik Kehoe launching it off the finish-line jump at Gatorback ’93 to hold off Jeremy also made Inside Motocross—maybe the best finish-line photo ever. And I’m sure the “Jo Jo scrub” photo from back in his NESC days is available on the site.
Yes, it is.

Did you ever think that it would become one of the all-time great bench-racing photos? It’s like, was that the first scrub, twenty years before James Stewart unveiled the perfected version, and now the whole world knows it’s mandatory?
[Laughs] I don’t know if James ever saw that or not—he probably wasn’t even born back when I shot Jo Jo doing his deal. I don’t think anybody had any idea of how important a move the Bubba Scrub would become, but back when Jo Jo was doing it, he was just a bigger guy who would do whatever it took to because he had a few extra pounds on the guys and he had to do everything he could think of to keep up with the kids who weighed 98 pounds on a 125, because every pound to him was important. After James started doing it, it’s evolved to where everyone does it.

Speaking of evolution, things have really evolved in photography. It’s like our two-strokes-to-four-strokes moment was when everyone switched from film to digital photography. Now, when we get photo submissions, we get hundreds and even thousands of photos on a link, but back in the day, when you were paying for the film and doing all of the processing and filing and darkroom work, people didn’t have such a heavy trigger finger, did they?
[Laughs] They sure didn’t. Before I switched to digital, when I would go to a national or supercross, my bill for film and processing would be $500 easily, so that would make me selective as to when I would push the button. Hardly anyone did big blasts of motor-drive sequences. We were all much more selective, because every time you shot, it was like, “There goes a quarter, there goes a quarter, there goes a quarter....” And not only was there the expense of shooting and processing, but there was nowhere to really keep everything just in case, so you were much more meticulous in the photos you chose to keep in your files. These days I will go to a race and shoot a thousand photos and maybe only cost about 10 cents. It’s a lot different now.


Besides the custom photo prints, what else can people do with the photos they like on or even a photo of their own that they like?
Well, we have another place where people can upload a photo they have taken—a photo of anything, too, not just racing or motorcycles—and I can make a customized case for their iPhone 4 or iPhone 5 or Galaxy S3 or whatever. I also have a bunch of stock designs that are motocross-inspired and can add in someone’s number or name or bike brand and produce a pretty cool phone case that way. All of that can be done on

So if I wanted a phone case made up of Bailey and Glover battling, or just something of my son playing around in the yard, I can go there and get a phone cover made?
Yep, you can go there and upload a video of anything, like your son’s first concert like you posted on Instagram.

Yes, but that would be a photo of an 11-year-old with a very confused look on his face, like, “Why are all these girls dancing in their seats? Dad, I can barely hear the music or the words, why is everyone singing along? Don’t they want to hear Justin Timberlake himself actually sing?” He was a little overwhelmed by his first concert. So anyway, what about your T-shirt club?
Well, I have seen other industries do this—offering a T-Shirt of the Month Club—and I decided to do it and put a motocross spin on it. I reached out to some of the better known brands in motocross, including FMF and Renthal and Mechanix Wear and 6-D and Racer X and more, and offer a new T-shirt every month from one of these brands. The site is and you can sign up yourself or sign up a friend and you or they will get a nice, fresh, iconic motocross T-shirt every month. Memberships start out at $99.95 and go up from there—it’s a pretty cool deal.


Right on. And then finally, back to your photography, anyone who has raced one of the big amateur events up there in New England this year can go to Buckley Photos and probably find something of themselves or their son or daughter and order up prints still?
Absolutely. I go to enough races still that chances are really good that if you raced up here, I’ve got something of you on the site. You can order everything from big posters to little files to put on Facebook, phone cases, prints, calendars, and even make their own Racer X Illustrated covers, which fool a lot of people when I have them out at the races.

I have to get one of those!
Get online and order one of yourself from your #214 days!

So in closing, it’s not too late for people reading this to get online and order some stuff and have it here by Christmas, right?
Sure, there’s plenty of time to get things ordered. These days I make everything right here, so if someone ordered something in the next couple of days I can get it back to them in time—but I would need it ordered by the end of the week, and if the post office is being halfway coordinated, it will get there before Christmas.


Thanks, Paul. Merry Christmas and have a safe, fun holiday.
Thanks! You too—see you at the races.

Check out and and for some very cool last-minute Christmas gifts from Paul Buckley.