I've been lucky enough to see some amazing racing around the world last year, from a near sold out Aeroflow Outlaw Nitro Funny Cars event in Perth, Western Australia to the craziness of Drag Week in the American midwest.
Here are the photos I selected as my top ten of the year - I suppose I could have included many others in their place but these were all personal favourites.
The Bindoon Dirt Drags in Western Australia provided some great photo opportunities both on the eighth mile dirt track and the burnout pad. The low autumn sun saw the rays of light stream through the dust and trees, as burnout smoke fills the air. It was hard to select a favourite photo from the day but I did love this one for the sheer madness of putting a blown altered on dirt.
Before Nitro Up North was run in Darwin, a series of promotional displays took place around town. Here a mother and daughter are sitting under the canopy of Mark Sheehan's Top Fuel dragster at the Mindil Markets by the beach. The atmosphere of the night, the whole week for that matter, made it a lot of fun.
Another one from Nitro Up North, Kelly Bettes takes on Peter Xiberras as the sunset provides a colourful backdrop for the first round of the evening. I love it when you can incorporate some of the environment in a drag racing photo, as it is a rare opportunity.
Speaking of capturing the environment, that is also why I love this shot of Kelly Bettes slowing down in the braking area of Alice Springs Inland Dragway. The McDonnell Ranges rise up behind, while a plume of orange dust still hangs in the background after Bettes got close to the wall. It was a tough call between this and a photo of John Zappia slowing down in the desert but there is something about the scale of this one I like.
Street Machine magazine asked if I would accompany Mark Arblaster and his nine second Valiant from Las Vegas to Cordova, Illinois for Drag Week. This was truly an adventure and even though it went by in a complete blur I have some amazing memories from the trip. Here we were cruising the Fremont area of Las Vegas, providing some amazing photo opps.
Drag Week itself was a photographer's dream. Drag racing photography can get a little stale because you are much more limited in angles and track time than a lot of other motorsports. But Drag Week takes the cars and puts them on to the street, providing a whole new perspective from which to shoot. Here Tom Bailey's Pro Mod-style Camaro kicks up dust in the sunset as it exits a mandatory stop.
Jeff Lutz's 57 Chev was an exhibition car on Drag Week. Drone use seems to be a little more accepted at US tracks than in Australia so there were some unique opportunities to shoot. Here Jeff had just got into his car and the crowd of people around it walked towards the track ahead of his run, providing a clear area for the photo. The 'Restricted Area' wording is a cute touch.
Cordova Dragway has a cut out in the guardrail near the start line, providing a low angle so long as you are willing to put your camera in a little risk! This photo was taken by using a remote shooting mode activated through a phone.
In Las Vegas I was able to work with the Russo Fuel Funny Car team putting together some mini-documentaries about their weekend. Here the team is between qualifying rounds turning the car around. Turn arounds are one of the big challenges for a part time team as the crew learns to gel with eachother but from all accounts things went well this year. I'm not sure if there is anything technically great about this photo, I just like what it represents.
Wayne Newby closes in on the finish line at Sydney Dragway, fuel hosing from some cylinders. Again, not a technically perfect photo but I just love the power in this shot. The heat haze, the flames, the distorted tyres, the glowing header pipes, a slight wisp of vapour from the wing.