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The day they let me loose in a Formula G car

17th February 2018 — by Mark Turner

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On a chilly Sunday Nick @TinTopsuk rolled into Santa Pod for the last round of the 2017 Formula G season. It had been arranged that he was to share the Redtop Racing Nova for a second time in the season. They were pumped to be squaring up to some of the best gymkhana drivers in the world.

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This was to be the last event for the current Redtop Racing Nova as the dreaded rust had taken hold of the shell so we were determined to give the old girl a proper send off.

Quick recap on what  Formula G is. Two cars run side by side on a mirrored autotest style course. The winner is the car with the fastest time across both lanes. If you haven’t seen it you need to – Formula G is “the” up and coming, high octane motorsport taking the UK by storm. It’s a timed, Gymkhana style, head to head event, with a series of cones and obstacles for the drivers to get through and around as fast as possible. You’ve heard of Ken Block? Well it’s kinda’ like that…

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Once the track layout was unveiled we headed out to walk the track. This is key in any motorsport, but in Formula G it’s especially important as the track is only revealed just before the start! Track walk done and convinced they were going to get lost, we headed out for the all important practice. Boss man, Carl, had made some changes to the Nova since the last round at Rockingham to make the car more predictable on the limit, crucial in the high speed sections.

Nick headed out first. At his previous round at Rockingham, technical issues had cut short his driving time, so the decision was made to get him out and comfortable in the car. The first few runs were pretty rough, going the wrong way, half spins and misjudged handbrake turns. It’s all part of the learning process he kept telling himself. Carl then headed out, and showed Nick how it’s done. It was decided Nick needed more practice and more speed!

He headed into qualifying reasonably happy, feeling comfortable in the car.
The course was fun and he’d managed to find somewhere selling chips.
As is the way with motorsports qualifying, you get a few runs with your fastest time counting towards the final standings. The first few runs were challenging but then came the highlight of Nicks Formula G season. Technically these qualifying runs aren’t races, but you try telling a racing driver that when they line up next to their main rival…..

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Lining up next to the Mighty Micra, the lights went green and we were off. Nick carried as much speed as he dared and headed into the ‘flower pot’ section of four handbrake 90’ turns, being careful to not lock the wheels.
When he exited the ‘flower pot’ section, he saw he was ahead of the Mighty Micra. Had he made a mistake or was Nick quicker? Frankly no-one cared, Nick was winning.

The last obstacle to negotiate was the figure 8 around two monster truck tyres, as He rounded the last corner Nick could see the Micra had closed in dramatically but he could still win if he managed to stop in the finish box. Braking as late as he dared, he slammed to a stop in the finish box and nervously waited for the marshal to point at the winner, and eventually he pointed at Nick. It was a completely meaningless victory but it was a victory nonetheless!

As it turned out, it was a meaningless victory, as Nick was fifth fastest and too slow for the battles anyway.

But, the story doesn’t end there.

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Carl had been having some ‘issues’ remembering the course, he only completed one successful qualifying run but it had been enough to get him into the top four and in to the battles. He smashed his first battle and headed into the final against Gymkhana top dog, Dmitrij Sribnyj, who, for this weekend, was in the FWD class as his AWD Subaru was on it’s way to South Africa for Gymkhana Grid. No pressure then.

Run one was neck and neck, until Carl made a small mistake and gave Dmitrij the advantage and the win. He headed into the second run with it all to do but with this being the final event for the Redtop Racing Nova, he was determined to win or blow it up trying. A flawless second run meant he finished ahead of Dmitrij and was the winner of the final round.

In a finale straight out of a Hollywood film, Carl had won, his first ever motorsport win, in the last event for the current Redtop Racing Nova, a fine send off for the old girl.Formula G tintopsuk redtop racing

Carl would like to thank Toyo Tyres and Opie Oils, Nick would like to thank him for letting him loose in his Nova.

Until next time….

