The “off-season”, it is here. The nights are becoming longer, daylight more scarce and temperatures, less tempting. Without wanting to regurgitate cliche Game of Thrones, Winter is Coming!
It is also the time of year where street cars get tucked away, race cars stripped down for new year preparations and most of all, motorsport events disappear off of the calendar. Time then to reflect on what has been and what was. Or is it? We are not long away from the end of year and when some, myself included will turn their attention to writing new years resolutions. Lists of arbitrary goals that you have every intention of keeping but more often than not, die out within a couple of weeks. I’m not bashing, I do this too.
Instead of setting myself goals, I set myself events to attend. Some of which are long term goals but I always try and attend as many as is financially viable each year. And one that I just simply can’t recommend enough is Gatebil. A mere paragraph isn’t really going to help illustrate why and rather than turn this into an article the length of “War and Peace” I will try and condense it into a few bite-sized reasons.
The cars ARE ridiculous!
First and foremost, this is my top reason for going. you will hear a lot about Gatebil but walking through the paddock makes you chuckle, you also become numb to anything that isn’t completely over the top. Take Roger Håland’s twin engined (yes that means two) Toyota Starlet. This car alone, embodies Gatebil – two engines, two gearboxes, two ECU’s, two turbos and four wheel drive! It is bonkers in all the right ways and I adore it. Whether you are walking around the paddock or watching track side, there is no shortage of home made monsters to ogle at.
Oxygen fans will hate this but Gatebil has numerous drift sessions throughout the day. Rendering the picturesque landscape a shade of white with thick acrid tyre smoke lavishly draped over the track and spectators. It gives you a sore throat, it makes your eyes sting and it covers your gear in powdered tyres and I do not care! I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Speed is in abundance around Rudskogen and nothing is faster than the Gatebil Extreme class. Think time-attack now kick it a few times until it is really angry and full of adrenaline. Now take away the qualifying element and let them race and what you have is nothing short of an intimidating display of speed and power. I was walking down this back straight on the same side as this Gallardo when they came past. Of course you can hear them coming but I nearly lept out of my skin when the shot past. It genuinely became hard to photograph them they were moving that quick. It is also pretty spectacular to see these racers corner so fast and so flat.
The level of talent
Hard to sum this one up with a photo, everyone that gets on track is talented in my eyes, now you could further expand on this by admiring the talent of the builders who get their vehicles here. Breislad is the team powerslide competition and a great way of showcasing how talented each individual drifter is in a team. Early practice sessions were a little shaking among the teams but once all the gremlins had been dialled out it was a great spectacle to see. With the sun setting, beer in hand and the perfect spot on the banking this is something you want to see.
The endless supply of vantage points
As a photographer this statement goes a little further than the spectator and it is true, you could spend the entire weekend walking the track, finding new angles, interesting positions chasing the light and you still wouldn’t have covered them all. You will be happy to know that even if you don’t media accreditation, the lines are still fantastic for the spectators. There isn’t just one or two good spots, there are hundreds. Couple this to the fact that you can probably see at least two or three corners, you can be happy that you won’t miss out on the action.
Again this might be more of a photographer thing but even still, it makes for pretty viewing. Due to the geographical location of Rudskogen Motorsenter and being in the middle of summer, the sun seems to eternity to set which is just fine by me. The fat warm setting sun back lights cars and smoke flattering even the most industrial looking builds. It also has a strange effect on your body, tiredness seems to melt away.
Rudskogen Motorsenter isn’t the only track that Gatebil graces but it sure is a special one. It undulates and winds through Norwegian forests, there are massive elevation changes which means you can be level with the cars or at times above and below them. This change in perspective is something that I haven’t had much of when shooting the pitiful amount of events that I have. but I can tell you, having such an amazing circuit really does make a difference. I am sure the drivers enjoy it too.
Your sitting down on a warm grassy bank, sun beating down, refreshing beverage in hand being cooled by a gentle breeze with your mates. You look around, thousands are doing the same listening the booming PA system as they introduce the next driver. An engine barks into life, a quick burnout and the approaches the start line, photographers scrabble for their positions in anticipation. Time to catch your breath before it tears off out onto the track singing to the tune of a thousand petrol fuelled horses with backing vocals provided by the enthralled crowd. This is Gatebil. This mixture of adrenaline and octane is electric in the air, I get excited well before entering the track and I remain in that state until it is time to go home. It is a celebration of motorsport and I would love to share it with you.
Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (Shooting Dave)