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Hot Rod Reunion 2014 – A closer look

The famed photographer Robert Capa once said, “If your photographs aren't good enough, you're not close enough.” In 2014 as I was photographing the annual Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway I was trying to find new ways to dig deeper into this beautiful event and see if I could find things that I hadn’t really see before.

There are hundreds of photographers that shoot this event every year which is fantastic as there is just so much to see. There are so many ways of looking at it as well, from the cars to the drag strip to the famous personalities to the pits to the huge amount of people and so on and so on. I’ve been photographing this event since 2011 and I am really working to find ways of seeing and capturing it so that people who couldn’t see it have a chance to experience a little taste of it through my lens. I don’t simply want to document the event. I want the people who see my photographs to get a little taste of the feel, the sound and the emotion of the day. Obviously this isn’t really possible through a single photograph but perhaps in seeing the images as a story, an inside peek and a bit of imagination more can be taken than just the obvious immediate subject. I haven’t achieved this yet but I will be working over the upcoming years to build as much of a story and a look at the beauty of the cars, the drivers and crews and a perspective of the event as possible . 


I will be adding to this story and these images as time goes by. I’ll be looking at different facets and perspectives of the event and sharing them as I have time to really give it the focus it deserves. But for now I will kick this off with a small series of 20 images.

Just one of the super cool things that is still possible at the Hot Rod Reunion is just how close you can get to the cars, drivers and pits. You get to see, up close and personal, the crews working on these incredible machines in the pits. You smell the spent racing fuel as the cars warm their tires before launch and you see the cars cued up in a long line as they await their turn to blast down the track on a hot summer day.

When I say hot, I mean days that can be easily 90+ in the shade. And there sit, in full racing gear, drivers waiting to run these cars as fast as possible down a track located in a valley of orange groves. It is a beautiful thing to watch. But before the cars have their few seconds of glory – they wait.

As the majority of the crowd is watching the main event from the stands I love to wander through the waiting cars and drivers. I often wonder what the drivers are thinking. Are they nervous? Is there some kind of pre-race ritual that they go through every time? Are they distracted by people like me walking around observing?

On a whim I decided to spend some time walking down the rows and make photographs of drivers. Now that day I was using a Mamiya C330 twin lens reflex camera and shooting film that expired sometime in the late 80’s. This means that I can’t just run up snap a picture and keep moving. I have to measure the light, set the aperture and shutter speed, compose, focus and then I can click the shutter. I also don’t hold this camera up to my face and shoot but instead you look down at the ground glass from the top of the camera to make the image. This process alone often helps me capture a better image because the camera seems to make people curious. While I only photographed a very few of the drivers it was a really interesting experience. The drivers were all gracious, some even giving a thumbs-up, and it was a little peek inside a world I have never experienced personally. Thank you to each one of the drivers who were kind enough to oblige my interest.

Check back again and I will be continuing this series, and more, here on the blog. To find our more or to purchase a print of any of the images tap the CONTACT button at the top of the page.