American Speedway  

In Memory
R. I. P.

Back It In Racing

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Today's Cycle Coverage

Jim "JT" Thorn
William James Thornborough

November 15, 1942 - April 12, 2015

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo
Celebrating the life of JT! A true legend and will missed greatly.
Glad I got say final goodbyes with close friends and family
Max Ruml via Facebook Page

William James Thornborough Memorial - Celebration of Life — by Howie Zechner

Jim loved Speedway motorcycle racing.  It was his joy, passion, obsession, addiction and business.   It was his legacy.

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

Called JT his camera work was extraordinary.  It was the dark time before digital when film was king and good equipment was expensive.  Working the Speedway circuit he sold pictures to the riders, fans and promoters. Never making enough to get rich JT cared less. “Shooting pictures from the infield is the best seat in the house” Jim told me. “Hell I’d work for nothing just to be here.”

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

That was obvious.  JT walked the pits handing out pictures.  Hey Billy Bob here’s one from last week. No money hey that’s ok.  Sure you can pay me next week or month or never.  It mattered less.  Running “Back it in Photos” was a joy more than a business.

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

Now don’t get me wrong.  Jims pictures are top notch.  On the infield piping and down low or at the start/finish line or capturing a victory wheelie.  JT had his camera where it needed to be and owns the pictures to prove it.  How he didn't get seriously injured was a mystery because more than one Speedway rider tells stories of brushing against Jim as he blurred the line between infield and race track. Sidecar guys have even more harrowing tales of hard contact.

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

The decades flew by.  JT was everywhere.  All the tracks and all after the race places.  Time went from being a friend to becoming an enemy.  There were aces and pains from times when that up close action shot was to close. They took their toll.  Then about a year ago a stroke.

Still Jim felt blessed.  He had moved in with his son Mick, wife Chantal and the grand kids several years before and loved being there.  Family life agreed with him and Jim embraced it.  It was a new and welcomed chapter in the life of William James Thornborough.

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

Then the tables turned.  Doctors found clogged arteries.  Jim needed a quadruple bypass.  Scheduled for March 20, 2015 the doctors said he was a good candidate for the surgery.  But he wasn't.  They claimed he would make a full recovery.  But he didn't.

Early morning surgery at St Bernardi Hospital in San Bernardino was considered successful but around 8pm the bleeding started.  Jim had a massive stroke and never regained consciousness.  Son Mick Thornborough had to make that hardest decision any son can make.  They would take him off life support on April 1st to correspond with the date that Jim’s dad had died years earlier.

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

William James Thornborough was buried next to his mother and father at the Olive Lawn Cemetery in La Mirada California on April 29, 2015.  Those that were dear and near attended.

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

The Memorial was packed with friends who wanted to say goodbye. When asked if any would like an opportunity to speak many did.  Bobby Schwartz, Charlie Venegas, Brad Oxley, Eddie Castro, Howie Zechner and others told stories of adventures and events they had shared.  The atmosphere was zen like as the mood changed from a Memorial to a Celebration of Life.  JT would have been proud.

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

And so it was.  Tears of grief and joy reminding us that we only go around once and need to embrace it.  Thank you JT for reminding us.  We will miss you.

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

JT Thorn - Howie Zechner Photo

Howie Zechner
More pictures on the Speedway America facebook page - www.facebook.com/

Editors Note: Below are comments from Facebook about the passing of JT. This man was a great photographer and known to all in the speedway community. He will be missed. RC Jones

Sad to report the loss of William James Thornborough. A race photographer better know as JT he was a staple at many Southern California tracks for the last 40+ years. Jim’s company “Back It In Photos” specialized in Speedway. JT supplied racers; promoters and advertisers with high quality images of their work and passion. Known for his unusual angles JT moved like a bullfighter with just inches between him and the brakeless beasts he was shooting. A sidecar incident where Jim was hit at Costa Mesa and then a stroke last year limited his ability to continue documenting the sport he loved. He was a good friend and the world is a little darker with his passing. We were tight, I will miss you brother. Howie Zechner

