Robert Hight blows away the field at NHRA Vegas

I always get excited when NHRA heads to Vegas for their twice a year visit. On top of it being a great place to shoot, its also a less than 5 hour drive from home! Lots of pics to go through so lets get to it!

Upon arrival to Sin City on Thursday evening I headed to New York New York Hotel/Casino to BS and hang out with all my NHRA friends who were at the casino for a large autograph session.

Below, upon seeing the camera pointed at them, Kalitta racing teammates Alexis DeJoria (right) and Jeff Arend posed for a photo.

Nikon D3S, 24-70mm, 200iso, f1.4, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

Not to be outdown, MLR teammates Brandon Bernstein (left) and Morgan Lucas, sitting right next to them did their best impersonation as they hugged it out.

Nikon D3S, 24-70mm, 200iso, f1.4, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

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Just prior to the race weekend I went to my local camera store Tempe Camera to see if they had the new Nikon D4 or D800 in stock. Unfortunately they had neither. I was on a mission to buy something so I left with a new 24mm f1.4 lens. A lens with that wide of an aperture would be a pain to focus but if I nailed a shot it would look cool due to the way it blurs the background more than most other lenses out there.

Below, a NHRA top fuel Harley rider does a burnout during qualifying for the Nationals at The Strip in Las Vegas. These top fuel Harley riders (pardon the language) are bat sh*t crazy! More on them later.

Nikon D3S, 24mm, 500iso, f1.4, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

From the top of the stairs on the tower behind the starting line I shot the below photo as the car of Cruz Pedregon passes right beneath me which made for a birds eye view of his Toyota Camry.

Nikon D3S, 24mm, 800iso, f1.4, 1/800th, Manual

In the below shot of Ron Capps doing his burnout I got a shot that somewhat shows the effect of the lens as the background looks more like a Hollywood backdrop than the real background.

Nikon D3S, 24mm, 800iso, f1.4, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, funny car driver Johnny Gray does a burnout past starting line officials during qualifying.

Nikon D3S, 24mm, 100iso, f1.4, 1/800th, Manual

Sticking the camera in the car got me the below frame of pro stock driver Vincent Nobile as he prepares to make a qualifying pass down the strip.

Nikon D3S, 24mm, 100iso, f1.4, 1/250th, Aperture Priority

Heres a shot of pro stock driver Jeg Coughlin Jr doing a burnout. I like the way the yellow car stands out in a rather monochromatic background.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/100th, Aperture Priority

Back in the staging lanes I decided to put the new lens through its paces with a few driver portraits.

Here Ron Capps makes love to the camera for a shot.

Nikon D3S, 24mm, 200iso, f1.4, 1/250th, Manual

While Bob Tasca III gives us an up close view of his finger. With the shallow focus of the lens it almost looks 3D.

Nikon D3S, 24mm, 125iso, f1.4, 1/250th, Manual

In the below frame, legendary crew chief Tim Richards guides driver Ron Capps up to the staging beams during qualifying. After the team failed to qualify for the race Tim and wife Kim retired from the sport.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 320iso, f2.8, 1/2000th, Aperture Priority

Below, funny car rookie Alexis DeJoria does a burnout in her Tequila Patron sponsored Camry. The lens flare in the shot almost looks like the fake photoshop action. It wasn’t though!

Nikon D3S, 24mm, 500iso, f1.4, 1/250th, Manual

SHooting drag racing as often as I do can no doubt quickly become redundant. To combat that I will sometimes just walk around with my cameras and look for anything that will make for a cool shot.

While walking back from my car I noticed the silhouetted top fuelers against the mountains and cool looking sky. The below shot was the resulting frame.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/250th, Aperture Priority

In the below shot of top fuel driver Tony Schumacher, you can see the sun reflecting off the grandstands of the NASCAR track across the street which gave some nice gold colors to go along with the colors on his US Army dragster.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 200iso, f4.5, 1/640th, Manual

Here are a few cool shots from top fuel Harley qualifying near sunset. Check out the header flames at the back of the bikes!

Nikon D700, 400mm, 1000iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

Nikon D700, 400mm, 1000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Aperture Priority

Below, Fridays qualifying ended with a pair of jet cars. Cars shooting out fire + nice west coast sunset = my favorite image of the weekend!

Nikon D3S, 24mm, 250iso, f1.4, 1/250th, Manual

Below, members of the NHRA Safety Safari push top fuel driver Morgan Lucas off the track following a qualifying pass.

Nikon D700, 600mm, 250iso, f7.1, 1/250th, Manual

The below frame of top fuel dragster driver Damien Harris (left) exploding an engine alongside Steve Chrisman who also is on fire is a very weak side by side fireball shot. I actually have never gotten a big side by side fire before so for me this is as good as it gets…. for now!

Nikon D700, 600mm, 250iso, f7.1, 1/2500th, Manual

In the below photo are are two wild things to look at. First and foremost is the obvious out of control car, left, being manhandled by veteran driver Cory McClenathan. The other thing worth noting is the front wing on the car of Antron Brown. Look how the wing is rocking back and forth with the left side almost touching the track while the right side is much higher in the air.

Nikon D700, 600mm, 250iso, f7.1, 1/2500th, Manual

Below, Jeff Diehl gets as out of control as you can in a funny car without taking the car back to the pits on a flatbed tow truck.

Nikon D700, 600mm, 250iso, f7.1, 1/2500th, Manual

The below photo is a total example of dumb luck. I was actually shooting a car in the other lane and a few hours later while eating mexican food with several of my photographer buddies I noticed in the left corner of the frame that Robert Hight was having a rather large blower explosion and I was lucky enough to catch it right when it popped. A tight crop to get rid of the other car resulted in this shot!

Nikon D700, 600mm, 250iso, f6.3, 1/2000th, Manual

During the first round of Alcohol dragster on Saturday afternoon I hung around the top end and put an extender on my big 600mm lens to make it an 850mm lens. The plan for closer shots ended up backfiring as I was shooting James Butler (right) taking out the centerline timing blocks the dragster of Greg Hunter in the other lane was exploding. Sadly the extra zoom on my lens resulted in cutting half of the other car out of the shot. #Photofail

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 converter (850mm), 640iso, f6.3, 1/2000th, Manual

Time for Sunday.

Below, funny car driver Alexis DeJoria smiles as she waits to be introduced during driver introductions.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 100iso, f2.8, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

Below, 15 time funny car champion John Force waves to the fans as he is introduced prior to the first round of eliminations.

Nikon D3S, 24mm, 400iso, f1.4, 1/250th, Manual

In the below shot Gary Densham would cross the center line in the shutdown area directly in front of the car of John Force. The cars got close but thanks to some good driving they never touched.

Nikon D3S, 600mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/2000th, Manual

Under some nice looking clouds, funny car driver Robert Hight does a burnout, below.

Nikon D3S, 24-70mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/250th, Manual

Here are the winners of the pro classes.

Pro Stock winner Allen Johnson

Nikon D3S, 24-70mm, 100iso, f8, 1/250th, Manual

Funny Car winner Robert Hight

Nikon D3S, 24-70mm, 100iso, f8, 1/250th, Manual

Top Fuel winner Spencer Massey

Nikon D3S, 24-70mm, 100iso, f9, 1/250th, Manual

In the below shot you can see some major tire issues on the Goodyear on the rear of Antron Browns car. Thankfully the inner liner of the tire held together.

Nikon D3S, 24-70mm, 100iso, f9, 1/250th, Manual

That wraps up another weekend of NHRA!

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