As the 2016 Countdown to the Championship heats up, the NHRA makes its third to last stop of the tour at the famous first all-concrete surface track in Ennis, Texas. The facility is still known as being one of the fastest on the tour. Robert Hight proved the track’s opportunity for performance by running a 3.839-second pass at 332 mph in his Chevy Camaro SS, taking the provisional Friday pole. With this stellar run, he not only broke the existing track record, but will also go down in the history books as the third-quickest run ever made by a Funny Car. The other side of the track record was also smashed by a Funny Car driver. Jack Beckman threw down a 333.66 mph pass at 3.843 sec in his Infinite Hero labeled Dodge Charger. In Top Fuel, it’s been Antron Brown’s run from Friday’s second session, which put him at the top of the qualifying ladder throughout the sessions. A 3.682 sec at 330.55 mph run earned him both ends of the track record. In Pro Stock, the Ken Black racing stable cars of Jason Line and Greg Anderson, who dominated the whole season, also dominated the qualifying in Dallas. Jason Line coming out on top of the heap with a 6.568 at 210.34 mph. Local fan favorite Alex Laughlin qualified third in the Gas Monkey sponsored Camaro entry. The Alligator farmer and defending event champion Jerry Savoie took away the pole position with a 6.805 at 197.31 mph and stayed in front of the both Harley riders. On race day Antron Brown went straight to the final by running consecutive low 3.7’s throughout the elimination rounds. So did Steve Torrence, who came up short with his 3.750 to Browns 3.744. Brown increased his points lead by winning his seventh event of the season and his third at the Texas Motorplex. In Funny car, things looked a bit different, as it came to an all-Don-Schumacher-Racing-stable finale when Matt Hagan faced points leader Ron Capps. Capps had a big explosion right at the finish line in round 2 against Jack Beckman, but was able to come back with a rebuilt car for the next round, where he beat current world champion Del Worsham to enter the finals against Matt Hagan. Matt’s 3.913 at 327.03 beat Ron Capps’ 3.906 at 322.19 mph run, but Capps stayed on top in the championship points battle. Surprisingly, none of the summit-sponsored Pro Stock Camaros made it to the finals like they’ve been doing all season long. Jason went out in round 2 against Drew Skillman and Greg Anderson fell to a strong-running Alex Laughlin. So it’s been those two drivers beating the Ken Black teammates squaring off in the finale against each other. Skillman – with the better reaction time out of the gates –took home the trophy with a 6.661 against Laughlin’s 6.708 run. In Pro Stock bike, qualifying leader Jerry Savoie (6.856 e.t.) got beat on a holeshot by Harley rider Eddie Krawiec (6.880 e.t.) who took over the points lead with his win. With only two races left on the 2016 NHRA Tour, we’re curious who will take home the championships in the end. Will Ron Capps finally win one? I sure hope so, fingers crossed …
Text and photos by David Beitler
Es ist dieses eine Wochenende im August, das von den Speedfreaks aus ganz Europa herbeigesehnt wird. Vom 19. bis 21. August traten aus 15 Nationen in 9 verschiedenen Fahrzeugklassen um die 300 Teams an. Bei Europas größtem Drag Racing Event: den NitrOlympX auf dem Hockenheimring. Am Freitag fanden bei schönstem Sommerwetter und idealen Streckenbedingungen die Qualifikationsläufe statt. Hier konnten schon einige Fahrer ihre persönliche Bestzeit verbessern. In der Königklasse, den Top Fuel Dragstern, fielen niedrige Vierer Zeiten. In der Pro Stock Klasse wurde der Streckenrekord von den beiden Schweden Jimmy Alund und Bengt Ljundahl unterboten. Am Samstag hatte das Wetter die Veranstaltung im Griff. Wo am Morgen noch einige Läufe der Public Race Klassen stattfinden konnten, mussten am Vormittag die geplanten Läufe der FIA Klassen leider ausfallen. Die legendäre Saturday Nightshow fand allen Umständen zum Trotz pünktlich statt, jedoch in einer abgewandelten Form. Eingeleitet wurde sie dieses Mal mit einem ganz besonderen Highlight. Die wahnwitzige Flugshow des deutschen Red Bull Air Race Piloten Matthias Dolderer hielt die Fans, die den Regen tapfer ausgesessen hatten, in Atem. Statt den unter Flutlicht geplanten Showläufen, vollführten zeitgleich 3 Top Fueler und der Nitro Injected Fueler von India Erbacher einen Warmup. Auch die Jetdragster boten den rund 40.000 Zuschauern eine fulminante Feuershow. Burnout Shows und Bike Stunts sowie das obligatorische Feuerwerk rundeten das Programm ab. Der Tag der Entscheidungsläufe bot einige Überraschungen und das nicht nur wetterbedingt. Die Finnin Anita Mäkelä sicherte sich, mit der ersten auf der Rico Anthes Quartermile gefahrenen 3er Zeit, einen Eintrag in die Geschichtsbücher. Mit 3.962 Sekunden auf 481,62 km/h und damit eine der bisher schnellsten in Europa gefahrenen Zeiten, besiegte sie Urs Erbacher in Runde 1. In der zweiten Runde wurde Anita sogar noch schneller und schickte, mit einer 3.939 auf 486.91 km/h, den Dänen Stig Neergaard zurück