‘Unreal’ photo wins Grand Prize

VICTORVILLE — A stunning photo of a sea of Volkswagen and Audi cars at Southern California Logistics Airport has won the National Geographic’s photo contest this year.

The aerial photo depicting row after row of cars parked in the desert was the Grand Prize winner in the magazine’s 2018 Photo Contest. It was shot by San Francisco-based photographer and pilot Jassen Todorov.

Titled “Unreal” and chosen from nearly 10,000 entries, the photo shows a vast collection of recalled Volkswagen and Audi cars sitting idly at SCLA.

Todorov told the magazine he took the photo last May as he flew his 1976 Piper warrior airplane over the Mojave Desert. He was already familiar with the area from previous trips and chose to see the storage lot himself when he heard about it.

“By capturing scenes like this one, I hope we will all become more conscious of and more caring toward our beautiful planet,” Todorov told the National Geographic.

The cars began arriving in the High Desert early last year after Volkswagen began its buyback of diesel-powered cars in 2015. The cars had been rigged to cheat on emissions test, costing the company billions of dollars in fees, according to a previous Daily Press report.

The cars were placed on a lot leased by Stirling Development at SCLA. A Stirling development spokeswoman had said the lot had a capacity of 21,000 cars.

Some of the cars were scheduled to be dismantled for parts, while others would be fixed and re-sold, according to VW officials.

Todorov won $5,000 for the image, which is being featured on the National Geographic’s photo contest website, along with its Instagram account.

Contestants submitted photographs in three categories: People, Places and Wildlife. The “Unreal” photograph was submitted to the Places category. The photos were judged by a panel of the magazine’s photo editors.

All of the winning photos, along with the honorable mentions, can be viewed at natgeo.com/photocontest.