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Words by Nick Underwood aka @TinTopsUK
Edited by Mark Turner aka @BlackTopMediaUK
Car by RedTop Racing

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Fueltopia racers Autosport spotlight

25th January 2018 — by Craig Toull

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Did you attend the 2018 Autosport show If you did then you might have been lucky enough to have seen the awesome selection of cars the Fueltopia race series’ had on display in hall 9. It would be safe to say the main attraction on the stand was the unveiling of Dmitrij Sribnyj’s Subaru BRZ STI purpose built AWD Gymkhana car.

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This car will raise the game in UK gymkhana and no doubt will see our former AWD Champion bring a serious campaign to the asphalt in the year ahead.

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If you didn’t make the show, we’d like to think we have you covered, check out our full coverage from all the halls on Dan Fegent’s blog – but if you’re an avid Gymkhana loving super fan, then don’t you worry we have the stands highlights below for you. Over the weekend, the series gained a lot of enquiries from racers from many backgrounds in motorsport looking for a new challenge.

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If that wasn’t enough, the Autosport Show was also a place where Fueltopia could showcase it’s TV pilot to its Formula G series. It was a great place for the motorsport loving public to be able to see what our championship is all about. The first instalment is available to watch on Motor Trend On Demand now, so if you’ve not already seen it – do yourself a favour and hit the link below

Show page

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The 2018 season is shaping up to be an awesome one already and it hasn’t even begun yet. We can’t wait to see if the new BRZ will dominate the tried and tested Subaru’s, will Adam Elder and Ryan Milton topple the reign of Luke Woodham? Who knows, but it’s going to be an exciting season

If you want to see the action in person then be sure to check out our first event on the 3rd of march at Santa Pod Raceway or if you’d like to have a go without the pressure, then come to our test and tune day at Santa Pod on 25 Feb – advance tickets can be bought here

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Autosport 2018

21st January 2018 — by Dan Fegent

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Once again it was time for us to descend on to the Birmingham NEC for the Autosport Show.

I missed last years event due to other obligations & I personally think the break made this one even better for me. It felt fresh & it was great to see how the venue & the scene as a whole had progressed.


There has been some great improvements in the halls themselves at the NEC. Whereas before they were bathed in a horrendous orange light, there was now LEDs brightening up the place which alongside the varied colour floor carpets helped make a huge difference to the feel of the event.

For me Autosport is about catching up with everyone & finding out whats planned for the year ahead. On a trade stand point, most big deals are already done by this point but its still the perfect place to gather interest & hopefully support for whatever you have planned motorsport wise for the year ahead.

I did go on one of trade days but I couldn’t help feel that it was relatively quiet. There was a good amount of footfall but it really didn’t feel a nuisance to get around & you weren’t fighting for space when checking out all the stands.


The event itself was split across the usual three halls, two for the main show & one dedicated during the trade days as the engineering hall. There was more than enough to look at as everything was back to back throughout.

After the deals are made, the people met with & the handshakes done, its really just all about the cars…
It was all about the cars to begin with anyway right?



Personal highlight for me would have to be the brand new Porsche 911 GT2 RS which was positively dripping in Carbon fibre.



As for race cars there was a healthy amount of WRC cars added to the mix, which looked as impressive as ever among the ranks of GT & Time Attack builds.





Liberty Walk who were placed in a corner of one of the halls had an impressive stand showcasing a good selection of their kits on some wild builds.




Several independent tuning part specialists were showcasing builds of their own through out the halls including this rather spectacular ‘in progress’ Audi R8



As always Autosport showcased a broad spectrum of UK motorsport & tuning, it was a pleasure as always to be among it. This event signals the start of the 2018 calendar & it’s looking like another exciting year ahead.

 

 

 

 

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our year in pictures, 2017 we salute you

29th December 2017 — by Mark Turner

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I’d like to compare shooting for Fueltopia to white water rafting; exciting, challenging, scary at times, but ultimately satisfying. While we close the books on 2017, I’ll take you for a look back at the past 12 months, the cars, writers, photographers and their own submitted highlights of what has been a petrol fuelled whirlwind.

On reflection, we also want to add a ‘thank you’, yeah you, reading this right now. None of this would be possible without your support, clicks, shares, feedback.