nach hause. So ergab es sich, das sie im Finale auf den Vorjahressieger Micke Kagared traf und in einem heftigen „Pedalfest“ besiegte. Unter den anderen großen Siegern des Wochenendes war einmal mehr Timo Habermann. Er bekam in seinem Top Methanol Dragster einen Bye run im Finale, da der Dragster von India Erbacher nicht mehr antreten konnte. Das europäische FIA Top Methanol Funny Car Finale gewann der Finne Johnny Oksa mit einer 5.886/362.34 gegen Ari Pietilä. Der schaffte eine 6.345er Zeit auf 261.82 km/h , kam allerdings ins Schleudern und überquerte die Mittellinie. Johan Lindberg, im 1951 Chevrolet Coupe Pro Mod, kämpfte sich bis ins Finale vor – gegen den Überraschungsgegner Mark Harteveld. Dieser zog den Kürzeren gegen den Schweden und verlor 6.120 sek. zu 6.056. Bruder Jonnie Lindberg gewann fast zeitgleich in den USA die Top Methanol Funny Car Klasse. In der FIA Pro Stock Klasse besiegte Jimmy Alund den Schweden Bengt Ljungdahl in einem engen Finale – mit einem Holeshot 6.575 zu einer 6.570. Bei den Bike Klassen gewann Rene van den Berg im Top Fuel Bike, Samu Kemppainen holte den Supertwin Sieg nach Finnland und Gert-Jan Laseur konnte sich den ersten Platz im Pro Stock Bike Feld sichern. Bei den Super Street Bikes verbesserte der Brite Garry Bow den europäischen Geschwindigkeitsrekord auf schnelle 340,69 km/h in 7.04 Sekunden. Ein großes Lob gilt der Streckencrew, die nicht nur in den knappen Wochen zwischen dem Formel 1 Rennen und den NitrOlympX die Strecke in einen Top Zustand versetzt haben. Sondern auch zwischen all den Regenpausen unermüdlich daran gearbeitet haben, die Strecke wieder trocken zu bekommen. Wir hoffen auf besseres Wetter im nächsten Jahr, wenn es wieder heißt: NitrOlympX. ECHT. STARK.
Text and photos by David Beitler
Dragstalgia Edition No. 6 is in the books and what a great event it’s been! Over 300 participants filled the grounds at Santa Pod Raceway, which celebrated it’s 50th anniversary this year. This year’s anniversary special has been a recreation of the very first run at the Santa Pod Quartermile back in 1966. Harold Bull in the small, handbuilt “Strip Duster” lined up against Ken “flathead” Cooper in his flathead engine digger. Another special included the first appearance of the 1961-1964 Allard Chrysler. It’s been restored by the Allard Chrysler Action Group and made a show run down the quarter mile while the crowd was cheering. But the headliners of this year’s edition had been Ron Hope’s famous “Rat Trap” Fuel Altered accompanied by Tom Bradford in his Fiat Topolino Altered. The Rat Trap gang also celebrated their 50th anniversary with a European Tour – with two stops at Santa Pod and one at Hockenheim. Nick Davies in his “Havoc” Altered made the switch to nitro in the off-season to take them both on. With Ramon van der Weurf in the mix, those four cars duked it out in a cannonball format race. They showed strong six-second passes with Bradford coming out on top of the qualifying ladder with a 6.4063/234.08 to a 6.4893/208.02 from van der Weurf in his beautiful Top Methanol Funny Car with the slightest margin of victory. Van der Weurf proved once again that he’s found the ideal setup for his „Wild’r at Heart“ Dodge in marching straight to the finals, where he defeated Nick Davies running a 6.426 at 212 mph against Davies’ 6.612 at 223 mph. The battle will continue at the European Finals at Santa Pod. Friday was Arrival and RWYB day. Most of the Muscle Cars were attacking the track under the blue sky and provided the huge crowd with a great show. Also a couple of the bigger motorized cars already made some check out runs. Among them: Bob Glassup in his red Capri Nitro Funny Car. I met him 2 years ago with his rolling chassis standing alongside his original Ford Capri street car. This time, the car was ready to make its first 60 foot check out passes and recorded a best of 7.443 et over the course of the weekend. Being new this year, the inaugural „Slingshot Showdown“ already proved to be a huge crowd-pleaser. The new format featured a six-car Nostalgia Front Engine field with great entries. Joe Bond was piloting the recently built-up Bond, Hannis and Osborne’s “Nuthin II Fancy” slingshot, running consistent in the sixes – starting out with a 6.692 at 209 mph which is now in the books as the fastest run ever made by a British front-engined methanol dragster at Santa Pod Raceway. Bond later ended up in the final against Jon Webster’s golden “Hephaestus” digger and took the win with a 6.757 at 210.82 mph to a slowing Webster. My personal highlight was to witness a fire burnout from Bob Hawkins’ Time Traveller II at point-blank range. He was engulfed in flames for seconds – all for the show! When you count in all the muscle and show cars on display, the racing of the Nitro-, RWYB-, Wildbunch, Gassers, Outlaw Anglia, Willy’s wars and other classes as well as the great nostalgia drag bikes, the rockabilly bands, the cacklefest and all other stuff going on, it’s really a huge Drag Racing Festival which salutes the good old days of drag racing while creating lots of good new memories.
