Mike Janis takes his Pro Mod bottoms up at NHRA Gainesville

The third race on the 2012 NHRA season took us to Gainesville, FL. Its a track rich with history that I was excited to get back to following my first visit last year.

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For Friday qualifying we would be greeted with overcast conditions.

Below, NHRA pro stock driver Greg Stanfield does a burnout in his Nitro Fish sponsored GXP.

Nikon D3S, 24-70mm, 200iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

From the stairway up to the media center I shot the below frame of top fuel driver Antron Brown launching off the starting line as his crew looked on.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 100iso, f4.5, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

Thanks to Jason Sharp for the below photo of me hard at work while shooting from the staircase.

Photo by Jason Sharp

Gainesville would mark the first appearance of 2012 for the pro stock motorcycles. In the below frame Mike Berry becomes the first pro stock bike to hit the timing blocks for the season. Probably not anything Berry will be bragging about!

Nikon D700, 600mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/2500th, Manual

Backlight plus overcast skies enabled me to take advantage of the way the light was falling on the edges of the brand new Toyota Camry body on the Tequila Patron car driven by Alexis DeJoria, below. The photo was accomplished by underexposing the shot by a few stops to make the frame dark.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 800iso, f5.6, 1/8000th, Aperture Priority

Below is a three shot sequence I took in the staging lanes of funny car driver Robert Hight as he fist bumps my camera.

Nikon D3s, 24-70mm, 320iso, f5, 1/800th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

For the below frame of top fuel driver Brandon Bernstein doing his burnout, I would get lucky and have the sun breaking through beneath the clouds to produce a pretty shot. This was certainly one of my favorite images of the weekend.

Nikon D3S, 24-70mm, 500iso, f5, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

Its been awhile since we have seen top fuel driver Hillary Will on the tour. In the below frame she launches off the starting line with the wheels up.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 1250iso, f6.3, 1/800th, Manual

For round two of pro mod qualifying I headed to the shutdown area of the track to have a nice head on view as the wild and crazy cars ran their session.

In the second or third pair of the session it would be driver Mike Janis (below) losing control of his car as he raced alongside Roger Burgess

Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Manual

After getting out of the groove, Janis would quickly lose control and the car would make a hard left….

Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Manual

….the car slowly started tipping over as Burgess was getting closer and closer to the action…

Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Manual

….This shot would be my favorite image of the weekend, you can obviously tell something bad is about to happen yet the car is still in perfect condition without a scratch or dent on it….

Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Manual

….that would end quickly once the Mustang got on its roof…

Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Manual

….Burgess would gently steer his car towards the right to avoid the upside down car of Janis….

Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/600th, Manual

….with this crash occurring at high speeds over 200mph, the way Janis’ car turned and slid gave him about the smoothest high speed crash one of these cars could experience….

Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/600th, Manual

Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/600th, Manual

…sparks fly as the rear end of Mike Janis’ car hits the concrete wall….

Nikon D700, 600mm, 250iso, f5.6, 1/600th, Manual

….then it would be a long grinding slide for Janis…

Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/600th, Manual

…before coming to a fiery stop 10 feet from my shooting position.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 1250iso, f6.3, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

Janis would be unhurt in the incident. Below, NHRA safety safari crew members flip over the car so they can tow it off the track and get right back into qualifying.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 1250iso, f6.3, 1/800th, Manual

Below, Ryan Ramos, a crew member for top fuel driver T.J. Zizzo takes a quiet moment to reflect as he wears a gas mask prior to warming up the car.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 800iso, f4, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

In case you were wondering why Ryan needs a mask, check out the below photo as T.J. Zizzo warms up the car. Look at the nitro fumes filling the pit area.

Nikon D3S, 24-70mm, 250iso, f4, 1/250th, Manual

Below, L.E. Tonglet (left) and brother G.T. Tonglet both enjoy a lollipop as they wait to go through a tech inspection following a run.

Nikon D700, 600mm, 500iso, f7.1, 1/2000th, Manual

Top fuel dragster driver Brady Kalivoda gives me the point as he rides back to the pits in his dragster following a run.

Nikon D700, 600mm, 320iso, f4, 1/2000th, Shutter Priority

During funny car qualifying on Saturday, Courtney Force would have her first nitro incident as she would slap the right lane wall, below.

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

The car suffered some serious body damage from the impact.

Nikon D700, 600mm, 250iso, f7.1, 1/1600th, Manual

Courtney Force would hop out of the car….

Nikon D700, 600mm, 250iso, f7.1, 1/1600th, Manual

…where she was immediately tended to by the Safety Safari.

