You guys are going to love all the material we have gathered up during our Speedhunting trip to Sydney. On top of the WTAC coverage we've brought you, we also spent a lot of time visiting tuning shops and car owners that truly define the impressively deep and diverse car culture that exists in Australia. But before we get on with all of that stuff we have compiled this second part to our Speedhunting adventures, giving a little glimpse at what goes on behind the scenes of such a fun, yet incredibly productive trip. Since there were four of us shooting this time 'round we have decided to turn this post into a little discussion…
Charles: I was the first to arrive in Sydney and Dino was last, who flew in a few days later. I imagine you were pretty tired; after your flight we went straight to a whole bunch of shoots.
Dino: I didn't get a wink of sleep on the plane but that wasn't as tiring as the hour I had to line up in customs once I had landed in Sydney! Thankfully the great breakfast we had gave me the energy I needed to get through the day.
Casey: To be honest, I started getting a little worried about you Dino due to how long you took going through customs. I think you were one of the last passengers to make it through.
Matt: From then on in the whole trip was non-stop!
Dino: This late night dinner was probably one of the most satisfying meals of our trip. After spending about 13 hours shooting at Eastern Creek at Saturday's main race event, Charles took us to this place. Don't know about you guys, but some of Sydney's best pies definitely hit the spot! That monster hot dog was a treat too.
Charles: Haha! No tourist's visit to Sydney is complete without a trip to Harry's. But I still think some of the other haunts we visited were much more satisfying food-wise. Either way, we worked hard and we ate hard!
Matt: Meat, good. Pastry, good. Gravy, good. What's not to like?
Casey: I'm really disappointed they don't have this up in Brisbane. I have to agree with Dino, after a huge day shooting this definitely put me into another food coma.
Dino: I have no idea what I'm showing Matt here,
Casey: The shallow depth of 1.2 goodness!
Dino: A proper man's meal; what else do you need? It's got meat, a soft yet crunchy pastry exterior, a wad of mash potato and to top it off gravy. I'm salivating as I type this…
Casey: Plus one on the salivating! Dino, how could you forget the starter? The chilli dog!
Charles: I can't believe that none of you tried the Tiger, which has mashed green peas added on top.
Matt: I needed a few extra sessions at the gym when I got back. Was it worth it? Hell yeah!
Dino: Casey after a few too many energy drinks.
Charles: I still think Linhbergh gets more air than you managed Casey.
Casey: He wishes!
Charles: Ah, so that's where you guys were while I was typing away in the media room…
Matt: This photo still makes me laugh. Six media all jumping around for the better half of 30 minutes… We must have looked mad!
Dino: Group levitation. We managed to put together a very productive group of media for this shot. Mind you, when there is nothing happening on track we need to provide our own entertainment.
Casey: By this time in the evening, with the amount of jumping and levitating we had done, my legs were beginning to cramp, hence my lack of hang time in this particular shot.
Charles: How many times have you guys been to Sydney before?
Dino: I've been only once before, last year with Rod, but without a local guide we hardly got to see any of the sights. Finally I got a glimpse of the Opera House.
Casey: I actually used to live in Sydney before Brisbane. So it was great to not only explore what Sydney has to offer car-wise but its amazing sights too which I think we would all agree on.
Matt: This was my first time in Sydney and I could not believe what a cool vibe the city has. I'll be back for sure!
Dino: Yes, sometimes it's hard to let the inner tourist out. Casey on the other hand found the back of my noggin more interesting.
Charles: Growing up in Sydney I've never really appreciated it. But this was my first trip back home since I relocated to Vancouver, and it made me look at Sydney with fresh eyes. It made me rather home sick to be honest.
Casey: This particular day actually shocked me and made me realize how beautiful this country really is.
Charles: The glamorous life of a Speedhunter!
Dino: Casey, just so you know, when you got hit with the trunk… that was kind of intentional. I was trying to get the V8 to hit its magical 3,800 rpm sweet spot where it changes sound. Luckily your camera took the hit:)
Casey: Never, will I ever trust you to drive me around in the trunk of a car. I'm happy my camera took the collision with the boot rather than my head.
Matt: I still can't believe you managed to fit in there Casey!
Dino: We had plenty of time to examine the ISF in extreme detail that afternoon while we were waiting for our feature car to show up.
Charles: Yes that was a rather stressful afternoon for us. The owner had just finished work and was rushing over, and we were all panicking that we'd miss the magical sun set.
Matt: His timing was perfect, it was meant to be!
Casey: I think it would have been completely ridiculous from someone else's perspective looking at all three of us staring at the car for over an hour.
Dino: Sometimes we really have to take a moment to realize how lucky we are. Not only do we get to shoot cars like the LFA, but we even get to play the V10 musical instrument under its hood.
