AutoMatters & More: first exclusive photos! Drag racing on Toyota’s new GR Supra at the 2022 NHRA Winternationals
VISCERAL. Merriam-Webster Online (my go-to dictionary) defines this word as “felt or as if in the internal organs of the body”. Remember that word as you read on about the 2022 Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
In my 20 years covering motorsports for “AutoMatters & More,” I have never covered NHRA drag racing. The last time I attended an NHRA drag race was at least 10 or 20 years ago here in Pomona, but with auto club friends on a Friday. We visited the stands and fan displays, and sat in the stands where I probably marveled at the sound of cars and the shaking of the stands.
However, by far my most powerful and lasting memory of this event was when I made my way to a crowd gathered at the entrance to one of the team’s stands as they spun the motor. I vividly remember wondering why the crew members were wearing monstrous gas masks – but didn’t have to wonder for long as I took a deep breath of what I assume was nitromethane very harmful. Suddenly, I felt a painful burning sensation in my lungs! Wow! Never again would I be ignorant enough to do that.
Last weekend represented the second part of my visceral NHRA drag racing experience. Unlike before, this time I had arranged for press accreditation and a press photo vest, just like I do when covering NASCAR, IndyCar and other professional motorsports series. Also, my first (and only) day of shooting races was Sunday, when the competition was for all marbles. The contestants wouldn’t hold anything back, as the best of the best went head-to-head in their final elimination rounds.
Please believe me when I tell you that TV doesn’t begin to convey the thrill of actually being there in person, especially standing right next to the wall as 11,000 horsepower race cars speed past you at speeds of over 300 mph! Visceral is the best way I can describe the experience, as you feel it violently going through your whole body.
Imagine that. There I was, standing trackside with one of my Canon EOS R3 cameras pointed at the two Top Fuel dragsters in preparation for their impending race. A bright blue light at the top of the Christmas tree quickly flashed, which caught my eye, followed by three orange lights, then BANG! Almost simultaneously with the green light coming on, and in less than the blink of an eye, the car duo reached me, shaking the ground like a violent, deafening earthquake, and shaking my hearing protection headphones from what I thought was their safety. position on my wide brimmed floppy hat (this works for other racing series). I tried to press the airside helmet hard against my head, to try and stop the violent pressure changes in that ear, as I simultaneously tried one handed my heavy pro camera while rotating my body to try to keep up with the cars as they passed, and down the track in the distance.
Needless to say, those early photos weren’t my best of the day – by far. Additionally, I moved my hearing protection headphones from over my floppy wide-brimmed hat to below, where their foam pads would seal in noise more effectively. At that point, I could only hope that my eardrums hadn’t burst. My ears are ringing slightly as I write this, a few days later, but I don’t think that’s new. I’m 68 and my body has started to show its age.
It was an experience that I will surely never forget. To truly experience NHRA drag racing, you need to attend an event in person.
This event marked the NHRA racing debut of Toyota’s all-new 11,000hp GR Supra Funny Car. After its five years of development, this car is at the cutting edge of technology. Listen to those who know this car and you will learn that one of the main advantages of this new car over the competition is its steeper windscreen angle and associated driver position, for much improved outward visibility. .
Toyota drivers represented a who’s who of drag racing supremacy: JR Todd, Shawn Langdon, Alexis Dejoria and Antron Brown.
After the race was over, several of the winning drivers were introduced, surrounded by fans on the drag strip. This is where we had another unique experience: walking on the stickiest traction compound you could imagine. The flip flops would have come off immediately!
For race Sunday notes, visit: https://www.nhra.com/news/2022/lucas-oil-nhra-winternationals-sunday-news-notes. For results, visit: https://www.nhra.com/results/2022/nhra-camping-world-drag-racing-series/52001
The 2022 Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com was the kick-off event for the 2022 season. The season will conclude in Pomona in November. I hope to be there and take pictures in the dark on Saturday, to show the flames shooting out of the exhaust pipes.
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Copyright © 2022 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters and more #730