You just gotta love the intensity of NHRA Drag Racing, the smell of the tire-smoke, all the brightly colored cars, and that earth-shaking sound!
It’s true that the pro stock cars don’t make as much noise as the funny cars or top fuel, but the excitement and speed of those cars makes them a fan favorite.
Everyone said Jason Line was the one to watch at the 2011 Arizona Nationals so I made sure to grab some nice frames of his car making a qualifying pass.
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October 16, 2011: Vincent Nobile during round 1 eliminations for the Full Throttle Series – NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler AZ.
The other name being tossed around during the NHRA Arizona Nationals was Vincent Nobile and while the pro stock cars are not as popular as the top fuel or the funny cars there are still important points chases and excitement to be seen in this class of racing.
This was the first time I would get a chance to cover the pro stock motorcycle class as the prior year the bikes didn’t run at Firebird. In a lot of cases I was really struggling to clean up the backgrounds and add interest to my shots, especially with the motorcycles.
I tried to get both cars in one shot from track level but there was just too many cluttering elements in the images, mops, crew, big giant Ford sign over Dodge cars on track, etc. I tried working from a higher angle and found some success.
October 16, 2011: LE Tonglet during 2nd round eliminations for the Full Throttle Series – NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler AZ.
I tried cropping the bikes real tight and that worked out reasonably well, but there was still some challenges to making nice clean images when the bikes made their pass.
Distracting backgrounds combined with the mid-day sunlight were conspiring against me and making my day difficult, but I did the best I could and tried to use the burn-out smoke to clean up some of the background of the image.
I tried working the top end of the track but in many cases the heat-haze coming off the track made focus impossible so I didn’t spend too much time working that angle.
October 16, 2011: Hector Arana Jr. during final round action for the Full Throttle Series – NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler AZ.
I noticed that Hector Arana Jr. had this great gold reflector face-shield and I wanted to take advantage of the “picture within a picture” opportunity I saw when he pulled up to the line.
October 14, 2011: Jason Line (near lane) and Greg Anderson during Pro Stock qualifying for the Full Throttle Series – NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler AZ.
This seemed like a real “classic” drag strip view but I didn’t like all the empty seats in the stands and it just seemed a little busy to me.
I tried shooting the cars level and with a perfect horizon but I just felt those images lacked something and needed a bit of tilt to create drama.
It’s hard to tell that the rider is carrying the front wheel off the ground for most of the first part of his run until you look at the shadow.
I tried working with some of those hard shadows in the late afternoon as the sun got lower in the sky. Some things I did worked out nicely, others not so much.
Back to the cars, here is an example of a shot of a pro stock car without any tilt, to me it just lacked something and needed the “illusion” of more speed even though he has the front wheels off the ground, which you don’t see a lot of with these pro stock cars.
Yep, I just like the tilt better. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it gives the car a little more “movement” in the image.
I even tried shooting the bikes with a normal horizon and wasn’t real excited about those images so I ended up going to the tilt-style for most of my images.
I tried running the cars downhill but didn’t like that effect at all so I went back to the uphill look for the rest of the images.
With this image you can see the chatter-marks from the rear tires of the car in the far lane and the car is skipping out of the groove before it even gets past the tree.
I tried to really fill the frame with the bikes but that seemed much more difficult than I thought and the harsh mid-day light was killing my images.
I noticed that some of the riders had taped the sides of their helmets like blinders so they wouldn’t be distracted by the rider in the other lane.
The downhill angle didn’t really work for me but for some shots it helped clean up the background clutter a little so I went with it.
Most of the pro stock cars have a dramatic weight shift thing happening off the line and I bet it would look great in supper-slow motion HD video.
Another shot of Vincent Nobile’s bright purple car as it launches off the line.
I loved the shadows on this shot with the bike and the starter and the bike lifting the front wheel.
For this shot, once again I went to the top of the timing and scoring building and tried working with the long afternoon shadows.
All the Summit Racing Equipment cars were looking good and making nice passes, but in the end there can be only one winner.
I love the pro stock cars and the pro stock bikes and find them almost as exciting as the funny cars and top fuel, I said almost . . .