While packing up things for my upcoming move, I came across a favorite photograph. Done on a color printer of dubious merit, it expresses the mad spirt embodied in camel racing. And it reminded me of LeRoy Neiman’s colorful style with horses.
The lead rider is Shorty Smith, a Tasmania resident, who I met in 2015 at the Virginia City Camel and Ostrich Races. Smith gave me the photo, eager for me to have something about him. It depicts him in a real race in his home country.
Smith was garrulous, a term I don’t use lightly. He could talk. And talk. And talk. Not only had he raced all over Australia, he had been to Saudi Arabia and recounted races there. Luxurious tents were set up in the desert, complete with trained falcons attending. All the while he talked I wished I had a tape recorder and some magazine to sell a story about him. And I wished that my breakfast wasn’t getting cold. Fascinating guy.
If you want to know more about Shorty Smith, just Google Shorty Smith and Camel racing. And check out LeRoy Neiman’s paintings anywhere on the web. I’m not sure Neiman ever painted a camel race but I bet he could have. And I am sure he would have liked Shorty Smith.