No Turning Back

I’m not really sure as to how I feel about 2019, if I’m being completely honest.

It wasn’t a bad year by any means, just a different one by Speedhunters standards. The continued responsibility for the editorial side of the site occupied far more time than I would have liked, which I suppose is the biggest part of the reason that, as I write this, I no longer hold that responsibility.

I spent two years as Editor in Chief here, and was responsible for the publication of hundreds upon hundreds of stories during that timeframe. I don’t think I was ever so immersed in the Speedhunters experience before, and it has only strengthened my belief that Speedhunters is a truly special place.

2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-1

To have the opportunity to live vicariously through the rest of the team, and in such detail, was very much bittersweet. To read stories from all corners of the world, about the trials and tribulations of being a car enthusiast, was on one hand such a pleasure. To not have the time to get out and find my own stories to tell, was much the opposite.

2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-2

It wasn’t until almost the end of April earlier this year that I got my first chance to get away from the desk and use a camera in anger, at the 77th Goodwood Members Meeting. It’s a very long drive from Dublin to Goodwood, but it felt just like the early days of my Speedhunters life, road-tripping across the UK in a VW to hunt speed.

I’m not sure there’s a better event on earth to photograph than the Members Meeting. Some might suggest The Revival, also held at Goodwood, but the Members Meeting just about pips it for me as it’s not quite as hectic. There’s a more enjoyably pace to it, and more of a focus on the cars and racing. Less airplanes, though.

With fellow Speedhunters Jordan, Ryan and Mark in attendance as well, it was just nice to hang out with real people again, rather than communicating over VOIP or messages. It also meant that I was free to create my own narrative from the event, and to shoot it at my own pleasure. It was such an enjoyable weekend and something that I really needed at the time.

2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-12
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-16
2019 SH POTY PMcG Extra-4
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-17
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-20
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-24
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-28
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-27

It’s not really a bad thing that most of my Speedhunters adventures this year revolved around Project GTI. There hasn’t been any updates on it since I returned from my pretty much perfect European road trip, because there haven’t really been any changes of note. When I said it was finished earlier this year, I really meant it.

The journey from Ireland to France, then across the continent to the Nürburgring, Porsche, Mercedes, and back to Reims before exploring Normandy for a day before sailing home was a proper bucket list adventure and something I will absolutely treasure for all of my days on this planet.

The whole point of Project GTI was to build a car as best as we could, with as little compromise as possible to its usability. That I can now just get in and enjoy the car whenever I want is something I’m hugely proud of, although there’s an itch starting to form for a new project to keep me sane.

I just can’t bear the idea of letting the GTI go…

2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-31
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-32
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-33

Around two weeks after arriving back from Europe, I was on a plane back towards the same region I had just left behind. This time, instead of taking my own car around the Nürburgring, I was heading towards Spa to watch the World RX teams instead.

This was my first proper RX event, something that I had waited years for, and it did not disappoint. It’s without doubt the most intense and action-packed motorsport on the planet. How it’s not more popular is absolutely beyond me. There’s more excitement in one corner than in entire Grand Prixs.

Much like the Members Meeting, this World RX event was another subtle reminder of how much I missed being trackside on a regular basis. It was now May, and this was just my second event of the year.

2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-39

An unexpected bonus of my Spa trip was being able to squeeze in a quick visit to Minichamps, in nearby Aachen, Germany. When I originally emailed the company to see if they would mind if I came by to take a couple of photographs of their museum, I never expected a response from their COO, followed by a personal guided tour of the whole company.

It’s really worth taking a look at the story linked above to get an idea of the amount of work that goes into creating just one miniature replica, and then to consider the thousands upon thousands that Minichamps have created over the years. It’s a wonderful place.

2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-41
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-45
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-53
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-57

Wörthersee. If there’s one event I fear on missing out on every year, it’s this.

The original plan was to drive Project GTI to Austria, but two family weddings right in the middle of the (not) event put an end to that plan. Instead, I cashed in every air mile I had and booked a flight to Munich, followed by taking a hire car the rest of the journey. It’s the cheater route, but it at least gives you a tiny taste of the adventure that is the road to Wörthersee.

2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-61
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-66
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-70

I did arrive slightly later than I would have liked in 2019, and as such seem to have missed a lot of the mayhem which resulted in the heaviest police presence there yet. Still, even a quiet week in Wörthersee is unlike anywhere else on earth.