Casey: I was actually nervous to push the pedal down, but when I did my ears had an instant orgasm.
Matt: What an amazing machine, I still get shivers when I think about the sound of it.
Charles: I had to make a stop by the airport which meant I caught the AM peak hour traffic. I'm still upset I didn't get to blip the throttle like you guys did!
Casey: Still, to this day I feel so sorry that you were late because of that one car that held up all the traffic.
Dino: Oh is that why you looked so disappointed the rest of the day? I'm so satisfied I finally got to shoot the LFA, still haven't had the pleasure of actually driving it but revving it to close to 8,000 rpm in neutral will have to do for now I guess.
Charles: The looks on your faces when I arrived really rubbed it in. All of you were grinning from ear to ear.
Dino: I will have to bring Ian Baker, organizer of the WTAC, a big bottle of sake from Japan next year. Thanks to him we were able to hijack a buggy for the event, making it a breeze to move from one side of the track to the other.
Charles: The buggy had no fuel though! There was a reason why Ian was laughing evilly when he threw us the keys.
Dino: Yep, we had to go to the gas station. With a tank full of Shell V-power the motor rewarded us with excellent performance making it a breeze to get up to the limited top speed. Steering was tight and direct, excellent when dialing in opposite lock
Casey: In keeping with tradition, we decked out the buggy with Speedhunters decals too.
Matt: It really made things easier. Eastern Creek isn't a small track by any standards and it really helped us cover every corner of the course.
Dino: Speedhunters hard at work right here.
Charles: Yoga flame?
Casey: I call it praying in mid air!
Matt: I'm just trying not to fall on my face… Although, that would make for a hilarious photo!
Dino: There were so many cool cars participating at the event this year that we tried our best to shoot as many as possible. Early on Saturday morning before the event I met up with David and Brie from JPP along with their driver Luke Fink to grab a few shots of their 180SX.
Casey: Definitely, and it was great to catch up with Dave and Brie while you were doing your thing Dino!
Charles: We really have to thank all of the shops and car owners we met up with in Sydney. Some people woke up before sunrise so we could shoot, while others left work early. On one day we shot so many cars that some of the owners had to wait around. We really appreciated their patience and being so accomodating with our tight schedules.
Charles: I was amazed by some of the camera gear that could be seen up and down the pitlane. The 400mm was a baby compared to some of the other glass canons.
Casey: Indeed. There was some serious fire power in the media's hands.
Charles: The crowds at this year's WTAC were amazing…
Matt: The spectators were awesome and super friendly. Be sure to say hi to us next year!
Dino: Yep absolutely, noticeably more than last year. Great to see an event like this growing so rapidly. I can't believe we handed out so many Speedhunters stickers!
Charles: I agree. I'd be in the middle of a conversation and people would come running, screaming the code word to get their stickers. It was great to meet our readers and have a chat though. Did you also notice how many of the spectators had DSLRs?
Casey: Yes it blew me away seeing the amount of people who have DSLRS these days.
Charles: Digital photography has certainly exploded amongst car communities. At events around the world we see so many spectators and enthusiasts wielding DLSRs, which can only be a good thing.
Dino: Did someone steal our buggy?
Casey: I don't think we had it by this stage Dino, but hey, at least we got some exercise
Dino: Those people behind Matt are probably thinking, WTF?
Matt: I'm an on track hurdle all-star thank you very much!
Casey: It still makes me laugh thinking of when I was yelling to you from about 250m away across the track. I was even trying to look at the people's reactions of you jumping through my lens.
Casey: It might be hard to believe, but Dino and I were probably in a deep conversation.
Dino: Via Facebook chat…
Casey: Once again I caught Dino off guard pulling another epic stance.
Matt: Lean back and do the rockaway!
Casey: Charles and I always seemed to appear in the lobby each morning with the same Speedhunters x Fatlace shirts.
Dino: Gotta love the new T-shirt design.
Dino: Casey, why are you so happy here?
Casey: Driving a cart around the Creek was definitely a lot easier than walking it, I was just taking it all in.
Matt: Until now, I have never noticed Dino's fantastic looking mustache – it's glorious!
Dino: I'll grow it out next year for some pure seventies style.
Charles: Oh please do. Handle bars are a must. I'm sure Will Roegge can give you some tips on how to do it.
Casey: Hopefully when you guys arrive in Sydney next year I might have a little more than this fluff.
Dino: Charles, you mentioned Harry's Cafe de Wheels was founded in the late thirties right?
Charles: It's definitely an institution. There are a few outlets now, with the most popular one being near the city in Woolloomooloo.
Casey: Less talk about the history of it, more talk about how amazing the food in Sydney is!
