IHRA O’Reilly Auto Parts Thunder Jam

Another adventure was added to the book of our “Discover Local Florida” tour this Saturday night. We’ve seen the World Famous Naples Swamp Buggies, so now it was time to head north to Immokalee Regional Raceway in Immokalee, Florida. Folks… we’re talking country.

Immokalee Regional Raceway is a visual throwback in time. And I mean that in a good way. It’s an 1/8 mile drag strip located next to a small regional airport and it’s out in the sticks. Most of all… it’s a blast. In more ways than one.

October 3rd marked the calendar for when the IHRA O’Reilly Auto Parts Thunder Jam presented by the U.S. Air Force would make its appearance at Immokalee. We’re talking JET engines. Big, loud, fiery, “oh my God did they just do that,” jet powered dragsters. We had a rail, a funny car, a school bus and a semi tractor. Yep… you read right… a school bus.

In a word; Unbelievable. 

The jet powered machines were not only visually stunning, they lit up the sky, shook the ground and literally spilt the atmosphere with thunder like sonic booms. And if that weren’t enough, they momentarily raised the air temperature buy a good 20-30 degrees. My eyes (and ears) are still in disbelief of what I witnessed.

All-in-all, this was a very cool experience. The atmosphere was down-home and the people just seemed to be folks from a simpler time having a fun Saturday night out. I can assure you there was no one there Twittering their friends or thumbing through Facebook on their Blackberry. Not here. This was a night for backing the truck up trackside, tailgating and eating barbecue, (make that AWESOME barbecue) hanging out with family and friends and just having a great time. Trust me, iPhone doesn’t have an app for that. It was great.

Thanks to Jim Marchyshyn, VP of Marketing at IHRA, I was able to do a little trackside shooting. Jim’s a big American Le Mans fan and was happy to accommodate me. Although, for some reason, he neglected to tell me that the flames from the semi tractor would engulf everything within a 30’ radius. Hmmmm… Fortunately, the semi ran from the opposite lane and I had moved down track to try and squeeze off a frame or two.

I’m pretty pleased with my results from the event. This was a nighttime event and let’s just say, Immokalee Regional Raceway’s lighting was a throwback too. Photography was a challenge. I suppose using a flash would give some effect to the photos, I don’t think it would accurately portray the scene. I didn’t want effect. I wanted the scene. It was at night… I shot it like I saw it.

So, here’s a gallery of the some of the evenings activities. I think you’ll get the idea of how cool this was. If you ever see this event come to a track near you, I’d urge you to break-out of your everyday entertainment mode and take a look-see. It’s well worth the price of admission. And if there’s a local 1/8 mile track by you… go hang out on a Saturday night. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised. You’ll probably find a great meal, some nice people and a throwback to the simpler life we used to know.

Thanks for reading…

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