Auto Heroes Assemble
Hard Parked

Some months back, I attended the very first Auto Heroes event at Mondello Park, just outside Dublin in Ireland.

The premise was simple: create a car happening that catered for everyone’s tastes. This isn’t a track day, it isn’t a drift practice day, it isn’t a car show or a meet. It’s all of the above at the same time.

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For as long as I can remember, Ireland has always had a strong predisposition towards Japanese cars, and as such, any event like this is going to have a particular leaning towards the Japanese side of things. It’s not JDM biased, it’s just an accurate reflection of Ireland’s car culture at this point in time.

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It doesn’t mean that fans of non-Japanese things aren’t welcome, far from it. They’re embraced.

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Since I first visited, the organisers have, err… organised things slightly differently to make the most of the Mondello Park facilities, and just to improve the whole experience in general for anyone attending. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll take you through three of the main pieces of the Auto Heroes puzzle, starting with the ‘hard parked’ area. Yes, the organisers have a sense of humour.

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The full length of the pit lane is now reserved for those that just want to park up and show off their cars, or just have a chat with other enthusiasts. It always throws up a couple of interesting cars too. I’d forgotten just how impressive the R33 GT-R is, even in a relatively mild state of tune. The GReddy/GREX brake upgrade and BBS LMs (you can see a detail in the Bonus Images chapter) were subtle but welcome touches.

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It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen a genuine Tommi Mäkinen Edition Lance Evolution VI, and I’ve probably never seen one in quite such immaculate condition either.

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The MG BGT is typical of classic car shows in Ireland, but the SSR meshes and raised bonnet bulge are pointers that this isn’t your typical factory-faithful restoration. Expect a spotlight later this week…

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Another spotlight coming your way is what I believe to be the first street Rocket Bunny NA-chassis Mazda MX-5 in the world. Those of you who follow my articles will be aware that I’m not a huge fan of the over-fender craze, but I have to say that I was impressed with this. We can talk more about this one later.

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Don’t you just hate it when you keep bumping into an ex? Considering Project GTI wouldn’t even start on the morning of Auto Heroes, this was an extra bitter sight.

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Another car that you don’t see many of anymore is the Colt Mivec. I guess it lived in the shadows of the DOHC VTEC Honda Civic, but the Mitsubishi model is still a formidable package. This was a particularly nice example too.

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Away from the hustle and bustle of the main paddock area, the school course was sectioned off for those who wanted to enjoy their cars a little bit more aggressively, shall we say.

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Again, it’s always an eclectic mix of street cars and race cars sharing some track time together. I’ve participated before at a previous event and really enjoyed how well mannered everyone is; no one is trying to prove anything and everyone is on the same page, so to speak. It’s a great introduction to track days too.

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I had naively assumed that this Corolla saloon was a spectator’s car at first, until I noticed the brakes behind the OZ Racing wheels. It become even more apparent that not all was what it seemed when the Toyota started tearing up the track.

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A 3S-GTE swap into the already factory 4WD drivetrain has created an approximately 300hp car that epitomises the term sleeper. Speaking briefly to the owner, he’s on the look out for a set of steel wheels that will fit over the large Brembos to complete the look.

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The Escort Cosworth RS from the hard parked area made its way out on track for a bit in the afternoon, joined by a few fellow fast Fords. It’s a pretty good example of how Auto Heroes works too, parked up in the morning and enjoying the track in the afternoon.

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It’s rare to see an AE86 not sideways in Ireland, but this example has been built purely for grip. Having just put the finishing touches on an upgraded 16-valve 4A-GE swap, the owner was getting tremendous value for money out of his time on track. The induction sound from the high-revving, naturally aspirated motor was intoxicating.

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From a spectator’s point of view, the whole event is pretty much sensory overload; there’s always something to take a look at. Whilst these guys and girls were tearing it up, the other part of Mondello’s international circuit was full of drift cars at full tilt. I’ll get to those in a bit.

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The grip sessions have also begun to attract independent racers who can take advantage of the track time as cost effective test time, especially as the off-season draws to a close.

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The drift practice sessions, which are divided between pros and amateurs, continue to prove to be the most popular part of the Auto Heroes day.

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It’s very much a street car versus track car sort of affair, although I struggled to tell the difference as the driving standard was quite high in both groups.

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What was probably most enjoyable, was watching groups of mates sticking together on track and just going at it flat-out all day. You could almost taste the fun that these folks were having.

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It wouldn’t be drift without some form of hardship.

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A clean cut drive-shaft should have been the end of the day for this four-door R32, a mis-shift into second gear being the root cause. There are always friends and spare parts around though…

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It’s always a good day when you see someone back on track after having some bad luck.

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The Prodrift Academy are currently running a competition which offers one lucky person the chance to compete a full season of the new Irish Amateur Drift Championship for free with a fully backed car including tyres, fuel and pit crew.

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This of course requires the prize car to be thoroughly tested in what one person actually described as ‘work’. Because your typical work day involves some e-mails, office stuff and 120km/h drift entries.

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My drift car of the day – this isn’t an actual prize – went to this naturally aspirated PS13 Silvia which was on it pretty much all day long. Further proof if needed that big horsepower isn’t always required to have fun.

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There’s a definite emphasis on fun and enjoyment at Auto Heroes, something that is very much welcome in a world where some are determined to suck the enjoyment out of pretty much anything good that we have left.

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Good cars, good atmosphere and a recipe that is now proven to work even on such a small scale here in Ireland.

It’s a tough event to cover, or at least to properly convey how relaxed the atmosphere is, which is in stark contrast to the action on track or even on the gymkhana course which I didn’t even get a chance to cover. You never find yourself looking at your watch wondering if it’s going on home time; instead you just keep setting out on walks around where you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something new.

