Small Town Photojournalism

A Photo Blog by Matthew Jonas

Covering the 2010 Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals

with 2 comments

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

After several hours I was tired, covered in oil and smelled like burnt rubber. I have to admit, it was a pretty good time. The 2010 Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals came to Bandimere Speedway last weekend. We have covered it in the past but not for some time. This year, with the help of an enthusiastic new sports editor, we decided to go all out and cover the entire weekend. Well, at least he did. With 4 other papers to shoot for and numerous weekend assignments I only managed to make it to the finals on Sunday. Even one day was a lot of work and with an average track temperature of 115 degrees the conditions were not exactly comfortable to work in.

Watching a few drag races on TV really didn’t prepare me for just how fast the top fuel dragsters are. A shutter speed of 1/8000th and a motor drive capable of 8.5 frames per second really only gets you 2 frames with cars in it if you are not panning with the action. It’s pretty hard to describe the feeling when a car passes 6 feet in front of you at 200mph. The first couple of times the top fuel cars took off I was actually startled because I wasn’t ready for how loud they would be. Even with my earplugs in the sound was incredible. I really need to invest in some better ear protection for future races.

Being that I have never covered drag racing before, I took a couple of minutes to get acquainted with the track before the races started. As a photographer you are required to wear a NHRA issued “photo vest” while working. This basically ends up being your credential during the day. I have to commend the NHRA media personnel for their professionalism. The original photo credential that I requested was for Sunday only. When I arrived to pick up the credential they had mistakenly issued a Friday photo credential instead. After a quick phone call to the director, who was actually on site, everything was cleared up and I was issued a full photo credential for Sunday. The whole thing took a couple of minutes and I was granted the same access as any other working photographer that day. Very nice.

Once I got a handle on where we could shoot from, I got to work. The eliminations started several minutes after the opening ceremonies finished. There were a lot of places that I could go but they didn’t offer many different angles. I kind of struggled with coming up with different pictures. Your options were: east side, west side, from the stands or in the tunnel. From the starting line you were allowed to go pretty much anywhere up to 225 feet down the track if you stayed on the grass. There were signs on both sides that specifically read no one but photographers and safety personnel past this point. That is another nice touch. I’m not sure if Mr. Bandimere was a photographer, but he sure set up the track access for media like he was. Anyway, I did the best that I could and learned a lot from the experience. I turned in more than enough for the paper (some of it I actually liked). I will be looking forward to shooting it next year.

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

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Written by Matthew Jonas

July 29, 2010 at 8:46 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Bummer, I was hoping you hated it so I could go cover it for you next time.

    Jenn LeBlanc

    July 29, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    • Nice try. I think the only thing that I really, truly hate to cover are 5k runs. Wow, just what everyone wants to see: pictures of people running. Oooh, aaaah. Not really.


      July 29, 2010 at 9:35 pm

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