20 Pieces Of Speedhunting Ambition
Speedhunting 24/7

Can I ask you a few personal questions? You and I may be total strangers, but what the hell, if we’re sitting here together, why not have an in-depth, meaningful conversation? I’m sure we’ll both get a lot more out of this moment than if we just fill the air with banal trivialities. So shall we discard the nuances and get into things?

Let me ask you this: are you happy with all aspects of your day-to-day life? Do you walk down the street with a feeling of pure ecstasy, smug with the knowledge that you and your existence are completely perfect? Are you so impressed with your achievements, that all that’s left to be done is sit back and enjoy the fruits of your success? Are you so enlightened that you spent your days in a perpetual state of bliss?

No?

Me neither. Although I’m sure we all crave the feeling of inner contentment, most of us spend a huge amount of our waking lives thinking about how to make improvements. Some of us desire to find love, artistic fulfilment or a thrilling experience. Or it may be that we want to figure out what career path to take or how to fund our automotive purchasing habits. Maybe we just want all the money in the world, or need to make a difference in society. Whatever the case, it’s perfectly natural to have a fire of desire burning deep inside our bellies. It’s all part and parcel with the human experience.

I’d also like to think that each of us has the means to better our lives. I really believe that we can all make our biggest dreams a reality, it just takes a lot of hard work, a hell of a lot of self discipline and a license to think big.

Visualize. Plan. Act. Repeat.

Do this over and over again, every day, year in, year out and eventually you’ll find that exciting things start happening in your life. It may take a few years, or even a few decades, but if you’re focused and are working with your natural talents, then anything is possible.

Now the naysayers out there in the audience may start to scoff at the American-ness of my thinking here but I have empirical proof to back up my arguments. That is, twenty pieces of proof, in the form of photos.

I’m not going to so much talk about the photographic merits of each of following shots; for me, I’m reasonably happy with each of the images. Rather, I’m going present each photo as a manifestation of personal ambition. I will take each image and explain to you the type of thinking, strategy and action that lead to the photo. It’s a bit of a different way to look at car imagery but perhaps at the end of this conversation you may take one or two small pieces of inspiration for your own personal ambitions too.

Koenigsegg 2013 Rod-2231

Ambition Number 1: Collaborate with the world’s exotic car manufacturers (part one) – Koenigsegg

Here’s an image that I’ve had in my mind’s eye for a while now. Yes, Sean Klingelhoefer and I are at the Koenigsegg factory in this shot, but it’s more the overall strategy that I want to illustrate for you here. I want Speedhunters to be shooting all of the most exciting cars in the world, both built by companies or private individuals alike. Us visiting Koenigsegg was the first step this past year along this pathway.

Bilsport Elmia Show 2013-2958

Ambition Number 2: Connect into the Scandinavian car scene (part one) – Elmia Show

Those of you who are regular Speedhunters will now know that Scandinavia is the epicentre of a rather burgeoning car scene to rival that of any region. And while I’ve been involved with the Gatebil events for a few years now, up until this year I haven’t done much to get involved with the local Swedish scene. That all changed the day that a group of us hit up the Elmia Show.

It was here that I scouted many of what were going to become some of the top Scandinavian feature cars of 2013. I spent the day collecting contact details, passing out business cards and shaking hands, thus ensuring that Speedhunters would be shooting some of the wildest builds on the planet in the coming months.

Aston McLaren Rod Chong 2013-5966

Ambition Number 3: Collaborate with the world’s exotic car manufacturers (part two) – McLaren

Here we have another ambition coming to life… one that relates in theme to the Koenigsegg visit. In my mind’s eye, Speedhunters must be shooting all the coolest bits of car culture around the world and the scene at McLaren HQ in Woking is as inspiring as they get. I wanted us to shoot the assembly line of the 12C and took steps to make this dream a reality.

Visualize: Shoot day at McLaren HQ in Woking.

Plan: Figure out how to make the shoot happen – who to contact and what to say.

Act: Present shooting plan, arrange shoot date, gather photography team, travel to Woking, shoot, write, publish.

