Tommy Gun Images: Blog en-us Tom A. Leigh [email protected] (Tommy Gun Images) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:25:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:25:00 GMT Tommy Gun Images: Blog 120 120 Bonnie and Clyde Never Had It This Good The year is 1932.  The stock market crashed just 3 years prior and the Great Depression is in full swing.  You and your girlfriend are making ends meet knocking off stores and the occasional bank while guys like John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd are running roughshod through the midwest doing whatever they please and taking home a pretty paycheck for their trouble.  Tough times for a young couple starting out, but if you are going to keep up with the Joneses or in this case the Dillingers you had better have a fast car waiting in the shadows.  Given the automotive options of the time there is really only one choice for the budding criminal... The Ford V-8. And so the Ford V-8  it was for criminal duo Bonnie and Clyde.  Ford produced a handful of body styles in 1932, the rarest of which was the B400 Cabriolet.  With all the space of the sedan and the powerful flathead V-8, the B400 went one step further and featured a convertible top for those moonlit nights running from the law.  

Only 800 Ford B400s were built and Clyde Barrow went and totaled his while running from the cops, so when Ed and Linda Woody decided to start looking for a B400 of their own the odds were stacked against them form the beginning.  In fact it took Ed all of 20 years to find the car you see before you and it certainly didn't show as well as it does today. '32 Ford B400 Roadster 2017 Tom Leigh-0064-Edit'32 Ford B400 Roadster 2017 Tom Leigh-0064-Edit


With only 25-30 of these cars still in existence this car does a fantastic job of staying true to the spirit of the time period while also adding subtle details that make it decidedly custom.  From the stance and wheel/tire combo to the H&H Flathead motor and custom gauge cluster inside the original wood dash, custom touches abound, but all of them are perfectly understated on this beautiful resto-custom.  

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While the engine was built by H&H Flathead and Bob McKernon handled the upholstery and top, the rest of the car was restored to it's current glory over the course of 4 years by Ed himself.  The body work and paint look like you could dive straight into it and rightfully so since Ed was in the collision repair business in California before retiring in 2011. '32 Ford B400 Roadster 2017 Tom Leigh-0055-Edit'32 Ford B400 Roadster 2017 Tom Leigh-0055-Edit


For our photo shoot Ed and Linda were gracious enough to follow us to different spots up and down the Colorado River to shoot photos and video to promote an upcoming run put on by the Havasu Deuces car club based out of Lake Havasu City, AZ.  While we cruised along from location to location and watched Ed and Linda enjoying the crisp desert air wafting through the open top and the rumble of the flathead under the hood it was hard not to imagine Clyde at the wheel and Bonnie by his side as they sped down some meandering midwestern back road on their way to their next fateful adventure. '32 Ford B400 Roadster 2017 Tom Leigh-9847-Edit'32 Ford B400 Roadster 2017 Tom Leigh-9847-Edit


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While Ed and Linda have had many adventures in the car they assure me that all of them were of the legal variety and didn't involve any banks or police chases, although Bonnie and Clyde would have done well to have this little car underfoot in such an occasion.   '32 Ford B400 Roadster 2017 Tom Leigh-9997-Edit'32 Ford B400 Roadster 2017 Tom Leigh-9997-Edit


Thank you to Ed and Linda for giving us the opportunity to shoot this amazing car and to Joe and Teresa Mitchell for putting us in touch!  If you love 32 Fords and would like to check out their run in March head over to for more information!


Here is the video from Havasu Media Productions

Havasu Deuces River Run 2018 Promo from Carter Bahde on Vimeo.


More of the 32 B400...


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[email protected] (Tommy Gun Images) b400 barrett jackson bonnie and clyde deuce coupe flathead ford ford v8 havasu hot rod roadster Wed, 31 Jan 2018 00:14:24 GMT
2017… The View From My Face For this photographer 2017 brought new challenges, new technology, and lots of new lessons.  With each passing year that I continue down this path of discovery I started 4 years ago, I realize just how blessed I am to be pursuing my life long dream of making a living doing what I love.  In so many ways I have accomplished much of what I set out to do, but I still feel the tug of the unknown and desire to explore new territory with camera in hand.  God willing, I will continue to do just that!

I haven’t kept up with my blog the way that I had hoped I would originally and I hope you can forgive me for that, but I wanted to share where this year has taken me and where I hope to go in the years to come.  Having said that, please enjoy some of my favorite images from 2017 and please feel free to share this with your friends if you enjoyed it!  Let’s get to it!

I’ll start off with some Moto since it’s one of my favorite pastimes, but rarely get the opportunity to shoot it.  The first image is Troy Vanscourt at this year’s Parker 250 in January. I really like this spot on the course as the cliff in the background adds a nice element to the photo.


Next is Husky factory pilot, Thad Duvall at a recent AMA race in Lake Havasu.

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I had the chance to shoot the 50th anniversary of the Baja 1000 this year and made my camp at race mile 120 just in time to catch the motos coming through in the dead of the night.  The Honda 3x team would go on to finish 3rd after more than 1100 miles.

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My season typically kicks off close to home with the Best In The Desert Parker 425.  2017 marked my 4th season working with the Mills Motorsports team in their quest for victory in the Trick Truck and 6100 classes.  I started working with Mills in 2013 when I offered to trade photos for a chance to tag along with them to the Baja 1000.  Since then I have been on countless adventures with them and watched the team grow and become like family to me.

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Shooting as team photographer for Mills Motorsports gives me access to the race course which allows me to grab some shots of other racers when I get the chance.  This is Jason Voss during qualifying for the Parker 425.  I like this photo because it shows the shear chaos that an unlimited truck represents.



A couple other shots from the 2017 Parker 425



In 2017 I continued to dabble in real estate photography for a friend who is an agent.  It is fun to get outside my normal scope of work and experiment with a new genre.

