At the start of the 2022 season I embarked on a personal challenge of capturing some shots of the British Superbike championship. To try and make things a little less 'scatter gun' I thought about following a few riders in more detail. Maybe try and tell their story of the year. Chrissy Rouse was one of those riders. The image you see from Round 2 at Oulton Park was one which his little sister loved, his team loved, and Chrissy loved. I spoke with him about it at Donington Park a few weeks later, and he was so encouraging of my work, and so pleased with the shot. "Ah, it's that one with me all out of shape at Druids isn't it? Wow, that's a mega shot mate. I'll sign a copy for you later in the season at one of the other rounds".
A few words, said with a smile and a laugh, and I can't tell you the confidence that gave that I might be on to something with my work. A few words which made me a better photographer, and made me a better person.
We never got to get that signing. A handshake at Donington Park in October, and we said we'd get that done on the pit-lane walk at the final round at Brands Hatch, but...
These images can never come close to doing justice to the man and the person Chrissy Rouse was. But in some small way, I hope that my photographs of "their boy Chrissy" continues to bring strength and comfort to his family and friends. I hope that seeing photos of him doing what he absolutely loved, and watching back those old episodes of Chasin' the Racin' will in a way make Chrissy live on forever. It won't be the same for his loved ones, I know. But...
I wish for so many things, and I wish I could take more shots of Chrissy. I really do. But I'm a nobody who presses a button on a photo box machine. Chrissy was a somebody who was loved and impacted so many in such a positive and beautiful way. Watching Stranger Things recently, and that Kate Bush song sums it up perfectly for me, "If only I could. I'd make a deal with God. And I'd get him to swap our places".
2022 - R10: Donington Park
Lap 1. Race 3. Mcleans. Donington Park.
"It's about the journey, not the destination"
A beautiful person. A beautiful bike. Chasin' the Racin', chasin' his dream and passion. A wonderful, kind, happy and very special person.
2022 - R9: Oulton Park
In some respects, a bit of a 'classic' shot here, with the natural framing of Lodge at Oulton Park.
Chrissy Rouse here, on the Crowe Performance BMW looking as stylish as ever.
I know I might be biased as it's one of my shots, but I absolutely love this image. For so many reasons. It was one I'd set out to capture at the start of the day, for my portfolio of images I'd been working on over the season for Chrissy. I liked it when I saw it on the screen on my camera, but fell in love with it when I got home and saw it on the computer screen.
2022 - R8: Snetterton
Just how stylish does Chrissy look here? A dark day with very changeable conditions, meaning most of the light was quite dark. However, with the beautiful colour scheme Chrissy has sported for the 2022 season, he still just shines like a ray of light in the darkness.
2022 - R7: Cadwell Park
Flying over the Mountain section.
Chrissy just looking like he's sprouted wings here as he flies on the BMW. The song "Everlong" by the Foo Fighters was Chrissy's chosen tune to go out on SuperPole to if he qualified for it, but sadly he just missed out.
Overall, it was "one of those weekends" where no matter what changes he made, the lap times stayed the same until the last day when there was a big step up, literally overnight. However, this improvement was tempered by a weekend of crashes.
2022 - R6: Thruxton
The wide open spaces of Thruxton, and this shot of Chrissy shows him coming out of the pits in readiness for Race 1. Where he was taken out by another rider at the end of the first lap. Significant damage to the bike meant working all through the night for his amazing crew, plus an overnight drive to the other end of the country to get a new part!
Chrissy was back out for Race 2 the next day though.
Love this shot, and Chrissy looking straight down the lens, allowing you to see right into his eyes.
2022 - R5: Brands Hatch
Slightly darker feel, but the Brands Hatch round was held in balmy hot conditions, where it felt like your throat was burning when you breathed!
Chrissy was setting some hot times all weekend on-track too, and here he is totally dialled in to the job at hand with the scorched grass in the background.
2022 - R3: Donington Park
Really can overstate the achievement of what Chrissy is producing in his first season in British Superbikes for Crowe Performance Racing, which is essentially Chrissy's privately run team. It's made up of mates and family, and Chrissy also has to work hard to contribute to the funding for the team (as most of the riders do through the classes).
It's easy to think once you make it to the top Superbike class, you've made it and you're one the payroll, but that's usually far from the truth.
2022 - R3: Donington Park
Another mega shot of Chrissy Rouse chasing down former British Superbike champion, Josh Brookes.
Chrissy made amazing progress over the weekend in the three races, and finished 14th, 12th and the 10th in the three races, showing that his unquestionable talent is starting to be rewarded with results.
2022 - R2: Oulton Park
This is a mega shot of Chrissy Rouse, who is quite possibly, the fastest (former) Maths teacher in the world!
A bit out of shape here at Druids, at the Oulton Park circuit, it certainly makes for an amazing photograph. I've no doubt that Chrissy was in full control here (you were, right, eh Chrissy?!!) and the shot really does give some idea of the speed, action and thrill that motorcycle racing can bring.
This is the shot that made me think I could be half decent at photographing racing - and I had some massively kind words from Chrissy's sister abut this shot, which I can't put into words how much that blows me away.