Lamborghini Aventador Drive Rod Chong 2013-6305

Ambition Number 4: Empower the Speedhunters crew

Here lies one of the biggest lessons of the year for me. How to make things happen for Speedhunters without having to micromanage the production myself. Speedhunters is no longer a start-up web blog – we are now well past this and as a result, need to reorganise into a professional media outlet, with shoots happening all over the world every week of every month. This means I have slowly had to release the reins and stop being so involved in the day-to-day shoots. I have to make sure the project is developing in the right way and in order to do this, can no longer be a central storyteller on Speedhunting trips. As much as I love shooting, I’ve come to the realisation that in order for the project to keep developing, I need to take a back seat on the editorial side in order to direct the project more centrally. The transition is still ongoing but we are getting there, slowly but surely.

This shoot in the back of the Famoso Speed Shop near Bakersfield, California is one of the first examples of this new working practice. It was our new hot rod specialist, Keith Charvonia, who had arranged the location, with Larry, Mike, Suzy and Sean all contributing to the various stories we generated that day. It was one of the first times where I was on-site not to Speedhunt, but more to oversee.

Here my personal gratification as an artist had to take a back seat to my ambition for Speedhunters to continue to evolve as a project.

Driftbash Caddy Rod Chong-9686

Ambition Number 5: Connect into the Scandinavian car scene (part two) – DriftBash

Let’s now look back at the strategy which started unfolding at the Elmia show in Sweden this past March. Here we were one and a half months later and we had now scouted and shot the Japcrap 1JZ powered Caddy; a build which has gone on to become one of the most important car features of the year. Our deepening connection into the local Swedish car scene was starting to pay off in a big way: we were meeting some pretty cool, inspiring people at events like Driftbash and shooting some great builds.

Players Classic Modified Live Snetterton 2013-2-4

Ambition Number 6: Get involved in car culture flashpoints – Players Classic

I always have my eyes on the lookout for new drivers, photographers, writers, builders and event organisers to collaborate with. In this case we are looking at Fredric Aasbø, who I’m sure you will agree, is a rather special person. He’s not only quickly developed into one of the world’s most competitive drifters but he’s also proven to be a great collaborator. Every interaction with him is a positive experience, so much so that the Speedhunters project will always do what we can to help push his star forward.

I should also say the same thing of the Players crew. I love what they stand for – their vibe and their openness. When they invited us to collaborate on the Players Classic event at Goodwood, of course the answer was yes. Going to their two British events was also a chance for the Speedhunters team to get further involved in the UK scene.

Players Classic Modified Live Snetterton 2013-2-26

Ambition Number 7: Be a happy person – Players Classic

You know, sometimes you just need to do something for the hell of it. Not because it fits into a strategy or goal, but more just to take some enjoyment from life. It will give you some fuel to fight the the good fight and maybe even be a more cheerful person too. Happy people are much better to work with than moody, miserable ones after all!

I took a moment at Players Classic to wander about to take in the scene and see the event. I’m the type of guy who loves being at any type of car event, be it a huge international race, a small meet or static car show, so for me this was a great pleasure. If you were to put a mirror up here, you’d see that I was grinning from ear to ear as I took this photo.

Rod Gatebil Sweden 2013-5144

Ambition Number 8: Turn Speedhunters into a world-class media operation – Gatebil Sweden

I was really angry when I took this photo, I have to admit. This was the first night of the Gatebil Sweden event and the organisation of the Speedhunting on-site team was not going well. For one, I was not supposed to be the one shooting this portion of the event, but due to some internal problems on the team, there wasn’t anyone else on site who could shoot that night’s stunt show. So it had to be me.

As I shot this image, I was already drawing up plans to make sure the organisational mistakes that we made that day would never happen again.

Rod Gatebil Sweden 2013-5310

Ambition Number 9: Take a great photo - Gatebil Sweden

Now that I’m mostly free of any real obligation to shoot photos for core Speedhunters event coverage, I can on the rare occasion still spend one or two hours at an event going for the perfect photograph. I found this photo angle on the first day of the Gatebil Sweden event and subsequently spent the next two days trying to perfect the image. I even gave Mad Mike instructions where to drift the car in order to get the shot right.

