Event Track Day – Curborough

1st August 2017 — by Steve White


In a year filled with national and World Championship motorsport weekends, it may surprise you to read that a simple club track day was one of my most anticipated events in 2017.

The inaugural track day was the unexpected surprise of 2015 and it’s follow up in 2016 built on that initial success to produce an even better event.

After ironing out the creases last year, the structure of the 2017 track day was effectively a carbon copy of 2016, with many of the same owners once again returning to Curborough Sprint Circuit.

Considering the above it might seem hard to understand how the repeat running of a single-marque track day could hold so much appeal. Crucially though, the focus of this meet wasn’t a commonly occurring mass-produced model, but a rally icon rarely seen in great numbers.

That said, I have attended a lot of single-marque meets over the years and, no matter how unusual the type of car involved is, a lack of variety can severely limit the appeal of repeat events. Thankfully organiser and co-founder Nicky Lindon has realized that even the most die-hard 6R4 lover likes to occasionally look at other cars, and so invitations had once again been extended to a number of other owners.

An early arrival at the circuit meant I had plenty of time to grab a brew and pick a good spot to watch the unloading and preparation of the cars. There probably are better ways to start the day then seeing a paddock slowly filling up with classic rally machinery but, as I sat on the grass and listened to the burble of idling engines, I couldn’t think of one.

As cars started to line up at the entrance of the track, a rather inconspicuous looking truck trundled in and parked up. The new arrival certainly looked about the right size to house a car and its spares, but as the shutter rolled up I was surprised to see two cars neatly stacked in the rear of the truck.

And what a pair they were. Not only had Brian Betteridge brought an absolutely stunning Ford RS200 along, but also a fine example of its predecessor, the ultra-rare Escort RS1700T.

For those of you unfamiliar with the RS1700T, this was Ford’s initial response to the Group B regulations. Using a MK.III Escort as a starting point, Ford engineers reduced the displacement of the 2.0L BDA engine to 1.778, strapped a turbo on and then directed all the turbo-charged goodness to the rear wheels.

This was the first time I have physically laid eyes on a RS1700T and the “adapted” nature of the design becomes very apparent on closer inspection. Components protrude from the bodywork and, compared to other cars of the period, the silhouette of the RS1700T makes the basis of the car easy to identify.

Given the rapid evolution of car design during the Group B period, it’s clear to see why Ford realized they would have to go back to the drawing board to compete with the more radical machinery being produced by their rivals. That said, although the RS1700T is one of the abandoned projects of the era, it was fantastic to see another facet of the Group B story so well persevered.

I have spent many hours ogling RS200’s, but Brian’s example is unquestionably the tidiest I have ever looked round. Outside and inside, the car looked absolutely flawless.

Unfortunately a blown turbo seal meant the Ford was unable to spend much time on track, but it did at least manage a couple of laps before retiring back to the paddock.

Claudio Ascione was a new face among the 6R4 contingent for 2017. Like Computervision, Rothmans are an iconic sponsor from the Group B period and Claudio’s example looked fantastic both in the paddock and out on track.

This particular 6R4 also seemed to like cocking it’s rear wheel on the exit of Fradley Hairpin, which made for entertaining viewing from the infield of the circuit!

Lewis Warner was a late addition to the entry and he was obviously keen to make the most of the opportunity. In fact I don’t think Lewis stopped driving all day, with the distinct crackle of the Celica’s anti-lag becoming a very familiar sound.

The presence of a Group A car might seem a little out of place given the Group B theme of the event but, as a motorsport fan who grew up with this era of rallying, I was as pleased to see the Toyota on track as any of the 80’s classics.

Gary Hewitt has been a regular of the track day since its inception and, like Lewis Warner, Gary was regularly lapping the circuit throughout the morning and afternoon track sessions.

In a paddock filled with rally rarity it was hard for any car to really stand out. To the uninitiated the above may just look a Vauxhall with a body kit nailed to it, but the Astra 4S was Vauxhall’s final attempt at producing a four-wheel drive rally car for Group B and, although it may not look that radical, the innocuous looks disguise what might be the greatest unrealized project of Group B.

As with Brian Betteridge’s RS1700T, Michael Goddard’s Astra 4S was beautifully presented and another unexpected, but fascinating, addition to the mix.

