2018 NHRA Auto Club FInals Blog
One of my favorite events of the year in the Auto Club FInals in Pomona, CA. Not only is it a chance to see my favorite sport the NHRA Mello Yello drag racing series in person but for several years it has been a traditional vacation for me and my buddy after a long hot Arizona summer. We both had long and busy summer and were very much looking forward to this weekend.
Another reason I like the NHRA Finals is because it is the final race of the season and it is always filled with memorable and historical moments along with the teams giving it everything they have before a long and cold off season.
This is how my friend Anthony Plescia spent most of the drive from Phoenix
As always I love to be in the stands bright and early for Stock & Super Stock. One car that caught my eye was this beautiful 92' Oldsmobile Ciera driven by Adam Emmer. The reason I love this car is because it is very similar to my first car a 89' Olds Cutlass Ciera
Another favorite because Im a sucker for first gen Camaros is Dan Fletcher's 1969 Camaro which is the winningest single car in NHRA history
Late in the morning came the first pro qualifying session of the weekend starting with the Pro Stock Bikes. This is the only chance I usually get to see them as they dont run in Phoenix
Karen Stoffer vs. Ryan Oheler
Alan Prusiensky is his Adams family wrapped Dodge Dart. Several pro stock teams usually "dress" their cars up for Halloween at the Vegas race and they usually leave those wraps on for the final race
Defending World Champion Bo Butner in his Back to the future theme.
Jeg Coughlin & 2018 World Champion Tanner Gray
In the second pair of funny car Terry Haddock was racing Jeff Diehl when he and small explosion and big fire in the shutdown area.
The charred out funny car body of Terry Haddock. Unfortunately for Terry this was a brand new body for him and as a small buck racer it is a tough blow for his team
Shawn Langdon vs John Force
Leah Pritchett vs Tony Schumacher
For the second pro session at Pomona I always head to the west grandstands because not only is the afternoon light killer but the stands are closer to the track than any other racetrack I have been to. The rumble felt from the nitro cars especially that close is indescribable.
Scotty Pollacheck vs LE Tonglet in the 2nd qualifying session
Eddie Kraweic vs. Jerry Savoie
Pro stock independent Tom Huggins
One thing I like to do is slow the shutter speed and get nice blurred shots on the burnouts like this shot with Matt Hartford
Chris McGaha burning out for his 2nd qualifying run
The crew for Robert Hight pushing his car into the burnout box
Former World Champions Robert Hight & Ron Capps
Jeff Arend & Jonnie Lindberg
16X Champion John Force on a burnout
Two longtime rivals in funny car Cruz Pedregon & John Force
Funny Car crew chiefs Dean "Guido" Antonelli for Jack Beckman & Dickie Venables for Matt Hagan
2018 Funny Car champion JR Todd
Another reason why I like this spot at the starting line is that when it gets dark there is pretty much no light anywhere else down track.
Jim Campbell vs JR Todd
I Moved up to the top of the stands for Top Fuel to get the whole car in the shots
Here is Kalitta racing teammates Doug Kalitta & Richie Crampton
Clay Millican & 2017 Champion Brittany Force
Scott Palmer vs. Mike Salinas in the Tom "Mongoose" McEwen tribute dragster
3X World Champion Antron Brown vs Billy Torrence
In the final pair on Friday night Leah Pritchett would run the 3rd quickest run of all time which was stunning because the NHRA changed track prep a few races in to slow the cars down about 10% Her run was nearly a tenth quicker than anyone had run leading up to this run
Saturday morning would start off with final qualifying for Top Alcohol Dragster
This is Don St. Arnaud
Krista Baldwin, the grand daugther of the legend Chris Karamesines
Garrett Bateman & Dan Mercier
Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Angie Smith
Hector Arana Jr.
Vincent Nobile & Drew Skillman
2018 Champion Tanner Gray & 3X Champion Jason Line
Multi time champions Erica Enders-Stevens & Jeg Coughlin
Brittany Force & Blake Alexander
Longtime independent race Bob Bode who ran career best numbers all weekend
Jonnie Lindberg would end his 3rd qualifying run with a small fire.
Luckily for Jonnie it would not be as bad as Terry Haddock's the previous day and he was able to come back for the final qualifying session
JR Todd & Tim Wilkerson
Tommy Johnson Jr. vs Jack Beckman
For the final session I once again headed over to the other side. I sat in the front row to get low frontal shots which are some of my favorite.
Here is Katie Sullivan on her family bike
Hector Arana Jr.
East coast racer Audrey Grant who's team towed all the way from Pennsylvania in a dually pickup and small trailer.
Scott Palmer who made a career best run on this pass
At this point the light was gone and since I could not move to where I was on Friday I was not going to get any "good" shots so my goal was to get interesting shots
Here is Doug Kalitta, I like how the portable lighting back lights the car
It also helps silhouette everything but the side of the racecar
FInal run of the night was of Jack Beckman and I got a decent flames up shot
This would end Saturday qualifying. While I was there for final eliminations on Sunday my card containing Sunday's photos was somehow damaged on the way back to Phoenix. While I am bummed I lost some good photos I did learn the value of backing up your work and proper transport of your memory cards so hopefully it will not happen again.