Ride the rocket
Delight. Disbelief. Fear. Pain. Causeless gaiety. It is with these words that I will draw a line under my first weekend, held on the NHRA drag-racing races.
Twenty-three times a year, and only in selected places in the United States of America, a text similar to the following reads on the ears of radio listeners: “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! Nitrous oxide breathing 6000-horsepower Funny Cars class accelerates to a speed of 500 km / h! Top Fuel class dragsters will take you to hell! ”Thousands will take this message with enthusiasm – it cannot be otherwise, because they have been waiting for this weekend all year.
And here come the city competition NHRA – National Association of Hot Rodding. What makes this event so special? Why does he have so many loyal fans who gather in a huge crowd every time? Well, for me, the task of explaining what the weekend with the NHRA is to those who have never been there seems almost impossible. Just because it is so extreme, nothing in the world of motor racing and close will not put close. But I still try.
Delight. Disbelief. Fear. Pain. Causeless gaiety. It is with these words that I will draw a line under my first weekend, held on the NHRA drag-racing races. Just don’t think that I haven’t seen anything else in my life, just all the competitions I worked for – CART, NASCAR, desert SCORE races, Pikes Peak and Indy 500 are from another league. And the comparison method does not work here. Probably because all the instruments in my head rolls over. The first attack will undergo ears, which can be really painful. Eyes exactly crawled up, a nose will pick up a lot of exotic smells, and sound waves will be given in pain in the chest for a long time. And one more thing – you will never forget it. Regardless of whether you love it or hate it. Such vivid impressions remain forever.
For the first time I managed to get into the NHRA world in a race in the desert of Arizona, near the city of Phoenix. As a photographer, I just signed a contract with Ford Motors and had to drive around 16 Nascar, Kart and drag racing for a year. Like my colleague Scott Duchin, I specialized in shooting formula cars of the CART series and never attended a single NHRA competition. Honestly, I did not take this type of motorsport seriously. Well, what interest could it all be? Two cars, a quarter mile, a few seconds, in a straight line … So what’s the big deal? Reflecting this way, I increasingly “pumped up” myself with distrust, and my amazement was even greater.
When I first saw the car start class Funny Car, I stood right behind her, at 15 meters. And besides a couple of unpleasant moments for my health that I had to go through, I got one absolutely unbelievable impression: this car just stood here, next to me, and now it is on the other end of the track! How many seconds have passed? For how many fractions of these seconds did the frantic monster devour the entire distance? Having summoned all my experience to help, I still could not understand this – it seemed that the laws of physics were defeated in the first round by knockout. And all the knowledge and impressions that accumulated over the years in my head could not prove the opposite. When I finally came to my senses and stopped doubting what I had just seen, another thought came to me: what forces could be capable of doing that? I looked at Scott and he looked at me. We laughed. The absurdity of what is happening did not give in to any analysis.
A few minutes later I tried to photograph the launch of “Fanny Kara”, and this turned out to be a no less remarkable event. It is worth noting that this sport, to put it mildly, is not for the faint of heart. Those who manage not to jump from pure fear, when this car exposes all its rage, shooting forward, deserve a medal. Given this, imagine how you need to catch in the lens the start of this nitrogen-methane rocket of the earth-to-earth class, being five meters away from it … I had to literally force my instincts to remain in relative calm and not react to the massive and very dangerous ones, by the way , erupting energy from my object. Want to visit my place? Imagine that you are holding a camera in your hands and are ready to take a picture of a car breaking from the start. You have made all the necessary settings and frozen in a pose. But here a problem arises: as soon as the car takes off, the 120-pound man beats you to the chest with all his might — that is how it feels, otherwise you cannot describe it. And you have already got used to it, because already three times you tried to photograph this damned start and three times the big guy “drenched you”. And he will never get tired, until you stop taking pictures. Maybe it doesn’t sound believable enough, but believe me, this is how the start of these cars is felt. And I’m not trying to exaggerate anything – after eight or ten starts I felt real physical pain in my chest.