02
Nov

With the NHRA circuit down to just three races remaining, the Arizona Nationals near Phoenix would make our break the championship hopes of several professional drivers. While temperatures would exceed 100 degrees all weekend at Firebird International Raceway making for a miserable time shooting and getting down the track for drivers, it was still 20 minutes from my place so I would get to sleep in my own bed every night.

Below, funny car driver Tim Wilkerson does a burnout sporting a new paint job on his car. The nicest to describe the paint job on the car would be interesting…

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 500iso, f5, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Nice late afternoon light on pro stock driver Vincent Nobile as he waits in the staging lanes to run during qualifying, below.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

Below, pro stock driver Ronnie Humphrey waits in the cockpit of his car prior to making a pass.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

Below, I really liked the mood in the below photo of smoke rising around pro stock crew members during the second round of pro qualifying.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Right alongside the starting line at Firebird International Raceway is a three story tower. To help get more variety of images for my clients I decided to throw a remote camera up on the roof while I shot down on the starting line.

In the below photo you can see me in the bottom right (wearing photo vest #113) shooting as Jason Line races alongside Ron Krisher.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 800iso, f6.3, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Now here is the same exact moment shot from my handheld camera on track level.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 640iso, f3.2, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Here is another example of the same moment from different angles as Matt Hagan squared off against Robert Hight during qualifying. First up is the view from the roof remote as they launch off the starting line. The orange glow in the shot is burnout smoke that was still lingering in the air being lit by the setting sun.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 800iso, f6.3, 1/400th, Aperture Priority

And here is the view from my handheld camera as Hagan races downtrack, below.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 1250iso, f4.5, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

I have been shooting drag racing for many years and always feel that I have seen everything. The beauty of drag racing is at any time you could see something you have never seen before.

Case in point, Cory McClenathans second qualifying pass where right off  the starting line a fuel line broke shooting raw fuel into the air, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1250iso, f4.5, 1/250th, Manual

I have seen fuel lines come off before but what happened after was one hell of a cool looking sight as the fuel was ignited by the hot exhaust and created a fireball on his car as well as a long trail of flames for a few hundred feet, below. It totally reminded me of Back to the Future where once the car hit 88 mph it left tracks of fire. The funny thing is on this pass McClenathan didn’t ever get up to 88 mph.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1250iso, f4.5, 1/250th, Manual

Here is a close up view of a puddle of fire right on the track.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1250iso, f4.5, 1/100th, Aperture Priority

Night time is by far the coolest time to shoot NHRA drag racing as you get the awesome header flames shooting from the cars exhausts.

Mike Strasburg shoots out huge header flames as he starts to lose traction, below.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

Below, Shawn Langdon blasts off the starting line into the darkness.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 5000iso, f2.8, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

Below, as dusk becomes darkness, championship contender in top fuel, Del Worsham launches off the starting line in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1600iso, f5, 1/60th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Don Schumacher Racing teammates Antron Brown and Tony Schumacher launch off the starting line during night time qualifying, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1600iso, f4.5, 1/30th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Following the pro qualifying session we were treated to some jet car exibitions. Here are a couple cool shots I liked.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 5000iso, f2.8, 1/320th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 5000iso, f2.8, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

For Saturday I would spend my day top end taking advantage of the unique shooting position that you can only get at Firebird where there is a bridge that goes over the track in the shutdown area.

First up when I got to the top end was to set up my remote camera on the bridge, below.

On top of the camera is a Pocket Wizard wireless transceiver which I also had on my handheld camera so anytime I took a picture with my camera it would fire the remote camera.

Below, top fuel driver Steve Torrence goes for a wild bouncing ride in the shutdown area after his parachutes failed to deploy. Luckily for Steve this track is one of th elongest on the tour and he was able to safely get the car stopped.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Manual

A pair of top fuelers slow to a stop via their parachutes as an NHRA official prepares to direct them off the track following a run, below.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Manual

Ok lets get back to the bridge remote to show you the type of shots I was able to get with it.

Below is the shot from my handheld camera as funny car driver Ron Capps goes sideways as he crosses the finish line.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Manual

Now here is the same shot from my bridge remote, below.

Nikon D700, 400mm with 1.4 convertor (550mm), 800iso, f10, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Championship points contender Matt Hagan (below) slows to a stop with his parachutes following a qualifying pass.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 500iso, f5, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Below, Kurt Johnson (near lane) slows in the shutdown area alongside father Warren Johnson.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 500iso, f5, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Going into the final qualifying session points leader Spencer Massey was not qualified for the 16 car field so it was imperative that he make a good run down the track to get into the field. Sadly for him that did not happen as he instead smoked the tires (below) and missed the field.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 400iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Manual

Time for race day!

