Russography | A First-Timer Hits Unadilla with Credentials

By Jordan Wilsey

Story and Photos by @Russography518

I attended my first AMA Pro Motocross Championship national as a credentialed photographer last weekend at Unadilla in New Berlin, New York. Travel was good to and from the track as I am only a hop, skip, and a jump away, so it was amazing for my first gig for Direct Motocross to be at my home track!

I arrived Friday for Media Day at around noon and started my day off by taking a walk around the pits first thing in the morning. It was almost surreal, I have never seen it so quiet in the pits before.

#51 Justin Barcia.

The first bike that crossed my path was the beautiful number 51 bike! Justin Barcia was back and ready for action, and yes his hair does look that good if not better in person! I saw him first thing in the morning too while he was having a chat with Jo Shimoda.

#238 Haiden Deegan.

Next I strolled over to the Star Racing tent and happened to notice a very prepped and ready rider in #238 Haiden Deegan twirling his gear in his bag having a conversation with a few of his friends.

The next truck over housed the Team HRC Honda riders. #23 Chase Sexton and #96 Hunter Lawrence were outside hanging out under the tent, both in their finest attire!

Media activity starts and it is a madhouse with riders, bikes, and fans pouring in by the hundreds to get a look at their favorite riders.

Waxed Racing released some of the 2024 gear and had 2 riders on display dripping in purple and green.

#613 Jimmy Decotis.

#613 Jimmy Decotis and his beautiful dog Marley made an appearance as well as most of your top riders and even a few locals.

Riders hit the track but we all knew what time it really was. It was time for Barcia to hit the sky shot and everyone knew it. I don’t know what he whips better, a dirt bike or his hair because he was absolutely throwing down! I was honestly in awe and just blessed to be in a position I was in to have access to watch the best in our sport run laps around me while I capture as much of it as I could. It was a bit overwhelming but I knew it was only media day and I needed to get it together for race day.

We left shortly after riders left the track and headed to camp. Unadilla camping was nearly full and only had expensive spots left, so we opted to stay at a horse camp up the road that was a lot cheaper but just as pumped for Unadilla as the fans were! We cooked a couple ribeyes over the fire and headed off to bed as we knew we had a busy day ahead of us!

We wake up to not a drop of rain after preparing for the worse. Last I checked it was a 92 percent chance and severe thunderstorms. We began our 8-minute drive to the track and parked our trucks. As I’m getting my camera gear out of the car another car pulls in and parks next to me and it’s Chase Sexton. I wished him good luck and headed into the track. As I’m walking in I hear a voice say “Hey, guys. Good morning.” It was #21 Jason Anderson pushing his baby girl in the stroller. Having a newborn myself I gained tremendous respect for this man and have no idea how he does it.

The racing.

Qualifying went business as usual in the 450 class with #18 Jett Lawrence out front followed by Chase Sexton, and Jason Anderson. The 250 class had Hunter Lawrence on top followed by #35 Seth Hammaker, and a very fast looking #55 Austin Forkner.

With the broadcast being live on NBC the 450 class was going to run the first moto. Another Jett Lawrence wire-to-wire victory in moto 1 with an early push from Sexton until he went down trying to avoid a lapper. Next came a very hard charging #14 Dylan Ferrandis who possibly could have gotten to Jett with another lap left.

The 250 class moto 1 showed #43 Levi Kitchen running away with the moto and Hunter Lawrence having to fight through the pack with a pressing Haiden Deegan on his tail until his Yamaha decided it was quitting time. Jo Shimoda would acquire the third position in moto 1.

Jett Lawrence with the holeshot.

The 450 moto 2 would start and Jett Lawrance would get an excellent jump off the gate while Dylan was snoozing and was one of the last ones off the line. Chase Sexton would acquire the second position but there was little Chase could do with the Australian out front with a good lead. Ferrandis would battle all the way back to finish third but that happened to be just enough to allow Jett to finalize his stamp on the 2023 Pro Motocross championship. I have never heard such a roar from the crowd at a motocross race and I’m honored it was all of the New York fans that could cheer on Jett in his emotional moments of acquiring what he and his family set out to do when they sold everything they had to make it to this level.

Jett Lawrence clinched the 450 title.

I had to have sat there for over 10 minutes watching Jett just admire the trophy and the position he was in. It was an honorable moment that I was blessed to be witnessing in person less than 5 feet away from him. My first credentialed event as a photographer and I got to witness one of the greatest moments in our sport’s history.

I’ll be honest, I watched about 2 minutes of the second 250 moto. All 4 of my camera cards had maxed out so I was trying to rush and clear enough room to capture the last moto. Luckily, a lightning strike delay and a red flag from a nasty #24 RJ Hampshire crash I was able to make it to the track with enough time to do a photo shoot for the Monster Energy girls and catch the start of the moto.

“Congratulations, Jett.”

As I’m walking up the track after the start, I turned around and noticed Jett Lawrence in his finest Alpinestars attire and 100 Percent glasses walking up behind me. I gave him a fist bump and said, “Congratulations, Jett.” He Replied with, “Thanks mate” and he carried on to cheer on his brother.

I decided it was a good time for me to capture some pictures of the champ that nobody else would have unless they noticed him. The moto was coming to a close and Jett started walking back to the pits to greet his brother after his victory. I stopped him and asked him if later he would sign the very first shirt I had made for my brand in the media tent after interviews. He agreed and got on his bike and started to ride away before a fan on the other side of the fence started threatening Jett until I stepped in and told him to “leave the champ alone”. Let’s just say he didn’t have many kind words to say to me so I left.

I headed back to the media tent and was having internet issues as well as issues with my laptop so I was kind of stranded with nothing to do but watch the press conferences. I started packing up equipment and listening to our new champ as he talked about how he likes to play video games in his spare time and how thankful he is to his team and his family.

Chase sounded a bit bummed on the podium. He believed he had a good shot at beating Jett in at least one of the motos today but just fell a bit short once again. Dylan sounded a bit more confident in his abilities and believes that he and Yamaha may have found the secret sauce to give him what he needs to compete with Jett in the final few races.

After the conference I had my shirt laid out on the table with a sharpie and he signed it “Jett 18 450 Champ.” The 250 riders rolled in and I stopped Hunter and asked him after the press conference if he would sign my shirt as well and showed him I had his brother sign it and he agreed as well. He sounded like he was feeling a bit better and has been able to ride a bit more after dealing with a rib injury for most of the year and was happy for his brother and happy to get a win and stretch the gap over Deegan and #32 Justin Cooper. Levi Kitchen was happy to be up there and believes he’s more than capable of winning more of these motos. Cooper faded a bit in moto 1 but was like a rocket in moto 2 and he was happy to be back at his home track in front of his home fans.

My overall experience at my first-ever credentialed shoot was jaw dropping, fast paced, emotional, and I just couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face. I want to give a huge thank you to Direct Motocross for giving me this amazing opportunity to showcase some of my photography skills and being able to provide you with the story of the nationals through my eyes. I was for sure the kid in the candy shop as the saying goes. I can’t wait to keep updating everyone with amazing content from a truly amazing day.

Jordan is shooting his 2nd Pro Motocross National at Budds Creek this weekend.