12
Feb

I have been shooting NHRA drag races for over 22 years (since I was 10 years old!) and thought I had seen and shot it all. With all the wild rides I have seen over the years, nothing really surprises me. During the first round of eliminations in the top alcohol dragster category at the NHRA Winternationals, driver Mike Austin got my attention as he went for quite possibly the wildest ride I have ever seen in my life.

Below, In his first round matchup against Jim Whiteley, Mike Austin (left) would get close to the center line…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

Austin would get off the throttle but it was too late. At this point his dragster was traveling close to 200mph….

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

The car began would go on two wheels as Austin would try and counter steer the car….

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

Unfortunately, when all four wheels are off the ground you are no longer a driver, you’re a passenger…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

At this point I figured the car would hit the wall and slide on its side…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

Instead, the front end of the car barely cleared the concrete wall, ripping off one of his front wheels…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

With the front end of the car over the wall the only thing that was gonna keep him on the track were the giant rear wheels…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

The impact into the wall seemed to cause Austins foot to hit the throttle (judging by the tire growth and heat waves from exhaust)…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

Note the front wheel taking off as if shot out of a cannon…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

Once the spinning rear wheels hit the wall, the car powered forward….

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

And launched on top of the wall…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

And WAY over the wall…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

As I was shooting this sequence I literally couldn’t believe my eyes…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

The spinning rear tires seemed to provide a gyroscopic effect and the car rotated over in the air…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

While it looks like his car is about to go into the crowd its just an illusion. The crowd is safely behind the action looking on…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

What goes up must come down and it was about time for Mike Austins flight to come to an end…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

Sadly it would be a rough landing as the car would land nearly inverted…

Nikon D3s, 600mm, 640iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

After that shot the car would disappear behind the wall.

It was a tense few minutes listening to the broadcast before they would finally come over the PA system and announce that Mike Austin was unhurt.

I could go to the drag races another 22 years and will probably never see anything as wild and crazy as this!

Here are a few other blogs with some of my crash photos.

Best crashes of 2011

Best crashes of 2010

Best crashes of 2009

Best crashes of 2008

I have a 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!


 
Posted in California, Drag Racing, NHRA, Racing   | 3 Comments

3 Responses to “Mike Austin takes his dragster outta the ballpark in spectacular fashion”

  1. Howard Smith says:

    Great sequence. Simply incredible. And thanks for the forensic analysis. I would never have noticed the tires if you had not mentioned them.

  2. D Smith says:

    Awesome !
    When I heard about the crash , I just had a sense that you would get it Mark !
    And you nailed it as always … well done .
    I bet your Dad is proud .

    By the way , Did I see you almost get run over at the Superbowl ?

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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!