There’s just one more Auto Heroes left to run before the season kicks off. The organisers have, wisely in my opinion, decided that the event will be an off-season only affair as the schedule is just too busy during the summer months. I can’t promise coverage of the final one, I just want to get back on track and enjoy what Auto Heroes has to offer.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos

Cutting Room Floor
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what wheels is that blue car in the second photo sporting?


kebab Compomotive TH


Love the B&W picture with the tree.
Really wish we got the cosworth RS in Canada, would love to see one. Definitely on the short list of favorite cars.


I would like to see/hear/read more about that understatement looking white Corolla sedan !


Really? Only one pic of the Special Edition Lancer. Such a tease. Maybe a full feature coming soon?


RDS I'll have to try and follow up with the owner, he has a few more plans for it yet.


CharlesChris15 There's a little bit in the video of it too, but here's another shot.


Why have lights been put in place of the air ducts in the bumper? Never seen that done before


Cool feature. Anymore pics of that Imperial Blue EsCos, the XR2 next to it in the second pic, and the Tommi Mäk?


Come on man how coukd you not know that, they're iconic as hell wheels!


Hate to be  "that guy" after such a great article......  But, isnt that a MGC, not a MGB?
Its just that bonnet sure does look like an MGC part.



LukeEVOVIII There are actually 2 different TME bumpers...this is the foglight model which is pretty rare. The non-foglight model has a different design as seen here.


lol excuse my ignorance I recognized them but finally was able to ask


Imagine my joy at seeing a C34 Stagea as the lead-in pic. (Go on, imagine it.) If only it was an M35...
With the possible exceptions of the Cossie (much love) and the MG (love reserved for upcoming spotlight), I'd say not a single one of these cars would look out of place at a New Zealand track day. It's amazing how, even though you'd struggle to find two points further apart on the planet, the scene is so similar.


"Considering Project GTI wouldn’t even start on the morning of Auto Heroes..."
What happened?


Paddy McGrath 
Good to hear that !


Can't wait for the miata feature! That's an understatement.


awesome! love the cosworth and the skyline wagon (it's not beautiful but is crazy and i love wagons). hope i can go to the next one.


I would love to take any of these cars for some laps around Mondello or elsewhere. Even the Renault Trafic :D

Great stuff, Paddy!


Yer I have that exact TME picture saved in my gallery. Ah right didn't know that - obviously it's rare considering I've never seen a fog lights model before and im a massive evo nut!


Hey guys thanks for the compliments on the EVO it's my Mak and I always tought it was a different bumper on them with fogs . But believe it or not it's actually the same bumper if you look closely, the fog lights manual and fitting instructions are in the glove box all genuine mitsubishi. apparently they were an option and cost £1,000 pounds. This one has a few little hidden extras too. I didn't think I'd ever own one dream come true. Great work by Paddy always love his stuff


What car is this one? First time I see it.


EvolveWRC mazda 323 interplay in my country indonesia


TarmacTerrorist not a C bonnet, they're a bit more subtle, rounded and have a chrome strip running across them about 2" from the front usually. This looks a bit more aftermarket, I'm thinking it's going to be CA18DET or similar powerplant, the C ran the big heavy 6 cyl from the healey 3000 etc


pilsbury69 TarmacTerrorist aye, the engine choice is why the C didn't sell as well as the B, the big 6 made the car much more front heavy and less lively when driving (well, thats my understanding of it!) 

I'm going to start wearing glasses I think, its not the first time I've made a similar mistake!


Mazda Familia Turbo I think


CA18 is a good guess but you'll see soon enough whats in it :)


TarmacTerrorist pilsbury69 especially when they lumped in the shorter, lighter and more poweful 3.5 Rover (Buick) V8 a couple of years later


RDS He passed me at some stage in this video: 7 mins in :)


mk2glenn Ok, 2nd guess, 2JZ, or RB26?


She's very nice mate! Seeing people saying that they never thought they'd own their dream car makes me more confident for my dream Evo!


awesome pictures!


danielbelvino It's on March 28th as far as I know :)


Ontakeriput I'll explain in the next update, but it's back to life once more...


Great photos and write up! I'm really liking that blue Escort. I also really like the R33, even though it's the "lemon" of the three, it's still my favorite :P


Keep it coming paddy! B-e-a-utiful photos!


pilsbury69 mk2glenn You should find out later today, but expect something more inline-four...


kebab Everybody had to ask at some stage, no worries :-)


Ok guesses 3, 4 and 5, some sort of VTEC YO, a VAG 20vt or a rover T16?


Looks like I was pretty damn close with my first guess!


Lol. You stared a little too long at your "ex" in the video.
Lucky the GTI wasnt there to see  ;)


nice mitsubishi mirage! damn i miss my satria.


Richyoneill Such a beautiful car. Probably top 10 on a list of cars I'd love to own at one point. 
Paddy McGrath Thanks for the other pics ;)


Thank you, iv loved them since I was a teenager when they were domination wrc and it doesn't dissapoint puts a smile on my face every time I even look at it and driving it is even better, U0001f603


Any of the supra?


Thanks for the video Paddy McGrath I know it takes away from the time you have to shoot stills but it really gave us a good understanding of what it was like there. Love hearing the cars idling whilst others are ripping by at full tilt in the background. Flashy edits with dubstep soundtracks and all the wizz bangery just don't get that across.  I'd really like to see SpeedHunters doing more of it.


Wow the R33 on the third picture is really similar to mine ( ). I didn't expect that anyone else than me is rolling stock height on a R33 GT-R. Greetings from Switzerland.


the car was very good 
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