January. – Intergalactic PlanetarE36


With inspiration drawing from Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic, James’s e36 rides on an Air Lift Performance system and 18 inch Rotiform TMB’s.
The incredible wrap was designed by CIAY and fitted by JD Wraps. There’s a feast of upgrades from an M3 CSL duck tail to a custom built EMP exhaust, Corbeau bucket seats, ASD hydro, half cage and more.

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February. Purpose Built Barrel Hunter

Just days away from the beginning of the 2017 Fueltopia Barrel Sprint season, this S14 met it’s demise at Coventry MotorFest when it made a firm introduction with a concrete pillar underneath the ring roads.
Another S13 was sourced and Mark Young at Japs Motorsport took on an impossible task and completed the transformation from a bare shell to a seam welded, 385bhp monster with with a serious weight loss fetish in a mere 7 days

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March. Packing A Punch

Dan Fegent, our O.G snapper, caught up with Perry Stephenson and his Monstrous looking MGB.
At the time of these photos it was running a 4.8 litre v8 (bored out Rover 3.9 V8) coupled to a supercharger from a Sherman tank! Perry believes its running around 400bhp with 600 ft/lbs of torque. A beautiful car that pushes the tastes of the purists to absolute limits

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April. Stunt Festival and Streetfighter Show

The Ace Cafe Stunt Festival featured the Streetfighter Show & the Fueltopia Barrel Sprint. It saw 2 wheel and 4 wheel worlds collide in a perfect display of raw rider & driver talent.
Static displays of bikes and cars were varied & ample. Allowing each patriot of two or four wheel a chance to get up close and personal with each others offerings. Ace Cafe put on a hearty food stand so those could sit and discuss their discoveries & settle their differences.

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May. Getting Ready for Speedway

Andi Gordon jumped on a plane to Slovenia for the first round of the 2017 Speedway Grand Prix series. His third season shooting Speedway for Monster Energy.
If you don’t already know, they race on a dirt oval, they don’t have breaks and it takes balls of granite to even twist the throttle and they fly past in a blink of an eye.
To get creative, expressive shots of Speedway you need to build relationships with riders, mechanics, managers and anyone else who you are going to get in the way of while cutting about in the pits.

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June. Coventry Motofest

Coventry MotoFest, an annual festival celebrating the region’s historic motoring heritage in the heart of Coventry but with the added draw of it being held on the cities public ring road. Think Monaco, take away the sea, double the size and slap on a West Midlands accent and you’re pretty much there.
Crowds lined up on slip roads and cross overs using the landscape as some sort of amphitheatre. It was utterly bizarre and brilliant at the same time.
Under one of the fly overs was a converted car park which was home to our Formula G demonstrations as well as Drift Outlaws.

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July. Players Classic

If you had to ask us if you had to visit one car show, without question, it would have to be Players Classic. It is hard to imagine how they could improve an event like this, but the plans the Players team have in store will no doubt leave this event as another yearly champion of car shows. I mean, where else would you find a lowrider Chevy Impala parked about 20ft away from a McLaren 675LT both of which receiving praise and respect?
In 2018 the event will span two days, with over 800 cars in attendance, 10,000’s applying you know you need something special to get through the gate

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August. 6R4.NET Track Day – Curborough

6R4.net co-founder Nicky Lindon organises a track day that is rolling piece of motoring history, that doesn’t spare the ponies.

If like us you didn’t get to see Group B’s in action then this track day brings them up close and personal and with the added bonus of hearing them at Max Attack! Line up’s include Ford RS200’s, the ultra-rare Escort RS1700T and a smattering of kick-ass Metro 6R4’s

Our rally and rallycross Guru, Steve White, even managed to sneak into the co-driver’s seat of Nigel Mummery’s Ford RS200 and brought us some amazing highlights

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September. Night Sessions – Dan Guirey

Let’s set you the scene, a local UK car meet, in the pouring rain, Dave Cox braved the elements to take the opportunity to capture the soul of Dan Guirey’s Mk1 Golf.
It’s cute proportions disguise the animal that it is. Peel back the wrapper and you will be greeted with a 1.8L 8 valve G60 engine which is turbo charged. The result is an engine capable of 300bhp! Plenty given the car’s weight. Dan is running the car at 240bhp due to handling issues.