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The performance boating industry in Lake Havasu never really rests, so shooting boats for features in various online and print publications is a year round business for me.  In February we shot this pair of boats for a feature showcased on

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February also brought with it the opportunity to cover the popular SNORE Battle at Primm for  Held in Primm Valley at the Buffalo Bills Hotel and Casino, BAP is a favorite among fans and racers alike with its tight course and big jumps.

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When I first started shooting pictures one of my main goals was to get published in a magazine.  I’ve been blessed to have my pictures printed in several different publications, but it’s still just as exciting as the first time!  These came out in the January issue of Speed Boat Magazine.


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March brings with it one of the funnest desert races of the year.  The Mint 400 put on by Martelli Brothers and Best in the Desert is equal parts desert race and party.  Starting with a parade of horsepower down Las Vegas Boulevard and subsequent street party on Fremont Street and concluding with the big race. This race attracts everyone from the grassroots racer to A-list celebrities.

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After the Mint 400 I got a call from Joey D from to join them out in Glamis for a very special event.  The Make-A-Wish Foundation had put together the chance for 8 year old Blake Level to go tear up the dunes with his heroes RJ Anderson and Joey D.  Young Blake had been battling cancer and his wish was to get the chance to ride with his idols.  As is typical of Joey and his crew, no expenses were spared to make sure that Blake would have a day to remember complete with a new RZR given to him courtesy of Polaris.  Events like these are a blessing to be involved with!

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April brought with it more opportunity on the boating front.  One of the most talked about boats on the west coast the past year was Nordic Boats new 43’ Enforcer.  Outfitted with Mercury Racing’s flagship 1350hp twin turbo engines and every feature imaginable it is truly a sight to see on and off the water.

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Product and lifestyle content creation for social media has quickly become part of my typical day.  With social media dominating the branding landscape for many companies there has been more and more opportunity for photographers and videographers to broaden the scope of their work.


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One event that is permanently marked on my calendar is the Desert Storm Poker Run.  View by local business as the Super Bowl of events in Lake Havasu, Desert Storm brings swarms of boating enthusiasts from all over the United State and Canada for a week long celebration of horsepower on the water.


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In June I made a special trip to the Mogollon Rim in Arizona for a hike with some family and friends to honor my late cousin and spread his ashes.  It was a time of healing for all of us and I’m grateful to have shared it with these people.


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The performance boat industry has been very good to me.  I’m able to live the life I do because so many good people in the industry have embraced what I do and given me opportunity to use my images to showcase these amazing machines and the companies that build them.  I’m thankful for the people who have invested in what I do and allowed me to produce these images.

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Living at the lake has it’s benefits for a photographer...

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August has the heat in full swing in the desert, but that doesn’t stop the desert racers from racing from the sweltering heat of Las Vegas all the way to the cool reprieve of the mountains of Reno.  I’m very fortunate to get to fly high above the race in the Mills Motorsports helicopter!

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Technology is amazing and always changing in this line of work.  This year I finally started to explore the possibilities of drone photography.  While I’m still learning, look for more of this tech in my work flow this year!

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September through October is regatta time for the boating crowd and they hit it hard!  Almost every manufacture hosts their annual regattas during these months and events like the Lake Powell Challenge and Monster Storm in Lake Havasu book end the fall event schedule making it my busiest time of year.

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The granddaddy of desert racing is the Baja 1000 and November marked it’s 50th year.  Shooting the Baja is more about the adventure than the race and each year shooting it has proven to be an epic adventure.  This year was no different!

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The last two races of the year for Best in the Desert are the Tonopah 250 and the Pahrump 250.  Both are fun, short races and packed with photo ops!

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My last shoot of the year came in the form of a perfect early morning shoot with DCB Performance Boats and their new M-31 catamaran powered by Mercury Racing’s new naturally aspirated 860 engines.  The conditions were perfect and the boat sounded like two stock cars raging down the lake.  It was a great way to cap off a great year!

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I’d like to thank everyone for following along in 2017.  I’m looking for even more exciting opportunities in 2018 and hope you will all join me along the way!  Happy New Year!!





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RDP Wozencraft Parker Enduro Tom Leigh-0539RDP Wozencraft Parker Enduro Tom Leigh-0539

[email protected] (Tommy Gun Images) 400 best boating boats dcb desert gun havasu images in lake mad media mills mint motorsports performance photography pictures powell racing reno riverdavesplace storm the to tommy tommygunimages utvunderground vegas year Tue, 02 Jan 2018 02:38:50 GMT
A New Season Brings New Challenges for Mills Motorsports The 2017 Best In The Desert season kicked off last weekend with the popular Parker 425 presented by Impact.  The new season brings about a new start for race teams as many have changed sponsors, or classes, and most have made significant updates to their existing program.  The latter is the case for the boys at Mills Motorsports of Corpus Christi Texas. Toward the end of the 2016 race season, at Vegas to Reno, disaster struck for the engine in the #81 Trick Truck of Taylor Mills.  Mills was able to limp the truck in for a solid finish in his class but, the fate of the big V-10 had been sealed.  A decision had been made prior to the race that a new engine would be built by Exotic Engine in Reno so the engine was delivered and the build was on.  The following race in Pahrump saw help from UTV Inc's Johnny Angal in the form of a borrowed Trick Truck to finish off the season.


As time drew near for the 2017 Parker 425 the thrash was on to get the new engine shipped in from Reno and installed in time for race day.  The Mills crew of Mike Kerr, Bart Parker, Terrance Shatzer, and Andrew Pavolka dove right in and got the prep handled while Kevin from Exotic Engine flew in to handle setting up the new MoTec management system.  With so many changes to the truck an eleventh hour decision was made to forgo qualifying so that final adjustments could be made.


