Photoshoot Road Trip: The Nebraska Boys
The Photoshoot Road Trip: Part 3
After shooting Brandon’s roadster from Part 2, I hitched up the old trailer and continued north to Nebraska. A hundred miles or so before I hit Eugene T. Mahoney State Park near Omaha, I was assaulted by dark skies and extraordinary winds. The cornfields literally blew over from the force and the traffic on I-80 followed suit. At times, I’m certain the gusts hit over 30 mph. But the old streamlined trailer did exceptionally well and eventually, I pulled into the state park and settled into my camping spot.
Before I could even get the trailer leveled, I heard the sound of a distant hot rod rowing through the gears. A few minutes later, Nick Hoesing pulled up in his ’28 roadster. And a few minutes after that? I was surrounded by over a dozen hot rods from all over Omaha driven by the very people that actually inspired this whole road trip thing of mine and the features that have come from it.
I spend most of my time at home in a hole trying to create something to be proud of and very little of it outside meeting new friends and socializing with old. It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s just how I’m wired. Even so, I belong to a crew here in Austin and despite my oddities, they accept me for who and what I am. It’s very much like a family.
As I grow older, I find myself appreciating that crew more and more. And as I mindfully study that dynamic, I’ve become sort of fascinated with the different hot rod crews and cultures found across the country.
You’ve got the crew here in Austin that’s close, loving, forgiving, and most of all – loyal. You’ve got all the different crews and social cliques in Southern California that are driven, creative, talented, and most of all – competitive. And you’ve got all the crews in-between – all bringing a seemingly different personality to the table. I’m sure all told there are hundreds if not thousands of these social groups sharing a passion and furthering a cause.
This winter, however, I became acutely more aware of the Nebraska Boys (my name, not theirs). I can’t remember the specifics exactly, but I can remember Nick posting a series of pictures from a gathering in the cold. White landscapes dusted with snow, Firestone bias plies with snow packed tread, and smiling faces through falling snow flakes… It was just a series of images, nothing at all special to them, but something that made me appreciate their passion more than I can probably put into words.
And I know most of these fellas from the HAMB Drags and other events. Hell, I’ve known Nick, Jason, Jeff and Rocky collectively for over a decade and some of them for over two, but I had never looked at them as a group and appreciated what they have or what they do. Nebraska can’t be an easy state to hot rod in. I know from experience that finding more than a few like minded individuals in the midwest with compatible perspectives on things is difficult if not impossible.
And yet, here are the Nebraska boys… with this huge crew and this enthusiastic optimism for all things hot rod.
I don’t know man… It all just seemed special to me. So sufficiently special that I was motivated enough to climb out of my hole, hitch up a trailer, and drive 900 miles north. I’m so glad that I did.
After unhitching, drinking a beer or two, and bullshitting with the Nebraska Boys I figured it was best that we get to shooting. The skies at this point were ominous and the wind wasn’t dying down much. It was clear that the weather wasn’t going to improve and that rain would fall eventually, so we hit the park and found a suitable location to highlight the cars.
My original plan was to shoot a portrait of each car, marking the tire locations, and keeping the camera stationary. Once done, I was going to make an animation that sort of morphed one car into another while the background remained unchanged. But the wind was blowing both the trees in the background and clouds in the sky so contentiously that my plan went to the shitter rather quickly.
But no matter – I just tightened down my Nebraska hat and persisted figuring the simplicity of like portraits could be cool too… even if my light was shit. The boys didn’t seemed concerned.
So one by one, I shot each car and shook each driver’s hand. After each, I’d look up in to the sky and think to myself how crazy these fellas were. Hell was gonna rain down on us at any moment and could give a rat’s ass if there was a roadster down here with us or not. The boys didn’t seemed concerned.
Once I was done, I pulled out Nick’s roadster and gave it as good of a once over as I could given the conditions (I’ll feature that photoshoot next week). Afterwards, I anticipated the boys hauling ass for cover but instead, they asked where we were all gonna meet for dinner. It wasn’t sprinkling yet, but the wind was building and the skies were getting more and more pissed. The boys didn’t seemed concerned.
We ate BBQ at a local joint as the storm built. Towards the end of our meal, the thunder started and the rain came. About then, I looked over at Jason Holland. He had rolled in with his model-a coupe sporting very appropriate race slicks given the power his blown motor makes, but not quite taylor made for wet roads. I expected to see him hop up and haul ass. Instead, he finished his meal, casually said his goodbyes, and then moseyed out the door. I don’t know if the next sound I heard was that of thunder or that of his race car firing. The boys didn’t seemed concerned.
And I’m not being overly dramatic here fellas. Later that night, I went to sleep in the trailer only to be woke in the middle of the night by a county sheriff. They were evacuating the state park due to the pending storm and flood potential. I was sent to a little storm shelter in the park where I sat and watched cartoons with all the scared kids from the campground. Point is, this was an honest-to-goodness weather event. No theatricals needed to be added here.
And yet just a few hours earlier I was sitting around over a dozen local hot rodders with their cars and without a care in the world. I don’t know if there is a better way to elaborate on the passion these folks have for hot rodding than to tell this story that I actually witnessed. Lots of the hot rod crews across the country hang a banner for being “hardcore.” This is the first time I’ve actually seen it. These guys are the real deal… and I’m so fortunate to call em pals.
Enjoy the photos and I apologize for the light. The Nebraska boys don’t.
Special Thanks to Nick for making all of this happen… Seriously man. Thank you.