While my poor Volvo hire car was no match for 2018’s Audi Ur quattro, the most important thing for me was that I made it there, regardless. Maybe 2020 will be the year I make the full journey again, but we’ll have to wait and see.

2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-71
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-75
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-78

There was maybe only a month between returning from Wörthersee and setting off again for Players Classic, but it felt like an eternity. The Northern Hemisphere summer is always peak Speedhunters season, and watching the content roll in from all corners was both a blessing and a curse.

Thankfully, there’s no better tonic than Players Classic, which is the best show of its kind on the planet. With action spread across two days (soon to be three days in 2020), I could feel a lightbulb starting to flicker into life above my head. Taking the day off on Sunday, and just enjoying the show, was another sign that something needed to change.

2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-83

What might raise an eyebrow or two was that this 49hp Golf was the most enjoyable driving experience I had in 2019. There’s a lot to be said for being able to use every last horsepower available, all of the time, just to get to the shops and back.

To be able to take the time to enjoy a local car show that same weekend, whilst being completely blown away by what’s tucked away in this country made for a very enjoyable time, and a good reminder of what cars should be about.

2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-86
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-91

What came as a surprise this year was an actual, non-car related vacation (which my significant other unknowingly won on a pack of Doritos, I shit you not). Still, being a Speedhunter isn’t something you can ever switch off, and despite only being armed with a small point and shoot digital camera, I got my kicks where I could.

My favourite of these was a treasure trove of a small diecast store hidden away within the maze of twisting medieval streets. That, and a seemingly abandoned E12 BMW outside a nearby hotel. Still, I managed to read six books. Fantastic times.

2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-92

At the end of August, I was fortunate enough be home in time for the now annual 86 Fest Ireland, my sixth event of the year. My fondness for the AE86 seems to be growing at approximately the same rate which they are increasing in price. I’m still not sure I would buy one, but part of me is glad that they are just out of reach for the time being.

Certainly, watching them being used and driven as intended has the tendency to ignite a warm feeling inside which feels dangerous to my bank balance.


It would be the guts of another month again before covering for Jordan at Drift Masters in Mondello Park. It was the final round of the championship, and my first professional drift event since Formula D Long Beach in 2018. Needless to say, it had been a minute.

Three days of action in all weathers made for maybe the most challenging and rewarding event that I’ve ever photographed. I was honestly relieved that all my gear survived the deluge (my 35mm needed a couple of days before coming back to life). Despite being soaked through to my skin, that soggy drive home was one of the happiest of the year.

I knew what needed to be done, and it just happened that the powers that be had the same realisation at the same time, which made for quite a funny phone call. This was my last event as EIC, before I was officially freed from my desk and aimed towards the trenches again.

2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-106
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-110

I would always have it known that I would do anything for Speedhunters, and this remains the case. If there wasn’t someone as reliable and utterly brilliant as Brad to takeover, I’m not sure what the outcome would have been. Knowing that the site was in capable hands (and certainly more experienced than mine) made this transition completely painless, at least for me anyways.

I don’t regret a second of my time as EIC here. It was a challenge which I didn’t even know I needed, but have come out the other side all the better for it. It has taught me so many things, not least an appreciation for those around me.

Walking into the Juicebox BBQ as a free contributor once again was a real reawakening, and an event which I enjoyed immensely. It reflects so much of what I love about Irish car culture, and has properly earned its reputation as ‘Ireland’s Finest’. It’s a gathering that I get the pleasure of enjoying with my friends, while meeting new faces with the same passion at the same time.

It might not be Japan, Southern California or Wörthersee, but it makes me proud to show the world what we’ve managed to carve out for ourselves in this part of the world.

2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-112
2019 Speedhunters PMcG POTY-115

Exactly 10 years ago, I was working in a Blockbuster trying to cope with the Christmas rush and impending sales, not knowing what the future had in store for me. Sure, I was contributing part-time here and other outlets, but I always thought that’s how it would always be – part-time.

So much has changed over this last decade, but I still consider myself extraordinarily lucky to make a living photographing and writing about cars. Heading into 2020, I feel like I’m starting all over again in some respects, having gone from management back to the contributor pool once again. It sounds like the complete opposite of what most people want their career path to be, but I have to say, I’ve never been more excited to face into a new year of the complete unknown. Knowing that I will be able to chase any story I want next year is hugely exciting.

Is it scary not having the dependability of a salary? Absolutely, but if it was easy and risk-free, everyone would do it. I hope this is just the beginning of the next chapter in an ongoing saga which I get to live everyday.

