2013 was a year of many changes for me as I chased down a lifelong dream of becoming a motorsports photographer.  As with any worthwhile endeavor, there were challenges and times of despair, but these times paled in comparison to the times and feelings of fulfillment that came with seeing my images published and exposed to people outside of my immediate circle of comrades.  I’d like to thank all of those that made it possible for me to experience so many great events this year and to My Life at Speed for granting me the opportunity to contribute to such an amazing collection of fast company.

Here is my year in photos…

This year’s Best In The Desert, Parker 425 went off with great weather, but wasn’t without its fair share of drama.  The polarizing Robby Gordon led the entire race, but was stripped of his victory when race officials determined that he had received direct assistance from his chase helicopter.  After the penalty the adjusted time left Gordon in 3rd place.  Even though Robby didn’t win, he was exciting to watch all day…

Robby Gordon, 2013 BITD Parker 425
Adam Householder, 2013 BITD, Parker 425


In April every year the annual Desert Storm Poker Run takes place in Lake Havasu, AZ.  The event is basically a week long extravaganza of fast boats, fun people, and great parties.

Desert Storm After Party hosted by RiverDavesPlace.com
Desert Storm Poker Run


Lake Havasu on the Colorado River and the Parker Strip just down river from Havasu are like Mecca for performance boaters seeking fun and relaxation on the West Coast.  With the boating season lasting, literally year round, the good times are never out of season…

Early morning ski session on the Parker Strip
Sunset over Lake Havasu
Jet skiing at Lake Havasu’s Body Beach is a local favorite
Lightning in the desert is a sight to behold
No bad days on the water
Honeymooners on the river
Boating at night is a unique experience on the Parker Strip


The annual Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon held in San Francisco is a classic example of what makes people awesome.  A mile and a half, open water swim against the current from the looming Alcatraz prison, across the bay to San Francisco is only the beginning of this grueling event, as contestants can then look forward to a bike and a run through the hills of the City.  Triathletes from around the world and from every background show up to see if they have what it takes to escape…

The lead swimmers emerge from the chilly waters of the bay to transfer to their bikes at the Escape from Alcatraz
This man embodies the spirit of the Escape from Alcatraz


VW’s are a huge part of my life and each year I find myself seeking photo opportunities with the little cars.  Be it car shows or just going out for a drive with some buddies, I always find enjoyment in the simplicity of these machines.

Jerome, AZ offers some unique backdrops for photos
Pretty maids…
Some things just aren’t for sale
’71 Super Beetle


Car shows are a passion passed down from my dad.  They are still a great way to spend time even as I’ve gotten older.

Lead sled at Good Guys 2013


Combining two of my passions – cars and mountain biking, I did a shoot for IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) and Subaru.

IMBA Subaru


A bucket list item was scratched off this year, as I was invited to shoot the world famous Reno Air Races in Reno Nevada.  With many pilots boycotting the event this year due to rule changes in the Unlimited class, the race was down on numbers.  Despite being short on aircraft, the event was long on action as Steve Hinton Jr. was able to put VooDoo in the winner’s circle for the first time in history.

VooDoo taxis out at first light at the 2013 Reno Air Races
September Fury
P-51 Mustang


Dave’s Custom Boats or DCB has become, in a relatively short time, the premier performance boat manufacturer on the west coast.  At the end of each summer DCB holds its owners regatta, an event that DCB hosts to show appreciation for its legions of faithful customers.  Each year Dave Hemmingson and crew bring out the best and brightest of their model lineup to demonstrate what can be accomplished by applying ingenuity and an absolutely impeccable attention to detail.

Two DCB M-41s sit stern to stern as they await the DCB Poker Run later that day.
Brad MacAulay pilots his DCB M-31 under the London Bridge in Lake Havasu
Charlie Brown stretches the legs of his DCB M-35S at the DCB Poker Run this fall. Earlier in the year Brown clocked a speed of 157 mph at the Desert Storm Poker Run.


Growing up I lived and breathed motocross and any other off-road motorcycling I could get my hands on, so it’s only natural that I would gravitate to the moto scene with my photography.  Whether it’s shooting Supercross or just some of my friends on the tracks that pepper Arizona, I always have a great time capturing the beauty of this great sport.

