Eve of Destruction 2014 at Lebanon Valley Speedway

Four years ago, I took a last-minute assignment to photograph John “Rocky Hardcore” Hauri as he attempted to put a fire truck in the air as part of Lebanon Valley Speedway’s “Eve of Destruction” stunt show.  He did.  And survived.

I returned each year to photograph the stunts – as far as I was concerned, it was a “Time for Prints” deal, I would provide Rocky with pictures of his stunts, while I took the time to use my equipment to its fullest potential.  And during that time, Rocky risked his life several times – mostly by setting himself on fire, crashing a car through a streamline trailer, sending an ambulance into the air, and knocking over a row of standing-on-their-end school buses.  Thankfully for all concerned, he didn’t do all this at the same time.

Once again, Rocky Hardcore visited Lebanon Valley Speedway for the 2014 end-of-school crashfest known as Lebanon Valley’s “Eve of Destruction.”  He’s got one vehicle stunt on the schedule – he’ll drive a truck into a standing-on-end school bus – and he also plans to set himself on fire.  And once again, he contacted me to photograph his stunts.

I arrived at Lebanon Valley Speedway, picked up my all-access wristband, and set up my camera gear in the infield.  I figured, why wait to meet up with Rocky, I’ve got the schedule of events memorized – let’s get a time-lapse of the pro-stock race with my ASTRO intervalometer.

While that was going on, I met up with Dan Smith – the “D357” of this blog – who was also hired to film Rocky’s stunts.  Dan would handle video, while I took care of still shots.  Rocky came over and said hi to us, then he brought me over to another portion of the infield, so that I could meet up with some of the other stunt drivers.

And the other stunt driving team – Chris Morena and Tim Chitwood, who can trace their legacy down to the great Joie Chitwood stunt car team. You know, the Joie Chitwood team that could drive a truck around the track on two side wheels. Way cool stuff.

Chris Morena handled the first stunt – he drove a car into a “steel wall” of three upended cars. In order to get a good vantage point for the stunt, I climbed up on the roof of the track’s infield food stand.


Pow. Took out two of those three cars like it was a baby split. Then he came back and nailed the third car, just for good measure.

After a few other events at the Eve of Destruction show, including a rollover contest in which cars went off a ramp and tried to effectuate as many barrel rolls as possible – the Joie Chitwood stunt car team did that legendary ride on the two side tires, not only driving the length of the track, but also having one of their team standing on the side of the car. Wow.


Then it was time for one of Rocky’s stunts. He climbed into a car… and someone threw a lit torch into the car with him. Car goes up in flames. Rocky climbs out, he looks like he’s auditioning for the new Fantastic Four movie.


He walked around the track a couple of times, and as the firemen finally put his flames out, he celebrated another successful death-defying stunt at Lebanon Valley Speedway.

But Rocky wasn’t done yet.  He had a car stunt to perform – he would drive a truck through a standing upended school bus.  In other words… THIS upended school bus.


Man, that’s the worst school bus parking job I’ve ever seen.

Did Rocky take out his target?


You tell me.

Now here’s some background on the final stunt, which involved driver Chris Morena jumping a car over a school bus.

Last year, one of Rocky Hardcore’s stunts was ruined when a driver plowed into the ramp during one of the “Eve of Destruction” races.  To prevent that from happening again, the track organizers rearranged the stunt order so that the final jump would occur BEFORE the school bus race or the trailer race or any other crash-and-leave-lots-of-parts-on-the-track race.

Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the track – the infield – which would have given me a rotten position to photograph the jump.

I looked around.  The roof of the infield concession stand would have been worse.  I needed something obstructed and safe.

The stunt team was setting up for the big jump.  I looked around.

Hey, nobody’s standing in the race track flag stand.

I said to one of the track officials, “Do I have enough time to get to the flag stand from here before the stunt goes off?”

“We’re starting in one minute.  You have 30 seconds to get there.”

I made it to the flag stand in twenty seconds.

Quick.  Set up.  No time to fool around.

And I got this shot for my troubles.



Works for me.

All in all, another very successful stint at Eve of Destruction 2014 – lots of excitement, lots of thrills, lots of fun.  And I got some more great shots, this time with my Nikon Df camera and a whole lot of running around.

Can’t wait for Eve of Destruction 2015.

Oh heck, maybe I’ll go find another stunt show later this year.  I wonder if they’re still doing stunts at the Orange County Fairgrounds downstate.

I’ll have to check it out.