They are gone now. At least most of them. You still see a few of them hanging around the edges of the sport; serving as team owners and tuners. The majority, however, have retired, moved on, hung it up. Sadly, all too many of them have crossed that final finish line.
There was a time when these men and women were the rock-stars of motorsports, barnstorming throughout the country setting records and creating unforgettable racing legends. And I was fortunate to have a front-row seat for much of it.
At one time, I was the track photographer for Detroit Dragway, Milan Dragway and Motor City Dragway. I also did occasional work at Central Michigan Dragway near Lansing. Those gigs were my bread and butter, keeping me in film, food and darkroom supplies. My real income came from freelancing. As a magazine writer/photographer, I covered major NHRA, IHRA and AHRA events throughout the eastern US and Canada. There were very few weekends where I wasn’t attending at least one race, and often two or three.
While the bulk of my income came from covering drag racing, to make a full-time income I had to photograph anything that moved. I covered Endurance Racing in Sebring, Florida, Formula Atlantic cars wending through the streets of Hamilton, Ontario and stock car events at Michigan’s Flatrock Speedway. Sand drags, mud bogs, snowmobile races. When Milan Dragway added a MX and BMX track, I added those events to my schedule as well.
In addition, I filled in the “off-season” by covering the SCCA Pro Rallye scene in Michigan, Ohio and parts of Canada. The grand-daddy of these events was the legendary Press on Regardless rally out of Marquette, Michigan. Every November found me chasing rally cars through the dark woods of Upper Michigan. While the POR was king, I also dragged my cameras through plenty of mud, snow and sand at smaller rallyes.