Okay, after several months off, it's time to get this blog rolling again. And lets kick it off with the 7th annual Showdown in San Angelo drag boat races at Lake Nasworthy. Every photo assignment has it's challenges, and the boat races are no different. With this particular assignment, dealing with the heat, long hours and the sometimes eardrum-busting roar of the engines can really take a toll on you. What have I learned over the years of covering this event? Pace yourself. There's no need to photograph all aspects of the event in the first hour and half. Do that, and the experience will be much more enjoyable and you won't burn out on the first day of competition.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not really a fan of drag racing in any kind of form. While I am a motorsports fan, drag racing just doesn't do it for me. However, that does not mean that I don't have a tremendous amount respect for the teams and fans involved. I do. They're good people. I had an opportunity to chat with a team from Ft. Worth who competes in the pro modified division and while they were busy taking apart an engine to replace a blower belt, they graciously answered all of my obvious mechanically ignorant questions about what they were doing. What is a blower belt? What kind of fuel do you use? Do you turn a key or press a button to start this thing? Dumb. I never feel like more an idiot than when I'm standing next to a motor of any kind.
The fans are just as nice as those who compete.If I had any questions about what was going on there was always someone near by to help me out. And, if I needed to get in a certain position to get a clean angle at the boats, fans were more than willing to let me use some of their shade under their tent to get what I needed. One of the things that I noticed while covering this year's event was that every division (of which there are about 10) has it's own fans. But when the call comes across for the top fuel hydro boats to come to the ramp, all the activity by competitors and fans comes to a stand still. These are the big-boy boats. They are the most expensive to run, the fastest division with speeds reaching upwards of 250 mph and can be quite scary at times when the driver looks like they might lose control. I think it was last year or the year before that a driver of a top fuel hydro started to lose control of his boat, couldn't get it slowed down enough and nearly ended up hitting another watercraft and the person on it.
Fortunately, nothing happened like that this year and everyone was safe. And after the last top fuel hydro boat makes it's run, everyone goes on about their business. And, I'll admit, they are kinda cool to see even if their runs only last 3.5 seconds. So, with three days of drag boat action I think I'm good for the year. Plus, it appears that the popularity of the event is growing now that it is sponsored by Lucas Oil and the drivers have good things to say about the venue.