My first experience in a Group B car came at the 2015 track day, when I managed to sneak into the co-driver’s seat of Nigel Mummery’s Ford RS200. I was actually Nigel’s first passenger of the day and, although he had warned me that the car hadn’t warmed up (and therefore he couldn’t really thrash it) I still got out of the car thoroughly impressed: and with my love for the RS200 absolutely cemented.

Nigel wasn’t present at last year’s track day, but he was back again for 2017 and so (rather predictably) I made a beeline for him during the lunch break to plead for another ride. Happily the answer was once again a yes, however this time I wouldn’t be the first passenger of the day. The engine and brakes were warm and so I was able to get a much better glimpse as to what the car was capable of.

I have never taken a selfie before, but I wish I had while I was out on track, purely to see just how big the stupid grin plastered across my face was!

After a blast in an RS200, it was going to take something special to get my attention, but there was one more surprise in store for spectators. The pre-event blurb had teased of a “special guest”, but it wasn’t until the early afternoon when the guest arrived. I’m not sure exactly how it came about but, incredibly, current works World Rally Championship driver Craig Breen dropped in to Curborough to swap his Citroen for an MG.

Dan Ellmore was kind enough to entrust Craig with his steed and, after just a handful of sighting laps, Breen looked like he had the measure of the Metro. Many sideway moments followed and the smiles from driver and passenger were evident for all to see.

Watching any driver demonstrate a Group B car is great, but seeing one of the WRC’s best find his feet in the Metro was especially entertaining.

Despite fears that last minute cancellations would ruin the day, the 2017 event proved every bit as good, if not even better, than its predecessors. With Craig Breen setting an example, I wonder if other WRC drivers will be interested at trying their hand in a 6R4 next year?… Fingers crossed I’ll be there to see for myself!

I have to wrap up by extending a huge thanks to Nicky Lindon for once again letting me be part of this unique event. Thanks to Nigel Mummery for the RS200-induced grin and to both Mark and Bryan Sims for making what would have a very long journey an awful lot easier!


Want to see more of the track day at Curborough Sprint Circuit? Click here for a full image gallery.


Burning Rubber in the Forest

20th July 2017 — by Dave Cox


93,000 steps walked, 40,000 people, 30,000 horsepower, 4 days, 1 event, Gatebil.


Scottish Car Show 2017

18th July 2017 — by Connor Mathieson


SCS this year was arguably a flop in many people’s eyes, personally I think it simply it came down to it being a 2 day event instead of the old format of 1 day. But lets leave that behind and have a look at some interesting machines that stood out.

One of the first cars I noticed was this Nissan Cima. My first time seeing one in person but the white wall tyres were certainly an acquired taste that I had not acquired. It’s still cool to see one of these huge Japanese luxury boats though.

Fresh Auto Collective had a nice array of cars indoors with the first of which to catch my eyes was this awesome little pickup that was sitting on SSR Longchamp wheels.

First of the 2 VW’s in the group was Andrew’s really clean MK6 Golf 35th anniversary. Running on the standard wheels and bags. He had other wheels for the car but needs a new lip and barrel for one of them so back to standard it was.

Next to that was this cool Golf Estate. Not a car I’ve seen all too often myself. rear fitment was impeccable which is always nice too see. Show car or not, having nice fitment just makes a car sit so much nicer than it regularly would on its own.

Eilidh brought along the awesome little rocket bunny Miata. I’m not a fan of rocket bunny at all. But sometimes with the right wheel combination they can stand out and be cool. This mx5 is an example, Meister’s are a strong set of wheels and when they have mega amounts of dish they are just so good. I do feel like if it had a little more front fitment it would be looking pretty damn nice!

Daniel’s 370z is running the Carbonsignal Moonbeam fenders as rocket bunny doesn’t actually make a kit for the 370z, but has a really aggressive look to it so its still pretty cool regardless! Something to do with the wheel to body colour combo just does it for me.

Now we come to my favourite car of SCS. I really like the smoked out headlights, they add a kinda stealthy look to the car. Black cars generally are never too interesting to me. I tend to feel like the colour is a bit plain and bland in a sense. But something about this car just oozed stealth to me. There was a lot of carbon parts on the car as well which done a decent job of bring out a little more detail from certain areas and not just being black like the rest of the car. The only thing i didn’t like was the carbon spoiler. I felt like it just didn’t quite mesh with the rest of the car very well.

Rotiform wheels in a mega large diameter sit nicely under the front wheels with strong fitment. From my understanding of BMW’s rear end setups, they are lower set in the rear meaning to generally get nice fitment all round the cars have a lot of front rake. This BMW has sacrificed the rear and tucked them well under the arches to gain that front fitment.

