As we find ourselves halfway through the calendar year, I stopped to reflect on the past six months and can hardly believe all that has happened. I have dedicated almost the entirety of my adult working life to cars and motorsport, but in the past year, the ante has been upped significantly. The year kicked off in January with the Straya Day drift festival in Sydney, that represented everything we love about drift life. Great cars, heaps of friendly faces, and tyres blazing.
Just a few weeks later in February, I made my first ever trip to what is the holy grail of Australian race tracks and the home of some of the greatest motorsport rivalries. Travelling with the Queensland House and Land Lotus team, it was a great moment to finally shoot at Bathurst.
The Mt Panorama circuit is just over 6km in length and is essentially a street circuit, as the track is simply public road outside of major events. The sky lit up on Saturday night giving us a spectacular display over Mt Panorama.
There is plenty to see around the pits at the 12 Hour, but the Erebus SLS AMG continues to impress, the sound of this car needs to be heard to be believed.
The presence this car displays in undeniable.
One of the most striking differences between this track compared to other tracks around the country, is the rise and fall of the track, with the difference between the highest and lowest points being 174m (570ft) making for some exceptional vantage points and incredible racing.
The 12 Hour race commenced on Sunday morning as the sun broke over the horizon.
The effort from the team in the pits was one of the most impressive parts of the weekend, with a gearbox issue in the Lotus on Saturday, the team worked through the night until the problem was resolved, then on less than an hours’ sleep, they worked tirelessly through the 12 hour race, keeping the car on song, managing the driver changes and the fuel stops.
The intensity was equally matched by the drivers as they prepared for their stints behind the wheel.
The team went on to secure an outright class victory.
A week later, I was back at my local track of Queensland Raceway shooting a very wet round 1 of the Stadium Drift Pro Tour. Shooting in the rain is never the most enjoyable activity, but to catch door to door action from drivers like Dan Rasell and Matt Hambridge is absolutely worth it!
Josh Boettcher went on to secure the win in his Tyreright GT Radial backed Sil80.
Two weeks later and it was wheels up with Rob Whyte from the Achilles Radial Drift Team as we headed to New Zealand to compete in D1NZ.
One of the things I have noticed as I have travelled more and more for drift, is that the culture is the same where ever you go. The love for the sport and having a great time reign supreme, no matter how serious it gets in competition. When we arrived, the key for the container was six hours south, so another team lent us the master key…
Travelling with Rob and Andreas Paraskevas from the Insane Drifters, it was in incredible opportunity to see how its done across the ditch at D1NZ.
We certainly were not disappointed!
Crowd favourite Mad Mike dominated across the weekend.
Rob suffered catastrophic gearbox failure in the top 16 battles, which was a real shame with the distance travelled. However, on returning home, he upgraded from a factory box to a Holinger Sequential to sort that issue once and for all!
Nothing to see here…
Mad Mike took the top honors for the event.
Big shout out to Keith, Andrew and Brett from ADGP, this wouldn’t have been possible without all their hard work!
Being a wild men at heart, when we were travelling the countryside in New Zealand, the guys spotted some kids jumping off a bridge and thought it would be a good idea to give it go.. it wasn’t, but they did it anyway! (Really, don’t try this at home)
Back from New Zealand and it was out to Queensland Raceway with Liam, as he had his first stint in a Porsche Carrera Cup Car. Getting used to car and rapidly gaining confidence behind the wheel, he started to reel off some impressive times for a first drive.
I’m a big Porsche fan and enjoy nothing more than a Carrera Cup Car a full noise!
Back to Sydney and all the stops had been pulled out for the very first Top Gear Festival in Sydney, hosted by James May and my automotive journalist idol, Jeremy Clarkson. Insanity is probably the best word to sum up the weekend. You name, it was there. From R/C cars, to stunt driving, two wheeling, drifting, racing, right the way up to Mark Webber unleashing his Red Bull Formula 1 on Sydney Motorsport Park. Truly a sight to behold. The crowds give you just a small idea of the sheer size of the event.
Webber on track in his F1 car. All eyes were firmly on track during his laps.
The Queensland based Drift Syndicate rolled out their new livery for the event on their tyre frying, supercharged V8 Commodore.
There was even a rally track set up, with ARC and Polaris tearing up in the mud.
Two-wheeling in a Isuzu D-Max was a pretty impressive stunt!
