Thru My Lens: The Speedhunters Dream Team

Last weekend I was in Norway for Gatebil, this weekend I am in Seattle for Formula Drift and next weekend I will be in Japan for the 12 hours of Motegi. My life is dedicated to hunting speed and at Gatebil there was enough speed to last a lifetime.

You know that feeling you get when you finally get in your car after a long day of waxing and polishing? I don’t know about you guys, but I feel like a million bucks when I get behind the wheel after I’ve washed it. I’ve come to the conclusion that all the drivers at Gatebil have that million bucks feeling non-stop for the duration of the weekend.

Taryn touched on this in her post, but Norway is very strict about modified cars, and just buying a regular street car costs four times as much as here in the United States. Gatebil is the perfect way for these car culture enthusiasts to get that feeling of driving their modified cars as much as they want and as hard as they want – heck there ‘s even a car wash service at Gatebil. Hence the smile on each and every one of their chiselled Scandinavian faces.

Over the years the event has evolved into something much more than just a track day. It attracts international attention from media outlets like us as well as drift teams from all over the world like these guys from Latvia and Russia. That has got to be the lowest R34 drift car I’ve ever seen.

Gatebil is very important to us because we feel that this gem has been hidden way too long; we want to show the world its glory and maybe help grow it into something even better. That’s why we assembled the dream team: seven photographers from different countries.

Since we have quite a bit of new readers I figured it would be fun to introduce you to our Gatebil photographer team. I will start with our fearless leader, Rodbot Chong from Sweden. He’s a robot who never sleeps, and he doesn’t actually use that camera to take photos. He puts the viewfinder up to his eye and shoots photos with his eye directly into his CPU brain and uploads it to Speedhunters via wi-fi. Scary huh?

Next up we have Bryn Musselwhite from the UK. One of the requirements to being an Editor at Large at Speedhunters is to have striking good looks, or you have to have lots of project cars. Lucky for Bryn, since he has more cars than he can count. In fact he just bought another one while out in Scandinavia.

Alok Paleri speaks perfect German, which is handy as he lives in Germany. He also drives a German car. Alok is the only person I’ve seen with a more aggressive farmer’s tan than me.

No Speedhunting team would be complete without at least one viking. Egil Håskjold lives in Norway and he has been bringing us Gatebil coverage for years before all the international recognition. He slept under my pool table last year when he came stateside for Formula Drift Irwindale. Whatever it takes right?

Paddy McGrath is the Irish Speedhunter and he’s been around much longer than I have. He doesn’t only hunt speed, but he stalks it, as you can see here. Then he kills it and eventually performs taxidermy on it.

The furthest distance traveled award goes to Taryn Croucher, who came all the way from New Zealand. She loves it when I take photos of her after only having had three hours of sleep.

It’s sad that the best photo I have of myself is from when I accidently fired my camera while taking it out of my bag.

Together we braved the constant barrage of flying tire bits and tire smoke. It was so thick that sometimes you could not see your hand in front of your face.

We searched for the coolest cars to feature. I ended up shooting thirteen car features. Expect them to roll out in the next couple of months.

We all made huge sacrifices for the team. I drew the short straw and had to ride in awesome drift cars all day long.

That doesn’t sound too bad does it? The problem is I get car sick very easily. I would make a terrible rally co-driver.

I was so excited to see what Drift Alliance brothers, Ryan Tuerck and Vaughn Gittin, Jr. would do at Gatebil.

Vaughn was not afraid to get close to random drivers, but there were some very close calls. Including one time when I was following Vaughn in a E46 M3 camera car.

I asked my friend to get closer to Vaughn, so he gave me a thumbs up…. and drove straight into Vaughn’s door. Afterwards we all had a good laugh.

I love this picture so much – just look at that lady hiding behind that announcer dude. She doesn’t want to get pelted in the face with rocks, but she was still videoing with her cell phone.

This is what Gatebil is really about. It’s so awesome that you can form a drift train with random strangers.

People ask me if I get bored of going to the same events over and over again. What they don’t realize is events like Gatebil Rudskogen are different every time. The winters in Scandinavia are so long that car enthusiasts just build new machines in their garage almost every year!

Last year Mad Mike was given the keys to a Ferrari F40 where he proceeded to drift it in the rain. This year Vaughn was given the opportunity to drive a Lamborghini Countach. Ever since Vaughn was little he had always wanted a Countach.