Come race day the truck was ready to go and both Taylor Mills in the #81 Geiser Trick Truck and Nick Mills in the always competitive Geiser 6100 went to the start line focused and ready to take on the 2017 Best in the Desert race season.  Unfortunately just minutes before the start issues set in for the Taylor Mills.  On the start line the truck shut off  and sent the crew into action to address the issue as quickly as possible.  Watching from the helicopter above the start was a concerned Gary Mills, owner of Mills Motorsports. Frustration was the emotion of the hour as Mr. Mills watched helplessly as the crew worked frantically on the truck.  Frustration soon subsided as Nick Mills stormed off the line and quickly made his way to the front of the pack in 6100.  The #6178 truck would set a blistering pace on the first lap leading by a large margin before ultimately settling into fifth place by the time the checkers flew at the Blue Water Casino later that night.


While the crew would ultimately get the Trick Truck running, the race would prove to be short lived as a coil issue would stop the big blue truck just 5 miles into the 425 mile race. Frustrated but not discouraged, Taylor Mills and Co-driver Josh Huff returned to the pits to assist in supporting the team's 6100 truck still on course.  It appeared that Mills and Huff were all dressed up with nowhere to go until the crew from Johnny Angal's pit located adjacent to the Mills pit came over and asked if Taylor could jump in and finish the race for Angal in the #63 Polaris RZR sponsored Geiser TT.  Angal had a crash just weeks prior while testing and  was racing with a fractured vertebrae and broken ribs and the strain of the race had become too much.  Mills and Huff obliged and jumped into the Angal's truck for the last lap and delivered the truck in great shape at the finish for a solid 10th place in only the second Trick Truck race for Angal.


While the race didn't quite go as planned for the Mills Motorsports crew, make no mistake, they will be ready to race next month at the historic Mint 400 in Las Vegas Nevada.  Be sure to follow all the the Mills Motorsports adventures on Facebook and Instagram as well as stop by the pits and say hello!


Mills Motorsports is a desert racing team from Corpus Christi Texas campaigning in both Trick Truck and 6100 for the 2017 Best in the Desert season.


Tommy Gun Media provides photography, social media management and content generation for the off-road and power boating industries.

[email protected] (Tommy Gun Images) Sun, 12 Feb 2017 19:57:25 GMT
Mills Motorsports Takes a Hard Fought Win at Vegas to Reno  

This year’s Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno was a lot of things to a lot of teams, but for Mills Motorsports it marked a long awaited trip to the winner’s circle.  From their start in 2012 with their humble Baja Lite the Mills boys have enjoyed podium success, even winning their class at the unforgiving Baja 1000 in their first ever attempt.  After that the team from Corpus Christi, Texas went on to win races and class championships in both class 6100 and class 8.  Since the beginning the Mills team has been no stranger to success in the desert!

Vegas to Reno marked an important race for the team in blue.  For team owner Gary Mills this year’s race would fall on the 28th wedding anniversary of him and his bride Vickye.  Gary’s wife Vickye had been battling cancer for more than 6 years and sadly had succumbed to the terrible disease just one month prior to Vegas to Reno.  Vickye Mills was the team’s biggest supporter and while her illness often kept her from attending the races, she was adamant that her husband Gary (father of drivers Nick and Taylor Mills) be at every race.  Success at this race for Gary and Vickye was heavy on the hearts of every member of the Mills Motorsports team and it was with them at the forefront of their minds that they went to battle at Vegas to Reno.

When Best in the Desert decided to make this year’s race a two day stage race it set all of the teams into strategy mode.  Even though the race was 644 miles, making it the longest desert race in the United States, the two day format offered a chance to re-prep the race vehicles at the halfway point.  For some teams this allowed them to repair a vehicle that might not have otherwise finished the entire race.  For the Mills team it was simply a chance to give each truck a once over, change some fluids and clean them up before setting them off once again through the silty Nevada desert.


The Mills boys ran the trucks hard on day one.  Even though Taylor Mills experienced some fluke mechanical issues that put his number 81 Trick Truck back in the pack, both his truck and the 6178 of brother Nick Mills showed up in Tonopah in great shape.  In fact the Mills 6100 entry blasted across the finish on the first day with a nice lead over second place Bevly Wilson Racing.  Interestingly, the Mills truck was driven to the finish by none other than Billy Wilson, the “Wilson” in Bevly Wilson Racing. Wilson, who is also from Texas, and the Mills brothers have been racing together since the beginning and it was a great addition to have Billy sharing driving duties with Nick Mills.

Day two brought with it a chaotic and controversial start.  It was determined that the vehicles would start the second day in the order they placed (on time) at the finish of day one.  This meant that many faster vehicles would start the race behind slower class cars.  Unfortunately for Taylor Mills this would be his fate as he was to start behind a slew of UTV’s on day two.  That fact combined with a blown head gasket would considerably slow his pace and ultimately find him in 22nd place in class after the dust settled in Reno.  Not where the team hoped to finish, but all agreed that it was a solid finish considering the adversity the 81 truck experienced all weekend.

While the second day didn’t go as planned for Taylor Mills, day two was a textbook race for Nick Mills and Billy Wilson.  Good starting position and a blistering pace kept the blue Geiser Bros. 6100 at the top of the field the entire day.  Aside from a driver induced flat, the truck took nothing but gas at each pit.  Excellent prep and smart fast driving would pay off all weekend as the Mills Motorsports 6178 put on a clinic for the other drivers in their class.  


At the finish in Reno, Mills Motorsports stood alone atop the class 6100 podium.  Once again showing the determination of the young team from Texas.  Gary Mills stood proud as he watched his team come together and give whatever it takes to achieve success.  The race and win would be dedicated to Gary and his wife Vickye on their anniversary, a fitting tribute to a couple who exemplify teamwork and commitment.

