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Getting Ready for Speedway

4th May 2017 — by Andi Gordon

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As I sit here on the afternoon of Sunday April 23rd, I’m feeling excited. Later this week I’ll be flying to London, to fly to Croatia, to drive to Slovenia for the first round of the 2017 Speedway Grand Prix series. As I’m waiting to head to the coast tonight for a sunset photo mission, I figured I’d have a look through my archives at what kind of thing I got at this event last year, and then inevitably ended up doing re-edits, then looked at more from other events and now I’m doing a blog post. I’ve not even checked if my batteries are charged or if my filters and lenses are clean. I’m kind of on a bit of a crest of a wave.

I’ll state just now, that I’m not going to give you a season in review, who did what kind of post. A) that just ain’t me and B) I’m always that concentrated on trying to get a shot that I can never remember what happened. Instead I’m going to kind of just babble on for a bit, trying to straddle the line between each paragraph seeming like an ill conceived caption and going off on one like a pompous arse.

This upcoming season will be my third shooting Speedway for Monster Energy. Whereas in the previous years I entered the season feeling nervous, woefully under prepared and ill-equipped for the year ahead, this time round I feel ready to crush it. Speedway isn’t a particularly difficult sport to shoot. The bikes are on an oval, and go past you every fifteen seconds on a relatively narrow stretch of track. You know where you are, where the riders are going to be. If you have a basic understanding of how a camera works, there’s a decent chance you will get something usable.

It is however exceedingly difficult to get creative, expressive shots of Speedway. For that kind of stuff 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.

A pit for a speedway bike is probably about the same size as your garden shed. There will be about 3 mechanics, 4 helmets, a seat for the rider to try and relax between races, A TV showing the broadcast for the event, at least one roll cab toolbox and top box. It’s not a huge area. Then you add in the TV crew that come over and try and get the interview after a heat. There ain’t a lot of space for creativity that’s for sure.

That however is my job. Get the shots that nobody else is getting in an incredibly frenetic space that adds to the story and overall atmosphere of an event. The best part is I love doing it. I am as excited to catch up with friends as I am to shoot. I have plans and ideas. I feel I have also matured since I last shot speedway as photographer and more importantly as an editor.

 

As the new season dawns I feel more ready than I ever have. That’s a pretty good feeling.

CUTTING ROOM FLOOR

Topic

Five radical drifting hot hatches

9th February 2017 — by Black Flagged

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A hot hatch isn’t your default car for drift, but it doesn’t mean its not the right path to smokey tyre enlightenment – after trawling through our Fueltopia file of rad images, I’ve pulled out five the naughtiest drift hatches that have slayed rubber

Roger Holland’s twin engine Toyota Starlet creates plumes of crowd pleasing tyre smoke into the 50,000 strong crowd at Gatebil, Rudskogen. Dave Cox caught the double packing, drifty, hot hatch action on his last visit to the show they dub the  greatest in the World. We’d definitely want to get up  close and personal with this car next year

This list wouldn’t be complete without one of the most iconic drift hatches ever… The Driftworks AE86 – LS powered and classic lines makes this drift-hatch one of our favourites of all time and that distinctive orange livery is hard to miss.

A personal favourite is Dan Firminger’s little Volvo. This car might be small but it packs a punch with it’s V8 heart up front. Dan has been peddling this car on the car scene for a while in drift and gymkhana and it’s always great to see it decimate opponents on track.

This literally blows my mind,  Danial Björk’s Ford Fiesta lays down smoke like a total badass at events like Gatebil. The Blue Oval  brands engine has been cast aside for a native Volvo B230 Turbo engine that pumps out  a staggering 500hp or in this case moose power.

In at five and rounding off this blogs five radical drift hatches is another little 1986 Volvo 360 owned by Mark Vissers from the Netherlands. A respectable 357hp and 388lb/ft of torque makes this a fun, handling, tyre, shredding machine to be feared. If you fancy giving it a run then make sure you scope out the Drift Championship Netherlands.

 

 

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Welcome to a Rally Stage

26th January 2017 — by Ruben Langa

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"A rally is beyond a competition, it is an opportunity to spend a weekend with our loved ones."

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Welcome to a rally stage, this is beyond a competition, it is an opportunity to spend a weekend with your loved ones. Whether with friends or your family, it is the perfect opportunity to kick back & relax together. It all kicks off with finding the perfect camping spot on the mountain ready for the upcoming action. On arrival you are able to take in the stage at night, looking for the best bend & the closest place to it to camp. The night before the rally action, dinner discussions are always full of stories from other rallies, the fear of what could happen in the runnings & even upcoming events, the topic of the conversations build up the excitement on what is to come.

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The following morning will see the army of fans that have chosen to camp being awoken by the mountain’s peculiar surroundings. Many will be greeted by the sounds of cows and sheep, and eventually the familiar sound of horns and engines… each rally is a world of its own!

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After a good breakfast & finding a safe place to put your chair ready to watch, the chants start. This is followed with a continuous flow of stories of other rallies, with all fans & lovers of the same thing all chatting away & sharing a few beers. It is an awesome thing to be a part of and is only interrupted by the sound of an engine approaching at full chat.