Text and photos by David Beitler
The 58th edition of the March Meet had it all, record setting performances, bizarre crashes and some wet weather issues. Still, around 500 race teams attended this year’s event and entertained the thousands of fans at the grandstands until the late evening hours. A couple of rain delays caused the teams and fans to stay up late, but the track crew did an awesome job securing the event’s completion. Throughout the whole weekend the track had a fantastic bite, which resulted in some breakage and a couple of huge wheel stands as well as some personal bests and the fastest pass in the history of Nostalgia Funny Car racing courtesy of Kris Krabill. One of the strangest crashes I have ever witnessed happened on Friday to Chris More in his beautiful Cuda Funny Car. Right after the hit, the car made a harsh left turn, flipped over on its roof and sled to a stop approximately at the 120 feet mark. The safety safari got him out quickly and he walked away uninjured. Later, it turned out that a broken fuel line spraying fuel onto the wheels caused this crash. I hope Chris will be back with a replacement body real soon. Another driver experiencing a wild ride on Friday was Adam Sorokin, who launched of the starting line with a huge wheelstand. When he got off the throttle the car slammed back on the ground hard doing some damage to the front axle. But his superb crew managed to get the car back together in perfect shape and even managed to reach the final round. On Saturday the Famoso track prep crew had been kept busy all day long with oil downs and heavy rain showers. The down time gave the fans plenty of time to check out the many vendors in the midway area. From great vintage team t-shirts and die-cast cars to cool vintage metal signs and of course performance parts – if you are building your own Hot Rod, there’s something for everybody to find. In case shopping wasn’t your thing there was also the car show which featured more than 80 Hot Rods from various decades. In Top Fuel, Rick White qualified on top of the eight car field with a run of 5.564 at 254.04 mph. Tony Bartone ended up second with his 5.622 at 233.84 mph. Jim Young went to the number three spot with a 5.733 at 243.11 mph and Bill Dunlop took the fourth position with a 5.738 at 253.33 mph. In the Nostalgia Funny Car class, Steven Densham held the top spot with a 5.644 at 256.99 mph. Kris Krabill was second with a 5.677 at 249.94 mph. Dan Horan couldn’t improve his time and ended in the third spot with his time of 5.728 at 252.33 mph. Cory Lee went into eliminations from the fourth qualifying position. During Sunday’s eliminations there was another mishap which occurred between veteran Front engine dragster driver Bill Dunlop in his “High Speed” dragster and Jim Murphy in his WW2 digger. Murphy won the round and was clearly in the lead, but after he crossed the finish line disaster struck. Bill’s engine sprayed oil onto his helmet, which caused him to cross lanes and run into the back on Jim Murphy’s slowing dragster and sending himself skywards. Luckily neither of the drivers were hurt during this crash. While the “High Speed” dragster chassis was pretty bent, Jim Murphy was able to make the call for the second round of eliminations, but lost to Adam Sorokin by jumping the tree. Sorokin, who pulled another huge wheelstand, made his way into the final round against Rick Williamson. Williamson was able to run him down and took home the trophy with a 5.572 at 245.27 mph. In Funny Car nobody could stop Kris Krabill. He took down Chris Davis in the first round and went on to do the same with Richard Townsend in the second round. In the semifinals he faced Dan Horan. After a storming run, the scoreboards showed a 5.552 at 261.62 mph! The fastest run in Nostalgia Funny Car history. In the final he met number-one qualifier Steve Densham. Densham’s 5.640 came up short against Krabill’s 5.582 and so it’s been the green Pontiac, that stood in the winners circle. The Fuel Altered final was a repeat of last year’s final. Dan Hix was supposed to meet Jeremy Sullivan, but since Sullivan broke down and didn’t make the call, Hix took home the trophy with his solo pass running a 6.46 at 279.97 mph in his Chuy’s-sponsored Altered. The March Meet once again proved to be the biggest and best Nostalgia Drag meeting. I’m curious about how the season will progress and hope to be there when it all comes to an end at the 2016 Hot Rod Reunion – once more in good old Bakersfield.
Text and photos by David Beitler
It’s the “way “ station. The place where you go in between the episodes that make up the rest of your life. Cut on the lights in here and the rest of the world goes dark.
El Mirage Lake is a dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County, California. The lake is located about 9 miles
You can say the dry lakebeds of the Mojave Desert were where hotrodding all began and you’d not be far from the truth.
Lookbook shooting for Brack Kustom & Harry Damson, a T-Shirt label based in Berlin.
Race 61 and Roadrunners Paradies are having every year a great festival. It is at Finowfurt, next to Berlin on an old Airport.
