13
Mar

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For the past several years I have always marked the March Meet onto my schedule. While its not a mainstream race where I have much chance of making back the money I put out in expenses it is just such a fun race that its more than worth the financial dent it puts into my wallet. Let the fun begin!

Within 15 minutes of getting to the track and all set up on Friday the action began as A/Gas driver Ronald Martinez lost control of his car and bounded the wall and flipping over, below.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 320iso, f7.1, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 320iso, f7.1, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 320iso, f7.1, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

The big thing everyone was hyping about the 2010 March Meet was the fact there would be a 32 car field in the fan favorite nostalgia funny car class.

Some big names from the NHRA even came out to race such as Cruz Pedregon (below) driving a replica car of Joe Pisano.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/2000th, Manual

Below, one of the wilder moments of the weekend came in the first pro session when Nostalgia funny car driver Twig Ziegler (left) nearly collided with Todd Losenko during qualifying for the 52nd annual March Meet at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 640iso, f6.3, 1/3200th,Aperture Priority

It was confirmed following the run that the two cars actually touched. INSANE!

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 640iso, f6.3, 1/3200th,Aperture Priority

After that the action got very boring, plus there were several delays due which made me want to shoot myself.

Instead I decided to just shoot birds that were flying around, below.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

If its any indication of how bland of a weekend I had, the below photo was actually one of my favorite photos of the weekend. Bleh.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

What better way to scare some birds than to fly your airplane at a ridiculously low altitude above the track, below.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

The birds responded by freaking out and flying away.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 800iso, f6.3, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Below, I shot nice and close up of Nostalgia top fuel dragster driver Mike Chrisman as he coasted past me during qualifying for the 52nd annual March Meet at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

For the third consecutive year I would get a photo of nostalgia top fuel driver Mike McLennan having an explosion that would small parts and pieces flying from his car through the air towards me. Lets recap the previous two and then this years version.

2008:

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2009:

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2010:

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 800iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Manual

Obviously the 2010 version isn’t near as spectacular (or flaming) as the previous two but to have the same guy three years in a row shoot 260 mph debris towards me from a blowing engine is some crazy luck.

Here is a closer look.

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Oh and for the record, when the pieces started flying I wasn’t taking any chances of getting hit so I hit the ground like a pansy to avoid any issues.

Below is a view of one of the remote camera setups I used throughout the weekend.

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On to Saturday.

Saturday would be a frustrating day of numerous delays for rain and oildowns. The day would get called early due to deteriorating track conditions from the cold weather so there aren’t many good pics to show.

Below, nostalgia funny car driver Paul Romine blows an engine in a cloud of smoke as he crossed the finish line.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 800iso, f7.1, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

Below, nostalgia funny car driver Todd Losenko gets the rear wheels off the ground as he bounces through the shutdown area following his qualifying run.

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 800iso, f7.1, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Ok lets move on to Sunday.

After two days of mediocre images I was in a pretty bad mood going into the final day. I didn’t even plan on doing a blog from the weekend since I felt (and still do kinda) that the resulting images from the weekend are far below the standard of images I typically come home with. However, the final day would be my best day as I would spend the entire time on a boom lift high above the track.

Below you get an idea of my position.

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Photo by Mike Bieke

Being elevated accomplished a few things that would help my shooting. First and foremost, being elevated would completely eliminate the heatwaves that ruined many of my previous two days worth of images. Equally as important is that being elevated like that would give me a unique angle that makes for images few people get a chance to shoot.

Below is the view towards the starting line…..

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

……and here is the view going away from me into the shutdown area.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/6400th, Aperture Priority

Another interesting thing about shooting elevated is the blue sky that reflects off the racing surface giving me nice vibrant colored images.

Below, Nostalgia pro 7 racer Will Martin heads down track in his funny car during eliminations.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

Racing legend Art Chrisman (below) was on hand with his classic front engine dragster.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Nostalgia funny car driver Sean Dale makes his way down track in his jeep funny car, below.

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Nikon D700, 300mm, 500iso, f8, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

As I mentioned earlier, the blue sky reflecting off the shiny racing surface made the track appear blue. The below photo of nostalgia funny car driver Twig Zeigler really shows you what I’m talking about.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

I haven’t really shown off much from my remote cameras since they really didn’t get many cool photos but I came up with what I thought was a unique remote angle and that was just at my feet in the basket of the boom lift. Since I was shooting with a long lens (400mm) I would be totally screwed if something was to happen directly below me, with that in mind I clamped a camera up there with a wide angle lens aimed straight down on the track. Below is the setup.

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I was hoping for something wild and crazy to happen directly below me because if it did I would have one hell of a sweet angle of it.

Here is how the view looked as nostalgia funny car driver Cruz Pedregon (top) defeated Dan Horan in the first round of eliminations, below.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1000iso, f5, 1/8000th, Manual

Another big name NHRA driver on hand was Ron Capps, below, who drove the LA Hooker funny car.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Below, Nostalgia top fuel dragster driver Brendan Murry drives beneath me with both parachutes out.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1000iso, f5, 1/8000th, Manual

Nostalgia top fuel dragster driver Mike McLennan (who I highlighted earlier in this blog for his hat trick of spark plug blowing explosions) would give me some more action as he suffered an engine explosion, below.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

Here is the view from my other remote camera mounted down low, below.