Sadden to say that the American Speedway family has lost a long time photographer. J.T. Always came to me with a good note and always encouraged me to do my best! He's been a long time friend and its absolutely dreadful that he's passed. My prayers go out to you and your family J.T.! You will be missed greatly at home and at the track. Max Ruml

Well Said Max....I really enjoyed JT's Company...I remember Laughing with Jim, Both of us could not stop...I said something to him that triggered it, I was fresh in the country from England and Jim found some of my English comments amusing, Can't remember what it was but at that moment we became good Friends. He will be sadly missed. My sincere thoughts and best wishes to Jim's Family. Phil Collins

Jim was one of the nicest guys around, he loved the speedway family and he was always there to capture the moment. RIP JT, it won't be the same without you man. I loved our talks and looking at all of your photos. Ryan Brant

Jim, I enjoyed the many picture explorations in the high desert, I enjoyed slipping on dance salt with you at the oldies club, going to so many races with you, and just plain hangin out with you and bs'in about anything and everything. I'm glad we were able to run into each other again after so many years. You were a true friend and a joy to be around. I will miss you greatly. Julie Mayer

My thoughts are with Jim Thorn's family.. Jim passed away last night.. He went in for surgery for his heart, and didn't make it.. He will definitely be missed at the track.. Super awesome guy.. Pam Bennett - Super awesome guy.. Cayla Weaver — feeling sad.

So sorry to hear. I remember the day he walked over to me in the pits and handed me the first professional picture of me racing. Having seen him around the races for so long it was such an honor to finally have him capture a photo of me on the track. Jeff Shaffer

One of the 1st people I met in speedway, great guy, always had a story to tell and a really good action photographer...he will be missed. Mark Williams

Such sad news! He will be deeply missed. His photography passion caught some people's biggest moments and accomplishments (including my own) in their life. He can never be replaced!! Brandi McElroy-DeSherlia

I'm speechless right now after reading many post and thinking of the good times with J.T. from him coming to the Russell house during the summer for some river fun to him giving photos of me racing and saying hi when I was the starter at the grand and all the fun times from the bqqs at the Hicks to him just being JT. It sadden me because I'm at the river and I hear this has happened to a super great guy. And can call a friend. JT you will be missed my friends say hi to grandpa Russell for use and rest in peace buddy. Mike Reed

So very sorry for your loss. JT was a true and unique man. He will be sorely missed by our entire family. We will remember him in the many photos he shared with us, and the many memories of him that we share. Aileen McGrath

So very sorry for your loss! Had a lot of great camera conversation and have some great pics from JT when B was racing! So honored to have been part of the speedway racing/photography with him! You will be missed, RIP JT! Ken Leedy

I used to always think he was going to get hit every lap. He had an unbelievable gift and connection with the riders. Amazing to watch work. He was part of the show for sure. Tough loss for the sport, fans, and his family. Thank you JT! Rest well sir. Scott Rau

I Lost A Long Time Friend Today. He Helped Me Out,when there was No Where To Go. Taught Me How To Shoot Speedway, took Me places and Introduced me to a lot of People that today I call Friends. Helped Me Get My Foot further in the Door of a Sport that I Love,n Has been A Big part of me life. Took Me on Adventures I would have never experienced otherwise, n will Never Forget. I Will Miss You My Friend,but Will Never Forget. RIP,n God Speed JT. John Creith

Very sad to hear this all of the photos that we have when Sara started racing all were from him this is a huge loss to the speedway community and I will think of him every time I look at those pictures rest in peace you will be missed by many and then some. Tom Cords

MSD Photo

Jim Thorn
Sorry to hear that the guy on the far right in this photo, Jim Thorn, passed away today.
Spent a lot of time around So. Cal. shooting Speedway on the infield with J.T.
Super friendly guy who always had a funny story or three to tell. Scott
Scott Dalosio Photo

Mike Donaldson - Oh No...Dam....sorry to hear

Craig De Phillippi - RIP JT!