“Hey Jimmy, what’re doing there?” “Same old shit!” he replied. This might sum up the entire event I recently attended. Old men with their old cars, trying to beat the clock and the guy in the next lane, squeezing out every bit of horsepower from their engine combination, rebuilding the engine after every run, and starting all over again. Some of these guys might have been doing this since the early 60’s and some of the cars are still original. Others are rebuilt and updated to the latest safety features. At the Hot Rod Reunion, you get to see them both: the vintage and the real old cars. But let’s focus on the “real stuff” here. The cackle fest on Saturday night is definitely the highlight of the event. Dozens of the old cars get pushed down the quarter mile. They come to life at the end of the return road, rolling cackling and burning back to the starting line in front of a huge crowd, coming to a stop side-by-side lined up on the quarter mile. With the sound of the engines dying, the applause from the grandstands erupts. This experience is a “must see” for any drag racing enthusiast! To see stars like Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen, “TV” Tommy Ivo and Jim Dunn, just to name a few, piloting their restored cars, which are usually kept in museums, make the black and white pictures from the books you own come to life and brings back the feeling of how drag racing must have been in it’s golden era! The next reunion will mark the 25th anniversary for this great event. Be sure not to miss it!
Text and photos by David Beitler
It’s calm out here. The sun burns from the cloudless sky, the air feels warm and dry. A bead of sweat is running down my forehead. A black bug is crawling up from the cracked surface of the asphalt and makes it’s way underneath the metal guardrails to the gravel ground. Suddenly a roar reaches my ear, catches my attention and “zoooom” in just a blink of an eye, the two beasts are filling out my field of vision completely. The singing sound from the blowers and the roaring from the flaming pipes goes away and turns into plopping and swooshing sound from the huge parachutes and the squeaking sound from the halting Goodyear slicks as they rush bye. About three seconds later a sudden violent rush of air and sand blows into my face forcing me to turn away. After the rush, I’m turning my head to the other direction blinded by the beautiful red sun sinking into the distant mountains on the horizon. I watch those colorful monsters engulfed in a cloud of smoke and clutch dust with the parachutes collapsing back upon themselves slowly coming to a save stop. Then complete silence again for minutes … until the next pair of fire breathing monsters engulfed in heat waves roar towards the finish line. This is what it feels like to shoot at the top end in Bakersfield during the “California Hot Rod Reunion”. The experience differs from the one you get sitting in the stands at the starting line. One can’t see what happens at the starting line and there is no track announcer who moderates what’s happening either. Sometimes, one car makes it to the finish line under power, sometimes both cars. As a photographer, you’re in that spot to capture the awesome chute pictures. It’s a bit more challenging than pressing the trigger down at the starting line when the lights turn green. You have a lot of downtime and suddenly you have to be ready, decide yourself for the “right” car to aim your viewfinder on and turn your zoom lens rather quickly from fully zoomed in to fully zoomed out as the car approaches you with 260 mph, all while keeping it correctly framed. This while being prepared to withstand the airflow draft that follow the cars and their parachutes. Also being aware of flying pieces and parts as not every car reaches the shutdown area as it left the starting line…
Text and photos by David Beitler
Heiß, heißer, Nitrolympx 2015. Am bisher heißesten Tag des Jahres wurde auf der Rico Anthes Quartermile ein feuriges Jubiläum gefeiert. Bereits zum 30. Mal traf sich die Elite des europäischen Dragster Sports, um den vierten Lauf der FIA Meisterschaft vor 45.000 Fans auszutragen. Schon am Freitag präsentierte sich die Strecke den 300 Teilnehmern in einem top präparierten Zustand. Die Streckencrew, angeführt von Ian Marshall und David Warren aus Santa Pod, und alle fleißigen Helfer hatten in wochenlanger Vorarbeit ganze Arbeit geleistet und die Strecke geschliffen, sowie Kleber und Gummi in Massen aufgetragen. So hielt der Belag übers Wochenende allem Stand was die Crew Chiefs auf sie losließen. Schnellere Zeiten wurden nur durch die hohen Temperaturen – die teilweise Höchstwerte von 40 Grad erreichten – und den dadurch verminderten Sauerstoffgehalt der Luft verhindert. Bereits während der Qualifikation am Freitag lieferten sich die unzähligen Teilnehmer der Sportsmann und Pro ET Klassen spannende Duelle. Den ersten echten Härtetest musste die Bahn dann während der rekordverdächtigen Mittagshitze bei den ersten Läufen der FIA Klassen Pro Modified, Top Methanol Funny Car und Dragster, sowie der Top Fuel Dragster bestehen. Die mit 4,390 Sekunden auf 374,84 km/h gefahrene Bestzeit des finnischen Top Fuel Piloten Jari Halinen, als auch die von Timo Habermann im Methanol Dragser aufgestellte Bestzeit von 5,424 bei 424 km/h ließ keinen Zweifel am top Grip-level der Piste. Dieses Jahr neu im Programm: Die in England geborene Klasse der „Supercharged Outlaws“ die unterschiedlichste Fahrzeuge, vom Doorslammer, über Top Methanol Funny Cars und Slingshots bis hin zu auf Straßen zugelassenen