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October. Edd Tubbs’ ’32 Ford Pickup

Nestled between an Evo and Mk2 Escort, a ’32 Ford Pickup that made us stop and stare. A labour of automotive love that took 4 years of busted knuckles and passion
In that time this Pickup has been stripped down to its bare chassis, laddered the rear and added a new cross members to allow the inclusion of modern coilovers – pretty neat huh?
In true HotRod style the roof has been chopped 2 inches and the cab channelled by 3”.
A Rover 3.5 v8 is hard to miss as it protrudes proudly from the engine bay. It has been completely rebuilt, re bored new high compression pistons and bearings, fast road cam, Holley 4 barrel, hand built open headers laker style and a Cadillac air box.

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November. Behind the Scenes: Formula G Pilot TV Show

CTRL, the team behind RC Racing TV contacted us earlier this year with a vision of using their expertise gained in producing programs about radio controlled cars to create a new pilot for a TV show all about Formula G. They see it as the new breakthrough in racing and something different to what is currently shown on many motoring channels.
Mat the director said “As soon as we saw the events that Fueltopia did we loved how exciting, accessible and ‘real’ the racing was, we can’t wait to show this to everyone else too”.

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December. Bagged Bull

Add power, attitude and heavily caffeinated graphics to a Scirocco and what you get is a pretty cool VW.
This is a classic father, son story as many a car build, but I think what we got here was something unique and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
A Racingline Performance air intake helps feeds the turbo whilst the Forge Motorsport intercooler helps intake temps stay down. An APR Stage 2+ map brings the final number to 370bhp.

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From Four To Two

24th November 2017 — by Dan Fegent

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I like to think that I am someone who likes to welcome a new challenge. In my job as a photographer I enjoy taking on new things & capturing different events. However I’d be lying if I told you that my nerves don’t get the better of me sometimes when I’m asked to do something outside of my comfort zone. That familiar anxiety I’m sure we have all felt at some point starts to build & just needs kept in check, remain calm I tell myself, it’ll all work out.

At the start of this year I was asked to shoot several rounds of BSB, I ran off to the Googles & quickly realised that BSB is the British Super Bike Championship… ok I wasn’t that naive to it but I did need to start researching & fast!

If you know of my work for Fueltopia & for Monster Energy then you’ll know I’m someone who mostly covers four wheel motorsport events. That has changed in recent times & I’ve come to adapt to the various challenges & enjoy it. Variety is the spice of life right? Seriously though I believe the subject matter I’m most associated with doesn’t define me, I simply love all things I get to do.

Now that aside I still was nervous about BSB, I am not someone who owns or has ever ridden a proper motorbike on or off road. I have roughly 20 minutes to my name on a moped, which I promptly fell off so as for experience… you could say I am lacking it.

This was all new to me. I spent the lead up to round one asking friends about what it meant to them to ride a bike. Yeah, with questions like I did get some strange looks but I was trying to understand the passion behind it all. The reason people go and watch these races. I did an intensive course several evenings on the BSB website, learning about the teams, the riders names, their numbers & bike liveries. Anything that could help me once I arrived at the circuit with a job to do.

From a photographers point of view though I try not to look at other peoples photos when I shoot something new, not in anyway due to arrogance but more due to the fact that it may scare me in to thinking that I can’t do it, that I can’t capture what they have done. Its once again that familiar anxiety that builds inside me which is not what I need when I’m taking on a new challenge so I just avoid the situation completely. I go, I shoot, I edit & I deliver my own results from what I’ve witnessed.

Due to clashes with other events I was scheduled for this year, I only attended four rounds of the BSB 2017 championship. I was at the first in Donington Park, followed up by Oulton Park & then two rounds at Brands Hatch including the final.

I knew that I had four main riders to capture throughout the year, across three teams. Michael Laverty & James Ellison in the MCAMS Yamaha team, Leon Haslam in the Speedfit Kawasaki team & John Hopkins in the Moto Rapido Ducati team.

