Trackside Tuesday: Hang Loose

08/14/2012 @ 6:09 pm, by Daniel Lo16 COMMENTS

The corkscrew is widely considered to be the masterpiece of Laguna Seca, and few would argue that there is a more iconic turn in all of motorsports. For race fans from around the world, a pilgrimage to the world-famous California track doesn’t truly end until they have reached the corkscrew.

However, Turn Five is what holds a special place in my heart, as that is where I first stumbled off a bus five years ago as a starry-eyed first-time race attendee. Having only experienced motorcycle racing on various television and computer screens up to that point, I will forever remember my jaw dropping to the ground as I finally witnessed firsthand the awesome and terrifying presence of MotoGP machines.

Diving into, and roaring out of, Turn Five at speeds that my brain refused to believe were real, when I try to explain the difference between watching a race on TV versus one in real life to friends back home, this is the story I reference.

Strangely enough, I never took any photos from that vantage point until just a couple weekends ago, at the 2012 Red Bull US GP. I admit I wasn’t even thinking of that particular memory at the time, but this image will always be the definitive snapshot of my first real-life glimpse into the racing world. Minus the leg-dangle of course.

Dan Lo is a motorsport photographer who covers AMA Superbike, World Superbike, and MotoGP. His online portfolio is at and he can also be found on Facebook and Twitter

Photo: © 2012 Daniel Lo / Corner Speed Photo – All Rights Reserved

  • CB

    Great picture. Just drove by Laguna Seca on Monday while on vacation with the family to see the Corkscrew in person. Even absent of racing or people that turn is beautiful to behold.

  • Totally agree Dan,

    This last MotoGP race at Laguna Seca, was the first i had ever seen outside of my living room. My experience was the same as yours, awe stuck by the noise, speed, skill, that i was beholding. How could i ever explain the feeling of leaning on the fence with my 75-300mm at the start of the race grid and feel my insides vibrate as the bikes roared by. Having only had my T3i since Dec. 2011, my first DSLR, i was anxious to get pics from every vantage point possible. Especially the corkscrew, i was really impressed at how freely you could move around to line up shots, although I was jealous of those lucky photographers on the other side of the cyclone fence.

    After taking pictures from every possible corner i could walk to, i have to say Turn 5 was my favorite, something about that vantage point with the bikes nearly horizontal for so long was great for setting up shots. For me turn 5 in person really conveyed just how extremely good Casey Stoner is, the way he would dive into that turn and hold a line was on a godlike level.

  • Everett

    Speaking of the leg-dangle: why do they do that? Is it to stretch out the leg? Feeler like the knee (but at a much higher position)? Leg pump? Wind break?

  • JohnMc


    I can’t speak personally on this subject but from what I have read this is the best explanation for the “leg dangle” ; By moving their foot off the peg, riders are able get their bodies closer to the front of bike to help load front end while braking into a turn. Also the braking forces naturally throw the rider to the front of the bike. Resisting that force takes a great amount of effort by the rider, ie it takes much more energy to keep your foot planted on the peg than to let the foot flop forward. So it serves two purposes, to conserve energy throughout the race distance and help transfer more weight to the front. Occasionally you will see a rider dangle the right leg, but it is rare, most often the right leg stays on for trail braking into a turn.

  • Bob Krzeszkiewicz

    I remember watching Stoner bin it in turn 5 back in ’06 on the satellite Honda. Was like getting roosted at the MX track, but with gravel.

  • Everett

    JMc, Thanks for the explanation, a lot of it makes sense. But at the same time, when braking, don’t you want to squeeze the tank to prevent from slamming into it? Another way I’ve noticed it, is it’s almost a rhythm thing. Like a baseball batter and their step before the swing. I see the dangle before a turn (in braking like you say) and then a ‘set’ back on the pegs just before the final dive in for a turn.

  • Patron

    When I went to Indy for its first year (also my first year witnessing a MotoGP race live), I remember being disappointed that it rained on Friday for their practices. Naively thinking I was going to see less of a show due to the slower, wet weather speeds. I could not have been more wrong. Watching them take turn 5, in the soaking wet, faster than I had imagined they would take it dry was enough to keep my mouth open and eyes unblinked for 30 min. It almost prepared me for how fast they would be going on the dry Sat. Was an amazing and humbling experience to say the least.

  • JohnMc

    Honestly to delve any further on this topic would be pure speculation on my behalf. Its an advanced maneuver that is only used in the highest echelons motorcycle racing, I will never achieve the ability or need to preform such technique in my daily bike riding. If I could speculate further, one could assume the rider is squeezing the tank and downshifting while braking for the corner. The leg dangle happens after gear selection so the rider is already against the tank. The leg comes out as they continue to brake deeper into the apex. The leg comes back on as they transition from brake to throttle mid corner.

    That is my amateur take it on.

  • Patron

    No Americans do this “leg dangle” BTW. At least not in MotoGP. I always found that interesting

  • I’ve heard a lot of opinions on this, but i remember seeing an interview with Rossi a few years ago about why he dangled his leg, since he was one of the first riders to adopt that style.

    From what i can remember was, to brake very hard like these riders do before every turn, he would brace himself using his arms much like if you were doing a bench press, because it’s very hard to brake as you turn not only to loss of traction, but just the shear force of braking alone. Getting your leg off before corner apex helps turn in the motorcycle and helps smoothly transfer weight as the rider leans off the bike.

    Also a lot of riders have thumb brakes on the left handle bar for the rear braking duties as well.

  • Patron

    Rossi also said at one point that he has looked at his data and it provide no benefit, just feels better. Other riders just adopted it. All the more reason I like that American riders have none of it. Eventually I believe this will disappear. As I’ve never roadraced, I’ve never tried to see if there is something to its “feel”.

  • justadude

    I , like a few others here, was absolutely blown away by my first live MotoGP (at Indy last year). So much so that I’m going back this year as well. Watching it TV just doesn’t do it justice. TV can’t convey the speed or all the glorious noise! We stood in Ducati Island near the pit exit road and watched them roar past while hitting turn 1. These guys truly are the upper echelon of motorcycle riders. I’m not sure I could even ride one of those bikes hard enough to warm the tires… I’d be a lap down on lap 2… :-) Truly amazing stuff.

  • FernandoARG

    The leg dangle is done as I have heard from a couple of riders like Casey and Vale to help break the sturdy frame into turn angle as the motorcycle and the force plus speed make it difficult to turn these bikes, “breaking the frame into 2 from the middle of the bike is what supposedly helps with.

  • Beary

    Dangling the leg is just to get some air flow into your balls :p

  • Cj

    It is both to weight the front of the bike as well as to get extra wind resistance to slow down. Same principle as sitting up to slow down. If you are using all available braking power but still need to scrub off speed to keep a proper line sometimes a little extra wind resistance and front end traction is all it will take.

  • Greg

    Laguna Seca is a truly special track. I started going there with my Dad to watch the historic auto races when I was a kid and hadn’t been there for many years until I began to ride a motorcycle and watch GP racing. The elevation changes not only make it more interesting, but a lot more spectator-friendly as well.

    If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend attending a track day at Laguna. Comparing my lap times with what the professionals are able to accomplish makes what they do that much more impressive (and humbling). I can’t wait to do my next track event there this fall.