Mills Motorsports would like to thank BFGoodrich Tires, Method Race Wheels, Baja Designs, Geiser Brothers, Fox, Jamar Brakes, FST Performance, SDHQ, BITD and all of the team and volunteers that do whatever it takes to achieve success for the Mills Motorsports team.  Visit for more info and sponsor opportunities.


Word and photography by Tom Leigh.

[email protected] (Tommy Gun Images) Reno Vegas arizona baja designs bfgoodrich california desert fox geiser method mills motorsports nevada racing tires trophy truck wheels Sun, 18 Sep 2016 22:24:47 GMT
Spending a day with DWT Racing and in Sedona Recently I spent a day riding and shooting with and the guys from DWT Racing to feature a new custom Polaris RZR build.  Here is the article and pics that I put together from our adventure...

[email protected] (Tommy Gun Images) adventure arizona desert dwt photography polaris racing rzr utv utvunderground Tue, 02 Aug 2016 18:59:46 GMT
Lucky 13 A photographers look at 2013...






































































































[email protected] (Tommy Gun Images) images photography photos pics pictures Wed, 18 Dec 2013 23:00:23 GMT
One Mile At A Time... Character Building In The Sands Of Baja It's just passed 4am on November 16th in Baja California. Our team, bedded down around a small crackling campfire, recharges it's weary batteries as the grim news comes in over the radio... Race number 842 is at zero miles per hour just shy of race mile 600. No radio contact from the race truck, just a blip from the spot tracker, an on board gps transmitter that pings a vehicle's location and speed amidst the expanse of the Baja Peninsula. This disheartening information is accompanied by somber reports that just hours before, factory KTM rider and baja legend, Kurt Caselli was mortally injured while leading the very race we were chasing. Both bits of news serve a crushing blow to the moral of a team that just 18 hours prior predicted certain victory at this year's Score Baja 1000... Why do we do it?


Many have said that the Baja 1000 is less of a race and more of an adventure and that is fitting considering the humble beginnings of the event. In 1962 representatives of American Honda elected to attempt a timed run from Tijuana to La Paz to prove to the world the reliability of Honda motorcycles. Shortly after midnight on March 22nd, 1962, Dave Ekins, brother of stuntman Bud Ekins, telegraphed his departure from Tijuana and set out to accomplish the first timed attempt at covering the entire Baja Peninsula. 39 hours and 56 minutes, and 952 miles later, off-road history had been made. A story came out shortly after in several magazines that recounted the adventure and it's danger to the rest of the globe, setting in motion the imaginations of countless thrill seekers the world over.

Anytime you place an elapsed time on a distance traveled you set the stage for competition and soon it was Bruce Meyers to put his Meyers Manx buggy to the test to see if four wheels could best two on the trip down the point. Meyers was successful, logging a total time of 34:45 a full five hours faster than the motorcycle effort. The die was cast and the race was on from that day forward.

There were no TV crews or social media back in those days to document this kind of excursion. The only way that the account of these accomplishments made it back to main stream America was by way of the stories written by journalists that embedded themselves with these teams. It is in much the same tradition that I became involved with Mills Motorsports and their campaign for the 2013 Score Baja 1000. The last time I chased a race team in Baja was 2004, the same year Dana Brown filmed his epic documentary, "Dust To Glory". Ever since then I have wanted to return to the birthplace of desert racing with my cameras and document the whole race. With that in mind, and ample time on my hands in November, I contacted Nick Mills of the Mills Motorsports race team and driver of the #842 Trophy Truck Spec. Nick invited me to tag along to capture the race from the perspective of a race team. I jumped at the chance to check this deal off my bucket list. The Mills team was in contention for the class championship in the Trophy Truck Spec class, so this would be a perfect opportunity to follow a first class outfit on their bid for glory in the unrelenting landscape of Baja.

Interestingly enough, it was the, aforementioned, film "Dust To Glory" that was the catalyst for Nick and Taylor Mills and Tony MacNeil of Corpus Christi, Texas to get involved in desert racing. After seeing the film and getting caught up in the romance and mystique of the Baja, the Mills boys and Tony decided this was just the kind of adventure they needed and TNT Racing was born. TNT, which stood for Taylor, Nick, and Tony, was a small team effort that the boys pulled together by pooling their funds and enlisting the help of friends and family in order to go racing in, what was then, the Super 8 class.

Toward the end of the 2012 season the Texans ran into or, more literally, were run into by veteran desert racer Kent Kroeker of KORE Performance at the Best In The Desert "Vegas to Reno" race. During the race when Kroeker attempted to make a pass on the TNT truck, piloted my Nick Mills and Tony MacNeil, he made enough contact to spark controversy throughout the desert racing community. In doing so he also sparked a lifelong friendship with the young Mills team and would soon be tasked with helping the team with logistics and driving duties for the Baja 1000 later that year.

After nearly burning their only race truck to the ground at the "Bluewater 250", in Parker, AZ, only one month prior to the 2012 "Baja 1000", the TNT team decided to put the truck back together and race the granddaddy of all desert races. But, the Baja 1000 by it's very nature is not a race to be taken lightly and by no stretch of the imagination is it something one should enter into without months of preparation and planning. In no way should you even think about running Baja with only one month to prepare... Tell that to a Texan!

With Kent Kroeker in charge of race operations and one little Trophy Lite, the TNT team set out for unlikely victory on the sands of Baja. The Super 8 class only had one race that season and it was the Score Baja 1000. This meant a victory would bring with it a championship trophy to set on the mantle back home in Corpus Christi. So, with little support and overwhelming odds, the team started the 2012 Baja 1000. More than 1100 miles later the humble, but determined, team from Texas stood atop the podium as class winners in their first ever Baja 1000.