Bringing the Yakuza VIP style to the show was this cool Lexus. Huge rear arches that had been moulded into the body with the fresh black paint and a host of VIP goodness inside.

You don’t really need words to express how cool it was to look into the interior of the car and see this.. Matched with some black curtains on the windows, Just a damn cool car.

I’ve seen my fair share of “stanced” and drift spec E34’s but never a stanced E34 Touring. The first thing that actually caught my eye was the silver front and rear splitters. A fairly subtle note to the car given its impressive rear and front fitment.

I’m a fairly simple man when it comes to cars. Strong fitment and wide dished wheels are just too good sometimes. This E34 Touring is so simple in a general sense. It has wheels and fitment, no flashy body kits and vented bonnets etc. Just clean and simple.

Outside there was a few very nice cars, This two tone E30 caught my eye. It has this strange sort of strip that runs across the top of the grill above the lights that slightly cuts the top of the lights off. I’ve never seen or noticed this before on an E30 but it’s a nice subtle feature. The black and silver two tone had me second guessing whether I liked it or not, but after a minute or so with the car I really do like it. The silver bottom half especially has a really nice shine to it and i’m a big fan!

This sticker really sums up in a general sense what car shows are about. Make a car that you want. Laying in your bed at night thinking of what you could do to your car to make it even more amazing and actually doing it. These shows are about showing off the car you imagined and then built. Whether it’s as simple as a set of wheels and bags, if it makes you happy and you enjoy the car. Then that’s all that matters, right?

Photos and words by Connor Mathieson


Small car, big hearted

17th July 2017 — by Hans van der Vleuten


At first sight it looks like a little beefed up BMW 1-Series. But with a second look you start to notice some differences… What is needed to build a proper drift car? A big powerfull engine and rear wheeldrive. 

Jaap Bosma bought himself a RHD 1-Series with severe water damage in Ireland. He transformed his car into an ultimate drift car and leaves his skid marks in throughout Europe as Smokey Bear. At a training facility for the fire brigade Jaap gets some time to play with his Fire Orange 1-Series. The car comes to life and fills the place with a pleasant hard roar coming from the side exists. Right from the start you know this is serious business!

BMW 1-Series V10 Smokey Bear Drifting

Jaap Smokey Bear Bosma started the build of his car from scratch in his own shed in The Netherlands. He heated the place and started to tear down the damaged 118d Coupé. He got rid of the not so drift capable diesel engine and made place for some extra cilinders. In the meanwhile he had cut all the fenders and made it look like an 1M-Coupe. Some air jacks are included to get rid of the worn tires a little faster.

BMW 1-Series V10 Smokey Bear Drifting

A lot of parts are fabricated out of carbon. Things like the hood, roof and rear hatch are all in this light weight material. The color is original BMW, as a factory option for the M3 GTS. Fire Orange suits the car well. Unfortunally when Jaap almost finished the car he had some bad luck… The car fell from the car lift and needed some extra work.

BMW 1-Series V10 Smokey Bear Drifting

The original 143 hp diesel engine was already gone and the newer widebody needed some extra muscle. Jaap decided to go for some extra… Five litres and ten cilinders in total fill the engine bay of this little BMW. Also known as the S85 engine as seen in the BMW M5 and M6. This big lumpy engine got shoehorned in the small front of the 1. There’s nearly enough room, but Jaap made it happen. Believe it or not. The engine is placed back as far as possible and makes the weight distribution almost a perfect 50/50 front to back. A small tune gives the S85 a little bit more power, 551 hp and 620 Nm is the result. The sound it produces way above the 8.000 rpm mark is very addictive.

BMW 1-Series V10 Smokey Bear Drifting

To get all the power down to the wheels he used a complete back end from a M3 V8 E92. The original M5 transmission wouldn’t be a good idea to drift with. They’re not famous for being that reliable. Smokey Bear got himself a manual one from from the same E92 M3. Combined with a light flywheel and Tilton triple-plate clutch it’s build to last. The suspension got some Intrax coilovers and Wisefab front arms. Of course the inside is filled with all the usual drift safety feautures and a big hand break lever. The side exhaust is one of the latest updates. The sound is incredible and big flames erupt when Jaap is on full throttle.