Altereds an den Start brachte. Einzige Gemeinsamkeiten: Kompressor geladen und spektakulär. Die Outlaws burnten sich innerhalb von Sekunden in die Herzen der Dragster Fans und boten eine tolle Show, von riesen Wheelies bis zu qualmenden Burnouts weit über die 1000 Fuß Marke hinaus. Am Samstag ging es Schlag auf Schlag weiter. Die Habermann Brüder konnten ihre Bestzeiten noch einmal verbessern Timo behauptete mit einer 5,383 die Poleposition, knapp vor Bruder Dennis mit seiner 5,503 Zeit. Noch enger ging es in der Königsklasse zu. Das Feld der sieben angetretenen Fueler trennte am Ende nur vierhundertstell Sekunden, angeführt von Mikael Kagereds 4,227 auf 430 km/h. Bei den wilden Pro Modifieds ging die Poleposition ebenfalls an einen Schweden. Matts Eriksson pilotierte seinen wunderschönen 1956 Ford Crown Victoria mit einer 6,15er Zeit an die Spitze des Dreizehner Feldes. Die kultige Saturday Nightshow bot diesmal wieder eine einzigartige Mischung aus Dragster Showläufen und Stuntdarbietungen, Feuershow und Feuerwerk. Zum Jubiläum extra stark vertreten: eine vielfältige Auswahl der flammenspeienden Jetdragster, die von den vollbesetzten Tribünen mit einer La-Ola-Welle nach der anderen gefeiert wurden. Diesjähriges Highlight waren die Top Fuel Läufe der Publikumslieblinge Anita Makele und Urs Erbacher, die mit ihren side-by-side 4.13er Läufen die Tribünen erzittern ließen und damit sogar ihre Qualifikationszeiten vom Nachmittag unterboten. Die sympathische Schwedin musste am Rennsonntag nach einem feurig spektakulären Motorplatzer in der ersten Runde sich dem Malteser Duncan Micallef geschlagen geben und ihren Top Fuel Dragster parken. Urs Erbacher hingegen konnte sich in einer Materialschlacht bis ins Finale vorkämpfen, lediglich ein gerissener Kompressor-Riemen brachte ihn um den Sieg. Diesen holte sich Vorjahressieger Mikael Kågered mit 4.178 Sekunden vor Urs’ 4.508. Kågered baut damit seine Gesamtführung in der Europameisterschaft um komfortable 66 Punkte vor Anita Mäkelä aus und das bei nur noch 2 ausstehenden FIA Rennen. In den anderen FIA Klassen trafen sich die schnellsten Brüder Deutschlands in einem wahnsinnig engen Finale, in dem Dennis (5.439) knapp vor Timo (5.449) ins Ziel rauschte. Das Finale im Pro Mod wurde unter den Schweden Matts Eriksson und Micke Gullqvist ausgetragen, wobei letzterer mit einer 6.03 die Krone mit nach Hause nehmen dürfte. Unterm Strich wurden 3 grandiose Renntage geboten, die eines Jubiläums mehr als würdig waren; auf die nächsten 30 Jahre Nitrolympx!
Text and photos by David Beitler
The March Meet held at Famoso Raceway in the middle of Orange Orchards has seen rivalries, friendships and winning streaks evolve for 56 years. After being purchased in 1950 by a group of drag racing pioneers called “The Smokers”, the former US Army training airbase facility is still one of the meccas in today’s nostalgia drag racing. Be it for the huge swap meet, the huge car show or the on-track action. This year the track witnessed Tony Bartone continuing his winning streak. He’s unbeaten since the 2013 season. The strong numbers he ran were just incredibly quick and consistent. He made his way to the finish running a string of 5.50 elapsed times, sealing the event with a final round win over Adam Sorokin’s canopied dragster. Sorokin was out the gates first, but banged the blower around the 800 feet mark, giving Bartone the chance to drive around him with a jaw dropping 5.531 at 270.81 mph to Sorokin’s 5.791 at 192.58 mph. In Funny Car, the son of drag racing legend Gary Densham, Steven, managed to win from the very last qualifying spot defeating Kris Krabills with a 5.64 at 249 mph to 5.87 at 242 mph. So far for the numbers from the finals of the nitro classes. Speaking of numbers: The number of 72 Nitro cars was as impressive as the 37 cones, which had to be replaced during the 4 days. Speaking of an exciting event! The 56th edition of the March Meet was also my first time shooting directly at the finish line. Standing next to a living legend with countless years of experience in quarter mile photography, Dave Kommel. I’ve been shooting drag racing at several events now but mainly at the start or the shutdown area, which is supposed to be safer, since the cars are already slowed down by the parachutes. The race experience way down the track at the shutdown area is quite different to the one standing at the starting line. There you can watch the cars approaching the burnout box, warming the tires, hearing the little “eak” from the tires when the burnout is finished. The commandos from the teams, the rev of the engines and the takeoff, as well as the cheers from the crowds. At the top-end, you hear just nothing! From a distance, you recognize that the cars have already left. About half a second later the sound of them reaches your ears and suddenly you see the cars out of nowhere appear in your viewfinder. Engulfed in heat waves, the funny cars come roaring towards you. The butterflies wide open and the rear tires distorted by the centrifugal forces. The blower singes in a high-pitched tone and the parachutes deploy and tangle around. The cars slow down significantly and sometimes start to jump up and down with the rear ends. To get the right shots is kind of hard because you have so much downtime and then in a fraction of a second, you have to be ready and pan the camera so fast that you never know what you get in the end. All in all, it’s been a fantastic 4 days with awesome racing and wonderful people and another great drag racing experience. We’ll be back soon!