Charles: It's a popular meeting spot for car enthusiasts, so it's no surprise that when Harry's expanded, they looked at areas where enthusiasts tended to congregate. One of their stores is where Dino's Diner used to be, and the one we went to was on Orange Grove Road. Both of these locations were used to be popular hang outs and were crammed with cars on weekends.
Dino: Explains why there were so many modified cars exiting the complex across the road then.
Charles: Orange Grove is heavily patrolled by the Authorities now, so it's nowhere near as packed as it used to be.
Casey: You can understand why though. As soon as it started to drizzle a few cars in the parking lot decided to do skids.
Dino: Yes that was rather amusing. Love soaking in car culture in different countries.
Charles: Are you yawning or burping Dino? By this time I was feeling pretty exhausted. We'd spent six days shooting non-stop. I think we were getting three or four hours sleep a night!
Matt: I'd say thats a yawn – we definitely worked hard but should have some amazing features to show for the effort.
Casey: Over the weekend we nearly had two 24 hour days.
Dino: I believe that is a yawn and a burp combined into one. Multitasking!
Dino: It took a while for photographer Matthew Mead, who was shooting for Hankook tires, to accept Charles' bet. What was it, $50 if he could eat a nice juicy kebab in under three minutes?
Charles: It was $20, but then a bunch of us threw cash which meant a healthy pot. Back in the ASM days, we used to do a lot of dares. If you weren't able to complete the dare, you'd have to pay back 50% of the kitty. None of us were expecting Matt to finish it in three bites though!
Casey: How could you forget our contribution? Between Matt, Dino and I, we put in $2.70.
Dino: Man I'm salivating again…
Casey: I'm tempted to get out of bed to go and purchase a kebab!
Matt: Man, you guys are kebab obsessed!
Dino: That kebab didn't stand a chance!
Casey: After the first bite we knew Charles's money was out the window, Matthew you annihilated that kebab!
Dino: I think Matthew could have demolished that thing in 1 min 30 sec. Maybe a challenge for next year?
Matt: "Who needs abs when you can have Kebabs."
Casey: This would have looked very suspicious from a bystander's perspective, handing over cash out the front of a Kebab shop…
Dino: It was also cool to catch up with Mark Pakula, who during his time at Auto Salon, used to come over to shoot in Japan every year.
Charles: Indeed. Kula and I have been to Japan quite a few times, and we've been lucky enough to shoot some really crazy cars. It was great to see him and the rest of the ASM gang again.
Charles: I couldn't believe how awesome the weather was when we arrived in Sydney. Although it was winter, it was actually slightly warmer than Vancouver's summer! On the Saturday afternoon of WTAC a cold front came in though, which brought temperatures down.
Casey: I can happily say the weather almost felt as warm as it was up here in Brisbane at times, however when the sun set it became quite chilly.
Dino: Yeah it was amazing. Coming from a hot and muggy Japanese summer the crisp air and warm sun made for optimal weather.
Matt: Well coming from cold and rainy New Zealand it was a welcome relief. In fact, I'm sure I went back home slightly tanner!
Dino: Sydney truly is a beautiful city.
Casey: Charles is usually very busy, but I caught him off guard checking his notifications.
Dino: Another Facebook addict?
Charles: I'm sure it was the Speedhunters Facebook!
Matt: Oh no, a broken UV filter that is impossibly cross-threaded… How ever will I remove it?!
Casey: With a spoon perhaps?
Charles: The scary thing is, you guys aren't kidding either…
Dino: What a great location this bridge was!
Matt: Great location…inside a dry car. Outside in the elements it was a different story!
Charles: I felt sorry for you guys in the rain. It really started to come down and you and Casey were soaked.
Casey: It was all fun and games until my camera stopped focusing, I think that was the call to wrap things up. I've never put my gear through so much water!
Dino: Even at full speed the wipers couldn't cope with that crazy downpour.
Charles: That was a crazy storm. I was ahead of you in the Lexus, and I couldn't see a damn thing either.
Casey: Charles and I couldn't get over the clouds that day. It was like this black sheet being pulled over the skies.
Dino: Motorists in Australia are terrorized by the stringent speed limits, strongly enforced by the Police and the thousands of cameras on the roads.
Charles: I agree. I couldn't believe how many Safety Cameras – which incorporate a speed camera with a red light camera – have been put up in Sydney since I left. It felt like they were on every traffic light. I think we spent more time watching the speedo than the road in front of us.
Matt: It was crazy the amount of policing that went on with the amount of Safety Cameras. It definitely seemed like there was one at every intersection for a while.
Charles: Early in our trip we drove out to meet WTAC's Ian Baker at Eastern Creek. On the way back we caught another initiative the Authorities in Sydney have brought in: random road side drug testing. I'd driven past them before, but I'd never done one.
Matt: It was definitely an interesting experience.
