A photograph by Jack Kromer means two things: There’s somehow a connection to Sprint car racing, and regardless of the image, it’s going to erupt off the printed page or computer screen and send you sprawling. That’s the power of the images Jack shoots, the end result of a journey that started with him taking snaps from the stands at his hometown Nazareth Raceway in Pennsylvania, involved life-threatening injuries while shooting a race at Flemington Fair Speedway in New Jersey, and countless riveting images that have adorned magazine covers for decades. In keeping with full disclosure, Jack and I worked extensively as a team for Open Wheel magazine, going back to the 1980s. His photography illuminated my stories well beyond what I’d originally written. Jack’s body of work is magnificent, befitting last week’s announcement that’s he’s being enshrined in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa.
Sprint cars are all about vicious, gut-wrenching action, and years of capturing the wild weekly flip sequences from Flemington left Jack ideally position to freeze stuff like this with perfect detail and clarity, The images shows Logan Wagner hanging on to the Zemco 1 while undergoing some unscheduled flight training at Port Royal Speedway, one of the holy places of Sprint cars in central Pennsylvania. He can perfectly interpret motion, as the succeeding image of Sye Lynch, also at Port Royal, makes clear.
Plenty of photographers capture on-track action. What makes Jack unique are his candid images, usually captured in pit areas, which tell stories magnificently. Look at how Kasey Kahne is framed by a track light at Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t include this image of the Outlaw king, Steve Kinser, a guy you obviously don’t want to become annoyed with you.
Besides Jack, and the aforementioned Tony Stewart, Knoxville’s Class of 2022 includes multiple Little 500 winners Bob Frey and Eric Gordon, pioneering ASCS champion Terry Gray, Knoxville Raceway and Skagit Dirt Cup champ Tim Green, legendary Pennsylvania mechanic Ralph Heintzelman Sr., NARC car owner Walter Ross, World of Outlaws team owner and Knoxville Nationals winner Dennis Roth, veteran WoO official John Gibson, pre-World War II car builder Melvin “Slim” Rutherford and the soul of modern American motorsport journalism, the late Robin Miller.