On Friday I had the unique opportunity to cover the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) National competition held at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton Pennsylvania. I have visited this track a few times before to watch events and was never disappointed. This year turned out to be even better. Covering the event for Independence Sports Magazine meant I was granted special access to photograph the races from a close, and I mean very close, vantage point.
In my orange vest I was able to experience the deafening roar of a Top Fuel Dragster from five feet. I can’t express how this feels in words. I had earplugs in and was wearing headphones over my head and it was still, by far, the loudest thing I had ever felt. To describe what happened I can only tell you how it affected me. I took positions beside the racetrack that ranged from right beside the starting line to about 20 meters down the track. I was shooting pictures on almost every pass. Each time a Funny Car or a Top Fuel Dragster passed me, my eyes would close tightly (not on purpose) and my teeth would grit shut, my arms would shake (sometimes banging my face with the camera) my chest would feel like an elephant was dancing on it, I would almost always have to take a step back (except when I was kneeling) and twice, snot was literally blown out my nose. Gross I know, but when the wave of air pressure went by, it was so forceful that if my mouth was open at all, I needed a tissue immediately.
A learning experience certainly, something really fun, definitely. Hopefully the pictures tell the story for you.