22
Nov

With the NHRA down to its final two races, the stop at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway would be a pivotal race for those with 2011 championship aspirations. With the largest nitro fields of the year it was sure to be a can’t miss race!

With Vegas being so close to Phoenix I skipped flying and instead took the 4.5 hour drive up to Nevada. Upon arriving in Sin City it was over to Fremont Street as there was a big NHRA fanfest going on. While I have heard about the big signing that takes place every year I had yet to experience it so I made it a point to swing by for a few.

Below, NHRA fans go down the line of pro drivers signing autographs and posing for photos with anyone and everyone.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

The car of funny car driver Alexis DeJoria was on display, below, which made for a pretty cool photo op to have the car surrounded by all the bright lights that Las Vegas is known for.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f5, 1/160th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Time for Fridays images.

Below, Pro mod driver Roger Burgess sits safely strapped into the cockpit of his car prior to the opening qualifying session. This was the first time I had seen Burgess on the tour since his wild crash in Bristol.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 500iso, f3.5, 1/200th, Aperture Priority

Below, the prettiest top fuel dragster on the tour has to be Mike Salinas in his orange and purple flamed rail racing alongside Keith Murt.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Midway through the first pro session on Friday I had to bounce and head to the strip to shoot weigh ins for a UFC fight I was shooting the next day (blog coming soon). As soon as I finished the weigh ins I drove unreasonably fast to get back to the track in time to catch the second session for the nitro cars.

Top fuel dragster driver Steve Chrisman slows down with his parachutes as his shadow races on the wall alongside him, below.

Nikon D3s, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 2000iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

Below, top fuel teammates Morgan Lucas (left) and Shawn Langdon both experience problems during the lone night qualifying session of the weekend.

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/500th, Manual

These next two shots are a good example of how drastically different you can make similar shots look if you simply move a few feet and shoot from another angle…

In the first shot of Morgan Lucas being towed up the return road following his run I went with a slow shutter speed to try and make the car going 10mph look like it was going slightly faster…

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 320iso, f4, 1/15th, Aperture Priority

…then for the next dragster to get towed back to the pits I walked about 20 ft and shot the opposite direction to produce a silhouette and take advantage of the nice sunset, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 320iso, f4, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

Below, top fuel dragster driver T.J. Zizzo would provide us some evening fireworks as he had a decent sized fire at the conclusion of his second qualifying pass.

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 8000iso, f4, 1/500th, Manual

After the nitro cars finished most people left to head to the strip and party but not me. You’d have to pay me to miss a session of the wild and crazy pro mod cars, where anything can and usually happens!

At the conclusion of a decent run, pro mod driver Scott Ray (below) would encounter problems with a blown engine which covered his front windshield with oil and got on his rear tires causing him to go sideways…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 10000iso, f4, 1/500th, Manual

….and slapping the wall in the shutdown area. Ray would be uninjured in the incident.

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 10000iso, f4, 1/500th, Manual

A few pairs later there would be some more action as pro mod driver Khalid Balooshi blew an engine in flames during qualifying for the Big O Tires Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, below.

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 10000iso, f4, 1/500th, Manual

The evening would come to a close with a pair of jet powered dragsters, below.

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 10000iso, f4, 1/500th, Manual

Saturday would be an incredibly busy day first at the drag races and once again I would have to leave in the middle of the day to cover the UFC fights at the Mandalay Bay.

Below, pro stock motorcycle rider Michael Phillips runs down the sloping return road with his bike….

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 250iso, f7.1, 1/2500th, Manual

….as rival Andrew Hines would take the easier route with a push from a crew member.

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 250iso, f7.1, 1/1600th, Manual

Below, a member of the safety safari uses a fire extinguisher to put out flames to the engine of the car driven by T.J. Zizzo following his second straight fire on the weekend.

