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Competitive Shooting between Father & Son by Gil Rebilas

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Over the past 45 plus years, one has the opportunity to be in the right place at the right time!  It’s not that I am looking for that moment, on the other hand, you have to be on the edge where you had to prepare for such times.  There are many other photographers out there all shooting the same thing!  However, I know several photographers that simply will not take pictures of a car that’s on fire or crashing, their loss!  There’s other photographers that will drop the camera away from their face and watch the action happening right there in front of them!  Others will hesitate and be slow on the trigger!  In the last two cases, I’ve seen them hitting their foreheads or giving that disappointed look and look down at the camera in their hands, realizing that they could have gotten pictures of the whole thing!  There’s only a memory of what just happened!  I’m not like that!  My belief has been that we’re like gunfighters!  We have to be quicker to the draw than the other guys!  When my son, Mark and I got a crash or explosion, he was always looking at our first image of the sequence to see who was quicker to the draw!  Who got the first shot off!  I have the first shot of many sequences that we’ve both shot where both of our first images were identical!

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I was up in a Cherry Picker positioned directly over the Centerline of the Dragstrip, just past the finishline!  This is one of those rare times when I beat my son Mark to the draw!  This Front Engine Top Fuel Dragster had an engine explosion with a huge fireball at over 240mph!  My shot has the oil coming out of the headers, before it ignited and my son’s image has it lit up, just a fraction of a second after mine!  BooYa!

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My son, Mark’s image shows that He was shooting from a different vantage point on the ground!  Both our shots are very impressive, but it’s all a matter of timing and who was first!  Sorry Mark!  Just about all of the other capered images show that we were both pulling the trigger at the same time!

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The top image was taken by me and the bottom by my son, Mark who was shooting from the other side of the track.  Gene Snow from Ft.Worth, Texas nearing the finish line when I noticed some smoke coming from one of the header pipes on my side of the engine!  That gave me a huge advantage because it was on my side of the engine.  You can tell that the car is about ¼ of the way past the finish line whereas Mark’s is about ¾ of the way!  I’ll still take that as a victory!

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In this comparison, Craig Smith in the right side of this frame was racing alongside Jim Head at the Winter Nationals in Pomona, California.  Smith had this humongous blower explosion at about half track with the rotors exiting the blower casing and sent flying into the air and bouncing down the racetrack alongside his flaming race car!  We’ll call this a draw because you can’t tell from these extreme angles where the rotors are in Mark’s shot!

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Here, Mitch McDowell driving his “Evil, Wicked, Mean and Nasty” Top Alcohol Funny Car explodes his blower as it crossed the finish line at the NHRA World Finals in Pomona, California.  I think we can call this a close one with my son, Mark edging me out by the width of a front tire!  My shot (top) shows the front tire clearly across the center line but Mark’s shot has not touched the center line as of yet!

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These two images are identical as far as the instant they were taken!  The top shot taken by my son, Mark was taken from farther away but the images clearly show a Draw!

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This is a clear win for Mark who was sitting in the grandstands when Ron Faasl from Scottsdale, Arizona had a blower explosion which launched the whole body off the chassis! His shot on the bottom has the rear wheels off the ground while mine has the wheels back on the ground!

Words and photos by Gil Rebilas.

Check back with Arizona Auto Scene in the near future as we’ll be publishing more stories and photos from the archives of motorsports photographer Gil Rebilas.

 

2 Comments

  1. Dave Wallace Jr. says:

    Great guys, great talent, both! Jeez, I knew that kid before he was BORN. —DWjr

  2. JIM says:

    Love the pics . Great angles , the whole nine yards . Love the father and son competition. Great job gentlemen

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