The overall message? I oversee a big automotive photography project, so it does help that I also know my way around cameras and automotive imagery. Why should the Speedhunting team listen to me otherwise?

Ambition never sleeps
Gatebil Norway 2013-6742

Ambition Number 10: Generate compelling automotive stories

Our collaboration with the Gatebil crew generated over one million pageviews this year just in stories about the Gatebil events and builds. That’s a sign of a project well done!

Gatebil Norway 2013-7539

Ambition Number 11: Maintain fighting form

I’m sure most of the other Speedhunters could tell you stories about how I seemingly never sleep, am always working and continuously send barrages of emails, especially on weekends. I’m a man on a mission, it’s true. But everyone has limits and I also need to make sure that I’m not pushing myself over the edge. I work really hard but also know when it’s time to put the brakes on.

I shot this photo in southern Norway while taking a week out to rest, recuperate and also mourn the loss of my dear friend and fellow Speedhunter, Bryan Liew, who died unexpectedly this summer.

DMPD 2013-8153

Ambition Number 12: Connect to car culture flashpoints – DMPD show

The DMPD crew operate out of The Netherlands and have quickly become the epicentre of the Benelux modified car scene. They also invited us to put on a photo exhibition, a spark of an idea which we picked up and ran with.

Doing a project like this in The Netherlands was new for us but was ultimately worthwhile.

Players Show 2013-8296

Ambition Number 13: Expand the Speedhunters experience – Players Show

Is Speedhunters just a website? Those of you who picked up a photo book would likely beg to differ. We’re also an Instagram channel, a clothing line and a drift team among other things. Us putting on the Joy of Machine photography exhibition in The Netherlands and UK, was a further step towards expanding the Speedhunters project definition. We are now much more than just a website.

09Sept-Oct Speedhunters EDTN 2013-8600

Ambition Number 14: Create cross-media themes and projects  – Players Show

The #JoyOfMachine project started out with us putting out some T-shirts, progressed to a photography exhibition and ended with the release of our third coffee table book last month. It was an interesting evolution to work with over the course of the year.

I’m already working on the next set of 2014 special projects and hope to keep the hits coming!

09Sept-Oct Speedhunters EDTN 2013-8658

Ambition Number 15: Create a Speedhunters visual style and attitude - Players Show

I should also mention that I’ve become increasingly interested in handling the photography for our Speedhunters EDTN merchandise collections. Sure we could take our clothes and drop them on a white surface and shoot catalogue shots, but that’s just not good enough for me. I want any Speedhunters product or clothing item to have a vibe to it – something which expresses what we’re all about.

Does that sound pompous and pretentious? I don’t know. All I can say is that some photos make me feel really happy and some make me annoyed. This one here makes me pretty happy.

DCIM100GOPRO

Ambition Number 16: Push forward Speedhunters photographic standards

Like most members of the Speedhunters team, we’re always trying to push ourselves creatively. It may be that we are continuously discussing how to write better articles, take sexier car photos or figure out new ways to use social media. In the case of this image, I wanted to devise new methods for telling drive experience stories so I decided to try out some GoPro photography techniques.

This image is the result and hints at some of the new photography and video techniques we will be introducing across all of our drive stories next year.

World Time Attack Speedhunters 2013-9583

Ambition Number 17: Have Speedhunters shoot the coolest builds in the world – World Time Attack Challenge

If you look carefully, you can see Dino shooting the interior of this rather tidy Australian-built S15.

I had previously spent a portion of the day in the production office of Sydney Motorsports Park, arranging for Dino and Brad to have access to the track to shoot a few top-level builds. This was one of them.

So rather than think of myself, I was there to support my two photographers to make sure they had access to a good location. Speedhunters without car features would be a rather sorry place, so every effort had to be done to make this happen.

