I've been covering more and more drag racing events. I find myself wanting to learn more and more about the history of the sport and the quirky little things that are unique from any other type of motorsport. It takes some serious guts and nerves of steel to control that kind of sheer power. These events are really something you have to experience in person. If you Speedhunters out there have never been to a drag event, this season is the perfect time to start checking out these amazing races.
As Mike Garrett mentioned in his opening article, this event has been running for over 50 years. There are only a handful of races that have been going on for that long. This year, over 500 cars competed in four days of non-stop drag racing.
There is always a poppy plant in between the burnout boxes since it's the California State flower. I have only been to a few drag tracks, but Famoso Raceway in Kern County is definitely my favorite so far.
From the size of the crowd it looked like this race will go on for many years to come. This photo was taken on the last day, so I can only imagine how many people stayed for the full four days of racing just to have their ear drums beaten on constantly. What a way to spend your weekend.
Remember when I mentioned how this track was my favorite? This is why!
They really appreciate good photo journalism so they allow for some very good track-side access.
I find my skater shoes almost coming off every time I cross the track. I see why everyone else makes sure their shoes are on super tight. It's like stepping on a sea of chewed bubble gum.
There really is nothing cooler than a good smoky burnout when you are watching drag racing…
…especially if it goes halfway down the track.
One thing I noticed about drag teams are the fun names they give their race cars. I can only imagine how they figure out these pun intended names. This one must have been at a fast food joint. Many perfect lights served.
Some are innocent…
…and some are not so much.
My absolute favorite spot to shoot from was from behind the burnout box. It gave me a whole new perspective on drag racing. The way the tires balloon up at speed was much more noticeable from behind. I just had to watch out for flying pebbles.
I also noticed how important it was for the backup guides to back the car up exactly on where the driver laid down rubber from his burnout.
Shooting from behind also gave me a different perspective on how the teams react as they watch their pride and joy speed down the track at over 200mph. If they lose they often shake the hands of the winners, but when they will most likely jump up in joy, as it is hard to contain the celebrations.
Shooting behind the burnout box also gives me a unique perspective on the track officials.
It's very important to clean up every tiny little thing on the track surface, since it could easily be the deciding factor in a win or loss.
At March meet there is a "Backup babe" contest. I was not sure how they decided a winner.
I am guessing she did not win, but she sure tried her best to win the crowd over.
I guess I would have to let my hair grow longer if I ever want to be a "backup babe"
This is something I have not seen before at a drag strip. The car broke down after the burnout, so the driver hopped out and pushed it to the side of the track.
Then he watched his opponent do his run. Shortly afterwards the track officials came by with a tow truck to move the dragster off the track. I'm sure his opponent did not push his limits considering he had an automatic win.
It seemed like most guys would do a rolling burnout but some choose to do a standing burnout. Most of the gas powered cars would just do standing burnouts in the burnout box. I guess it depends on how much power you have and if you have a line lock or not.
These two guys helped fan out the tire smoke that was trapped inside the cabin. I thought this was unique to drifting but I was wrong.
It was a nice 85 degrees Fahrenheit out in Central California so I am sure everyone, including this little pug, was enjoying the nice weather. It sure did keep the track temps up, which I would imagine is good for traction.
Next up is March Meet from a photographers point of view.
I really dig the named drag cars, seems to have been a late 70's early 80's craze. You just dont see cars called Asphalt Gigolo anymore lol mustve been a cool time
Great article...I grew up around import, but my first drag race was an NMRA event back in the mid 90's...seeing the 10.5" tired mustangs going wheels up made me fall in love instantly!
Great coverage Larry! Interesting to see all the different perspectives for a sport as old as drag racing. It takes a whole lot more than simply "going fast in a straight line" to shave seconds off of that time. Good stuff!
some wicked pics in this one.. love that first pic - yep ya shoes need to be on super tight LOL - Thanks