Last Saturday evening I was sitting at the bar at Sundance Saloon having a beer with my buddy, Daren Van Ryte ( @OCphotographics ). I had just signed Amanda Ames' pants (a whole other story) and was relaxing after shooting the Outlaw Nationals V-drive event that “DIDN’T” happen at Sundance Saloon on Thanksgiving weekend. After a few big swigs of my ice cold beer, I looked down to see that River Dave was calling my phone. Thinking that he was calling to see how it went and if I got any good shots, I answered with confidence.

Boy, was I wrong.

Within 12 hours of that call I had driven 5 hrs home to Orange County (two days early), packed a new bag, repacked my photo gear, got 4 hours sleep and was on a plane to Ixtapa, Mexico, with he and Stacey for a Real Estate sales opportunity.

What does this have to do with the Outlaw Nationals, you ask? Well, nothing, except that it’s the reason this story is over a week late. All I had time to do at that moment was offload these images from my memory cards and get to LAX. With all of the liver and brain cell damage you can imagine that comes from spending a week in Mexico with Dave, I’ve done my best to get this story up and remember the details as best I can. It hasn’t been easy, but hopefully the shots I got will speak for themselves.

It was my first time attending this “event”, so I was really excited to see what it was all about. I use the term “event” loosely because the story goes that it never really was an official event. It started off with Tony Scarlatta of drag boat racing fame getting together with a few friends at the Sundance Saloon for a few hot passes after Thanksgiving. From there it took on a life of its own.

Now in its 5th year, the social gathering has grown into what seems to me as an official event. With a host venue, a permit to close the river, special access to launch ramps and insurance certificates, my feeling is that it has graduated. They do a great job with it, too. Tony takes the safety very seriously (as noted in the early morning driver’s meeting), and Norm Turley, the owner of Sundance, was very organized and very accommodating to us media folks.

The best part is running into all the regulars you know from the V-drive scene – the hardcore river rats that you just know are going to be there. It may have been my first time at this event, but I still managed to run into many of my diehard hot boat friends I’ve met covering other events through the years. They’re a different breed than most boaters, and I find myself mired in envy of their horsepower-fed brotherhood.


With that said, lets take a look at some the participants..

Obviously, Tony Scarlata needs no introduction to the flatbottom community. This multi-championship winning drag boat racer is not only the founder of the event, but he is one of the biggest celebrities of the sport. And…. he was nice enough to let me stick one of my GoPro’s on the boat during his first run of the day. He was driving Scott Steele’s K-boat, “Alcohaulin Ass”, and as you can see, he was definitely a favorite of the crowd.


Scott Steele is another local regular who needs no introduction. As a staple of the river who frequently assaults Echo Lodge residents with his headers, he is well known as the crazy, fun-loving, speed freak with no fear and a cool dog. Scott made a few passes in his K-5 and I still can’t figure out whether he’s a pilot or a boat racer. Either way, he definitely enjoys doing the K-boat hop and putting on a great show.


Speaking of Pilots… Samy Fey was there in his bright orange 1976 Hondo GT Sprint. Powered by a 496 big block built by Lew Larson, Sammy took to the sky’s with a full send for the enthusiastic crowds. He also took on a grudge match with Chad Stene in his 1978 DiMarco Runner Bottom, aptly named “DiMarco Polo”. Powered by a naturally aspirated 565 big block Chevy, they seemed pretty evenly matched, but I’ll refrain from calling the winner as I like them both and I was just there to take the pictures. Chad and his son, Michael, run their boat together throughout the year, and I always enjoy shooting them.


Another great guy with a beautiful boat is Chris Schock. I met he and his wife this year at the New Years Day v-drive regatta at Weekend Paradise RV park in Lake Elsinore, where they brought their absolutely stunning 2002 Beisemeyer powered by a blown alcohol 468 BBC. Unfortunately, he had some issues with the newly rebuilt motor which forced him to work on it most of the day, but he finally did make it out the water where I was able to grab a few nice shots.


One of my all time favorite boats in attendance was the “Spooky” Cole Blown Gas Flat owned by Steve Feist. There’s something about that boat that gets me all fired up.


Amanda Ames took a spin in Scott Steele's K-5 and put on a great show. Not with anything too fast or crazy, but simply with her beautiful good looks and charming personality.


Then there was everyone's favorite troublemaker, Jimmy Shy. Jimmy owns Leonard Pope's former race boat – a 1977 Pro Stock Blown Gas Flat known as "Wet Spot". Jimmy holds the title of most watched video on my personal Instagram account at Fast Loud Photography. He love's to drive his boat, and he doesn't apologize for how he does it, and thats why we love him.


There were many, many others in attendance for the weekend and I wish I could include them all. Some I know, some I don’t, and a few I probably should. But what I couldn’t include here, you can still see on my web gallery, below.


Overall, it was a really fun event, and I’m looking forward to it NOT happening again next year.

Erick Bryner
Fast Loud Photography