SEMA 2013 Rod Chong-0330

Ambition Number 18: Meet the movers and shakers of the automotive world – SEMA Show

I remember a key moment in my previous life as a music video director. The year was 1996 and I had just moved to London to pursue my directing dream. One day, I was waiting at a bus stop in Soho in the middle of the night so I could travel home to Hackney. Suddenly, my favourite band in the world, The Prodigy, walked past me. This was the type of band that I had specifically moved to London to work with… An opportunity was presenting itself to me and I had to seize the moment. If I went up to them and started talking, perhaps I could direct their next music video.

What did I do? Nothing.

I just didn’t have the confidence to go up to them and tell them that I wanted to work with them. Opportunity lost.

This type of thing never happens now. Learning from past lost opportunities, I’ve now developed my communication skills and confidence to the point that whenever I see anyone interesting from the world of car culture, I just go up to them and introduce myself. This is exactly what I did moments before I took this photo. I saw Magnus Walker, went up and started chatting away.

He’s a pretty damn cool guy and I’m looking foward to collaborating with him in 2014.

Essen Show Rod Chong 2013-1374

Ambition Number 19: Have Speedhunters shoot the coolest builds in the world – Essen Show

See this car? It’s one of the most incredible 930s I have ever laid eyes on. And Speedhunters will shoot this car. It’s going to happen one way or another. Mark my words.

Fredric SH EDTN Club Jacket-1480

Ambition Number 20: Be a warrior

See the look in Fredric Aasbø’s eyes? That’s the look of someone who knows what he has to do. He may come across as mild mannered and gentlemanly, but deep inside there’s a viking warrior lurking.

Yes he’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet but underneath the surface, he knows that in order to be an international drift champion, he can’t mess about and waste time with excesses or indulgences. And I for one find this quite inspirational.

I hope you do too.

So there you have it: 20 little morsels of my personal ambitions. A few of these ambitions have been reasonably well achieved, but most are are definitely still works-in-progress. These little vignettes are just a portion of my internal process but I do hope that some of you will be able to relate to and take something from these stories.

So tell me then: what are your ambitions and how are you going to achieve them?

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38 comments

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1

Wonderful way of storytelling! Good luck in achieving your ambitions and creating new ones!

My ambition: being part of something big.

Author2

Tx for the note!

3
Seeking Perfection

I find all those ambitions quite inspirational, too. Rodbot or Mr. Boss-Man deserves respect for making popular this kind of blog that features free content of high quality. SH has gone viral and in my opinion, it is currently the best tuning culture blog.

...but I am always unsatisfied. For people like me who followed SH since its inception, it might be obvious. It has to do with ambition number 4. SH crew has evolved through the years, but it really is disappointing to see that a few respectable members that left, have never been replaced by others of equal value. Although they are gone, their posts are still popular when you choose the 'Trending' option. Furthermore, I do not get this obsession with the Scandinavian scene. Additionally, the new layout still bothers me a bit. While in presentation mode, the text keeps disappearing within seconds.It is also really hard to navigate through posts of older months.

I still love SH though. The photography of Sean and posts like the Nismo GT-R by Dino are so special. It was mind-bending to observe that SH tested the GT-R Nismo, whereas mainstream respectable blogs like Jalopnik and Autoblog do not have a review yet. In my book this is an impressive accomplishment.

Merry Xmas to you all and I really wish SH keeps growing bigger. ''BIGGER THAN LIFE'', in the words of Birdman. Oh yeah!

4

My ambitions are to bring my visions into the real world. Im not gonna say what they are but they have changed slightly from the last time we talked.
All the best. Matt

Author5

Make it happen! :)

6
DaveLove_TeamBlitzkrieg

This was inspirational on a mind-blowing level to me... Especially the shot of Fredric and your words that followed. Thank you for this, it's gone to heart and may be what I've needed to crest the final few hurdles that stand between me and my ambitions!

Author7

It's a daily discipline. One things that's key is making sure you visualize your goals every day. See it and own it :)

8
Seeking Perfection

My ambition is to become a SH moderator. You know why. Merry Christmas, buddy!

Author9

Heh heh heh :)

10

As rare as they are I love when you let us read your mind. Hopefully my own build will some day grace the pages of SH, if even just in the background.

