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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.

Event

6R4.net Track Day – Curborough

1st August 2017 — by Steve White

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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 6R4.net 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 6R4.net 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 6R4.net 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 6R4.net 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 6R4.net track day at Curborough Sprint Circuit? Click here for a full image gallery.