Dino: I couldn't believe it. They had this massive Winnebago setup with like ten or so officers who were stopping up to four cars at once. I think it took close to ten minutes to get Charles' results back; imagine if you are late for a meeting and you get caught up in one of these little roadside checks. Couldn't help but think that fixing up Sydeny's roads should be a little bit higher on the governmnent's priority rather than doing things like this.
Casey: This wasn't very new to me as they used to have these up in Brisbane but not for very long as they didn't seem to make enough money to break even.
Charles: Dino, you mentioned to me during our trip that you didn't get to see the Opera House when you were in Sydney last year for WTAC. So that was something we had to do on this visit.
Dino: Yes and I was glad I finally got to grab a few touristy shots of the Opera House and Harbor Bridge.
Matt: We were lucky we had Charles at our side – tour guide and Sydney food guru!
Casey: I have to agree with you Matt I can happily say I dug every meal, except the day old hash brown.
Dino: I still can't believe you ate that and survived!
Charles: You're never a tourist in your own backyard, so a lot of the things – like feeding the cockatoos – is something I've never done before.
Casey: I bet you were happy you had a crop body here Charles with the 50mm because you didn't seem to want to get very close!
Casey: It would have been quite funny watching all three of us walk into a park full of cockatoos all cringing like little girls.
Dino: Whatever, I kept away. With my luck they would have done their business on my head or something.
Dino: Now that's a photogenic bird!
Casey: He posed in the perfect position, I even got the skyscrapers in the background even though they're a tad blurry but hey, I love f2!
Dino: Man we are pulling some stupid faces behind the cameras!
Dino: I believe this was precisely five minutes before we all got very wet.
Casey: For the second time that day.
Matt: Those clouds were a big screaming indicator of the huge downpour that awaited us!
Casey: One night Matt and I came across this Ferrari roaring down one of the streets in the CBD on the way back to the hotel.
Matt: Was this the one that the girl was driving? Sydney is too much!
Charles: That was a different one. A 360 too but white on black wheels.
Charles: How were Sydney's tuning shops compared to the ones in your own cities? I think we visited the full spectrum, from the grimy to ones that looked like laboratories.
Matt: Sydney's tuning culture is thriving, it was awesome to meet the numerous owners and drivers. I think I'll have to drop back into a few during my next visit!
Dino: It's mainly space that differenciates the stuff I come across in Japan and what I got to see in Sydney. You guys have to see some of the tight spaces tuners work out of in Japan!
Dino: I said it last year with Rod and I'll say it again this year, Aussies are nuts! There is an impressive passion for cars in Japan but the difference with Australia is that the Japanese are usually rather conservative. No such thing in Oz! Power and lots of it is the order of the day with a side of individuality. I love it!
Charles: Power has always been a common target with enthusiasts. There's a growing number of street registered GT-Rs and Supras that are pushing out ridiculous four-digit power figures. But what I really noticed was more people adopting a more balanced approach to their cars: sorted suspension, potent brakes, good tyres. The last point is one I should underline. It was only a few years ago that you'd see many cars with great engine setups but would have the cheapest tyres.
Casey: One thing I will always love about Australia is the passion for drag racing; it was great to see Pac Performance making an appearance at WTAC. I'm looking forward to seeing them race at this years Jamboree next weekend.
Charles: I was deafened when Pac decided to fire it up and then do laps around the pit lane. A 6 second drag car doing cruising laps isn't something you see every day.
Matt That thing was amazingly loud! I could almost feel my internal organs bouncing around as it rolled past.
Dino: Casey, I still giggle when I see that t-shirt
Casey: And I get a little frustrated with some people, not pointing any fingers or anything
Dino: Great bed, but too bad I didn't get to use it much! I think we all averaged 4 hours a night, or thereabouts!
Matt: Ah bed, glorious bed! After a long day's shooting and a long night editing, the few hours we did spend in bed were precious.
Dino: As you can tell, the Speedhunters crew love their food. Here's a healthy Grill'd burger. We were lucky this place was so close to our hotel.
Matt: After an exhausting day shooting, these burgers saved my life.
Matt: I loved the sunsets in Sydney, with the city as a backdrop it made for some stunning landscapes.
Casey: Definitely! I was so happy to have such amazing weather for most of the trip!
Dino: I see a pattern emerging. First the cockatoo at the park now yet another photogenic animal. Casey, ever thought about venturing into wildlife photography? That 400mm with a couple of converters will really come in handy…
Charles: Maybe Casey is a wildlife photographer? It would explain why his shirts are all ripped up!
Casey: Maybe something to consider in the near future… Birdhunting?
That's about it for our shenanigans in Sydney away from all the seriousness at the events and photo shoots. You can expect some mouth-watering feature cars, shop tours and the odd spotlight very soon.
Words & Pictures Dino Dalle Carbonare, Charles Kha, Casey Dhnaram, Matt Malcolm