11

When can I purchase that jacket on the last picture with Fredric Aasbø?

12

You should know that the hard work and ambition of the Speedhunters crew and project has inspired many many people all over the world. Speedhunters has given me ambition, three years ago I picked up my first DSLR camera inspired by the photography on this site, earlier this year I had one of my photos featured in the #IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER theme along side some fantastic work, this gave me great satisfaction. I have ambition to continue to shoot until one day I reach the quality of the Speedhunters photographers.

Speedhunters has also inspired me to seek out and find many of the amazing places, shows and events around the world that I would have otherwise not known about. Porsche and Mercedes-Benz museum Stuttgart, walk the old banking of Monza, Route De Napoleon, Col De Turini, Musee de Spa Franchorcamps, Stelvio pass, WTAC, go on dream drives, visit old race tracks etc etc. Places I would have never have known about nor visited without Speedhunters pointing it out to me. Giving me the ambition to hunt speed. Keep it up, unearth the weird and wonderful, give us inspiration. Yours and the teams hard work is greatly appreciated and changing lives, inspiring and as this topic is based on giving people ambition. Thank you.

Regards
Kevin.

Author13

Amazing story tx Kevin.

Author14

Next month IIRC

Author15

What is the build?

16

RodChong No prob, keep it up. And find me more cool places, museums and old race tracks haha. Le Mans 24hr on the cards for next year and who knows maybe even the crazyness of Gatebil in '15 when I finish a build mental enough to take with me.

17

I really love the Prodigy story, it's always inspirational to read about people overcoming their own, invisible barriers.. Especially you as I didn't really think you had any! I love when you push through the fear and it works out, such a good feeling of personal achievement! Great article, very inspiring!

Author18

That was back when I was more a painfully shy person. Had lots of ideas and talent but lacked any communication or social skills to back up my potential.
It's been a long road!

19

Awesome post Rod, SH is already very human, but to be able to admit mistakes and lay down ambitions really makes the whole thing seem even more human.

My ambition? To make it as a photographer, I'm in my final year studying Photography at university, so in 6 months I'll be in the real world, sink or swim. Gonna give my all to swim to the top, just push and push and push to improve and get further. For the money sure, we've gotta earn a living right? But also to make some awesome stuff that makes people happy.

I'd also quite like to become a Speedhunter, definitely seems like the best job ever!

Keep up the awesome work, there's a reason this place is my homepage.

20

I first met SH a few years ago and it made me want to pick up a camera and shoot stuff. This year i went to the DMPD show in The Netherlands and just sat down with a friend of mine and looked at all those awesome pictures and the people that we're enjoying them, its the small things that count at the end of the day!

21

sum sick picktures m8
In all seriousness though, it's been great to see Speedhunters grow, and yet keep the personal elements like having the article writers reply to our comments and stuff.
Looking forward forward to where you're heading next.

22

Very inspiring, great work! Most important for me...be a happy person with all the consequences, be passionate about what you do and do it with your full attention.  easier said than done but.... :)

Author23

Cheers m8 :)

Author24

Glad you liked the show! It was a first for us, but came together reasonably well.

Author25

Just make sure you take care of your life outside of your passion as you are getting started. The photography 'may' not pay the bills as you are getting started but keep on it and you'll get there.
Oh and make sure you know your craft. But if you are studying photography that's a great start.
I should also mention we are planning to add new people to the photography team next year so who knows what's possible! We will make an announcement next month about this. :)

26

RodChong
http://matsgarage.com/
It's a long way to go yet but maybe I'll see you somewhere in Sweden in a year or two.
Keep up the awsome work, SH gives me my daily joy of Machines fix.

27

RodChong I'm sure you don't need anyone else based in the UK, but I'll keep an eye out for it anyway! Oh and Merry Christmas!

28

Well done on your achievements. I hope you continue to expand and grow and do what you love.

Your story rang true on so many aspects, whilst my career path is different to yours - the things you have picked up and the changes you have made to push the boundaries are similar to what I have experienced.

I hope I can become as successful as you as well.