Text and photos by David Beitler
The sounds of some vibrating noise are tackling my ears, I try to ignore it and get some more sleep... but it doesn’t seem to work properly. A glimpse at my watch tells me it’s 6 o’ clock, or: “just way too early” ... The mattress that I’m lying on feels different. It takes me a second or two to remember where I am. “You’re in the cabin of a race team hauler in the pits of Shakespeare County Raceway in Stratford-upon-Avon, England” I tell myself. Outside I hear René and Michael, the crew guys from the team I’m travelling with, talking about the next steps in servicing the car. It’s cold outside as I’m stepping out of my cave and into the tent. The smell of coffee mixed with the smell of oil, methanol and some kind of metallic smell comes to my nose. “Coffee?” Asks René, already finished with breakfast and ready to pull the spark plugs and valve covers from the Hemi of the ‘41 Willy’s Pro Modified coupe with the name: „The Master of Disaster“. “Gute Mosche!” comes from a tall guy inside the trailer. Jürgen, owner and driver of “The Master” is already up, drinking his coffee with more sugar than coffee. He’s been around the sport since the early 90’s, starting with a street legal Chevy Pick Up and worked his way up to the Pro Modified class. Not on a highly professional level, but more for the fun of it. “Weren’t you the guy using both lanes driving on two wheels last year?”, a fan asks into the tent. “You see, they already know me here” Jürgen replies. “The track couldn’t hold all the power the engine provided and it dragged me to the middle line. As I corrected, my ass wanted to overhaul me and the next thing I know is I was upside down and thinking don’t land on the carbon injector, just DON’T!”. Well, that’s the racer and the businessman in Jürgen. “Glad you’re ok, good to see you here again, BUT don’t do this again, you hear me!?” replied the fan laughing. “I’m not a mechanic, but if you tell me which screw to turn, I’ll do my best to help you out”, I told the guys. So, after we had rebuilt the engine and warmed it up, our entire tent was filled with methanol fumes. My ears burn and my throat feels scratchy. I can’t resist the urge to cough. It’s loud and it’s smelly but it makes me happy almost like Nitro … “Your turn in 10 minutes”, yells the official looking at his clipboard. “You got the starter?” asks René and tells me where to drive the towing vehicle when we reach the starting line. Slowly, we are approaching the starting lanes watching the other cars running down the track. Next up: a Corvette with a huge blown engine. After a smoky burnout it’s time fort he run. The wheels are slowly rolling into the light beams. Pre-stage, stage and green means GO! The Vette takes off hard, but suddenly takes a hard left turn; the crew members raise their arms to the sky screaming words of desperation, as the car crashes hard into the wall. A silent relief erupting into applause comes from the crowd in the grandstands. Everybody feels bad for the team but thankful that the female driver walked away unharmed. “Hopefully the track has got enough traction for our car” I was thinking. After a 20 minute cleanup and track check, the starter gives the signal to fire up the next pair of cars. Back to normal. Only 4 more pairs until our first outing since the crash last year. Jürgen is already sweating under his helmet while sitting in the mean looking black car in the harsh sunlight. The guys seem to get more nervous as we’re getting ready to run. “Don’t get in my lane when I overtake you!” shouts Lee Gallimore, the guy who is lined up against us with a twinkle in his eye in the direction of Jürgen. “Well, fingers crossed” I thought to myself... With a puff of smoke from the pipes, the engine of the Master comes to life, sounding strong and healthy. The “Red Mist“ Altered already burned out and we’re left behind. In a rush, I park the towing vehicles in the service lane, jumping out with my camera, position myself beside the guardrail. René guides Jürgen into the lane, showing him the released safety pins from the parachutes. A flash of yellow and GREEN! WrOOOAM Lee is on his game, and already off as “The Master” spins his tires. Jürgen pedals the car and is on and off the gas a couple of times. The big fat Hoosier tires don’t seem to find any grip at all. Suddenly, at around 120 feet, the tail begins to wiggle and the car crosses lanes. From the start, it looks as if he almost saved the car, when it suddenly touches the guardrail in the other lane. “F... not again!” is my first thought as I’m rushing with the guys in the tow vehicle to the other end of the track. The fire crew is already at the scene and Jürgen is already out and obviously ok. “It’s just the body and the header, we’ll fix it. If not, I’m going to race without a hood... Well, that’s racing... ” Jürgen quickly summarizes. We’ve got the front rebuild and raced a couple of runs at the same event on the next day, but the traction wasn’t with us. Mr. Shakespeare himself couldn’t have written the drama better, which evolved from a loose rear axle spring, which we found out later. After being welded to the chassis again, the Master was running a couple of 7,90 runs at the Dragstalgia event in Santa Pod and showed everybody that it not only lives up to its name, but also is capable of running strong and straight. After two events travelling with the team, I’m glad to have a whole new insight to the sport I love. Thanks to Jürgen, Michael and René for letting me be a part of the crew. On to the next disaster, fingers crossed …
Text and photos by David Beitler