Nikon D700, 600mm, 250iso, f7.1, 1/1600th, Manual

Below, a crew member guides pro stock motorcycle rider Hector Arana Jr into the staging beams for a qualifying pass.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 400iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Manual

For the below shot of funny car driver Johnny Gray I went with a slow shutter speed to blur out the background and give off the feeling of speed.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 200iso, f7.1, 1/80th, Manual

A fan gets a nice souvenir to go home with, below. Wonder how often a young fan goes home with a tire only to have his parents say, “hell no! Get that out of my house!” Probably a lot…

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 1250iso, f4.5, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

The most popular pit area with the fans this season has to be that of Courtney Force, below. The young rookie has quickly become a fan favorite.

Nikon D3S, 24-70mm, 800iso, f2.8, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

Following Saturday qualifying I did a portrait shoot for top fuel driver T.J. Zizzo.

The cool thing about T.J. (or any NHRA driver really) is I came up with a crazy idea for us to do the shoot atop of his hauler. I was semi expecting him to say no when I made the suggestion but before I knew it he was climbing atop his hauler. I climbed atop the hauler next to them and by both of us being above the pit areas we had a perfect background to do the photos, below.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 100iso, f4, 1/250th, Manual

The portrait was lit by a giant octabank being held by my buddy Jason Sharp. Holding a reflector to bounce some of the light back was Andrew Weber.

In the below shot I gave them a 3-2-1 countdown and had them jump in the air for a fun behind the scenes photo.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 100iso, f4, 1/160th, Manual

Back on the ground in the pits we had a few more product portraits we needed to knock out. In the middle of the shoot fellow top fuel driver Cory McClenathan decided to come in and photo bomb the shoot, below.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 1000iso, f8, 1/250th, Manual

Below, crew members put away the car of top fuel driver Tony Schumacher as darkness consumes the track.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/125th, Aperture Priority

For first round on Sunday we would be greeted with very overcast skies with a high chance of rain.

Below, the car of top fuel driver Spencer Massey is towed through the pits to the staging lanes for round one of eliminations.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 125iso, f7., 1/250th, Manual

For first round I would shoot from the top end to take advantage of the lack of heat waves on the track.

Below, top fuel dragster driver Terry McMillen (left) blows a head gasket as he races alongside Tony Schumacher.

Nikon D700, 600mm, 400iso, f6.3, 1/1600th, Manual

Below, in the first round of funny car, Alexis DeJoria (left) would pick up her first career funny car round win by beating the winningest funny car driver in the sports history, John Force. Congrats Alexis!

Nikon D700, 600mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/12500th, Manual

Below, NHRA top fuel dragster driver Clay Millican (right) has a fire alongside Doug Kalitta during the Gatornationals at Auto Plus Raceway at Gainesville.

Nikon D700, 600mm with 1.4 converter (850mm), 1250iso, f5.6, 1/1250th, Manual

Below, fire trickles from the header pipe on the funny car of Cruz Pedregon as fire suppressant liquid drips down onto the track following an explosion.

Nikon D700, 600mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/600th, Manual

Robert Hight makes the hard right turn in his funny car at the end of the track following his round two win, below.

Nikon D700, 600mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Manual

Just before the semi finals of the pros the rains would come and put an early end to our day, below.

Nikon D3S, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

Time for some Monday drag racing!

For Monday we would be greeted with nice sunny weather.

Below, looking more like an executioner than a dragster driver, we have Tony Schumacher as he wears his fireproof head sock prior to putting on his helmet.

Nikon D3S, 70-200mm, 640iso, f5.6, 1/500th, Aperture Priority

Below, the Goodyear tires on the car of Shawn Langdon grow super tall and skinny as Langdon loses traction at the hit of the gas in the semis.

Nikon D700, 400mm, 500iso, f5.6, 1/1000th, Manual

Lets get to our winners.

Pro Stock-Mike Edwards

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 250iso, f8, 1/250th, Manual

Funny Car-Robert Hight

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f8, 1/250th, Manual

Top Fuel-Morgan Lucas

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f8, 1/250th, Manual

Pro Stock Motorcycle-Eddie Krawiec

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 100iso, f7.1, 1/200th, Manual with SB-800 Flash

And that wraps up another awesome weekend at the races!

To see ALL my images from the weekend CLICK HERE!

Next up is my first trip to the NHRA Four Wide Nationals in Charlotte!

I have a 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!

2 Responses to “Mike Janis takes his Pro Mod bottoms up at NHRA Gainesville”

  1. Tim says:

    I don’t want to sound sheltered – but this has to be the coolest motorsports photo I’ve ever seen.

    http://markjrebilas.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/ea03X_5263-650×446.jpg

    So glad to visit your site & have you post like this. Awesome.

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