29

Well if you need anyone in the Netherlands I'm availible .
Oh and we have have a pretty good drifting series here you should really check it out in the summer.
there are some pretty great build out there like a m3 powered manta and and a v8 corolla te71 .

30

I found this article very interesting, and extremely inspiring, so thank you Rod! For what it's worth, I think Speedhunters is an amazing... I don't know what to call it? Brand? Lifestyle? World? So much more than a website to me. I found Speedhunters some time in 2011 and even though that wasn't really very long ago, I can't imagine my life without it now. This place is my go to for my daily automotive fix. The variety and the quality of the features never ceases to intrigue and amaze me. Sadly, out of my group of friends I am the only one who is into cars on the level that us car guys consider to be 'petrol headed', so to have a place like this to come to, to indulge my hobby, talk about it with like minded people and discover new things on a regular basis is a godsend for me.

I've has a quick read of the comments on here, and it seems like a lot of people agree with me when I say that you are doing an amazing job. I for one hope to be looking around on here for a very long time to come. Please, keep up the excellent work.

31

i need to get my ass out there and start taking some pictures!

32

RodChongI hope we can find you in The Netherlands next year aswell!

33

I too am looking forward to next year, and looking into ways to lift my photography to new higher ground. I have been fortunate to connect with a few new clients in the last 2years, and the most recent one got me shooting for them at World Time Attack, and ultimately got to shoot one of the top aussie built time attack cars of Pulse Evo at the clients HQ.
It hasn't happened over night and is a matter of being in the right place, right time & With talking to the right people aswell. Getting to even connect with some of the leading photographers of the australian field, and also getting to connect with Brad again, and meet Dino and yourself Rod on the saturday night drift event at WTAC.
Can't wait for next year, as the best is yet to come!

34

Nice little motivational post Rod.  And I'm glad we're on the same page--The Prodigy is my my fav. group as well!  Long live the original electronic dance music!

35

I once blagged my in to a Prodigy gig in a warehouse in Birmingham - for free, opportunity taken! 

One day, maybe many years for now, I will shoot a feature for Speedhunters! I have a lot to learn and a lot of shooting to do to 'up my game' but I'll get there!!

http://www.rossjukesphoto.com

36
JoneKlemoOverland

Really motivational guys :) 2013 was a real rollercoaster ride for me. both in a postive way and a negative, on the personal level, the girl of my dreams cut me off and i suddenly felt all alone. in the professional level the work i do is finally getting better and better. and on the semi-wannabeprofessional-level it's finally getting alot better. in 2013 i've been to the Nurburgring driven a Audi R8 V10, and actually learned alot about both driving and differences between cars (i found the R8 maybe alittle to neutral handlingwise) and i shot my first pro gig on my first vacation to the United States, the Global Rallycross Finals in Las Vegas.

Long story on how it happened but it was not planned at all, i just took a chance when i was there a i got treated just amazing by all the guys there. and i got to talk to alot of people ive just seen on tv before, just surreal! (and of course the incredible mr. Chen)

My main problem has always been to get media access, it's not too easy to get good shots the tribunes and behind 16 fences.
2014 can only get better and i will hopefully get to attend alot of new places and meet amazing people. 


i will use this article as inspiration mr. Chong. and maybe i'll meet you at Gatebil this year.

See you guys, and good luck

Jone Klemo Øverland

http://www.facebook.com/jk0ph0t0graphy

37

Growing up I was always in and around the automotive culture as a kid and always had a SLR at hand, even if my parents spent money developing useless photos, it was all part of my learning process. I know you guys, have definitely inspired me to try and show more of what is going on in the Automotive scene in Australia and I have finally started my own blog. Having worked in the automotive scene for the last 9 years, 7 days a week has put me in contact with some amazing people. The contacts I have made are slowly becoming friends and allowing me to put together plans that is going to make 2014 a big year for me. Hopefully I can achieve half of what you have done with The Speedhunters in the process. Ambition is key.

38
JeremyAlanGlover

Very nice!..Would be cool to start covering some Canadian events during the 2014 season.. We have so much going on.. I shoot something car related every day of the week during the summer..

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