Full Tilt! The Motorsports Photography of John Mahoney
By John Mahoney
Witness Productions; $45
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Letting his camera do most of the talking, award-winning motor sports photographer John Mahoney selected 400 photos to represent a career spanning four decades. The mostly black and white retrospective offers a very personal look back on the stars and the spectacular moments of dirt's heyday, including Sprints, Midgets (both USAC and Outlaw) and Champ Cars. Mahoney also included a few spectacular shunts on dirt and at the Speedway, the obligatory award banquet shots and other posed photos, as well as an insider's glimpse into some behind-the-scenes antics that define the craziness that is motor racing.
Mahoney is an accomplished race action shooter, capturing every sideways Sprinter flinging up showers of dust, dirt and mud in wheel-to-wheel action. Full Tilt is a suitable second chapter to Mahoney's earlier Sprint Car Pictorial that documented the ascendancy of USAC from 1968 to 1980 with drivers like Gary Bettenhausen, Steve Kinser, Jan Opperman, A.J. Foyt, George "Ziggy" Snider, Lee Kunzman, Pancho Carter, Johnny Parsons, Tom Bigelow, Sammy Sessions, Mario Andretti and Rich Vogler, a particular favorite subject of Mahoney's lens.
In addition to the close-up look at dirt's most celebrated and well-known drivers, Mahoney documented the early days of today's NASCAR names, from John Andretti's USAC debut in an indoor midget race to a mustached-and-mulletted Jeff Gordon at a Silver Crown race to the dozens of shots of a younger, thinner, happier Tony Stewart.
For all the clarity of his action shots, it is Mahoney's skill in capturing personality through expression that tells a story - the "moment" captured for all time and documented for history. None better convey the moodiness of a May at Indianapolis than Mahoney's shot of an unusually emotional Jimmy Clark next to his disassembled Lotus in 1967 - a shot for open wheel historians like me who don't favor dirt.