For a guy that has been knocking around in the world of NHRA Drag Racing for way more years than I care to recall, once I started doing work for magazines, things changed a little in my life. Gone was just doing race event coverage, because through a friend I began doing magazine car features. Over the years it has become a more permanent part of my wandering the countryside.
I started shooting Sportsman cars, but eventually had moved up to doing the Pro cars as well. In this column I want to hit some of what became favorite features I did over the years. I hope to express here my love for shooting these features and those that drove them.
Back in about 1985 or ‘86, while at the Atlanta race, there was a young Texan female driver in Super Comp who would eventually go on to drive a Top Fuel car, with Jolly Rancher as a sponsor. I initially shot a feature of her with the Super Comp car, and followed that up with doing features of her with the Top Fuel car twice. I met her parents and it was always nice to see them at the races too. Her name of course was Lori Johns, and I still hear from her to this day.
And then there was the Chi-Town Hustler. The Frank Hawley-driven Hustler was being restored to go into a museum to which I was asked if I had any car feature shots that might show all the detail of the chassis, engine and the decal placement on the body. Luckily, I had shot a full car feature pictorial and had them sitting in my files. That was exciting.
I drove over to Columbus one year meeting the Jim Head trailer and crew, to shoot Jim's Funny Car for a magazine. This of course was back in 1987 when the Funny Car class was undergoing that bizarre streamline body look. I always liked shooting that car but the head-on shot of it sitting on the center stripes was a favorite of mine to this day.
Do you recall what you were doing, January 28, 1986, the day the space shuttle blew up after takeoff? Funny how you remember certain things in your life. I was at Pomona that very morning at the top end shooting a feature on the Hawaiian Funny Car, and driver Johnny West.
I’ve always liked setting up shots in different locations. Back when I still lived in Rockford, IL, I saw this saloon background and did a feature on the Ted May Chevy Monty Carlo, who at the time had a winning combination while running in IHRA and selected other events.
I recall one year, Ken Veney stopped in Indianapolis to pick me up and haul me with them all the way to Pomona for the Winternationals. During my time riding to the coast with Ken and the crew, I interviewed them for a story I was working on. Kind of interesting to do that and I shot two features on two different cars Ken ran over time. More recently, I shot photos of Ken behind the wheel driving his pulling tractor.
Back when I lived in Indianapolis, I would go out to Mike Spitzer’s shop to see whose new car he was working on or had just finished. There was a time when he sponsored four Sportsman cars he had built and I was privy to shooting those cars all at once for an article. Mike also built and sponsored a fuel Funny Car, which I also did a feature on.
There were lots of others I did along the way and as I mentioned previously, there were far too many to put on this page. But I hope as you read this you will see I really enjoyed doing each and every one as they became a great addition to my usual drag race coverage. And naturally the most thing of all is I get to Remember When. -Richard Brady