If you never went to a nostalgia drag racing event in Europe like the “Dragstalgia" event at Santa Pod or the Nostalgia Nationals at Shakespeare County Raceway, well you have to see it. I mean „normal“ modern drag racing is quite awesome, ground shaking, unbelievably loud and fast, as well as accessible for the fans unlike any other type of motorsport. Everything is professional. Engine parts get replaced after each run and the big car race teams, travelling with several rigs, are multi-million dollar operations. You might have seen some nostalgia exhibition cars in pits or in a museum. But to watch these cars racing on the track, giving it all they’ve got is a whole different story. You might not see mind-blowing speeds and the quickest run in the history of quarter-mile racing, but you get history and old stories, really enthusiastic and dedicated people, who are racing just for the love of drag racing. Instead of ultra-aerodynamic bodies where you can’t distinguish which car brand it should resemble, you have gorgeous form rich curved bodies with beautiful paintjobs and colorful names like “Time Warp”, “Chaos”, “The Apache”, “Nightmare”, “The Havoc”, “Mental Breakdown” or “The Headhunter” just to mention a few. You’ll see all kinds of different vehicles at the track. From cars running blown hemis with alcohol or nitro to small four cylinder motors. The Gassers are really fun to watch, where everyone tries to lower his car, these things got the front end of the car amped up so high, that you can see the suspension and the motor block under the front bumper. The front wheels looked misplaced, but they had them rearranged to gain a longer wheelbase for an improved directional stability. These cars looked, well “funny” and that’s what later evolved into the Funny Car category with the flip bodies and tube chassis we still see today. Basically being a Funny Car without the body, the wild and wacky Fuel Altereds seem to go anywhere, but straight. These are some of the craziest things on 4 wheels you’ll ever see trying to go down the strip. The variation is sheer endless, be it the front engine dragster, the Fuel Coupes, the nitro burning Altereds, shiny muscle cars or rusty Rat Rods. Nostalgia events have it all. Be prepared for nitro cackle from the pipes and wild rides down the quarter mile, wheel stands and fire burnouts as well as good old stories and great people! So be there whether it’s the big event, “Dragstalgia at Santa Pod or the smaller, more intimate and personal nostalgia event in Shakespeare County: I encourage you to go there! You can’t call yourself a drag racing fan if you haven’t witnessed the roots of it. See you at the track.
Text and photos by David Beitler
Über 40.000 Fans feierten zum 29. Mal ein dröhnendes Highspeed-Festival der Extraklasse vom 8. -10. August auf der Rico Anthes Quartermile in Hockenheim. Wie immer waren unter den diesmal 300 angereisten Teilnehmern viele Top Teams aus ganz Europa vertreten, um wichtige FIA Meisterschaftspunkte zu sammeln oder um ihre persönliche Bestzeiten zu unterbieten. Auf einer als „schwierig“ zu bezeichneten Strecke schaffte Thomas Nataas sich mit einer Zeit von 4,51 Sekunden an die Spitze des 8er Top Fuel Felds zu setzen. Bei den Top Methanol Dragstern gelang Peter Schöfer eine kleine Sensation, er fuhr nach einer 2 jährigen Auszeit mit einer starken 5,56er Zeit auf den zweiten Platz direkt hinter Dennis Habermann und seiner 5,5 et. Bruder Timo startete mit einer 5,57er Zeit vom dritten Platz aus. Johan Lindberg sicherte sich im orange-weißen Chevy Monte Carlo Methanol Funny Car die Top Qualifier Position mit einer 5,94 bei 404,2 km/h. Jürgen Nagel, der einzige deutsche Vertreter der Klasse, hatte wie viele andere Probleme ein Setup für die Strecke zu finden und konnte lediglich ein 7,04 Zeit für sich verbuchen. In der Klasse Pro Modified schaffte der Schwede Mats Eriksson nach einem verkorksten Saisonstart in Santa Pod, dessen Narben immer noch am Ford Crown Victoria zu sehen waren, mit einer 6,3er Zeit die Poleposition zu ergattern. Die legendäre Night Show am Samstag Abend bot wieder einen gelungenen Mix aus Burnout Show, wunderschönen US Cars, Nostalgia Dragster Shows und feuerspeienden Top Fuel und Jet Dragstern die das Motodrom in seinen Grundfesten erzittern ließen. Diese Show aus Motorsport, show and shine, Musik, Lightshow, Qualm, Motorenlärm und Nitro ist sicher einmalig in Deutschland, wenn nicht gar weltweit! Am Renntag, Sonntag dann, sicherte sich, einmal mehr, der schnelle Schwede Mikael Kagered die Top Fuel Krone in dem mit Spannung erwarteten Finale gegen den 19 jährigen Top Fuel Rookie Noah Stutz aus der Schweiz flog er mit einer 4,8er Zeit als erster über die Ziellinie, sein Motor eingehüllt in einen Feuerball. Im Top Methanol Funny Car Finale hatten beide Kontrahenten mit massiven Traktionsproblemen zu kämpfen, am Ende behielt Johan Lindberg die Nase vorn und Leif Andreasson schaffte es mit qualmenden Slicks auf den zweiten Rang. Peter Schöfer erreichte im Top Methanol Dragster gegen den Malteser Chris Polidano einen respektablen zweiten Platz. Meisterschaftsführender und Eventtitelverteidiger Mattias Wulcan bezwang David Vegter im Pro Modified Finale. Vegter kam ins Schleudern und wurde aufgrund eines Spurwechsels disqualifiziert. In der Königsklasse der Zweiräder nahm Altmeister Ian King nicht nur den Sieg, sondern mit 379 km/h einen neuen europäischen Geschwindigkeitsrekord mit nach England. Wir warten gespannt auf das 30 jährige Jubiläum der Nitrolympx, für das sicher einige PS Starke Überraschungen geplant sind. Infos gibt’s auf www.nitrolympx.de
Text and photos by David Beitler
Demon Drome "The Wall of death" at Finnowfurt Race 61. This Wall of Death was constructed in 1927 in the USA.
