Man Over Machine by Clayton Haynes


Small (23.2" x 14.7")

Available to buy on…

He’s heading out for a run down the 1/4 mile. Look at his eyes. Is that concentration or concern? Maybe even fear? Is he the master of that massively powerful machine he’s created? Or is he the slave that it needs to bring it to life? His name is Bill Oakey, and his car has a twin supercharged aluminium hemi engine with over 3000 horsepower. This image was taken around 1980 at Castlereagh Dragway in Sydney’s western suburbs, with my first camera, a Pentax ME Super, and I consider it my first good photograph. What do you think?


car, drag, dragster, engine, norm, oakey, race, racing, rail, supercharger


  • Matthew Setright
    Matthew Setrightalmost 7 years ago

    Nice and I thought the Picture I took was a big blower, but wow.

  • Clayton Haynes
    Clayton Haynesalmost 7 years ago

    Thanks Matthew. Yes, it still rates as the biggest engine I’ve seen in a drag car since I took the picture over 25 years ago. By today’s standards it’s down on power, though. These days, running nitro, they’re seeing over twice that power.

  • Lost Lost
    Lost Lostover 6 years ago

    Holy crud, I haven’t seen a pic of Norm in years! Was he 80 something when retired? My old man used to race a FED here :) Always tells me the stories..

    Nice one.

  • Clayton Haynes
    Clayton Haynesover 6 years ago

    I don’t know what happened to Norm after they closed Castlereagh Dragway. I guess a lot of old timers from that era never got the chance to race in Sydney again.

  • Clayton Haynes
    Clayton Haynesalmost 5 years ago

    Oops, it’s not Norm. It’s his father, Bill.

  • Bev Woodman
    Bev Woodmanover 4 years ago

    Hey Clayton, nice to meet up with someone who remembers Castlereagh and especially Bill Oakey. He continued to race at Oran Park (with mufflers … wash your mouth out) while we were waiting for something else to happen. We raced him a couple of times there by invitation just as a draw card to keep the sport alive and draw attention to getting another track. Norm was pushing 70 then … I’m not up with the latest on the Sydney scene so I don’t know if he is still around or not (definitely not racing anyway). He was one of the gentlemen of the sport. There will never be anything venue quite like Castlereagh … it will live on in memory forever!

  • Clayton Haynes
    Clayton Haynesover 4 years ago

    Hi Bev. Ah, yes. Castlereagh was quite a place. I was a very regular visitor from the late ‘70s up until it closed down. It was Castlereagh that prompted me to get into photography, and looking back I wish I’d taken a lot more images than I did. I never did see the drags at Oran Park. I figured if it wasn’t a quarter mile then it wasn’t drag racing. Luckily things have improved a little in Sydney since then :-)

    I’m glad you commented because it’s connected me to your Redbubble profile, which is outstanding. I particularly like your Blue Mountains images, having grown up there myself. You have a great eye!

    If in the future anyone asks me what Australia looks like, I’m going to point them at your gallery.

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