Although Vaughn’s boyhood dreams were crushed when he realized that the Countach handles like a shopping cart. He still wants one, but now he wants to build a kit car version, so he can have both form and function.

When it comes down to it, Gatebil is just like your normal track day. Although the variety of cars is unlike any other track day.

Last year Sean wrote a great article about the rules of Gatebil. One of the rules is the car must drift.

This year it’s more evident as now I’ve found every car on track has a slick hydraulic e-brake set-up.

If I didn’t know any better I would have thought that they are selling hydraulic e-brake kits at every service station.

I still can’t wrap my head around seeing Volvos of all shapes and sizes pitching it sideways.

When an ordinary looking car pitches it sideways it’s like watching a movie when an ordinary character suddenly breaks into song.

And out of nowhere other strangers appear to sing and dance as well.

I was very happy to see how well the Maximum Attack book was well received. I guess it was a great opportunity for the fans to get their favorite drivers to autograph it.

We signed so many books that we started memorizing each other’s page numbers. If you have not picked up your copy already, feel free to do so here.

Fans came in all shapes and sizes, and they go from mild to wild.

I’m not sure if it’s true, but I heard rumors that someone actually went to get Mad Mike’s signature tattooed onto their body as there was a booth at Gatebil providing a tattoo service.

The mood is always very light as most of the events I cover are pretty stressful due to having to worry about competition.

Inbetween sessions Fredric and the team would watch re-runs of Jersey Shore.

I thought this was interesting. There was a group of guys rolling around a tool chest from pit to pit. I thought they were offering to fix cars or something.

It turns out they were just trying to fix their friends a drink. These guys are professionals.

Toyota of Norway was nice enough to give us a fleet press cars to lug all of our stuff around. Rod gets to use this TRD GT86 for a week so expecting a dream drive from him.

Our hearts sank a bit when Fredric was coming down the front straight with the President of Toyota Norway in the passenger seat. He did a sick wall ride and he got so close that he smashed his taillight.

Last year I had very specific duties, but this year I was told to explore as much as I could.

Exploring means going into the forest. Surrounding the track are very sharp rocks, but in the middle is a very thick forest.

Eventually I came across a great vantage point over looking the back straightaway.

It’s crazy to think that people are now bringing prototype cars to compete in time attack class.

This Aquila CR1 race car reminds me of the electric-powered one that I saw at Pikes Peak just a few weeks earlier.

Pretty soon I have a feeling we will see open-wheel cars. Although currently the Gatebil rules do not allow it.

I’m very excited about the feature I shot on the BMW that Ryan Tuerck was driving. It weighs at around 1000kg (2204lbs). That’s absolutely insane!

Here he is happy as a clam as he signed his life away.

No wonder he was so at ease when he was doing those 100mph+ dirt drop wall rides.

By the end of the weekend it seemed like everyone and their grandmothers were driving on the track. There’s no point in going home with spare tires after all.

It was so cool to see LaSupra in the flesh and on the track. There are many things left on the car that needs to be ironed out, but it looks as if thing’s are coming along nicely.

I like the Breisladd drift competition because you get to see AWD cars in the same competition as rear-wheel drive cars, but I would love to see a team drifting competition at Gatebil.

It wouldn’t be very hard to put together as there are already many teams in attendance every year.

One of the larger teams is Team Yellow. I think they have over eight cars to their disposal. An eight car tandem would be amazing.

Then maybe the Speedhunters team could join up with Fredric’s old Japan Auto team.

It would be the greatest team drift competition the world has ever seen.

I have to give credit where it’s due. Fredric’s a hometown hero, and I think he’s one of the reasons why this event has blown up so much over the past few years.

He turns into a monster when he’s out there on his home turf, passing people left and right causing drift sandwiches and leaving destruction in his wake.

Maybe more of his friends will follow his path and attempt to compete in a professional drift series like Formula Drift.

Johan Halvarsson also slept under my pool table last year during Formula Drift Irwindale. He won third place in the Breisladd drift competition.

This month is jam-packed with all things Scandinavian, which begs the question – what kind of crazy contraptions will they come up with next? And of course how many more Scandinavians can sleep under my pool table during this year’s Formula Drift Irwindale?

This pretty much sums up our weekend. Leave it to Fredric to rub off painted-on tire logos.

We opened up a whole new can of worms for many of you Speedhunters out there. Hopefully you guys will put Gatebil Rudskogen on your bucket list. It happens once a year in July and let’s face it, 43,500 people can’t all be wrong.

Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto

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