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Salute to Sixties-Era Drag Race Photographers Continue at UCR California Museum of Photography


"FASTER: The Pomona Drags, 1960s Photographs of Pomona Drag Racing"

(Riverside, Aug. 23, 2005) — Before auto focus lenses and high-speed motor drive cameras simplified taking pictures of fast moving objects, photographers working for National Dragster magazine strove to chronicle some of the planet's fastest cars in the 1960s — the dragsters of the new National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).

Working just a few feet from the race action, these intrepid photographers battled smoke, flying rubber, loud engines and unpredictable aerodynamics to capture the birth and growth of professional drag racing in Pomona.

Forty large-scale examples of their creative images will be displayed as a part of "FASTER: The Pomona Drags, 1960s Photographs of Pomona Drag Racing" an exhibit developed by UCR/California Museum of Photography in cooperation with the NHRA and sponsored by the Automobile Club of Southern California. On display through Sunday, Oct. 2, "FASTER: The Pomona Drags," is curated by Douglas McCulloh and examines the parallel growth of two technologies that helped shape the Southern California psyche: cars and cameras.

According to Jonathan Green, Director of UCR/CMP, "we're very pleased to be working for the second time with the Auto Club of Southern California and with our Inland Empire neighbors, NHRA. Under the curatorial direction of Doug McCulloh, this exhibition looks at the history of drag racing. But it also explores chance encounters constructed not by the human eye but by the camera itself. Distorted perspectives, off-center angles, and random objects make their way into the frame. In their attempt to document the image and speed of the hot-rod, the NHRA photographers also recorded the idiosyncratic way the camera captures the world. The essence of this show is the way these two technologies transform and challenge the ordinary perception of reality."

"As a long-time sponsor of NHRA drag racing events and as a 100-year-old chronicler of Southern California cultural history, we're excited to help bring "FASTER" to the public," said Matthew Roth, Auto Club historian. "This exhibit visually illustrates drag racing during its infancy and shares how photographers of the era tried to capture some of the world's fastest race cars with basic camera equipment."

Contemporary artists Kristi Lippire and Matt Wardell have contributed installations that explore the way memories of drag-racing are re-lived through the senses. Lippire acknowledges her childhood racing hero, Five Flavor Fleming. Wardell uses sound, smells, and texture to reconstruct the five-second experience of watching a drag race. Both artists celebrate drag racing's theater, ambiance, machinery, costumes and sounds.

Visitors will see a video montage of the dragsters of the 1960s. This is a rapid-fire video that flashes through 1,200 images of dragsters that ran at Pomona between 1962 and 1969 — including all of the famous cars, many not-so-famous ones, and everything in between.

Another mini-documentary centers on the photographers while they discuss the challenges and dangers that they faced trying to photograph the fastest accelerating machines in the world.

Also, visitors will view one of the earlier drag racers, the Dragmaster Dart Gas Dragster, which was driven to victory in the Top Eliminator class at the 1962 NHRA Winternational race in Pomona. This particular car serves as a reminder that while dragsters were constructed for speed, they exuded a compelling beauty, too.

UCR/California Museum of Photography is located at 3824 Main St., on the Pedestrian Mall in downtown Riverside, California. Regular Gallery and Museum Store hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $1 for the general public and free to members, students and seniors. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. UCR/CMP offers guided educational tours to groups of 10 or more. Guided tours must be scheduled in advance and are appropriate for adults and grades 7–12; a nominal scheduling fee of $20 is charged. Waiver of the fee will be considered for groups with special needs. For more information, please call our 24-hour info line: 951.784.FOTO or visit

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