During these events I was far too engrossed in making sure I nailed the work to even be able to put together an event by event recap for you here on Fueltopia, I’m sorry about that. I robbed you of four blogs. I also tried to vlog the events (videos at the bottom) those didn’t quite go to plan either as I was simply far too pre occupied with making sure I knew what was going on & getting the job done.

With excuses aside let me take you back to my first BSB round of the year. This was Round 1 at Donington Park, a circuit I’ve worked at a few times over the years so I was familiar with the layout. I arrived confident & ready.

Standing near the track for the first time as the bikes blasted past me was an experience. They were louder than I expected & considerably faster! Also from a photography point of view they were a lot smaller in my view finder… go figure, turns out bikes are smaller than cars…

After that epiphany hit me it was time to take in & learn how they move, the speeds in the straights, the lines in the corners. All of a sudden, the anxiety & worry about the whole thing was gone, I was filled with the want to capture what was happening as much as I could, a sudden urge to show my perspective on the events I was witnessing.

Post practice/qualifying & races the paddocks are alive with activity, teams are checking & preparing the bikes for the next outings & riders are discussing tactics & times with their teams. There is simply so much going on at all times. It was simply exciting to be a part of.

The paddock however is cramped, not as much as the incredible tight space Speedway riders work out of but its close. Everyone among the multitude of people present has a specific job which is carried out to perfection, because put it simply someones life always does depend on it.

A break in all this two wheel action came at the first Brands Hatch hosted round of the series. Monster Energy Gymkhana driver Luke Woodham lit up the track in his 200sx s14a and put on a smoke show for the fans. Ok yeah he blew up the engine during the final demo of the day but YOLO right?

That event also saw a Monster energy rig riot take place. What is a rig riot I hear you cry? Well, its controlled chaos as the Monster Energy Girls figuratively whip the crowd into a frenzy before the Monster Energy riders themselves show up and sign & distribute merchandise. Its always awesome to watch & you can see the fans love it.

Throughout my stint of BSB this year I have watched them race in all conditions, I saw people come off & I even heard of fatal accidents taking place over the race weekends I attended. The commitment to this sport is incredible, why do they choose to do it & why when they come off during a practice in the morning are they back on the bike that very afternoon, ready on the line to take on all challengers?

I don’t have the answer to that question but as this year has gone on I’ve learnt something which I’ve come to love about BSB. The passion, the drive, the sense of family among teams is second to none. Its much more personal than any other race series I’ve worked in. The emotions are there for all to see, these riders can’t hide their, they are exposed, on the line with only their helmet to shield their anticipation & uncertainty about the race ahead.

During the races themselves the concentration can be seen on their faces, several times I would frame a shot & almost feel like I was making eye contact with the riders. The emotion once the race is finished & the results are in is beautiful to watch too.

These guys are rock stars, the fans love them! The open pit line signing sessions are a blast. The interaction is golden & seeing the smiles on fans faces from kids to full grown adults is incredibly rewarding.

This is the beauty of bikes, people get fully attached to the riders themselves, more so I feel than in any other motorsport. I mean these guys are about to risk their lives for your entertainment? I think they deserve being made a fuss of by the fans, which they most certainly do! The energy is electric.

Of course I’m not saying that any other motorsport is less dangerous or anything like that but I will say they these guys get it wrong or something fails, its their bodies that strike the tarmac with very little to protect them.

My work days at these events were mostly taken up by my shot list requirements & making sure I was always in the right place at the right time, however I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get moments to enjoy where I was, to take it in & have what is really the best seat in the house for the proceedings. It was a pleasure to learn all about everything at first & then follow the 2017 BSB championship.

With my anxiety and worry leading up to round one, the unknown of it all, did I enjoy working my first ever 4 rounds of BSB? Hells yeah I did! I loved it, I enjoyed the energy, the speed, the noise, the teams, the fans, honestly I can keep going… but the riders to me, their attitude, the way they held themselves in a win & in a defeat, I truly admire that above all else. Yeh for sure I think they are crazy but I admire that crazy & I am honoured to have captured some moments from their 2017 season.

Words & pictures by Dan Fegent

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