Jaap Bosma still has plenty ideas for the future. If you want to keep competing with the car it just needs a little bit more power. He found a solution. Next year the S85 V10 will be replaced by the newer M5 V8 turbo-powered engine. A stronger transmission is already on it’s way from the USA and the turbo’s are in Germany at this moment for a upgrade. This S63 V8 is going to produce over 900 hp. More then enough to get Smokey Bear melt those rear tires.

BMW 1-Series V10 Smokey Bear Drifting

Bonus images: 


Want to hear it’s engine scream??

Smokey Bear Facebook / Start84 Magazine


GarageFuckHouse Street Legal 2017

12th July 2017 — by Connor Mathieson


I think it’s fair to say that GarageFuckHouse Street Legal was the best drifting event I’ve attended in years. Splitting up into 2 days rather than the 1 really made the event as a whole just kinda flow better.

Doing it like this meant that practice and Qualifying were on day 1, Battles the next. Any loose time after practice and Qualifying was turned into just an open track for everyone to get back out and drift more and the same was done for Sunday after all the battles had finished.

The section being ran was the BDC 2016 section. A pretty fast and aggressive section with a small change. Instead of the first and last clip being on the wall they were pretty much in the middle of the track. This was basically to allow the low powered cars a chance to actually make the full corner. It worked out well and provided a lot of close runs even in practice.

Being a 2 day event both groups of drivers had 2 hours of practice to start of with. A ridiculous amount of time to get used to the line and find your feet. Most people did 2-3 solo runs then got straight into battle practice.

So it came the time for qualifying, as well as the time for Freddie to do what Freddie does best and stuff it up the bank. Amazingly everything was perfect and he just went back out on track and threw down 2 solid runs netting a nice 5th place, A personal best qualifying position from himself.

Among everyone were 2 BDC drivers. Callum Marshall in the 1JZ powered E36 and Mark Gemmell in the monstrous v8 350z. These two are no stranger to  my write ups.

No one would be surprised with them both qualifying in the top 5.

Top 32 provided some interesting battles right from the start. Nick Warburton all the way from the Isle of Man took 11th place in qualifying was going up against Craig MaCleod in the E46 compact. Craig has been featured a few times in the past here in his S14 but never in his compact.

I think that he actually drives the compact better than the S14 to some degree, That being said he has had issue with the S14 the past few times i’ve seen him. Nick put in a strong lead run but spun on his chase run just as the rain started to lash down. Unfortunate as Nicks car is pretty damn quick in the dry and hes a solid driver!

The best battle of the top 32 was between Keenan Van Gool in the JZX100 and Sam Smith in the S14. It’s always awesome to watch 2 properly cool Japanese cars do close battle. This lasted quite a while until the rain started again and Sam had major issues getting off the line. But Keenan being the absolute gentleman he is waited as much as he possibly could in the run up to clip 1. Unfortunately in the one more time battle Sam ran too deep on his lead run and flew up the bank. Thankfully the car was all good.

With the rain coming i was down near the start line and noticed that Freddie in the black S15 was up next. I thought to myself.. “Freddie’s up next, He is going to entry at dry speeds in the wet. He’s going up the bank and i have no time to get in a position to get it..” Sure enough, Freddie enters at mad speeds and fly’s mega high up the bank, this time actually doing some damage to the car which took him out of the top 32.

Next up in the battles was Taylor vs Willy. Taylor not wanting to get out done by his hero Freddie decided to try and match Freddie’s impressive height up the bank. But his exhaust dug into the bank and stopped him getting any height. Naturally Taylor was quite disappointed by this..

After a quick check over the car, Taylor got back out and put in a fairly solid chase run but straightening up and costing him any advantage he had gained in the first half of his chase run. Willy would put in a clean chase and put Taylor out of the top 32

Ross Colquhoongan came up against Stuart Adsley. Stuart is no stranger to competition and its unfortunate that Ross came up against Stuart in the top 32. This being Ross’ first time in battle and being up against Stuart who would beat Ross and go on to take down some huge cars later in the day.

That’s not to say Ross was a pushover.. Stuart’s chase driving all day had been pretty spot on but Ross himself did have a clean chase run against Stuart.

Speaking of which, Stuart’s top 16 battle would be against none other than BDC driver Mark Gemmell in the insanely fast 350z. But unbelievably Stuart was all over Mark on his chase run. When you put into consideration how much difference in power and grip levels there are between these cars it was very impressive to see him door to door with Mark.

It was still a slightly wet track but when mark changed into the chase position and he couldn’t keep up with the little E36 of Stuart. A very impressive battle to watch and thoroughly deserved win for Stuart.

