93,000 steps walked, 40,000 people, 30,000 horsepower, 4 days, 1 event, Gatebil.
If I was to shoot one event a year, it would be Gatebil. Talk to anyone that has been before, the response is always the same, “You gotta go.” And you know what, they’re right. But why? That’s the hard bit to explain. I have been the last 3 years running and I feel anything short of a lecture will not effectively convey the reasons for attending. So to get you up to speed, it may be worth revisiting a blog post I wrote at the end of last year.
Rather than sit here and fill the page with hyperbolic text and sycophantic messages I am going to talk to you about how my experience of the event has changed over the last 3 years.
I remember my first time clearly, as soon as we landed we sprinted through to get our hire car and completely bypassed going to the hotel to drop our stuff off, heading to the track instead. Eagerness may have got the better of us as we arrived way before media sign-on was available! I remember experiencing almost paralyzing levels of excitement. I crept slowly around the paddock eyes darting around, my mind noticing everything but taking nothing in.
I will never forget making my way out onto the track. The track! The track I had seen in all of the videos online. This did nothing to calm me down, it worsened my sense of urgency. At this point all I had seen was paddock one, a bit of the pits and some cars drifting one corner. That is before you even get to the rest of the pits, paddock two, the AutoGlym Exhibition arena, the rest of the track or even the Gatebil Extreme Racing. On top of which, once the track action is over, there is the Monster Energy Aftertrack party.
Although you have 4 days to take this in, you still feel as if every single thing will only happen once. Without a brief, covering an event like this is a little bit daunting. There is simply too much to show and talk about. After my first year I felt like I got all that I could possibly get and to be fair, I probably got more than I got this year. And I suspect that will be what everyone’s first time will be like. The only semblance of order is a track timetable printed on the back of flyers that are handed out. Want more information than that? Well you’re on your own there pal.
Don’t get me wrong, that is part of the beauty of Gatebil, it is big, beautiful and friendly. It encourages you to integrate, talk to owners, builders and festival-goers. Find your own way round, you’ll be fine. Just make sure you see as much as you possibly can.
Me? Well I like organisation, this year was my second year shooting for Gatebil Magazine and I like to try and organise as many feature shoots as I possibly can ahead of time. That means on the first day I can spend time meeting up with the owners, search out a few more last minute ones and even cover off a shoot or two. I do this so I can schedule in the shoots across the weekend, planning the types of shoots I want and in what location.
Having most of your weekend planned out at an event like this may seem boring. On paper you’re right. But it means that all of the time I have around each shoot is time to myself. I can just wander around the event and take in what it has to offer. I can head out on track and try different shots without having to worry about whether they are needed or not.
But it was walking through the pits this year that made me think of my first year as I retraced many of my steps. When I first came, I was aware that Gatebil builds were slightly unhinged compared to those I am used to. Power was key and above all else, Boost Is King. This was certainly evident but it sometimes came at the expense of styling. Gatebil wasn’t known for it’s beautiful cars. Insane? Yes. Desirable? Not so much. Well that used to be the case.
They don’t all look like super cars all of a sudden but there is an amount of consideration that has gone into the looks department. The looks do enough to compliment the power rather than looking like a crudely erected mobile power station, spitting fire and breathing fumes as the cars inhaled and exhaled. Speaking of power, you will be pleased to know that there is still plenty of that to be found.
Back out on track, I could spend much of my downtime walking and exploring Rudskogen’s hidden secrets one of which has to be the rock faces. This unique feature is one of my favourite spots to shoot from. It feels so different to stand on top of what is essentially a cliff with safety barriers and shoot at cars hurtling past you on the back straight. Up here, the cars almost hiss past you as they stamp on the brakes. When there is nothing on track, it is eerily quiet.
Gatebil is filled with these small contrasting absolutes. Home grown vs. shop built, amateur vs. professional, drift vs. race. Extending beyond the track, the seriousness that drivers have as they prepare to go on track contrasted with complete off track lunacy that goes on. This event intentionally spreads itself across the entire spectrum. The clever part is that it doesn’t seem to become superficial, there is substance in every aspect of this show and I love it.
If I was to shoot one event a year, it would be Gatebil and you gotta go!
Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)