The hook was set and Mills Motorsports was born. With new team ownership in Gary Mills and not one, but two, Trophy Truck Spec rigs, the Mills Motorsports team was ready to become a real threat for title contention in 2013. What had started as a small family team funded by three brothers, out for a good time, had become a full blown race effort with a proper race shop, capable vehicles, and a full time race team comprised of Baja veterans. With any high dollar race effort, however, comes high expectations. Where formerly the team was just out for some fun, now it was expected that everyone handled themselves professionally and put the team first in all situations. It was a game changer for all those involved. This meant being in proper shape to handle the rigors of off-road racing and the physical challenges it presents. Getting out of the truck in the middle of a cold desert night to change a tire or free the truck from a rut is a very physical endeavor and everyone on the team is expected to be able to man up and get the job done. Additionally, the team and it's drivers are expected to know the course and it's perils intimately. As such, a painstaking pre-run schedule was outlined so that each driver would know his section of race course cold by race day.

In light of this new schedule, pre-running was split up into two teams, the same as it would be for race day. One team would cover the west side of the peninsula and the other would be tasked with the east side. By doing this Kent Kroeker was able to minimize the amount of driving that chase trucks would have to do on race day, a safety precaution designed to save lives. During the race the biggest danger isn't to the race drivers themselves but to the countless team chase vehicles traversing the Baja Peninsula. The Baja 1000 is a national event for the people of Baja and as such it is common for locals to be on the road intoxicated or worse. Add to that the legions of race team members in a hurry to get to the next pit and you have a recipe for carnage. Head on collisions have become commonplace at the 1000 and result in fatalities every year. If a team can manage to keep static pits, meaning the pit crew stays put throughout the race, their chances of avoiding mishaps increases exponentially. With decades of experience in Baja Kent Kroeker knows this and takes every precaution to keep his team members safe.

By the time race day rolled around the Mills Motorsports team had been in Baja for a week working on logistics and relentlessly pre-running the course. Victory, it seemed, was a forgone conclusion. Some of the chase crews, which included race drivers Kent Kroeker and Allen Roach of Baja Designs Lights and co-drivers Josh Huff and Bart Parker, had left for their post the night before and were bedded down in the desert to the south. Chase truck 2 and 2 Alpha, which was my assignment, departed from Ensenada at 6am on race day. Chase 2 is a lumbering Dodge Mega Cab which was used as a fuel truck and included a trailer that also carried 300 gallons of Jet A for the team's helicopter which would carry team owner, Gary Mills and Shaun Ochsner, the team's head of media. Chase truck 2 Alpha, is a Ford Raptor which was loaded also with fuel and a spare tire in case there was a need for a more nimble vehicle to tend the the race truck. Our task was to meet the race truck at highway kilometer 77 and splash them with fuel then backtrack to a place called "The Meadow", which would be at race mile 840. There we would hunker down to wait for the truck to return and would serve as the final pit before the truck made it's last push to the finish back in Ensenada. If all went to plan we should see the truck in the Meadow the following morning.

At KM 77 we waited as a flurry of Trophy Trucks and Class 1 cars, of the rockstar unlimited classes of Baja, came crashing through the desert. Some would stop for fuel, while others would charge on toward their first pit further down the course. As you wait for your vehicle to come through you are constantly doing time calculations in your head to try to pinpoint the exact time your truck would arrive. These calculations are useless, of course, as the desert has the only real say as to when your truck will appear. Fortunately for us the desert was merciful and #842 came through in great shape. We gave her some fuel and watched as the blue race truck disappeared down highway 3. We wouldn't see it again for nearly 800 race miles... Or so we thought.

Shortly after we sent the truck on it's way we were reminded via radio that we were carrying fuel for the Mills chopper. The bird had planned to refuel in San Felipe until the waning daylight became an issue. In Mexico, single engine aircraft must be on the ground by dusk, and in order for the Bell Long Ranger to make it back to Ensenada we would need to fuel them in a dry lake bed just east of San Matias.

You see, the Baja has a way of rendering the best laid plans useless. While Kroeker had organized the logistics of race day with military precision, the desert always has a plan of it's own and it's at these times that the lessons of Baja begin to forge, in all those involved... Character.

As we awaited radio transmission from the helo in the lake bed we received another message from the race truck. They were at about race mile 185 when they suffered a flat tire. Tony was able to replace the tire in short order, but they would need another spare at the road crossing at race mile 192. This is exactly why we doubled up chase vehicles. We loaded another spare into the Raptor and made haste for the road crossing. As we departed to meet the race truck someone in the truck said to no one in particular... "Now we're racing!" The Baja 1000 had just begun.

Just as the desert will throw a wrench in your pristine logistics, so will it throw you a bone as well. Because I was assigned to the Raptor for race day, I was privileged to witness the most efficient pit stop in the history of Baja itself. Chase Laven, a venerable wrench, gentle giant, and all around good dude piloted the Raptor as we careened toward race mile 192 where we would rendezvous with our race vehicle to swap their tattered spare for a brand new General Grabber. Keeping his cool and not exceeding the predetermined team speed limit we arrived at the pit with just moments to spare before our truck arrived. Chase took command and wheeled the spare into position and made sure the crew knew their duties. We broke from our huddle just as the truck came screaming into the pits as rowdy as caged chupacabra. Mike Meeks, a good friend of the Mills family, and a hell of a driver in his own right, was in charge of communicating to Nick in the drivers seat who was chomping at the bit to get back on the gas. While Mike held Nick at bay, Chase and Joe, our team medic, swapped the spare tires. The whole thing took mere seconds and #842 went storming into the desert toward San Felipe where Nick and Tony would hand the truck off to Kent Kroeker and Josh Huff. We left as swiftly as we had arrived and the surrounding teams must have been left scratching their heads as to how we had our pits scheduled with such precision. It was a work of art to be sure!
In Baja, just as in life, it's how you deal with the challenges before you that will determine your outcome.

