30
Dec

Due to my ridiculous work schedule, its been a few years since I last had the free time to cover drag boat racing on Firebird Lake near Phoenix. When I saw my weekend was semi free for the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series season finale I was all about covering one of my top 3 favorite sports on Earth.

With a busy weekend of moving into my new place I would only spend a couple hours at the track on Saturday and the full day on Sunday.

Below, a blown jet boat driver races down track during qualifying for the NAPA World Finals on Firebird Lake.

Nikon D800, 400mm with 1.4 converter (550mm), 250iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Manual

I would hate to be this guy leaning on his engine if that thing ever decided to blow up!

Nikon D800, 400mm with 1.4 converter (550mm), 250iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Manual

Flames come from the engine of a top fuel jet boat during qualifying.

Nikon D4, 400mm with 1.4 converter (550mm), 250iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Manual

In the below shot of top fuel hydro driver Scotty Lumbert you can see a lot of raw nitro fuel in the air (yellow fumes) right before his engine would blow.

Nikon D800, 400mm with 1.4 converter (550mm), 200iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Manual

Top fuel hydro driver Jeff Gregory races at over 230mph in his “Whiskey River” machine.

Nikon D800, 400mm with 1.4 converter (550mm), 200iso, f4, 1/3200th, Manual

The baddest top fuel boat on the planet is “Problem Child” owned by Eddie Knox with Daryl Ehrlich behind the wheel. In the second round of eliminations Ehrlich would suffer a fireball on his winning run.

Nikon D800, 400mm with 1.4 converter (550mm), 200iso, f4, 1/3200th, Manual

Prior to the final round of the top alcohol hydro category I had the offer to put a brand new go pro 3 camera anywhere I wanted on the boat of longtime racer Bob Pizza.

Hmmm, I can use someone elses brand new gopro and put it anywhere I want on a 215 mph drag boat? Sign me up!

Mounting a camera on a drag boat is something I always have wanted to perfect. Nearly 10 years ago I mounted a full size Nikon camera on a 160mph drag boat only using a suction cup clamp. The electronic disturbance from the engines magneto caused the camera not to fire while he was on the throttle.

With the gopro that would not be an issue.

Prior to sticking the camera onto the boat I would mark the spot with a paint pen, below.

After taking a photo with the camera mounted there I would have to download the card to see the picture and make sure the angle was good. (With my Gopro2 I have the optional digital back so I can see what the camera sees and avoid this step.)

Once it was confirmed that the placement was good we would mount the camera on the tip of the sponson. (Note the floatation on the camera in case it went for a swim!)

After successfully mounting the camera onto the boat, Bob and I would take one last look at the camera as I told him what lane I needed him to choose for the final round matchup against teammate Joel Weber.

How often does a professional racer choose his lane for the final round based off of the suggestion of a photographer? This was certainly a first for me!

With Pizza in the near lane I would joking tell him I needed him to get a slight starting line advantage on Weber so that his boat would be seen in the background of my shot.

Much to my amazement everything worked as planned and Pizza used a slight starting line advantage to hold on for the win.

The below shot is from my handheld camera just past the finish line. If thats not side by side I don’t know what is!

Nikon D800, 400mm with 1.4 converter (550mm), 200iso, f4, 1/2000th, Manual

I would have to wait for the boat to get back to shore before retrieving it so it gave me enough time to shoot the top fuel hydro final round.

Scotty Lumbert sends heat waves high into the Arizona sky as he launches off the starting line.

Nikon D800, 400mm with 1.4 converter (550mm), 320iso, f4.5, 1/2000th, Manual

Lumberts launch would be good but he had nothing for the “Problem Child” boat with Daryl Ehrlich hauling ass down the liquid 1000ft course to close out a dominating championship season.

Nikon D800, 400mm with 1.4 converter (550mm), 320iso, f4.5, 1/2000th, Manual

As soon as the top fuel final ran I hopped into my car and drove around the lake to the out ramp to retrieve the memory card from the camera.

After getting the card and downloading it I found a few photos I really liked.

In this shot water comes over the front of Pizzas boat as he is towed behind a jet ski to the startling line.

GoPro Hero3, 2.5mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/3463th

Here is the shot of the final round from Pizzas boat as he narrowly defeats teammate Joel Weber in the far lane. The shot came out perfectly as planned. I certainly would have liked if the boats had been closer so Weber in the far lane didn’t look like a speck. Perhaps next year I can talk them into racing in the same lane for a perfect shot!

GoPro Hero3, 100iso, f2.8, 1/1808th

In this shot, water comes over the sponson as Pizza bring his boat to a stop following his event winning run.

GoPro Hero3, 100iso, f2.8, 1/1722th

Waves come over the front of the boat and camera making a blurry wet shot.

GoPro Hero3, 100iso, f2.8, 1/2714th

That wraps up a fun couple of days at the drag boat races. Special thanks to Bob Pizza and Rick Bassanelli for inviting me out and providing a Go Pro for the onboard shots!

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!


 
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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!