Drag racing. Hands down the most intense, discombobulating, gut-wrenching, intimidating sport in which to photograph. Period.

I’m not talking American Graffiti muscle cars or Greased Lightning pink slip duels you see on the silver screen.


We’re talking Top Fuel here baby. Alcohol burning, nitrous oxide injected, pedal to the metal fly by the seat of your pants automotive induced terror.

Gone in Sixty Seconds? How ’bout the quarter mile in under four seconds. Four seconds! If you blink, you’ve missed it.

Friday, I had a chance to shoot top fuel funny cars and dragsters during the NHRA Fram Autolite National’s at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. It’s one thing to watch from the bleachers, quite another to shoot pictures of these four wheeled projectiles less than 15 feet away. I’ve tried to describe the feeling of a 315mph vehicle passing by to others. There is no tangible description, really. Just a feeling you get. A gut feeling.

These cars literally blast off and blow on by in a spilt second. Flames shoot from the tailpipes as a sudden burst of fuel is injected in to the cars massive, not very Green engine.

The displacement of air and the tremendous roar which spews forth reconfigures the inside of your body. Stomach here, spleen over there. You capture maybe six good frames. Two seconds later, the parachutes open on the vehicle and the race is over.

Jack Beckman of Norco Calif., drives the Valvoline / Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger funny car to the top qualifying position and a track record during the Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Friday July 16, 2010. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2010

-Kent Porter