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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Top Twenty Drag Racing Photographers... All Time

By Tim Marshall

When I first made my all time Top Ten photographers it was because I saw a small list made by model designer Tom West, who also is a good Drag Racing Photog in his own right, and I was pleased to be included. Only thing I did not like was the way he described me. Anyway, thanks Mr. West for including me with a bunch of great shooters. Now here's my list.

As a former Photo Editor for Hot Rod Magazine, Super Stock Magazine (twice), Photo Editor for 4 Wheel and Off Road, and Petersen's Vans and Pick-ups, Street Legal Imports, and Auto Buff among others. I fell very qualified to make this list. For the past 36 years I have devoted my entire life to this sport, including a 19-year stint for NHRA as their Division 7 Photographer. Drag Racing, as flat plain been my entire life!

It was extremely tough to narrow down this list, as there have been so many great artists with their cameras.

(1) Steve Reyes, California/Florida because this man thought me more about photography than any magazine or class I ever took. He is the complete photographer. Action,' how to', entire events, and feature articles. Steve mastered shooting Ice Hockey, which is without a doubt the most difficult form of photography that I've ever attempted. Reyes was not some rich kid that had everything handed to him, he earned the title of first "Hall of Fame" linesman...

(2) Bob Hardee, the late San Diego Bus Driver that rarely made it out of San Diego County shooting the majority of his photos at 'backlite' Carlsbad and Ramona. He likeable Bob Hardee was the first ever in Drag Racing to utilize "duel flash system" and his stuff was fantastic!

(3) Diamond Jim Kelly, Plano, Texas…. Although 'Kelly' as he was known did most of his photography in Southern California. Kelly is still in the automotive business but no longer shoots photos. Too bad. The man was a natural with a camera.

(4) Dave Milcarek, NJ mainly shoots in the East Coast, around Englishtown NJ and Maple Grove PA, but this guy mastered color photography, especially at night. Dave and his partner Steve Bell, still are active, and have a photo booth at Englishtown. David did make it to the West Coast a couple of times though.

(5) Mark Gewertz, Redondo Beach, CA. This guy may be the youngest photog on this list but boy can he shoot. Yes he is a staffer for NHRA, National Dragster, but whenever you see outstanding angles used its probably Marks fine work. Loads of talent. His fine work can be seen in both Popular Hot Rodding and Drag Racer Magazine on occasion.

(6) Jon Asher, Chicago, Cagle Canyon, CA, and now New Mexico. It's not really fair, because Jon can not only shoot a camera as well as anyone in the business, but he is a fantastic writer too. Asher after a long time Car Craft Magazine Editor, is now heading Harris Publishing brand new Drag Racing Action. He is the complete deal. Mr. Harris must have really checked things closely when he hired Asher. This man even once drove a Funny Car on fire!

(7) Mark Hovsepian, Boston Mass, Probably the most underrated guy with a camera in his hands today. Check out his stuff on Header Flames, which he is now the Editor of. He and his wonderful wife Dawn Mazi Hovsepian give it 110%…Was one of the first to switch to digital, along with Les Welch, and Dave Kommel, but Mark is still holding on to a couple of film bodies….

(8) Ron Lewis, San Diego, CA…This is the guy who first had one of the longest and most expensive lens to hit the racer track. He bought his first $9000 lens with a doctor, who only used it to go on African Safaris. Ron has mastered the long lens photography, and rightfully has the majority of the major accounts in Drag Racing today. I'll admit that I'm one of Ron's ' back up and proud of it.

(9) Roger Richards, NC, This is the newest Drag Racing photographer to hit the scene, but Roger has been a photojournalist for quite some time. He has mastered the art of digital photography, and recently received the Photographer of the Year Award. Richards helps edit and maintain www.competitionplus.com. Roger must not like flying because he drives to the majority of his events.

(10) Leslie Lovett, Arkansas, CA…The late great Leslie Lovett was the guy at NHRA/National Dragster for what seems like eternity. The south's loss was drag racing's gain, when Wally Parks hired Lovett, away from Tulsa Int'l Raceway. Lovett literally controlled the NHRA photo area. What Leslie said was written in blood!

(11) Gil Rebilas, NJ, Phoenix, AZ. Mainly known for his "crash n Burn" photography, but Gil can handle a camera quite well. He has made his "bread n butter" from doing instant overnight 11x 14 and 16 x20 color print, and his incredible knack to shoot "fireballs"…His son Mark is also very good with the camera. As Dave Wallace, the very BEST editor of all time would say…."He's got the eye".

(12) Barry Wiggins CA, I know he wasn't the most popular photographer among his peers because he was a hustler! This guy made photos turn into art. His early Funny Car stuff from Orange County was the best!

