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