and Don's Story
by Don Hale
Roy and myself were both freshman students at the "Art Center College
of Design" and young and energetic.
Art Center taught us to look for more creative angles and push the
creative envelope past the standard stuff of the time. We experimented
with new lenses, motor driven sequences, and intentional slow shutter
speeds for a blurred almost painting like quality for some of our
Roy and I were classmates and friends with other students like Larry
Wood (Hot Wheels Designer), Ken Eberts (chair of Auto Fine artist
Guild, Pebble Beach) John "Waldo" Glaspey (auto illustrator and Bob
Davids, designer of Breedlove's land speed cars, as well as Nye Frank's
"Pulsator." In the early sixties when Roy and myself were photographing
at Lions, most photographers were shooting the standard angles they had
been doing for years.
We created some friendly competition for the Peterson boys which turned
out to be good for the industry. "Drag News" ran an article calling Roy
the new "Dean" of drag racing photography.
majority of photographers (including Peterson) were shooting mostly
black and white with a little color for covers and centerfolds which
was the norm for those early years. Roy and I shot a lot of color
because we could process it for free at the lab at Art Center.
Establishing a close trust with C.J. (Pappy) Hart, track manager,
allowed us to seek out new track locations that enabled more
interesting photographs to be made for Lions promotion.
One of Roy's favorite spots was standing on a short post about 30 feet
from the starting line giving an over the blower view of the driver. A
subtle change that made for some exciting images. (See Jungle Classic.)
The gag shot of Prudhome and McEwen in the weeds done for "Drag News" (photo available) was a
fun sample of outside the box photography. It was innovative for the
time and still holds to this day. Another example of Robinson's
creative genius and sense of humor.
Toward the end of our tenure (1965) we began to see the beginning of
big sponsor money and how it would change drag racing.
I photographed the "Indy" Nationals in 67 and 68 and the World Finals
in 1969. The only race after that was Seattle International in 1991
when I had Budweiser for a client and they wanted some shots of Kenny
and the "Bud King".
When TV first got involved with drag racing it was also the beginning
of drag racing being legitimized and Wally Parks should be
congratulated for making that happen. TV also provided the money to
make the sport safer and better.
It was a thrill to be involved during this period of drag racing. Roy,
and myself have many fond memories and will never forget our many days
and nights at Lions Drag Strip.
Life long friend Roy recently gifted me his entire archive of drag
racing photography. Roy is a very successful CEO and didn't have time
to be involved with making prints etc. Roy's generosity allows me to
share his photographic genius with drag race fans everywhere.
Young photographers note: The majority of the black and white
photographs were developed and printed in a two car garage with a dirt
floor,cold water only and no heat.
Roy and I would arrive at the garage around eleven pm after
photographing the final at Lion's. We would process and print until
about two am Sunday morning.
Sunday we would give C.J. first choice for Lions promotion and then we
were free to sell the others to Drag News and Drag World.
This routine was followed for every race at Lion's from 1961 to 1965.
Roy's lab today is 37,000 sq .ft. filled with state of the art
technology for printing giant photo murals for point of purchase
displays for national retail chains.
With very minimal beginnings and the education received at Art Center,
we were able to have successful professional careers in the advertising
We hope you enjoy our photographic memories of a chunk of drag racing
The best experience for myself is the continuing life long friendship
with Roy and his family.