Below, top fuel driver Antron Brown shows his serious side as he sits in the car while warming up the engine.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 1600iso, f3.2, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

Del Worsham, below, attempts to shoot me with his finger prior to the first round. Thankfully he missed.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 1600iso, f3.2, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Below, crew members put the body on the funny car of Jeff Diehl prior to heading up to the staging lanes for the first round of eliminations.

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 160iso, f6.3, 1/250th, Manual

Most people who know me are aware that I grew up in the world of drag racing traveling around the country with my father Gil shooting all sorts of random drag races. Our careers have gone completely different directions but it was cool this weekend to have him out at the track helping me out with shooting. Here is a picture from my buddy Roger Richards of us on the starting line prior to the race.

Photo by Roger Richards

Below, NHRA top fuel dragster driver Steve Torrence slows in the shutdown area following his first round win. Torrence would advance all the way to the semi finals. Not bad for a brand new team in only their second race.

Nikon D3s, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f8, 1/2500th, Manual

By standing on the bridge with a wider lens I could shoot directly down on the cars and get cool shots that you can get at no other track.

Mike Strasburg

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 320iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

Robert Hight

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 320iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Fast forward to the final rounds where the pro winners were decided.

In pro stock motorcycle Hector Arana Jr would bring home the hardware as he closed in on the points lead, below.

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

In the pro stock final it would be Vincent Nobile taking the win. As he made the turn off at the end of the track he was so excited for the win he forgot to keep the car on the pavement and slid off into the dirt scaring the hell outta the ESPN camera crew… and me!

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 100iso, f5.6, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

When Nobiles family and crew arrived at the top end the celebration really kicked off.

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 100iso, f5, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 100iso, f5, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

In funny car it would be driver Jack Beckman picking up the win to throw Jack right into the thick of the championship points race. In the below shot you can see Jack jumping off the back of his car as he celebrates.

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 100iso, f5, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

In the top fuel final it would be Al-Anabi Racing driver Larry Dixon picking up just his second win of the season, below.

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 100iso, f5.6, 1/250th, Manual

Below, Larry Dixon is silhouetted as he celebrates on the podium during winners circle ceremonies.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 320iso, f2.8, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

We will end this blog with an interesting looking shot of pro stock bike winner Hector Arana Jr in a light pocket as he celebrated on the podium.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 320iso, f2.8, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Next up on my schedule is NHRA in Vegas as well as UFC 137 also in Vegas!

I recently started a Facebook page for my photography. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to “like” the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing as well as my favorite photos from each event, as well as some old favorites from the last 20 years!


 
Posted in Drag Racing, Firebird International Raceway, Me, NHRA, Pocket Wizard, Racing, Remote Camera, Sports   | 9 Comments

9 Responses to “Hot track conditions take on a whole new meaning at NHRA Phoenix”

  1. Anonymous says:

    A more tame Phoenix blog this year compared to last year…..thank goodness for that, nice pics!!

  2. Mark,

    I love seeing your shots and would love to have the opportunity to shoot with you sometime. Maybe when you come to Columbus next year.

    I want to say that the picture of you with your Dad is one you should cherish. Awesome.

    Keep up the good work!

    Troy

  3. Jon Van Daal says:

    Good to see your dad back in the saddle

  4. Cyn says:

    Awesome Photogs mark- Love your work!

  5. jack stuart says:

    GREAT PICTURES AS USUAL…YOUR REALLY A PRO! THANKS,
    JACK SCHMIECHER
    BURR RIDGE, ILL 60527

  6. Fantastic images! Always a pleasure to read your blog! I see you use high ISO lots and images look great.. can you please let me know what noise reduction software technique do you use? Any help would be appreciated!

    Thank you very much!
    Sergei

  7. Greg says:

    Great photos, The ‘Back to the future’ fuel line shot is amazing… truly amazing! well done

  8. […] Nascar? In Phoenix!? To me that immediately brings two words to mind: Mark Rebilas! […]

  9. Wow, seriously impressive. We just don’t get any real action like that in the UK and certainly not the weather. Just had a look through your site and the work is simply amazing, I would love to have a bash at this sort of photography, certainly a little different to weddings :)

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Check out my Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to "like" the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!