Nikon D3s, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 320iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

Below, speaking of fire, top fuel dragster driver Ike Maier (right) would have a small fire as he raced alongside Cory McClenathan during qualifying for the Big O Tires Nationals.

Nikon D3s, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 320iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

The Vegas race had one of the larger crowds of the season as evident by the packed stands in the below photo of Clay Millican as he launched off the starting line.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 320iso, f4.5, 1/1600th, Manual

After that I headed over to shoot the UFC fights so lets move along to Sunday.

Below, championship contender Antron Brown gives thumbs up to fans as he walks towards the starting line for driver introductions.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 250iso, f4.5, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

Del Worsham (below) is introduced to the fans as he is flanked by Las Vegas showgirls.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 250iso, f4.5, 1/640th, Manual

Below, top fuel driver Spencer Massey is all smiles as he relaxes beneath the rear wing of his car in the staging lanes.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

In the below photo, one crew member works to strap Antron Brown into his top fueler as the rest of his crew stands alongside the car during the national anthem.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f5, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Top fuel driver Steve Torrence lights the tires up as he does a burnout during the first round of eliminations, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/250th, Manual

Right behind the starting line was the NHRA Mobile Vision TV which showed the action live and made for a good background as Johnny Gray did his burnout, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f4.5, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

Las Vegas marked the third career nitro race for funny car driver Alexis DeJoria in her Patron sponsored car. In the below photo you see her car sitting in the staging lanes prior to the first round of eliminations.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 200iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, funny car driver Cruz Pedregon looks downtrack prior to climbing into his Snap-On Tools funny car.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

In the below photo of 15 time funny car champion John Force you can see ESPN cameras getting all the cool angles. I wonder if I could get away with clamping a remote camera on the boom stand to get their exclusive angles…

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

With the nice mountain background (below) the crew for Alexis DeJoria wait their turn to attack the 1000ft dragstrip.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 200iso, f4.5, 1/2000th, Manual

A few hours later the light finally started getting good for photos.

Below, crew members surround the car of Spencer Massey prior to his semi final run.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 200iso, f4, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

Top fuel driver Del Worsham does his burnout prior to his semi final run on his way to the final round, below.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, funny car driver Ron Capps waves to the crowd from his tow vehicle as it is taken back to the pits to prepare for his final round race.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 200iso, f4, 1/2500th, Manual

Below, NHRA president Tom Compton hangs out on the top end for the pro stock semi finals….

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 200iso, f4, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

….where pro stock driver Jason Line would clinch the 2011 pro stock championship.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f5.6, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

My buddy Will Lester had a golf cart so we drove alongside Line as he was paraded back to the starting line in front of the fans.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 200iso, f4, 1/2500th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f3.2, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Fans in the grandstands are shrouded with burnout smoke behind the starting line, below.

Nikon D3s, 70-200mm, 200iso, f4, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Time to crown some winners in the pro category final rounds….

Pro mod winner Leah Pruett

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Pro stock motorcycle winner Eddie Krawiec

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f8, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Pro stock winner Mike Edwards

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f5.6, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Funny car winner Ron Capps

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Top fuel dragster winner Del Worsham

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/250th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f6.3, 1/250th, Manual

And with that we wrap up the 21st NHRA race of the season meaning there is only one more event to go.

See ya in Pomona!

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, Las Vegas, NHRA, Racing, Sports   | 2 Comments

2 Responses to “Race for the championship hits The Strip in Vegas”

  1. ..finally just felt compelled to give a thanks.In a world chuck full of arrogant photog’s,you freely provide all settings for each of your shots.Kind of like a magician giving up the tricks (and I mean that in a good way).It makes it clearer to understand what different combinations will provide with different circumstances.I truly believe every picture is an experiment (for me),and that every picture is a learning experience.
    thank you

  2. Beautiful imagery and I love that you include the lens/settings for those of us who like some technical inside knowledge. 600mm on full frame wide open looks very sexy that’s for sure.

    Fantastic photos as ever!

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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!