Let me tell you something. You think you’ve heard noise. But you haven’t. Unless you’ve stood underneath the space shuttle while it’s launching, you can’t comprehend what you’re about to see in these photos.
A few weeks ago, Goodyear’s creative team called me and asked if I would be interested in covering NHRA 4 wide Nationals in my hometown of Charlotte. As a passionate motorsport fan, I’ve always had a mild curiosity toward dragsters, but it’s not really my thing to watch. I prefer that race cars make turns, in either direction. But let me tell you, NHRA Nitro cars are something every living person should experience once in their lives.
The cars (four of them in this case) get pushed up the staging area where a man with a water hose sprays down the concrete in front of the car. A handful of mechanics tinker and play with the internals of the car, a man in a bright yellow shirt yells “light em up” and with a chorus of thunder, the dragsters come to life like dragons spitting noxious fumes from pipes on either side. The cloud make your eyes water and your lungs gasp for fresh air. The car is rolled through the puddle of water and the driver hammers the throttle. The Goodyear tires scream and bellow blue smoke. It begins raining rubber from the sky and it covers everything. Your hair, sunglasses, clothes and cameras. The intense noise shakes your entire body. You feel it in you and through you in a way I have never experienced before. The cars come to a stop a hundred feet or so up the track and reverse back toward the starting line where they are given last minute checks. The driver is given a thumbs up and the cars and drivers are left on their own to wait. The “christmas tree” of lights begins a sequence that will eventually unleash their fury. When everyone is ready, the cars all raise the revs on the engine and the tree light flashes yellow for a split second, and in that split second, the four cars blast off down track, leaving a gaping hole in the air and your ears, eyes and head ringing from the onslaught of noise you have just survived. A true sledgehammer to your senses.
It is as violent as it is beautiful.
The noise at the start line cannot be described. It can only be experienced. The following images will fall well short of what a weekend at NHRA is like. It will not even begin to give you a taste of what it’s like to stand on the start line. But I hope it maybe piques your interest.
Thank you to Goodyear, Lee, Kris, Duane, NHRA, Scott and Mark.
© Jamey Price for Goodyear