Through a Young Fan’s Eyes

Muscle Car Review - - Contents - By Scotty Lachenauer Pho­tos: Rich Bun­ning

Through a young fan’s eyes

Since he was 2 years old, Rich Bun­ning of Wanaque, New Jer­sey, has been a race-track rat. He has hit ev­ery sprint, Indy, and midget race in the tri-state area that he could get into over the last 56 years. Grow­ing up in north­ern New Jer­sey, Rich has long had ac­cess to many top-tier lo­cal race­ways, and he used his prox­im­ity to these venues to his ad­van­tage. He has en­joyed the hobby that he was born into, a life­long pas­sion that was care­fully cul­ti­vated by his fa­ther, Hank, and his car-crazy fam­ily.

Hank had a friend who was a renowned pho­tog­ra­pher for the Na­tional Speed Sport News. When the man re­tired, Hank took over that job for the pe­ri­od­i­cal. So it was only nat­u­ral that young Rich tagged along with his pop to all the ma­jor races, watch­ing his dad snap pho­tos for race fea­tures with his trusty Pen­tax Spot­matic 35mm cam­era. It was not just a hobby for him, but a way of life that his fa­ther en­joyed shar­ing with him.

It was on a 1969 trip to a sprint car race in Syra­cuse when things all came to­gether for the then 9-year-old. “Dad handed me his cam­era so he could get into a Vic­tory Lane photo with one of his friends,” Rich re­mem­bers. “While the other pho­tog­ra­phers snapped away, I pre­tended to do it as well. But I ended up tak­ing a few pic­tures by ac­ci­dent. When dad saw how good they came out, he de­cided to give me his trusty Pen­tax cam­era when he up­graded his equip­ment the fol­low­ing sea­son.”

Young Rich then hit the races in earnest. “I’ve shot every­thing: Indy, sprint, midget, NASCAR, NHRA, Can-Am, Trans-Am, even flat­track bikes over the years.”

It re­ally didn’t mat­ter to him what style of rac­ing it was, as long as there was plenty of ac­tion. “In the early years I shot with the Spot­matic, but once Dad up­graded again, I used his Pen­tax ME Su­per. I shot film till 2008, when I got a Canon dig­i­tal cam­era.”

The pho­tos Rich shares here—from the Trans-Am race at Lime Rock, Con­necti­cut, Septem­ber 5, 1970—was his “first ever T-A race, and we went there to see some of our Indy Car friends.” Like al­ways, the young­ster was walk­ing the beat and click­ing away dur­ing the race, right along­side the pro shoot­ers. He ended up com­ing home with sev­eral rolls of film from the event.

To­day, in his spare time when he’s not paint­ing or restor­ing cars for some of the top restora­tion fa­cil­i­ties in the Metro area, Rich still shoots when­ever he gets the urge. Was this par­tic­u­lar race day in Septem­ber 1970 any­thing spe­cial? “Be­sides see­ing and meet­ing Paul New­man, it was just an­other day at the races for me.”

“It was just an­other day at the races for me”

“Nei­ther Gurney nor Donohue would fin­ish the race”

n Jim Hall in his Cha­parral Ca­maro. n Parnelli Jones wins (left), and Paul New­man watches the ac­tion. n Dan Gurney (right) and Swede Sav­age talk strat­egy be­fore the race. n This was the first year Mark Donohue (cen­ter, in blue wind­breaker) raced for AMC.

n The open­ing photo shows the grid at the Lime Rock race’s start, with Dan Gurney in the AAR ’Cuda (48) and Mark Donohue in the Penske Javelin (6) on the front row. The end of the first lap saw Parnelli Jones’ Boss Mus­tang (15) and Ed Les­lie (2) in the Jim Hall–built Cha­parral Ca­maro creep­ing up on the pole po­si­tion rides. Nei­ther Gurney nor Donohue were run­ning at the end of the race.

n When Roger Penske moved to AMC’s Trans-Am pro­gram, Chevro­let called on Jim Hall’s race shop to build and drive the au­tomaker’s new T-A cars for 1970. Here, Hall in his Cha­parral Ca­maro is up on the jack in the pits.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.