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Thu, 04 Jan 2018, 20:39 PM

Creatures of the Night Part III
By Steve Reyes
Photo copyright 2018 Steve Reyes

It is no big secret that the fuel altered class was one of my personal favorite classes to photograph in drag racing. Capturing this class during the day was a challenge and at night, it was even more so. Whether shooting available light or with a strobe, night or day, these cars were true action on four wheels and sometimes three wheels. I found photographing these cars was somewhat different than top fuel or funny cars due to their differing body styles and length of the cars. All this played into the strategy of how to capture them on film, especially at night.

I liked to use a tri-pod for those nice flame shots at the starting line. The altered guys would tip the nitro can for some immense flames at night. Photographing this class at night will always be something special from the bygone days of drag racing.

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I first spotted Pete and Hairy Burkholder's Bantam at Fremont in 1965. It was powered
by an Oldsmobile powerplant and ran in the AA/A class. This photo of their Bantam was
shot with available light and tri-x B&W film pushed to 1600 a.s.a. Now their AA/FA in
1968, I used a strobe light in the shutdown area producing a cool night time chute shot.

Dale Emery piloted Rich Guasco's Pure Hell AA/FA at Fremont in 1966. This photo used
available light with track lighting and fast B&W film producing a unique effect.

There was nothing in drag racing like Willie Borsch and The Winged Express AA/FA running
at night. With nitro flames reaching the stars, Willie staged at Irwindale, California in 1969.

A little more tri-pod action with Tom Ferraro at the controls of Leroy Chadderton's
Magnificent 7 AA/FA at Irwindale, California. Ferraro was driving because Chadderton
was found with an expired NHRA license and he stepped in and saved the day and night.

A stuck barrel valve and Jim Peace's AA/FA launched some big ol' flames from
the header pipes at Fremont in 1970. Peace's altered was the former Pure Hell
of Rich Guasco. In 1969, while towing back from the NHRA Nationals at Indy,
Guasco's rig crashed. Pure Hell was badly damaged but brought home and
repaired by Pete Ogden. Guasco decided to sell his Pure Hell when it seemed
the funny car class was the hottest class in drag racing.

Don Green's old Rat Trap AA/FA was always a welcome sight at the races.
Heck, you really never knew who would be driving the yellow and black bantam.
This long-ago evening at OCIR, George "The Stone Age Man" Hutchinson was
doing the driving chores. Again. a tri-pod was used to showcase the car but
also to see the score board at OCIR.

A medium telephoto lens, pushed color film, and small amount of strobe plus a
slow shutter speed and this is the result - a wild night shot of Dennis Geisler in
the Geisler and Graf Instant T AA/FA at Lions.

Dave Hough and his Nanook AA/FA supplied light for this photo with a massive
fire burnout at Tucson, Arizona. About all I did was aim, focus and shoot.
Hough and his fire ball just about lit up the Arizona desert.

Again a combination of strobe, film speed, shutter speed and lens length produced
this nice action shot of Mike Sullivan and his AA/FA Fiat at OCIR in 1973.

I just wanted something different of Ed Moore and The Mob AA/FA.
There are nice colors and reflections off the AA/FA with pushed film
and the track lighting at Irwindale, California.

Howard Sweet and his Sweet Thrills AA/FA was just that at night. Sweet Thrills!
This car was one of those I needed to capture at its night time best. I caught up
with Howard at Sacramento, California, and finally was able capture his
Sweet Thrills doing its thing at night.

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