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This is followed by a cacophony of horns and screams from bend to bend, encouraging the drivers to push the limits even further! No matter if you drive a Porsche 911 or a Saxo VTS, if it goes fast, the people go crazy.

As each participants tears past, it is an amazing opportunity to see and photograph incredible cars, and at times some truly epic classics.

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After the drivers have had their first run on the stage, feeding time approaches, the camping gas fires and the smell of cooking meat all becomes part of the landscape. But this is a brief break from the action & there is not much time to lose, the second run for each driver begins and nobody wants to miss the action. Within minutes, the action resumes & all eyes are on the course for another session. The crowds give equal cheers of encouragement for the cars passing by, regardless of who is first or last.

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There are however always accidents that remind us that it is not a game and the importance of choosing a good site to watch from. As fun as it is, you have to be safe.

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Do not be put off or discouraged by the potential dangers, a rally is an incredible experience and one I highly encourage you to be a part of. You can enjoy this sport if you stay safe.

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With this post I am hoping to persuade as many of you as possible to attend a rally, not only a WRC stage, but also your local rallies which are perfect opportunities to see great professionals running with incredible cars, spectacular classics and you will be surprised by some awesome landscapes. Not to mention its also a great opportunity to spend a weekend with friends without shelling out a fortune.

 

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Skiddin’ at Lydden

12th December 2016 — by Dave Cox

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Back in December 2015, Lydden Hill Race Circuit took the decision to close public drift days. Not an easy decision to make but complaints from the surrounding residents as well as a few people not being respectful on the local roads made is unfortunately necessary. Lydden Hill can’t really be blamed for taking this decision, it was putting the reputation with sponsors at risk

I don’t drift myself but I do photograph my fair share of drifting, so as minor grumble, I lost my “practice” days. There was also the social aspect of it, I have a lot friends that drift themselves and it was always good to catch up at the circuit and see how their home grown cars were progressing.

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But rather spend time talking about seemingly meek complaints, I thought it would be good to get some perspective from someone who was affected. A good friend of ours at Fueltopia is Paul Beechey who drifts with a group of friends under Team Lowmileage.

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Paul, cast your mind back to late 2015, Lydden Hill regrettably makes the decision to shut public, what does this mean for you?

PB: I remember thinking this is real bad for drifting in the UK, with many venues shutting their doors in the past 5 years this was another one on the list. There was always whispers in the background that it would make a comeback just not in the current form which would always be a good thing for me personally.

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Clearly this was bigger than just a single venue closing it’s doors, more of a general decline nationwide. What was it about the “current form” which wasn’t a good thing for you?

PB: The old way Lydden used to be was some what chaotic with tons of “missiles” in wrong groups etc. Impacting on seat time due to many red flags and stopped sessions. There was none of that on Saturday, the open pit format worked so well, option of twinning and trains if wanted. Otherwise it was solo passes which really took the pressure off.

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Wow, so in the time they shut public drift days, they revised how the sessions would have been run.

It is fair to say that when Lydden announced the return of public drift days but at a revised and higher price point, it was met with scepticism. What would you say to those people after testing the new format?

PB: So far the new format appears to be working, the last practice day was seat time central and the new pricing was totally justified with the amount of time on track. I think Lydden will be improving on the format and all the time we are heading in this direction it’s a winner for the UK scene.

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Glad to hear that it has come back stronger than before. So what happened with the noise complaints? Did Lydden have to make a deal with the local council to shorten the drift sessions? Or have they introduced tighter noise limits?

PB: The noise complaints will always be there. Lydden are running only 4 cars at a time max now and there is no drifting on chessons corner which is a real tyre saver. I know it takes the whole matsuri kinda vibe away from full circuit drifting but it still works. They have released another date with another new format. It looks promising and Lydden have really hit it on the head with an open track format. Good work Hannah and the team!

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 Sometimes your hand is forced and you have to go back and rethink things. Lydden Hill’s drift days were nothing short of popular in the past but there was always room for improvement. Having to call an early halt to them allowed Hannah and the team to sit down and re-evaluate things. Judging by Paul’s feedback it would see this was time well spent. I am happy to see the drift days return. The South East has a large drift community and it would be a shame to have it taken away.
I just need to get down there and see the new format for myself.
Words: Paul Beechey and Dave Cox
Pictures: James Tremain and Dave Cox

Topic

Lamborghini Hura-gone

23rd March 2016 — by Fueltopia

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I’m sure the owner of this Lamborghini Huracan wasn’t having the best Christmas day as it was pulled from the icy waters of a Northampton fishing lake. The reports suggest that the super car flipped went through the central reservation, flipping into its watery resting point. Both passengers, a man and woman, managed to clear the wreck swimming to shore.

A local councillor, Richard gell, was on the scene of the recovery and took the images shown. It’s a tragic sight and such a waste of one of the UK’s supercars – however we’re pleased that no one was hurt in the holiday season.