Wenn einem der süßliche Duft von verbranntem Gummi, vermischt mit dem beißenden Geruch von Nitromethan, in die Nase dringt und die Trommelfelle an ihre Belastungsgrenze getrieben werden, kann das nur eins bedeuten:
The hands on the wheel begin to tighten as the blood drains from the knuckles. The muted hum of cruise has
With a 6 day race schedule, 27 entries in Top Fuel, 21 in Funny car, 31 in Pro Stock and an overall car count of over 800 the 58th Us Nationals aka the Big Go already impresses before you attend them. When you enter the facility you already get the feeling you’re walking on holy ground. It took us half a day to walk trough the whole sportsman pits and still one hasn’t seen everything. Gearheads, racers, and car enthusiasts all around, sticking their heads into the carburetors, making their hands dirty and, doing warmups, cleaning and other preparations. The whole place is like the inside of a beeyard except the buzzing comes from high horsepowered V8 engines. So 2 days of sportsman action wheelies and close heads up racing like on a conveyor-belt. Stunning cars from the early sixties up tot he newest Camaros and mustangs duking it out from early morning till late after sunset. Finally Friday evening it’s time for the first dose of nitromethane as Bob Frye demands: „Top Fuel and Funny Cars tot he lanes please!“ And what a wonderful flame throwing night session it was! The Al-Anabi Racing cars really strong in the first outing, but in the end, the friday crown had been taken by the sarge, Tony Schumacher, tearing up the track with a blistering 3.814 at 324.67 mph right out of the trailer. In Funny Car „Fast“ Jack Beckman stealing the pole away from Johnny Grey with a strong looking 4.051 at 302.62 mph. And of course in Pro Stock Erica Enders, who seems to be on a hot strike right now, running a 6.624 at 208.84 mph. But these numbers were supposed to fall during the next couple of sessions. The weather forecast for saturday and the rest of the event didn’t looked good as the remnants of Hurricane Isaac continued to drift into the Brownsburg area. As the light, but persistent rain showers finally stopped at 3 pm on Saturday, racing resumed and in 2 further nitro sessions the poles were set. Shawn Langdon ran a blistering track record of 3.740 at 326.48 mph. While the funny car legends daughter Courtney Force stormed the Funny Car pole with a 4.049 at 317.27 mph, Erica Enders improved her time to a 6.550 at 210.80 mph to stay number one. The crowd went wild. Two females in 2 Pro categories leading the fields at a nhra event never happened before. Unfortunately the rain washed out what surely had been another 2 exciting rounds of qualifying and the eliminations on monday of course. The race got postponed to the next weekend but our plane to good ol Germany went of on tuesday noon. Maybe next year we get the chance to enjoy the Big Go in it’s whole beauty…
Text and photos by David Beitler
Angefangen hat Corinnas Leidenschaft mit einer Ente, danach kamen drei Minis und einige Käfer, gefolgt von einem Mustang, einem 67 Camaro und einer Chevelle.
Dust n rust is a car meet in germany. It was the first time 2009. This photos are from the first meet. So see what they got next year.
When i was visiting Jason Jesse, who is the boyfriend of a good friend of mine, i was stoked by his motorcycles. I realy love his custom style.
Kerstin hat den Zugang zu Autos durch ihren Vater gehabt, er hat ihr als KFZ Mechaniker und Autofan so einiges weiter gegeben.
“Hot rod style” invokes speed, flash, and raw power. Under bright lights or into the negative space of a darkened stretch
Fu Manchu is a Southern Californian stoner rock band, who released their debut single "Kept Between Trees" in 1990.
Speedseekers had a shooting for Bikinirama. www.bikinirama.de / BIKINIRAMA® THE FINE ART OF DESTRUCTION
I love the details and paintjobs of cars. This is all about lettering, art, pin striping and individuell stuff people do to there friend - the car.
Madera, CA - Pumpkin Smash Halloween Bash at the Madera Speedway, from kids on the track smashing pumpkins, to the drivers getting out of their cars this night is all about having fun, fun, and more fun.
That is when the mix explodes, and the sound races ahead of the flame, its progeny echoing off the crown to the roof of the chamber then back again.