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Motorsports Photographer Gil Rebilas is the Target at the Top End

20150129-Auggie Vetorino Crash Canada 1988 3

Back in 1988, I went for a ride with a Top Alcohol Funny Car driver to an NHRA points race in Cayuga, Canada.  I positioned myself up at the shutdown area.  It was quite different than the NHRA tracks in the U.S.,  There was no guardrail alongside the track!  Like we did in the ’60’s and “70’s, I stood about 6 feet from the track surface which was nice green grass.  During Competition Eliminator, Augie Veterino in his A/Dragster went sideways as he got off the throttle and went into the grass, heading right at me at 192mph.  About halfway between me and the finish line, he steered the dragster back toward the track surface.  Un-be-known to him, the tracks edge was about 6 inches higher than the grass!  His front wheels hit the edge breaking them off the front of the chassis!  Fear griped me as the car started barrel rolling in the grass right toward me!  I back-peddled about twenty feet and wheeled around and kept shooting as he got closer and closer.  I had to move the zoom of my 60mm-300mm lens to as wide as it gets as he rolled right past and in front of me in the grass!  When he stopped, he got out of his car under his own power and was okay!

After the cleanup, I stood at my position where I had been before the crash.  The next pair of cars did their burnouts and after a long pause, shut their engines off!  A couple of minutes later, an official came up to me on his scooter!  He told me that Greg, (the Division 1 Director) a good friend of mine, didn’t want me up here being a target for these guys!  I asked if I could shoot from the other side?  There were telephone poles to stand behind!  They fired up the cars again and when they came down into the shutdown area, one of the cars went sideways, crossed the track and came toward me again!  I told Greg, you could have put me in the grandstands and the cars would probably have chased me up there!  We both laughed it off and I assumed my position in the grass without any further incidents!

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To purchase this series of photos, or a photo from this series, you can contact Gil Rebilas at

Words and photos by Gil Rebilas.


  1. Tracy Waters says:

    Gil is master of crash and burn ! one of best photographers of drag racing that i have had a chance to work with. he taught me almost everything i know about photography and printing. One of the legends in action motorsports photography. My favorite is Pomona, CA and Gil’s Hemi Under Glass , if you will !!! Great Times at Ponoma , Augusta, High Point, Rockingham, Dallas, and more. keep up the good work Gilbert !!

  2. Chris Thomson says:

    Gil Rebilas has been at it for a long time. Some of my favorite photography are Gil’s shots. From Don Garlits epic wing collapse in the 80’s at Firebird Raceway to shots of my Comp Dragster in the lights with the chute out.

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