Everywhere you looked there was action on track, Nick Coulson was blazing his new Achilles livery.
My automotive hero Jeremy Clarkson in a runner vs R35 GT-R race in typical Top Gear style.
And just when you thought you’d seen it all, a race between a V8 Supercar and a plane…
The press conference with Mark Webber is an event I won’t soon forget. Like most automotive photographers, we have romantic notions of shooting F1. For just a moment, it felt like I was there!
A fortnight later and it was back to Sydney for Round 2 of the Radical Australia Series, when driver Liam Talbot secured his first podium, in this his first year in the series.
Having been involved in drift for over five years and still without the ability to hold a slide, a week later, Kris Frome was kind enough to lend me his V8 powered R34 Skyline. He must have had his hands over his eyes the first time I wound it up and threw it sideways! Somehow I managed to hold a few, with some pretty rough transitions and plenty of spin outs! (My thanks to Chez Watts Photography for the image below)
The driving isn’t worth watching, but the sound this beast makes is well worth listening to!
April brought a few weeks of recovery, but round 2 of the Stadium Drift Pro Tour at Stanthorpe was one I couldn’t miss. It is still one of my favourite tracks to shoot drift.
The sweeping second corner lets the drivers hold out the slide.
And get them pumping smoke with plenty of angle.
As we headed into May, the drift community was in a spin as the biggest event to ever hit our shores was just around the corner. The Australian Drifting GP and the first ever, Formula Drift Australia. Josh Boettcher launched his new S15 livery two weeks before the event, we made sure to get a few shots while it still looked like new!
The ADGP / Formula Drift Australia weekend was an incredible event to be a part of. Having been to Formula Drift Asia twice, I knew the scale of the spectacle we were about to witness. With names like Fredric Aasbo, Mike Whiddett and Daigo Saito lining up, it was always going to be an incredible event.
Tom Monkhouse showed his skills as he ran the wall and parted with a tail light.
Below are a few of my favourite shots from the event. Queenslander Dan Kenneally keeping it stylish in his Hog Helmet!
Saito vs Aasbo and wastegate flame!
The MadBull, what’s not to love?
Rob Whyte drifting with FD champion Daigo Saito.
Ryan Cummings also dropped his new livery that really stood out in the field!
With two Aussies on the podium behind the powerhouse that is Daigo Saito, Tom Monkhouse took out 2nd place and Josh Boettcher in 3rd, it was a incredible finish to the very first Formula Drift competition on Australian soil.
Everyone got to meet their Formula Drift idols, as Andrew Hawkins the voice of ADGP bowed down to the voice of Formula Drift, Jarod DeAnda.
The following weekend it was back on a plane to Melbourne as we headed to Phillip Island for round three of the Radical Australia Series. It has been a number of years since I have been to the circuit, but it never fails to stop you in your tracks with its sheer beauty. It really is an incredible track to photograph. Just metres behind this stunning view is the track itself.
The view feels a million miles away in the pits, as the team prepare for the job at hand.
We experienced all the seasons as the track is well know for, as it went from hot and stunning to freezing, raining and windy, but it made for some great action on track.
Liam secured another class win, putting him in serious contention for the championship.
The Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG is still one of my favourite cars in the GT class, this was shot in the final laps of competition with the sun disappearing over the horizon.
Another few weeks and it was back to Queensland Raceway in June for the 2 Days of Thunder when local driver Mick O’Shea was running his heavily developed R33 Skyline.
His first year in the series, Mick had found himself at the pointy end of the field, but he secured his first round win over the weekend.
One of the most striking features of Mick’s R33 are the coolers at the rear, that have been moved to achieve an almost 50/50 weight distribution in the car.
This first six months of the year have been mind blowing, but it is about to get even more ridiculous, as in just over two weeks I step on a plane bound for Germany, where I will be shooting at the Nurburgring for the upcoming VLN round, where driver Liam will be behind the wheel of an Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Then the following weekend, we head to Belgium for a weekend of racing at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. I am constantly humbled at the opportunities that are presented because all my life I have dreamed of doing precisely this. It is more hard work and sacrifice than I ever imagined, but when I am standing trackside around the country and overseas, I am reminded what an incredible privilege it is to experience these events. I wanted to share a few of these moments and I can hardly wait for the next six months of motorsport mayhem.