Gatebil for me is not just a drift event – it’s where my professional motorsport photography career started.
Before Gatebil I was photographing only local Estonian drift and rally events, mostly for fun and as a skill-building exercise. It was 2013 when I attended Gatebil Rudskogen in Norway for the very first time; I had just bought a 70-200mm lens and felt ready for whatever track action was thrown at me.
A local news outlet helped with my media accreditation.
The first thing that struck me was the amount of noise at every corner of Rudskogen Motorsenter: loud and annoying tire squeal mixed with the satisfactory roar of tuned engines.
I remember my head was in need of painkillers after a few hours, but it was a small price to pay for being so close to the action at the internationally renowned event.
Over the years there’s been so much written about Gatebil Rudskogen (and the other Gatebil events) from journalists’ perspectives, but two years ago during an interview with Fredric, I posed this question to him: What is Gatebil for you?
“As a driver, Gatebil was always where the crowd was and where I learned to compete in front of an audience. When I showed up in my basic BMW E30 built by my friends and funded by my student loan, I didn’t really get much track time. That’s when I realized you have to provide something that people want to see. So I started cutting the track like a madman, chasing people as close as I could with little regard for the established heroes. The marshals started giving me more and more track time. Then, a company called Japan Auto sponsored me with a certain red Supra.”
On the back of that Q&A, I decided to use the Gatebil 2019 season opener at Vålerbanen in Braskereidfoss, Norway last weekend to ask a few drivers the very same question. Here are their replies…
Ola Jæger: “Gatebil is the ultimate playground. I love that you can meet all kinds of people and have fun together, learn new things, and drive together with new and old friends.”
Alvin Lægreid: “Gatebil Våler is the first one every year, and it is cool to meet all the people again after a long winter. Gatebil for me is the whole package with the most amazing people and atmosphere. I just love to be a part of it and have lots of fun. We were competing in the GDS [Gatebil Drift Series] and qualified third, but we ended the weekend in the Top 16 against Øyvind Bogen, with a too ambitious initiation on the first corner which dropped a wheel. Now just have to look forward to Gatebil Mantorp in Sweden.”
Kai Roger Bakken: “Gatebil for me is about lifestyle. It’s a great car meeting that’s now also become a pretty high-end racing meeting. We really like the huge mix of cars, huge crowd, and of course being the most winning team ever in Gatebil’s racing series. This weekend ended for us with a happy third place in a rainy time attack. We are usually lousy in the rain so third was like a win. Then we sealed the success with a clear first place during race number one.”
Hunter Taylor: “Gatebil for me is a chance to grow my skillset behind the wheel and under the hood. It’s a chance to meet new people and get immersed into a foreign world by having the same passion for cars as the other drivers and attendees. It really has a special place in my heart. It’s my third year getting to drive on the track. I remember the first time I was ever on a race track, it was at Gatebil Mantorp and I was so incredibly nervous, but now I thrive off the adrenaline rush. This first event of the year at Gatebil Våler was probably the most stressful event I’ve had in my driving career so far. The car was breaking left and right; I guess that’s what happens when it’s been sitting in storage for a year. I definitely cried some tears but also learned so much about myself, the car and my team. My team stuck with me the whole weekend, working hard to find out the issues the car was having, and getting me back on track as soon as they could. By Sunday we got her fixed and I ended the weekend on a brilliant note. I had several awesome sessions linking parts of the track I’ve never linked before.”
Tor-Anders Ringnes: “Gatebil for me is about meeting up with all the friends and having fun on the race track together. If anything happens to a car, a lot of people come to help you. That’s real Gatebil spirit. We had a little issue right before GDS Top 16 and had to dismantle the mechanical fuel pump and weld on a new axle. I lost in the Top 16 because of a spin, since I wasn’t able to see much in the smoke behind the car. We got third place in Gatebil Powerslide competition.”
In asking this question, I wasn’t surprised that the first thing everybody speaks about are the people, friends and teams. At Gatebil, it’s the human factor that makes it so great. Simply because without friends you’ll be playing alone, and what fun is that?Bonus Gallery