The Art of the New Zealand Speedway Lens 

Driven By Dirt


Andrew Neru
Driven By Dirt

As the racing engines roar to life, the air becomes thick with tension, an intoxicating blend of anticipation, exhilaration, and a hint of the unknown. Speedway racing in New Zealand is a grand spectacle that unfolds in all its raw, unfiltered emotion and a spectacle that I, as a speedway photographer, have the privilege to capture.

Each race is a new narrative, a tale of human resilience, determination, and the thrill of the chase. The challenge lies not just in documenting this narrative but in portraying it with the intensity and fervour it deserves. The sheer noise of the crowd, the rush of the engines, the swirl of dirt in the air – it is a symphony of sensory experiences that becomes the rhythm of my work.

Speedway photography is an art form that isn’t confined to the racing action on the track. You might think that being amidst the chaos would be the place to catch the most captivating shots, but some of the most stunning pictures I’ve taken have been from outside the ring of the immediate action. From a distance, I can encompass the wider scene, crafting a narrative that highlights the raw essence of the sport. This perspective allows my photos to breathe, filling them with a sense of grandeur and spectacle that brings the sport to life for those who view them.

One might expect the need for quick reflexes in such a fast-paced environment, but one of the most essential skills I’ve developed is patience. There’s an instinctive urge to capture every moment, to chase the action with the lens. Still, the true magic of speedway photography lies in the wait. The perfect shot isn’t a rapid-fire collection of images but a single moment when the action’s crescendo, the emotional intensity, and the composition align to form an immersive narrative.

Being a speedway photographer in New Zealand isn’t just a job – it’s a way of life, complete with its own set of challenges. Preparedness goes beyond ensuring the camera is ready; it includes the readiness to face the unyielding noise, the onslaught of dirt and the unpredictable nature of a live, action-packed event. But within this whirlwind, there’s an undeniable thrill, a sense of being truly alive that makes speedway photography an incomparably rewarding pursuit.

Embracing the world of speedway photography is a journey that requires passion, patience and practice. Understanding the sport’s rhythm, getting to know the drivers on the track, and appreciating the finer points that add to the drama is as important as honing your technical skills. Scoping out the unique vantage points, practicing consistently, and learning from each press of the shutter; each frame captured is an opportunity for growth and improvement.

Let your passion for the sport guide you. The essence of speedway racing extends beyond the dust-filled air and the roar of engines; it is a testament to human endurance, the thrill of the chase, and a shared love for the sport. When this passion infuses your work, your photos become a reflection of the heartbeat and soul of the speedway, touching viewers on a more profound level.

Being a speedway photographer is an exhilarating journey, an opportunity to capture the essence of a sport that is firmly woven into New Zealand’s cultural fabric. It’s about recording the pulse-racing narrative of triumphs and disappointments, and the enduring human spirit that shines through each event. Each picture is a snapshot of history, a chronicle of the thrilling life of the Speedway.

Yes, the work is challenging, and the environment can be gruelling, but the rewards are beyond measure. It’s a dance with risk and excitement, a delicate ballet against the backdrop of New Zealand’s speedways. Capturing the ever-changing, pulsating life of speedway racing in still frames and sharing these stories with the world is a thrill like no other. As a speedway photographer, I wouldn’t trade this dance for anything else.


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