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Nikon D700, 300mm, 500iso, f8, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

A crazy phenomenon I captured several times through the weekend is images that show the odd tire prints left by the top fuel cars as they raced down track. Check out the crazy pattern in the below photo of nostalgia top fuel dragster driver Denver Schutz as he thunders down the track.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

For some of the burnouts I shot with a 600mm lens with a 1.4 convertor attached to get a nice close up view of the action over a quarter of a mile away, below.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f6.3, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

While there were no crashes on Sunday several of the slower class cars did their best to try and crash….

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

Eventual race winner Leah Pruett-LeDuc races downtrack, below.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

One of the bigger upsets of the weekend occurred when nostalgia funny car driver Josh Crawford (below) defeated Ron Capps in the second round during the 52nd annual March Meet at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway.

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Nikon D700, 400mm, 500iso, f6.3, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

From my wide angle remote camera you can see the shadow of my shooting position across the track directly below me.

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1000iso, f5, 1/8000th, Manual

Here is a view of my low remote setup with the camera clamped to the win light pole just past the finish line, below.

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Here are a few examples of the angle it provided me…..

Below, Lee Paul Jennings (left) defeats Cruz Pedregon during the second round of action.

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Nikon D700, 300mm, 500iso, f8, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Below is an example of how the same moment looks from two totally different angles as Nostalgia top fuel dragster driver Adam Sorokin blows an engine in a cloud of smoke against Rick White.

Ground Remote:

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Nikon D700, 300mm, 500iso, f8, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

Elevated Remote:

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Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1000iso, f5.6, 1/8000th, Manual

Being cooped up in the basket all day got boring so I used some of the downtime to download and edit some pics, below.

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Photo by Dan Kaplan

As the day dragged on I realized I was going to have to leave early if I wanted to get back to Burbank in time for my flight back to Phoenix. Luckily I had just enough time to shoot the famous fuel altered “The Winged Express”  driven by Mike Boyd.

Below, Boyd gets all sorts of sideways on his burnout.

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Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 convertor (850mm), 500iso, f5.6, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

On his run he started in the left lane…..

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/3200th, Aperture Priority

……but would finish the run in the right lane!

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Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

After that it was time to haul ass back to the airport to get home.

While it certainly wasn’t near as exciting as previous years of the March Meet it was still a fun weekend where I was able to see many friends I haven’t seen in awhile.

CLICK HERE TO BROWSE THROUGH ALL MY PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND. THE IMAGES ARE ALL AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE SO FEEL FREE TO PASS THIS LINK ON TO ANY DRIVER, CREWMEMBER OR FAN WHO MAY BE INTERESTED IN SOME IMAGES FROM THE WEEKEND!



 
Posted in California, Drag Racing, Me, Pocket Wizard, Racing, Remote Camera, Sports   | 8 Comments

8 responses to “Nostalgia Funny Cars invade Bakersfield”

  1. BRUCE DYDA says:

    Great pix as always, However that is not a spark plug shooting out of Fuller/Mclennen’s car but a aluminun blower mounting stud and nut designed to break when you “LIFT” the blower.

  2. Tim Adams says:

    Love the blower explosion shots. Now as for the plane shot, being an aviation photographer, I could not let it slip by. You froze the prop. Props should never be shot with a shutter speed any higher than 1/250th, unless you want to make it look like it’s about to fall out of the sky. 🙂

  3. scorpius says:

    I would agree with Tim concerning the prop blur, but…to Mark’s defense he was shooting Aperature priority perhaps for the fast action or his preference (just guessing here). I don’t know how many times I’ve shot airshows using Shutter priority with fast speeds for jets, when bammo, a prop plane suddenly appears overhead and I lack the time to switch to a slower shutter speed. The end result in many cases is a frozen prop head-on 😉

    Either way, some killer shots Mark! ..dj

  4. Mike McLennan says:

    Hey Mark my wife and I were just looking at your pictures. First Im sorry about shooting parts at you but great shots. and second she said I should let you know that the pictures of the birds are BEAUTIFUL.

  5. Kirk Jennings says:

    Mark,a very good friend of mine, Jeff McCann turned me on to your site just after “the Firebird” incident. You are the MAN! I just cant give enough praise about your photos. As a life long drag race fan I can say without a doubt yours are the finest pictures I have ever seen!

  6. William says:

    What are your settings once the sun goes down?
    I got to shoot drag racing for the first time this past Saturday and the day time shots were amazing, but once the sun went down, bam, every shot started getting worse and worse. Just wondering.

    BTW, amazing photos, I love looking through all of you NASCAR photos, especially the Texas Motor Speedway ones 🙂

    Thanks, William

  7. Monique says:

    you should shoot at the National Hot Rod Reunion in June or the California Hot Rod Reunion in October. The events are both loads of fun and great photo opportunities.

  8. […] Click here to see the Mark Rebilas blog about the best photos of the 2010 March Meet. […]

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