Travis Tillery carves a rut into corner at Canyon MX just north of Phoenix, AZ.
Arizona has some talented up and coming riders. Unknown rider getting some style points on a Friday evening practice session.
Combining two great things about Arizona… Sunsets and Fall motocross.
Destry Abbot has been getting it done in the dirt for a couple decades now and reigns as one of the fastest Arizona riders ever to throw a leg over a dirt bike.


While the summer months bring in the big crowds and party people to the Colorado River, for the hardcore performance boater the fall is the real boating season.  Amazing weather, no crowds and the scream of forced induction big blocks, all combine to turn the river into a hot boat Xanadu.  This September performance boaters converged on Pirate Cove in Park Moabi, AZ for the annual Billy B’s River Rockets boat show, a gathering of serious hardware and not so serious hot boaters.

Big horsepower and small boats is the name of the game at the Billy B’s River Rockets show.
This is a serious event, with serious participants… Serious about fun that is.
Lake Havasu sunsets are some of the best in the world.
These boats are an E-ticket ride to ear-to- ear grins


Fall in Arizona also means the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series is coming to town.  This was the first year that Lake Havasu hosted the event and the venue drew rave reviews.  Great weather and the backdrop of the Colorado River combined to make an epic event.  The following series finale in Chandler, AZ at Wild Horse Pass Raceway didn’t disappoint either with non-stop action for the whole weekend.

Top Fuel Hydro, Problem Child lays it down in a qualifying run in Lake Havasu.
Few venues offer the amazing backdrop that you see at the Lake Havasu round of Lucas Drag Boat Series.
A Pro-Mod drag boat slices through the serenity of Thompson Bay in Lake Havasu.
The Cracker Box Pro class is a big part of the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series. The close racing can sometimes bring on an emotional response from its participants.
When you mix 8000 horsepower with a thin Kevlar hull the results are sometimes catastrophic.
Spectators at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, AZ are treated to some of the best racing of the season.
Boat names are as important as water to a performance boater.
Crews thrash day and night to get their boats ready for a run that lasts mere seconds, but when a good run comes together it’s a thing of beauty.
Problem Child makes a 257mph qualifying pass in a new hull never run before. Later that day Problem child would sustain a violent crash spurred by a prop failure which totaled the new hull. The following day would see the crew of Problem Child go on to win the championship in their old hull that they put back together in an all-night thrash.


The Score Baja 1000 held each year in Ensenada Mexico is the granddaddy of all desert races.  Since its inception in 1967 the race has seen all manner of racers and vehicles try their hand at the longest nonstop race in existence.  From celebrities to the average Joe, the race is an open challenge to compete for the glory of a finishers medal and maybe, just maybe to be the fastest in Baja.  This year’s event saw triumph and tragedy, but through it all teams from around the world discovered what they were truly made of.

Mills Motorsports contested in the Trophy Truck Spec class this year finishing a respectable third after experiencing mechanical gremlins throughout the race.
For chase crews many hours are spent sitting under the desert sky waiting for their vehicles. Some will only see their race car for seconds before packing up and heading back to Ensenada.
The focus it takes to finish the Baja 1000 is a rare quality. Drivers that have it get to put their names in the history books next to names like Parnelli Jones, Ivan Stewart, and Malcom Smith.
All kinds of vehicles contest the Baja. From million dollar trophy trucks to nearly stock VW bugs, if it has wheels you can race it.
After hours racing through the desert a simple sign like this is a godsend to the weary race driver.
Over the years the helicopter has become a vital team member to racers in Baja. The ability to see miles down the race course is an unmatched advantage to the teams that can afford them.

The feeling of satisfaction that comes with finishing the Baja 1000 is worth all the risk that was faced throughout the race.


This year has been a learning a growing experience is so many ways for me.  For all of the hard times there were innumerable blessings.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world and anticipate more great things in 2014.  I’d like to thank everyone who took a chance on me this year and gave me the room to grow, make mistakes, and learn.

Tom Leigh is a freelance motorsports and event photographer from Arizona.

More of his work can be seen at www.tommygunimages.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TommyGunPhotographix
Instagram: @tommygunphotgraphix