After seven months of regular season drag racing in the books, the NHRA playoffs began this weekend in Charlotte, NC. The “Countdown to the Championship” as it is called takes place over the last six races of the 24 race season. The top 10 drivers in each class have had their points reset and its anyones game as they race for the championship. Lets get to day one of qualifying!
My Friday would begin with a quick portrait shoot (literally five minutes) with NHRA top fuel champion Antron Brown. Its amazing how many angles and views of the scene can be shot in five minutes… while stressed out of control!
This is just one of the shots from the shoot where the biggest problem was finding a location with clean enough backgrounds to shoot a nearly 30 foot long race car.
Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 100iso, f8, 1/250th, Manual with Strobes
Top fuel champion Antron Brown poses for a portrait with his new look Toyota sponsored dragster for this weekends race in Charlotte.
The light for photography here in Charlotte could best be described as horrific. Add in this years new NHRA rule of no flash photography and its a setup for some stress.
Instead of exposing for the names and logos on the cars I went into artistic mode and started taking advantage of the side light coming into the starting line area.
Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 320iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority
NHRA funny car driver Tim Wilkerson does a burnout during qualifying for the Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway.
Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 2000iso, f8, 1/1600th, Manual
Top fuel rookie Billy Torrence lifts the front wheels of his dragster as he launches down the zMax Dragway strip during qualifying.
I almost spit my water out when I saw the crew member for Terry McMillen run onto the track wearing a baby doll around his chest. Too funny!
Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 1000iso, f6.3, 1/2500th, Manual
A crew member for NHRA top fuel dragster driver Terry McMillen wears a baby doll around his body as he back McMillen up from his burnout during qualifying for the Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway. The doll was a tribute to driver McMillen who fathered a new baby boy earlier this week. Congrats Cori and Terry!
The setting sunlight plus burnout smoke made for some awesome pastel colors in the smoke.
Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 1000iso, f7.1, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority
The setting sun plus smoke leads to some dramatic looking light as top fuel driver Bob Vandergriff Jr does a burnout.
Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 800iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Manual
NHRA top fuel dragster driver Antron Brown does a burnout during qualifying for the Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway.
Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm, 2500iso, f7.1, 1/320th, Aperture Priority
Crew members push the dragster of Shawn Langdon into his pit area following a qualifying pass. Note the dolly used to turn the front of the dragster that enables them to easily maneuver the car around.
Got to witness a great sunset as I shot from atop the grandstands during qualifying. The flock of geese was an added bonus.
Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 500iso, f2.8, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority
A flock of Canadian Geese begin a couple thousand mile flight as the sun sets over Concord, NC.
The pro pit area is packed with haulers as dusk takes over the track.
Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 800iso, f5.6, 1/160th, Aperture Priority
Fans cruise through the NHRA professional pit area as the sun sets during qualifying for the Carolina Nationals.
Several delays would lead to some night time qualifying!
Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 4000iso, f4, 1/400th, Manual
Tony Pedregon lights up the night sky as he launches off the starting line in his Charter sponsored Toyota Camry.
Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 5000iso, f5.6, 1/400th, Manual
After numerous delays the pro qualifying session would take place a few hours late. Bad for photographers who want to get some sleep but great for performances. In funny car qualifying, Cruz Pedregon would take his Snap-On Tools funny car to the top spot with a run quicker than the NHRA national record. If Cruz can back up the record it will be good for 20 points.
Canon 1Dx, 24-70mm, 5000iso, f5, 1/400th, Manual
Funny car points leader Matt Hagan does a burnout under the lights in his Rocky Boots sponsored Dodge.
Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 5000iso, f4, 1/400th, Manual
NHRA top fuel dragster driver Morgan Lucas launches off the starting line on his way to the top qualifying position during qualifying.
Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 4000iso, f4, 1/320th, Manual
NHRA officials pick up pieces of concrete from the track during qualifying for the Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway. Like it has occurred here in previous events, the concrete begins to actually pull up off the track causing delays after every few pair to clean up the track.
That wraps up a loooooooong Friday at zMax!