With the race truck in good shape and running strong we got back on highway 3 and headed back to the dry lake bed to link back up with Chase 2 and assist with fueling the helicopter. By the time we arrived the chopper was gone, but our crew was a little excited from a run in with some rather jovial locals. It seems that a few truck loads of locals spotted our helicopter landing and wanted to get involved in the action. As our helicopter crew chief, Efren, tried to explain in Spanish why they couldn't get close to the bird while the blades were spinning one of the local boys started getting a bit aggressive. Unsure of the intentions of the local crew our boys packed it up and made tracks to higher ground where we found them. Just as they were recounting the episode to us, the three Mexican vehicles pulled up to our chase trucks. By this time they were friendly enough and were more concerned with getting their picture taken than with any shenanigans. Just the same though, one of them figured it wouldn't be too much to ask to take up residence in the Raptor. Enter Joe the Medic... Joe is one of those guys that you want to invite over to the house for dinner with the family. He's a big friendly, funny character with a story for every occasion and he kept us in stitches for the majority of the trip. One other thing about Joe, though... He is, highly trained, Army Special Forces with 6 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan under his belt... Joe is not to be trifled with. Our boy Joe snatched Jose Public out of the seat of the Raptor before he could say 'Ole' and politely explained to him that he was out of his element. Jose obliged and opted instead for a photo with his buddies. Even in a dry lake bed, Baja is always entertaining.

By this time we had successfully fueled and pitted both the race truck and the helicopter and made friends with the locals. It was now time to make our way to the Meadow at race mile 840 to set up camp, establish communication, and bunk down to wait the arrival of our race truck as it made it's way to the finish. It had been a long day, but it wasn't even close to being over.

On our way to the Meadow we stopped at Ojos Negros to buy some firewood and last minute supplies. The highway that connects the coasts of the Baja is littered with little stores and lancherias that are eager for your business. For $20 we were able to fill the bed of the Raptor with firewood. Enough to keep us warm through the bitter cold desert night. It was time for a little rest before the tornado that is the Baja 1000 descended upon us once more.

Campfires are good for a couple of things. Yes, if properly constructed, they provide warmth on even the coldest of nights, but they are great for something else... Conversation. Our chase crew joined by the crew from Mad Media, a PR company that works with many of the race teams, gathered round the fire to recap the days events and get to know one another a bit more. While Joe the Medic cooked up some gourmet (seriously) burgers we all talked racing, work, relationships, and got to the bottom of why we are all here. It's these moments that you suddenly realize that the world is full of friends that you have never met. Just days prior to the race I couldn't have picked these guys out of a crowd. These men that I now consider friends. We all come from wildly different backgrounds, yet somehow the Baja has shaped friendships out of thin desert air. We talked about Joe the Medic's family, how he met his wife, and how he came to find himself in the U.S. Special Forces. We talked about Joe Mac's time flying planes for survey crews and how a born Canadian came to be a red blooded Texan right down to his Lone Star boots. We talked about how Chase found himself living in Texas with Tony after working for such outfits as Tatum Motorsports and Geiser Brothers. Sometimes a simple campfire can be just the thing to bring a team together.

As the rest of the crew settled down in their sleeping bags, I was left to monitor the radio and keep watch over our camp. While these pits are made up of mostly race teams, it is not uncommon for items to walk off under the night sky. On this cold night firewood was currency and one eye was always trained on our little stack of flammable gold.

The night was deathly quite until just after 3am. The silence was pierced by the sound of 8 eight angry cylinders stampeding through the night as the Trophy Truck of BJ Baldwin came thundering through our little tent city just outside of Ensenada. It seemed too early! We didn't expect to see any trucks until near daylight, yet here was BJ storming through the granite that surrounded the camp. Add to that, the truck of Rob Maccachren barreling through just seconds later and we instantly knew why we were there. At 840 miles into, arguably, the roughest Baja 1000 to date, these guys were just seconds apart! In an event where anything can happen at any time a race had broken out for first place just miles from the finish. Baja constantly delivers!

The excitement of the lead trucks smashing through the Meadow had temporarily perked the team up and brought some movement to the camp. We all wondered aloud how long it would be until we saw the blue #842 Geiser truck. Since we weren't able to raise the rest of the team or the truck itself on the radio we were left to guess as to when the truck would be along. We were estimating sometime around late morning, but there was no way to be sure. We had radioed Weatherman, which was the channel for race information and emergency, but had heard nothing in response to our request for our truck's location. Then we heard it... "842 Chase this is Weatherman... Race 842... mile..." That was it. Too broken up to decipher... We called for a repeat... "842 Chase, this is Weatherman... Race 842 at race mile 546... Zero miles per hour at 4:10am" That's all we had to go from. Our truck was stopped at race mile 546. Was our race over? Would the truck be able to continue? How long would it take to get to our pit? Would we even finish before the time cut-off? Lot's of questions and no way to get answers. It was now a waiting game until we could make communication with the rest of the team.

Just about the same time, we received the horrible news that KTM factory rider Kurt Caselli had been killed in a crash as he was leading the Baja 1000.

Baja is such an incredible experience, and one that can't be explained without being there. Part of what makes the race so amazing is the risk of the unknown and the adventure of conquering the challenge with the folks around you. Sadly those same elements that make the Baja wonderful can also snatch someone away from you in the blink of an eye. Kurt Caselli was, by any standards, a hero of Baja, and an amazing rider. R.I.P. KC, you will be sorely missed... Godspeed

With no radio communication with the rest of the team and no possible way for the truck to show up any time soon, the crew decided to knock off for a while and catch some sleep. The rest was well deserved. This crew had been running on pure adrenaline for 24 hours straight.

A few short hours later the rattle and cadence of the pits around us stirred the crew awake. Everyone went about getting prepared for the day, not knowing when exactly their abilities would be called upon by our weary race drivers. Coffee was made, gear checked, and a call was sent out on the race radio. Finally, word came in that our truck had been stranded for several hours with two simultaneous flat tires. The truck had been in the capable hands of race driver Allen Roach, owner of Baja Designs, and no stranger to racing in Baja. Allen would later recount the event and say that while he and co-driver Bart Parker were unsure what they hit, he had never had two flats at the same time in all of his experience racing in the desert. Baja is constantly teaching you lessons.

