I remember lots of old things from my childhood, one thing that I do not remember (surprisingly) was when I shot my first racing crash in 1990 at the age of 10. Luckily I still have most of the negatives from back in the day so I was very happy to find the below sequence.

While I don’t remember shooting the crash I have heard my father Gil telling the story about the day to anyone who will listen. It goes something like this…..

“He was a short lil’ buck toothed kid, I placed him in the tower right at the finish line and only told him to push the button if there was a crash happening. He was using a Nikon FM2 camera with a 70-210mm f4 lens on. To keep him from screwing with the cameras focus (this was before the days of autofocus) I put electric tape around the lens to keep the camera focused in the right spot. As I am walking down the steps from the tower one of the first boats down the track lost control and crashed right in front of him. I looked up in the tower and asked if he got it and he responded with a thumbs up and a sheepish smile.”

I spent a little time trying to find the video of the crash online but was unable to do so. I do have the crash on a VHS but have no clue how to digitize that.

The crash happened in March of 1990 at the IHBA Winter Nationals at Firebird Lake in Chandler, AZ.

The drivers name was Jay Weed.

Weed survived the incident and I believe he raced for several more years.

Here is the full sequence.

Below, Jay Weed slides on his head after crashing his flat bottom drag boat at the finish line during qualifying.


Nikon FM2, 70-210mm, Kodak Extar 125 asa film, f5.6, 1/1000th

Weed (below) slides on his back across the top of the water….


Nikon FM2, 70-210mm, Kodak Extar 125 asa film, f5.6, 1/1000th

…..not sure how at the age of 10 I had the presence of mind to go back to the crashing boat but somehow I did…..


Nikon FM2, 70-210mm, Kodak Extar 125 asa film, f5.6, 1/1000th

…..for the rest of the crash I followed the hull of the boat as it came apart…..


Nikon FM2, 70-210mm, Kodak Extar 125 asa film, f5.6, 1/1000th


Nikon FM2, 70-210mm, Kodak Extar 125 asa film, f5.6, 1/1000th

…..below, Weed comes to a stop in the water in front of me.


Nikon FM2, 70-210mm, Kodak Extar 125 asa film, f5.6, 1/1000th

Not sure why I didn’t shoot the rescue crew pulling Weed from the water but I did shoot a little while later as they pulled what was left of the boat from the water.


Nikon FM2, 70-210mm, Kodak Extar 125 asa film, f5.6, 1/1000th


Nikon FM2, 70-210mm, Kodak Extar 125 asa film, f5.6, 1/1000th

Compared to most of my sequences now a days this one had far fewer photos due to the fact that even with the motor drive added to the FM2 it only shot three frames per second (my current cameras are in the 8-10 FPS range)

Here is a pretty funny photo a friend found of me from back in 1990. (Gotta love my killer style even 20 years ago!)


It is hard to believe that I have been at random race tracks around the country for almost 20 years now covering racing events. Back then I used to get pulled out of school to go to the races with my dad in his beat up green van, now a days I am fortunate enough to fly all over the country for the events I shoot. I am a lucky guy.

If you guys like this old crap let me know, I have tons of old negatives from “back in the day” that I have been diligently scanning.

Posted in Boat Racing, Drag Racing, Firebird International Raceway, Me, Racing, Sports   | 16 Comments

16 responses to “From the Archive: My first ever crash photo”

  1. Michael says:

    Great shots and good work, especially for a ten year old.

    That is when I started shooting but it was before 1990.

    Good work as always!

  2. Travis says:

    Mark – Great images. I find these entries to be interesting. The images are obviously interesting but when put in context with the story it makes it that much more interesting.

  3. Frederic says:

    Mark, thanks for sharing this early piece of work.
    Great shots for a 10 years old kid.

  4. Ian says:

    Mark, keep those older shots coming.
    We missed you in Texas, but keep in touch for next season, okay?

  5. Guy Rhodes says:

    Why does it look like you’re standing in an adult’s pair of shoes?

  6. Great stuff Mark.

    Interesting that 20 years ago, the driver gets ejected from a boat like a crash test dummy (first shot above), when today he would have remained intact in the cockpit module.

  7. Steve says:

    Google Canopus
    You can digitize your VHS tapes with the ADVC 110
    Good Luck
    I enjoy your blog

  8. Rob Butterfield says:

    By all means Mark… post old images, it’s always neat to look back to see where you came from and as a reader, cool to see your work from days gone by. BTW, check your email for digitizing that VCR tape.

  9. Rob Butterfield says:

    The shot where the drivers head is first hitting the water making the initial splash is cool. It always amazes me what the human body looks like when you lose 100% absolute control of it. You are right, you do live a blessed life but even as a kid you had mad skills. BTW dude… Love the socks… LOL

  10. Brian says:

    The old stuff is really cool!! I hope you post up more of it!

    Digitizing old vhs stuff is no sweat, I bought a program at walmart for 25 bucks that came with an adapter that you plugged rca jacks into then connects to your computer via USB or Firewire. The only downside is copying is done in real time.

  11. Brett says:


    Some nice work for being 10 at the time. But what’s more remarkable is the mullet that the guy in the front of the pontoon boat is rockin’. That thing is amazing. I can’t even imagine the amount of maintenance that he must do to that thing. I am sure that TO THIS DAY he is sportin the same mullet, but it’s just a little more gray.

    Keep the archives coming.


  12. wow return of the…. what were they called Jam Shorts?

  13. Randy says:

    Hey great shots… I knew Jay and your Dad.. I had just purchased Jays’ old boat (old shovelnose hydro) and he used that money to put this boat in the water.. Firebird is a great place to race and of all the places, the best to crash if that is your fate..

  14. […] This gallery and back story of a high speed drag boat crash includes amazing stuff, and Rebilas was just 10 years old when all this stuff was going down. The driver of the boat, the guy doing the impression of a skipping stone, came away with only minor injuries from the wreck. He’s lucky and Mark is good at what he does. It must have been that youthful training. […]

  15. Jay Weed says:

    Hi Mark,
    I ran across this site after all the these years. You have some great shots that I’ve never seen in this detail. I have a 16×20 print of the first picture hanging on the wall behind me. I do have the full crash footage that was taken by Redding Video that has been converted to DVD if you are interested. Let me know and I can send you a copy if you wish.

    You are right, I raced for several more years. I ended up building a Top Alcohol Flat and racing it until 2000. You can’t let minor mishaps like this slow you down!

    Keep up the good work!


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