Gatornationals – The Written Half

I just realized I never got around to writing about the Gatornationals experience from the point-of-view I was lucky enough have. So, for those that are interested, here it is…

In November, while I was helping the The Alligator cover UF’s Homecoming Parade, I finally pieced parts of the puzzle together and discovered that one of the NHRA’s most revered racing events was just about 20 minutes north of where I go to school. It didn’t take long before I was asking one of my photo editors, David Carr, if there was a chance we could get credentials to shoot the races in March. After  anxiously awaiting an answer for about four months, I was not disappointed. The Alligator was granted with two passes for all four days, being able to shoot for the first three.

The afternoon I was headed to the track was like no other. An uncle of mine brainwashed me as a child to love everything about cars, and I still carry that love with me now. After picking up my credential, I drove to find a parking spot. When I got out of my car and heard the roar of the cars launching down the track I was in in heaven. With a smile going from ear to ear, I walked through the gates and found myself right next to the starting line of nearly-700 foot track.

The first day was devoted mainly to the pro-mod cars; they were loud, and certainly pleasant to look out, but nothing prepared me for day two. When the first Top Fuel and Funny Cars made their runs, I’m almost positive I nearly lost control of every single bodily function; luckily, I was able to hold it together. And, though I was literally thrown back by the pure amount of energy radiating from the machines that only took about four seconds to cover a quarter-mile, I was more than ready for the next.

One after another, the cars made their passes. Each one shaking me to the core and covering me with chunks of rubber that were being ripped from the tires. In some of the photos I posted, you can see the stress put on those tires at the time of launch.

Though it was a bit of a pain cleaning my gear, and myself, after three long hot days of shooting (the track temperature peaked at about 105 degrees F) I am hoping I’ll get to do it all over again next year.

Until then, I’ll leave everyone with one final goody…and I’ll pre-apologize for the atrocious sound…also, I’d suggest lowering your speaker volume…

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