Mark Williams - darn, JT will be missed

Amy Blue - The photographer? I saw him get hit 2 years ago while taking photos. He didn't really miss a beat. Was back the next week with a little scooter to go from one end of the track to the other.

Scott Welte - Sorry to hear. He always made sure to say hi when you were in the pits.

Rick McDonald Sr. - RIP, such a good guy

Kenny Best - R.I.P. Jim, you'll be missed.

Bobby Danger- Kimbrough Really hate to lose the good guys. Rest in Peace.

Dave Whiteley - Spent many a corner with JT,and you RIP JT. Sorry for getting in the way

Chris Johnson - Godspeed JT.

Dale Gamer - A great photographer and couldn't ask for a better friend Rest in peace brother

Scott Rousseau - JT, thank you for your decades of dedication to our beloved sport of speedway. You will be missed. Rest in peace. You've earned it.

Dave Sims - He really was a good guy & friend R.I.P Mr. Jim Thorn.

Ronnie Correy - R.I.P JT, what a great man, lot of good days spent with him

Jean Fink - Sorry to hear about Jim. He was always there when I needed photos for anything. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Steve Martin‎ - Sorry to here about the loss of Jim, You will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Daniel Hull‎ - Rest in Peace Jim, love ya buddy !! You will be missed.

Mike Patrick‎ - It's been a long time since I last saw you my friend, but I remember you with great fondness. R.I.P Jim.

Mark Nicklas - thank you Jim for everything, enjoy taking god's picture in heaven R.I.P.

Timothy Bartee - Bummer! I had the pleasure of meeting him at Industry a few seasons ago at legends night. I brought my vintage photo album to share with the riders, he was excited to pass it around and make sure everyone seen it. He had me meet up with him in the pits after racing, and gave me a few pics to add to my collection! R.I.P. J.T.

Message from Bruce Penhall - "Jim was always a great guy!! So sorry to hear he's passed. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Family."

Jeff Paige - RIP Jim

Juli Morton - RIP JT...I will always have fond memories of him tooling around the track on his scooter.

Roger Hyden - A Good Man, and A Great Friend! RIP JT

Gary Fuca - Jim was a great speedway icon & we young & old alike will miss you sharing all the memories you brought to the track - races (;

Tommy Thornton - RIP JT. You now can take pics of Danny Becker and Kelly Moran cuttin laps!

Joe Donaldson - So Sorry God Love Him. Joe Sr.

Scott Talkington - my prayers go out to my buddy JT you were a big part of the speedway family and will be miss dearly by all who knew you RIP photo guru AMEN brother

Julie Mayer - So very sorry for your loss. I believe I speak for so very many when I say his loss is felt by us all.

Speedway Bikes - RIP JT, we will sure miss you and your photo tricks you taught us over the years. Man oh Man, this hurts...

Jim Lavender - Very sorry to that the great Jim Thorn has passed. He will be missed.

Sandra Hicks - Speedway lost one of its own, JT will surely be missed. RIP JT !

Kenny Hansen - I met JT in 82 at IMS after the races and he asked me if I would be interested in a photo, he sat on the back stretch going in to turn 3 with Mick who brought in Jim's bootabag in case they didn't check the kids so I got him in back gate the next week and the rest is as they say that's history. R.I.P. enjoy the lighting up there!

David Ruml - JT has created so many memories for so many people. Every time I look at a picture of my boys racing I will be thinking of you my friend JT. RIP my friend.

Richard Briggs - Rip JT from the Briggs family.

Motoman Mitch - So sorry to hear this.

Robert Fiesler - Very sorry to hear about J T.

Bobby Hedden - His pictures made me look fast down south! Sorry to hear that!

Aaron Fox - RIP Jim Thorn. Such a nice guy who rarely missed a nights Speedway race. We will miss you being around, keep snapping those pictures from the skies!

Jim Thorn
Eddie Castro - This was last year @ Industry .... R.I.P. J.T. Godspeed.
Our Prayers To You & Yours ! Our Speedway community Has Lost another good Man !

Jim Thorn
Dorcey Wingo Photo

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