I saw Barry Wiggins sitting in the grandstands at the Pomona opener this year. He didn't have his trademark Pentax 6 x 7 but I'll bet he got some good pix with his Nikon.

(13) Slatts, Chicago, Ill, Don't even know his whole name but his pan shots in the sixties were flat outstanding. Recently had a First Drag Race story on www.dragracingonline.com

(14) Richard Shute (Auto Imaginary) Carlsbad, CA. A very creative photographer that started a partnership with Dave Kommel several years ago and they have done quite well. Shute still shoots the local Southern California races, but partner Kommel does most of the roadwork. Both are excellent photogs.

(15) Gary Nastase, Fontana, CA.. Another one of the young guns, Nastase has really picked it up a notch with his great work for Action Toys. He also has his share of the big contracts out there today. Gary has mastered that /Nikon system.

(16) Richard Brady, Springfield, MO, This guy has been around since day one working for NHRA/National Dragster. Brady basically has to shoot the stock ND material, because that is what he is contracted to do. I've since his scenic stuff, Dynamite! Just ask Richard to see his scenic photography. Awesome!

(17) Don Gillespie, Caliph, NC. Don Gillespie is one hell of a photographer! He can do it all, people shots, action, or features. Presently Gillespie is putting together a documentary on Lions Drag Strip where her grew up. I really miss his quick wit and humor since he got married and moved to NC.

(18) Andy Wilsheer, England/McClurg's  house. Andy is not only a great photographer of cars and women; he is an accomplished writer, as he and Bob McClurg have put together a couple of hardback books. Basically their work together has been on Fords and Mustangs in particular, but the tall lanky Englishmen is not only a great photographer, and writer, but also a joy just to spend time with. At least he's honest about everything.

(19) Bob McClurg, N Hollywood, CA. He was one of the first great photographers then went on to Edit books like Mustang Illustrated, etc, plus the entire hardback book he and Andy Wilsheer put out. Best known for his Wild Willie shot! Bob can still be found at most of the nostalgia memorabilia shows, but his next move might be to Hawaii.

(20) Dave Kommel, San Dimas, CA, Dave has really come into his own the past two years. Every since he turned to Nikon digital, he has really become an outstanding photographer. No one in this business works harder than Dave Kommel. Auto Imagery didn't become the big success that it has because David didn't hustle!

There are so many others that deserve recognition, so I'm just going to list them as I see them, Joel Gelfand of West Covina, CA, Jim "VIP" Kelso Tucson, AZ, Francis Butler, Maryland, Norman Blake (master of B & W) NY city, Randy Anderson out of Dallas Texas, Ron Lahr CA, Alaska, Nevada, AZ (coming out of retirement after 30+ years.), Les Welch, Valencia, CA, Rich Welch (his color blind brother!), Ray-Mars, Wisc, Mark Bruderle, Wisc, Mike Garland, Cordova, Ill, L & M Photos (Larry Maxwell), John Ewald, Brea, CA, Jere Alhadeff, OC, CA, Jeff Burk, O'Fallon MO, Bob Johnson, Lancaster, CA, Paul Schmitz, Quartz Hill, CA, Charles Strutt, Pasadena, CA, the late Harvey "Mert" Miller, Pasadena, CA, Robert Briggs, CA, Bruce Biegler, Canada, Nick Licata, OC, CA, Ralph Guldahl, Ca, Bob Hesser, Indiana, Phil Bellomy, LA, CA, Steve Bell, NJ, Harold Hoch, PA, Rich & Pat Enos, Stockton, CA, James Drew, CA, Tom West, CA, Teresa Long, CA, Bill Crites, Ca, Dawn Mazi, Boston, MASS, Rich Carlson, Everett, Wash., Flyin Phil Elliott, CA/Wash., Jim Phillipson, /nor cal, J C Taylor, ?Nor Cal, Jim Bernasconi, NOR Cal. Mike Mitchell, Arcadia, CA, Bryan Ellis of Fallon, Nevada, Brian Lohnes, of Boise, Idaho, Mike Basso, Lake Forest, CA, Steve Gruenwald, West Palm Beach, FA, Forrest Bond, Texas Eric P Brooks, Norfolk, VA., Chan Bush, LA, CA., Dave & Sky Wallace, Nor Cal, John Shanks, LB, CA, Jerry Foss (NHRA), Richard Wong NHRA, Rod Short, East coast, Scott Kileen, Thousand Oaks, CA, Doug Marion, Thousand Oaks, CA, Bo Bertilson, Sweden/CA, the late Floyd Turner, of Hammond Indiana, and last but not least Alan Earman of long Beach, CA. Sorry for I know I've left someone very important to this great sport off the list. All I can say is I hope that I rate right up there with this great group of talented artists!

Tim Marshall


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