Tag: speed demons

Redneck Racing Team’s Dragster at Beech Bend Raceway

Redneck Racing Team’s Twin Engine Dragster

This image is from the Hot Rod Reunion which is held annually at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green Kentucky. Every year this event attracts nostalgic hot rodders from around the US for a weekend of vintage style drag racing and a hot rod car show. The theme of the event is centered around the early days of the sport and brings out many old race cars from the 50s and 60s when drag racing was still done with grass roots cars and drivers. During that era most dragsters and drag cars were built by hot rodders in their own backyard garages. Those early racers would design and build the chassis then search the wrecking yards for engines to power them. The engines would be hopped up using limited tooling and speed parts that were sourced from small speed shops across the country. There were no major sponsors or multi-million dollar budgets like the current drag racers have; for the most part it was just the money the team could scrape up from their day jobs and local sponsors. There were very few large purses and about all those early racers took home after a day of competition was a cheap trophy and bragging rights for being the fastest car there.

This particular dragster is reminiscent of that era though it is unique in that it has twin engines. During that era the benchmark for high performance engines was to squeeze one horsepower per cubic inch from an engine. An example would be the Chevrolet Corvette V-8 which had a displacement of 283 cubic inches and in race tune that engine was capable of making 270 horsepower. One way to build a car with more power was to put two engines in it and effectively double the horsepower. The car in this photo is using twin engines in an effort to get the most power they can for a small price. The down side of that much power was that the tires of that time were not capable of getting the power to the track and instead spun for long distances from the start line. This car shows that effect as it powers down the racetrack spinning it’s tires and billowing smoke after getting the green light.

I captured this image in the middle of the day which as all photographers know is some of the harshest light to shoot in. By using Topaz Adjust I was able to enhance the detail and color in the scene and produce an acceptable image. I made this image a couple of years ago when I was first getting into using plug-ins such as Topaz Adjust and it reflects the state of HDR photography at that time. I, like many other photographers, was pretty heavy handed with the color saturation and sharpening that the plug-ins created but at the same time I was enjoying the results as they were so much richer than anything I had done before. Since those early days I have started to move into a more realistic style of HDR processing that, while still creating rich color and detail, is more in line with how the scene appears in real life.

This composition relies on the standard rule of thirds as well as strong diagonal lines that sweep from left to right. The position of the car heading out of the frame reinforces the billowing cloud of tire smoke and the sense of movement it conveys while the perspective of the spectator bleachers creates depth as the viewer’s eyes move into the background.

Racecourse Reflections


This week I would like to share some of the candid portraits I have taken in my travels across America. This young man’s name is Vic Briggs, sadly he lost his life last summer in an auto accident in South Dakota. He was a really quiet guy with a quick wit and good sense of humor and he is dearly missed by his friends and co-workers at Klock Werks Kustom Cycles in Mitchell SD.

I try in my portraits to capture the essence of the subject and to show them in their element. In Vic’s case it was as a crew member for the Klock Werks team at BUB International Motorcycle Speed Trials. The reflection in his glasses is that of the starting line staging tent. I like the way the motorcycles and the racers are shown in his glasses.

I processed this image using Topaz Adjust and Aperture 3. The composition is a standard rule of thirds. Not much to add beyond that.

One final note here, Vic was an advocate for organ donation and his organs went to help several people who needed them. In a sense he lives on through his selfless act of signing his drivers license as an organ donor. In memory of Vic; his friends and co-workers at Klock Werks established a fund for his children: Vic Briggs MemorialHome Federal Bank, 714 S. Burr Street, Mitchell, SD 57301, (605) 996-8100

Self Portrait with the Devilhog

This self portrait was taken a couple of years ago at the entrance to the Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway. I used Topaz Adjust bring out the details and colors in the scene.

I’m still feeling my way through this startup of the Speeddemon2 blog and trying to wrap my head around the WordPress analytics that show how many visitors the blog gets each day. There have been days where over 200 people viewed the blog and there have been days when as few as 30 people have stopped by. I’m trying to correlate those numbers with the posts from those days to better understand how I can deliver photos and information that will lead people to return each day or each week. I truly want to be a resource for photographers and ordinary folks to learn more about the work I produce and to find help, or inspiration, to further their artistic vision.