Shortly after word of our truck came in, the 844 of RPM Offroad came blazing through the Meadow. RPM was our class competitor and the team that Mills Motorsports had to beat to clinch the title. Our truck wouldn't arrive till later that evening some 11 hours after the first place truck of 844. It was a harsh reminder that you can never predict the outcome when racing in Baja.

When the blue Mills Motorsports 842 truck did finally arrive, it was in the midst of a battle for second place in class. The 845 truck of Hedrick Racing, running second, had left the pit a mere six minutes prior to 842 and had been losing ground to the Mills crew of Taylor Mills and Mike Kerr for the past hundred miles. The race for second was on, eleven hours after the first place truck had left the Meadow. In Baja, you can never quit.

At the finish line in Ensenada the Mills Motorsports, Gieser Brothers truck crossed the line three minutes ahead of the 845 of Hedrick Racing and second in class. The Mills team had succeeded in finishing on the podium for the second time in two years at the toughest race on earth. A feat that has escaped the grasp of teams with decades more experience. While penalties acquired in the speed zones scattered throughout the course would later put the Mills Motorsports team in third place in class, nothing could take the accomplishment of perseverance away from this crew of dedicated racers and volunteers.

So at the end of the day, why do we do it? We do it because Baja is the foundry in which character is forged. Life will constantly place soul crushing challenges in your path and dare you to defy the odds. It's the way you tackle these challenges of life that builds your character and it's that same character by which we, as humans, are judged. So, go out there and find your Baja... You may be surprised by what you are capable of.

Gary Mills would like to dedicate the great accomplishment of his team to his wife Vickey who is battling cancer.

I would like to personally thank Gary Mills and the entire Mills Motorsports organization for allowing me to experience this wonderful race through their eyes. It was, truly, the thrill of a lifetime!

See you at the races,

Tom Leigh
aka PinkTaco

More pictures can be viewed at:

[email protected] (Tommy Gun Images) Baja 1000 Caselli KTM desert race score truck Thu, 12 Dec 2013 06:03:20 GMT
2013 Score Baja 1000... In Pictures Here are some of my favorite shots from this year's Baja 1000.  Feel free to comment below...






























































[email protected] (Tommy Gun Images) Wed, 04 Dec 2013 21:15:54 GMT
Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series... A story from behind the lens I just posted an article on about my experiences at the 2013 Lucas Oil Drag Boat World Finals.  I decided to tell the story of what goes through my head as I look for image opportunities and why I choose to shoot the way that I do.  Hope you enjoy, and as always, comments are encouraged!


Typically when I write about my experience at a given event or trip of mine I try to give everyone who wasn't able to attend a front row seat to the festivities by telling a little story and adding some of my pictures to reinforce the words. This past week a friend of mine made a post about my photography in her Blog and it got me to thinking. I usually go about my business taking photos then, when I get home, I organize them into a story for that event. I often write the story in the first person giving it a little more editorial feel, but that isn't really the way I experience the event. I experience these events through the viewfinder of my camera which, for me, is how I prefer it.

I thought, just this once, I'd try to tell the story from behind the lens. I've often been told that my images are unique in perspective and, while I don't find my work to be on par with many of the other talented shooters on the boards, I appreciate that people find it interesting. So, I'm going to bring you all with me on a journey through some of my favorite images from this past weekend's Lucas Oil Drag Boats World Finals and talk a bit about what it is that I see when I decide to press the shutter button.
I hope you enjoy and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

I'm going to start with the money shot, or in this case shots. Usually I would wait to use a particularly cool image till later in the story, but this isn't a typical story...
I want to show these shots first because they represent what, I think, most people expect from motorsports photography... Action. While I enjoy a good action shot as much as anyone, it isn't my forte and, frankly, doesn't excite me as much as some of the other shots I take.

For these images I was on my way back to the start line from the far end of the track when I saw that the Top Fuel Hydros were poised to take off. Unlike many sports photographers, I don't shoot on the motor drive very often. I don't do this out of any sort of purist, I'm too good for that, reasoning... I do this because I'm lazy... and I don't like sorting through thousands of nearly the same image to find just the right one, but I digress. For this shot I did decide to shoot on the motor drive, which is the rapid fire shooting you hear cameras do when a sequence shot is being done. Why did I decide on a sequence for this particular shot? Because Top Fuel Hydros go over 250 mph and I might miss something!

I set up and chose a relatively slow shutter speed so that all the beautiful industrial buildings and semi-trucks on I-10 would be rendered a blur in the final image, but unfortunately for the driver and team of Problem Child, we never made it that far. Daryl Erhlich, the driver, was fine afterwards which is truly a statement to the safety measures built into these amazing boats.

This picture, which I took the day before, is more what I was going for when I set up for the above sequence. Again, slower shutter speed so that the background is blurred. This motion blur also really accentuates the violent speed of this boat.

Moving from action to a little more editorial/journalistic approach... These are the types of shots that I can geek out on all day and also garner weird looks from the people in the pits. When people see me pointing my long lens at a piston or some exhaust pipes they must think I'm lost or something, but these are the shots that I enjoy the most. You see, to me seeing cars and boats and motorcycles in action is fun, but its the bits and parts that make these machines capable of such amazing feats that are really intriguing to me. There is something about the symmetry of mechanical things that is just beautiful.

This was literally the first thing I pointed my camera at when I pulled up in the pits. Wild Horse Pass Lake has to have the nastiest water on the planet and its actually harder on machines than salt water. When I pulled up, this boat was getting washed after being pulled off the water. Between the colors and the water droplets I can look at it forever. What can I say... Shiny stuff is cool!
Again, the backdrop at the track is less than aesthetically pleasing so, I overexposed the background to keep from seeing it.