Arni Stenning came up against Willy Armstrong in the top 16 but, These guys hadn’t really had a proper battle yet.. Arni went up against Freddie in the top 32 who stuffed it up the bank in the practice run and knocked himself out. So Arni hadn’t had a proper battle yet. Willy then went up against Taylor who copied Freddie but managed to at least continue the battle. Willy had a bit more battle time with a few runs with Taylor but Arni had only done a solo run so far in the battle stages. Arni is a very strong driver though so it wouldn’t make much difference for him. Willy had been driving strong himself qualifying right in the middle of the top 32 in 16th, Arni despite putting in some awesome to watch faint entry’s in qualifying only managed to get himself into 28th.

Yet another one of these close battles, not much between the drivers from lead to chase. But Arni manage to clinch the victory and move onto the top 8.

I feel like a deciding factor from my view point was the area as you came off the first 2 clips which are for most cars, foot to the mat flat out. Right after clip 2 you then came  into the “Infield section” where you had to slow down a fair bit to make the corner. There was some battles where people were loosing ground in the chase position at this point but could gain it back transitioning back through the last 2-3 clips. It seemed like an area where people would be getting marked down lower for loosing that proximity in that small section of track. But i am not a judge! However such a significant gap being pulled in such a small section of track must have been a deciding factor in a few battles at least.

the 2nd BDC driver in the competition, Callum Marshall went up against Keenan Van Gool in the top 8. Keenan Had been driving the Chaser really well all day and the whole waiting up a bit for people so they could have close battles was awesome. I’m not so sure if that was intentionally on Keenan’s part but it didn’t seem like he was scared to chuck the car in hard and would rather wait a little to have a nice fair battle. Proper sportsmanship if that was the case!

Callum would put Keenan out of the top 16 but i reckon Keenan would have just been stoked to have had 2 really close battles. As his battle against Sam in the top 32 went one more time and so did his battle against Callum in the top 16

First battle of the top 4 would see Martin Bruce face of against Kev Kay. Martin used to drive an E36 touring the same colour as this Coupe but he wrote it off at SDC Round 2. However i feel like martin has a bit more pace in this car compared to the touring. Judging by the last few competitions I’ve seen him enter.

Kev is the aggressive driver he always is and it wasn’t going to be easy for Martin to win this. But with a strong chase run against Kev it came down to his lead run. Unbelievably Kev over rotated on transition from clip 4. I think in the 3 or so years I’ve seen Kev drive I’ve seen him spin maybe 4-5 times if that.

With that uncharacteristic move from Kev, Martin would move to the final and Kev would wait to see who he would face for 3rd place.

It was the time for Stuart to take on the 2nd and final BDC driver left in the competition. Hats off to Stuart, He put in some insane runs in every battle to this point and was against yet another big powerhouse of a car.

But like all of his battles so far he sat the car right on the door of everyone he came up against.

Switch around and just like his battle against Mark Gemmell, Yet again he pulled away in his lead run and went through to the finals.

Kev and Callum battled out for 3rd place and what a close battle it was.. Both drivers mirrored each others runs from what i could see but the judges had seen something that created an advantage and so a decision had been made.

Stuart battled Martin in the finals and yet again like every battle Stuart had led so far, he was pulling gap on his opponents. Martin is by no means a slow driver. The gap in the first run was more or less the same as the gaps Stuart was pulling on the 2 BDC drivers he had previously beaten.

Going into the second run and Stuart was just all over Martin. Sitting on his door the entire way through the run it really wasn’t hard to figure out who had won this battle..

In the battle for 3rd place Callum Marshall had managed to beat of Kev by as little as a 2 point scoring difference. He picked up a nice trophy made by Taylor Bloomfield.

Martin Bruce took 2nd place in the blue E36. Picking up the trophy made by the guys at Everly Garage.

Stuart nailed every single battle run on the day and took the more than deserved 1st place. It’s not so often you get people taking down 2 BDC drivers in a grassroots competition but when your driving as well as he was it’s no surprise that in the end he took the top spot. He also got a bad ass trophy made by Garage SR.

Not only did the guys at GarageFuckHouse put on the best event I’ve attend in terms of driving level and just general atmosphere, But the prizes on offer for these top 3 guys are just awesome. Custom making trophy’s from various car parts is a lot more interesting than your typical trophy’s.

Photos and words by Connor Mathieson