I would really appreciate hearing from you, the visitors, about what worked over the past few weeks and what didn’t. I studied fine art in a school that valued critiques as a way to grow and expand an artist’s thinking and inform his or her work. I’m asking anyone who has something constructive to say to post it in the comment section. I’m sitting here writing these word though and I’m wondering how I’ll deal with the possibility that no one will say anything. Oh well I can’t control the universe so I’ll take my chances with this post.

Bonneville Wrap Up

Today I’m going to try and wrap up my posts from the BUB International Motorcycle Speed Trials. I want to move on to doing more HDR posts but the response to these photos shows that there are many people who have enjoyed the Land Speed Racing images.

This opening image is another photo that was edited in Topaz Adjust. The skies at Bonneville can be pretty amazing and this image showcases another one. Using Topaz allowed me to accent the sky while bringing up the colors in the racers and motorcycle. The noise issue isn’t as intense either which really helps this image hold together.

The composition works because the diagonal lines and triangles formed by the people concentrate on the fellow telling his story. I like the way the truck and the woman on the right side of the frame direct your eye into the negative space that leads to the horizon.

This image is another of those photos I like that show the people and machines of BUB. The camaraderie of the racers and their support crews is one of the great things about Land Speed Racing; these people genuinely care about one another and will assist anyone that needs help even if they are a direct competitor.

The image has been through Topaz Adjust which accented the colors and brought out the patterns in the sky. This is another image where the inherent noise of the Spicify preset hasn’t overwhelmed the scene.

Compositionally  I placed the front wheel of the bike on the right at the edge of the frame because I like the way it appears ready to leap out of the picture. The triangle formed by the negative space between the bikes leads the eye into the scene where the racer’s conversations are taking place. When you look at this image you find triangles formed by the bikes, by the people and by the combination of people and machines. I really like the single spectator ambling along on the left side who, while obviously not a part of the group, is still connected to them by his stance and the way he is studying the scene before his eyes.

I shot this closeup of the engine because it is so rich in detail and texture. From the sock protecting the velocity stack to the sheen of the valve cover there is so much  contrast of materials. The mechanic’s arm and hand are interesting as the viewer wonders what adjustment is being made. Topaz once again enhanced the contrast and vibrancy of the image while still retaining the detail. While there is some noise in the sky I don’t think it detracts from the overall impact of the scene.

Compositionally the engine at the right hand foreground of the frame is balanced by the fellow standing on the left in the background giving depth to the image as well as another point for the eye to land on.

This image was taken just as the rider left the starting gate to go to the start line. I love the energy that is conveyed by the wheel’s slight blur in contrast to to the crisp detail of the engine and the rider’s shin. The composition is strong because of the triangle formed by the front fork and the rider’s torso and the way it fits into the rule of thirds meme.

Here is one of those images where Topaz has added a great deal of noise in the sky while still managing to enhance the color and detail of the subject.

This image evokes an atmosphere of curiosity as if these two men are meeting for the first time in an alien landscape. The man on the left seems to be trying to understand what this contraption is while the one on the right is sitting there waiting for a question perhaps?

Another Topaz image where noise is very pronounced yet in the context of the image I don’t find it out of place. The noise in the sky reflects the texture of the salt and adds an otherworldly aura of mystery to the image.

As is often the case in motorsports; there are times where, for whatever reason, the action stops. This woman was waiting to make her land speed record attempt at the start gate when the course had to be closed due to an engine failure on the course. When that type of event occurs it is often necessary to have the course inspected to be sure there is no debris let on it that could endanger the next racer to run down the course. At those times the racers are simply waiting and as this woman shows it was a good time to stretch out and relax.

Topaz added lots of noise which for me is symbolic of the texture of the salt and therefor I saw no reason to soften it. On this image I added a vignette to direct the eye into the scene and reinforce the composition’s reliance on the rule of thirds and diagonal lines.

Vintage Indian Racer

I really like the way this image turned out. The bike is a work of art and has been lovingly restored. The young man riding it is probably half the bike’s age. I really like the juxtaposition of the vintage bike with the modern leathers and helmet. The reflection of the other participants in the face shield and the golden glow on it are part of why I chose this image.

As in yesterday’s post this image went through processing in Aperture 3 and Topaz Adjust. The noise in the image works for me; much as the film grain in Kodak Tri-X did when I shot B&W film years ago.

The motorcycle and rider fill the foreground in the composition yet they still allow the viewer’s eye to move on into the scene through the negative space of the salt flat into the distant mountains. The shadows on the left hint at unseen spectators that are waiting in anticipation of seeing him speed off down the race course in pursuit of a world record.