The Top Fuel teams tear down their engines after every pass. It's impressive to say the least to see how efficiently these teams can tear down and rebuild an 8000 hp engine.
For this shot I wanted to frame the rods with something, so I shot through a cart sitting next to the boat. I shot with aperture wide open to create the shallow depth of field that blurs all but the rods themselves.

Who doesn't like carbon fiber?

These teams come prepared. They have backup engines for their backup engines.
In this shot the crew was swapping parts from one engine to the next and prepping for their next run of qualifying. Again, shallow depth of field combined with warm afternoon light makes the second set of mags stand out.

These crews don't even bat an eye at swapping and entire engine between heats...

Gratuitous Jugz Girlz shot...

Without the racers that put their lives on the line to run these water rockets, this whole deal would just be a boat show. Lately I've become enthralled with the expressions and overall demeanor of the racers just before their race. When out of the boat they are typically jovial and joking with their crew and other drivers, but once they climb in the boat a notable change happens. Their faces are painted with focused determination and their eyes often tell a story all their own. Getting these shots is about timing and patience, but once the racer gets that 1000 yard stare I find the images take on a whole new level of drama...

This is what championship focus looks like... Legend Tony Scarlata.

Light is the paint that a photographer uses to paint the image you see and it can make or break a photo. Often times I will look for interesting light and try my best to use it to make a picture more dramatic. It is one of the most interesting and time consuming parts of capturing a picture, but when you get it right the results are always worth it.

In the late afternoon sun, underexposing a shot where certain elements are framed in shadow can produce interesting results...

Without the spectators who show up to the races to with their family to enjoy the energy and excitement these events have to offer there would never be great venues like Havasu and Wild Horse Pass. The spectators are the reason that teams are able to get sponsor money to go racing. Hats off to all those who threw down their hard earned cash to attend these races!

I wanted to illustrate more of the spectator experience here. To me this picture is about everyone craning their necks and reveling in the raw power and beauty of the the Pro Mods. I exposed for the water in the rooster tail on the pass before this one which makes the spectators almost a silhouette.

Line is one element of a photo that I am often drawn to. It's easy to see that in many of my pictures. They way line directs your eye is one of the most powerful elements in art and is often what can give an image a unique feel.

Just so you guys don't think I hate action shots I'll wrap this up where we started with some of my favorite action shots from the weekend. I hope you all enjoyed these as much as I enjoyed taking them! If there are any questions, please feel free to ask. Now, get out and take some pictures!

See you on the water!

Tom Leigh (PinkTaco)

I know this isn't action, but I like it...


[email protected] (Tommy Gun Images) Tue, 05 Nov 2013 04:37:03 GMT
Keeping it in the Family... A Racing Story about Games Boys Racing Andrew Games and his family find that when it comes to family time there is no better way to connect than at the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series.  Long time boaters, the Games family uses racing to strengthen the ties that pull the family together.  This article tells the story of one race in their series and sets up the stage for this weekends World Final Drag Boat race where they will make a run for the national championship.  Held in Chandler, AZ at Wild Horse Raceway, formerly Firebird Raceway the race promises to be exciting with Crackerbox Pro races in addition to all of the Top Fuel Hydro action. 

Be sure to follow them on Facebook at and check out the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Series at



Article HERE



[email protected] (Tommy Gun Images) crackerbox dad fathers firebird havasu lucas oil raceway racing torch Fri, 01 Nov 2013 00:54:17 GMT
Resurecting History... The Bluewater 336 Enduro by Teague Custom Marine This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Parker, AZ as a staff photographer for to cover the 2013 Bluewater 336 Enduro Presented by Teague Custom Marine.  If you've never heard about the Parker Enduro, it's a like a desert race only on the water.  Teams compete in various classes with their boats on a 12 mile course set on the infamous Parker Strip.  For 336 miles the pilots of these boats race against time and attrition for the chance at winning some cold hard cash and more importantly the right to call themselves King Of The River.


This is my article over on  Feedback is welcome and wanted so don't be shy!



Hope everyone is having a great week!




P.S. All of my pictures in my galleries are available for purchase as a download.  If you see something you'd like printed let me know and I can put something together for you!


[email protected] (Tommy Gun Images) Cove Havasu Keys Lake Mini Parker Pirates Road Runner Schiada Strip The Topock Thu, 31 Oct 2013 02:00:00 GMT
Blog time!! Welcome to my new blog!  I'm looking forward to posting up stories of my adventures as I travel around pursuing my passion with photography.  Feel free to post up comments, questions and suggestions as we go and I will be sure to reply as quickly as possible!


I'm going to start out with a couple of article's I have written for over the past few months.  If you are into boating, the river, and custom stuff in general RDP is a great source for information and entertainment pertaining to the river lifestyle.  Spending the summer out in Lake Havasu really gave me a chance to dig into my photography and of course being at the lake wasn't the worst thing to have to endure.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy and I'm looking forward to keeping everyone abreast of my travels and experiences!


This is my most recent article for RDP.  With the Parker 336 Enduro coming up, I wanted to share some photos from last years race as well as give those that haven't experienced this great race an idea of what to expect when they step onto the sand outside the Bluewater Casino on the Parker Strip this weekend...


Parker Enduro 2013

[email protected] (Tommy Gun Images) Thu, 24 Oct 2013 04:53:44 GMT
Dave's Custom Boats (DCB) 2013 Regatta - Lake Havasu, AZ Check out my article and photos for River Dave's Place here:

[email protected] (Tommy Gun Images) Boats Custom DCB Dave's Eliminator Inn Lining M41 Nautical Regatta Silver Tegue Tue, 15 Oct 2013 19:13:54 GMT