23
May
Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

During the semi final round of eliminations at the NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka, veteran funny car driver Tim Wilkerson would lose control of his Ford Mustang right off the starting line.  Continue on to see the full sequence!

When covering NHRA I like to move all around during the different sessions for different angles.  On this day I had shot round one from the shutdown area, round two from the left lane wall of the starting line and in the semi finals I made my way atop the Suites/Timing Tower behind the starting line for a different view of the racing.

NHRA has recently changed the access areas for trackside photographers so at this event NO photographers were allowed on the right side of the track for shooting.  By getting on top of the tower on the right side it gave me a clear view of both lanes.

Jack Beckman would be racing alongside Tim Wilkerson. For the launch I had decided to shoot Jack Beckman. Unfortunately I had underestimated the heatwaves from the engines when they launched and was left with this lame mosaic view of Beckman, below.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

I follow through when I shoot by taking a couple additional photos beyond the one I had intended on. In these wasted out of focus frames you can see the car of Tim Wilkerson, in the bottom right, losing control.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Took an instant for my brain to register what was happening.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

But then I would lock onto the now out of control car of Wilkerson.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Despite the slow speed of the impact (for a 330mph car at least!) it lifted the entire car off the ground.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

The head on impact into the concrete retaining wall would cut an oil line allowing the car to slide.

 

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

 

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

The impact also ruptured the fuel cell on the front of the car which created a small fire.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

 

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

For a brief moment it almost looked like the car was going to flip.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Before coming back down.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

And making a slow spin.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

The crash really seemed to take place in slow motion.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

But perhaps that is simply due to me being used to 300mph crashes instead of 40mph ones.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

 

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

At this point it looked like the car was going to just come to a stop right there.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

 

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Until it started to lurch forward.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Thankfully it wasn’t aimed back towards the starting line, which was crowded with crew members and officials.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

 

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Instead, Wilkersons car would plow into the left lane wall.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

As a brave photographer stood his ground.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Perhaps getting the shot of a lifetime.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Flames poured from the fuel cell on the front end of the car.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Tim Wilkerson would pop out of the escape hatch uninjured.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

His son Dan Wilkerson, below, rushes to help his father exit the car.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

The rest of the crew wasn’t too far behind.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Tim would rush to the front of the car to survey the damage as the flames burned at his feet.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

NHRA chief starter Mike Gittings and other members of the Safety Safari would quickly be on the scene to extinguish the flames.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Tim would share a moment with his understandably emotional wife Krista following the accident.

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Canon 1Dx, 300mm, 400iso, f4.5, 1/3200th, Manual

Wilkerson has already said he intends to be back with a new car for the next race on the tour in Epping, NH in two weeks!


 
Posted in Crash, Drag Racing, Kansas, NHRA, Racing, Sports   Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

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!