See you next year, folks. Thank you for reading.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

First time post, reading for years. Excellent article and all the best with your plans and 2020.


Thank you, Martin. Have a good one yourself!


Hi Paddy,
Congrats on your year, you packed in some thoroughly enjoyable articles even though you were obviously kept busy with the management too. I loved hearing that you were working in Blockbuster 10 years ago and to see what you are doing now, you should be very proud. You have serious talent, not just for photography, but writing also.
Winning the holiday was jammy, but it sounded like you needed the break and got your batteries recharged.
I live for cars, engineering and meeting friends and have organised numerous events here in Ireland. I would love to work full time in the automotive industry, maybe someday.
I have a few ideas for your next project, some I could sell you, rare stuff.
Keep up the amazing work. I wish you and everyone at Speedhunters continued success and look forward to 2020 and continuing to check this site several times a day for my fix.
My gf loves the pic of the puppy!


My whole family was just crowded around my computer gushing over that little creature!


Thanks, Felix.

It was Xtra-vision back then, but they were owned at the time I joined by Blockbuster, so figured people would relate to that name more. It's been a wild decade, and I can't encourage people enough to take the chance at doing something they've always wanted to do. Hopefully might run into you at an event here in 2020. HNY!


Awesome article and photos to round off the year. Going back to what you really enjoy doing rather than a management position is where it’s at! I’ve taken the dive into being full time self employed, to build my own digital design brand and my passion for cars on my website listing car shows in the uk. Hope I can get a link out to this at:


Feeling festive, I'll allow it XD


Awesome! Thank you very much :)
Lets hope 2020 is a great year for us both


Also, I had a similar European trip a few years ago, driving an R53 Mini Cooper S. epic adventure, driving at speed on the autobahn to have an old lady in a Nissan micro pass me (lol), first time driving the ring and the Porsche beater (vtec mini van) pass by like I was stood still! Onto the Audi and bmw museums in Munich, stelvio pass, then Mercedes and Porsche museums in Stuttgart before a wedding in Germany. I’ve been back to the ring after this in an Audi TT QS240 with the pole position seats and have to agree, they are so comfy for long drives! Best seats ever.


So, as EIC you had a fixed salary, and now as Contributor, you'll just get paid for each article that gets uploaded?
Being a car photographer and having managed a very similar (although older than SH, and MUCH much smaller) site (now dead :( ), being the writer, editor, designer, photographer, etc... I always wondered how SH managed and dealt with its staff.


Pretty much. There's a core team who operate the daily running of the site, and the rest of us pitch in with contributions from around the globe. It's a relatively small operation, and it wouldn't exist without the dedication & passion of the people involved. Some of the most important people on Speedhunters are those that you probably don't even know, TBH.

The more time I spend here, the more I realise that there's no where else quite like here anywhere online.


Thank you for answering!


You're welcome!


All the best Paddy for 2020, and thanks for all the EIC work done (taking the opportunity to wish Brad all the best as well). Always enjoy reading your writings, but this one gives a nice understanding of the Speedhunting life.
Much respect for how you have chosen to "live the life" over financial security/stability, quite the inspiration. Admittedly, I chose the "safer" option but at the price of feeling drained, bored and frequently catching myself pondering switching my life around. Trying to find a happy medium in 2020 with less hours in the office, more wrench-time on my little 20-year old rust bucket (new welding session to pass annual inspection is scheduled for March) and frequently checking in with Speedhunters for inspiration and motivation. Thanks a lot!


Thanks, Marco.

Making decisions like this which can have such a huge impact on your life are much easier when you're surrounded by good people bot at home & work. I'm very fortunate.


Those decisions are never easy to make. I admire those who chose passion over reason. It takes a great dose of courage. Congrats. I can’t wait to read more PMCG signed articles.

Your articles on how to photograph cars were one of the reason I bought my first camera a couple years ago. Your works continues to inspire me every time I come here.

I also made a tough decision this year. After nearly ten years of working full time with a good salary, I quitted my job to return to school. After years of being good enough at what I was doing, there was no passion.

Going back to university to start my bachelor in mechanical engineering, my true passion since I can talk, is one of the toughest but also one of the best decision of my life.


Thanks, Eric and best of luck with your degree! Big respect.


Paddy, Speedhunters is an "amazing" website! The pics and stories are incredible! Everyone who works at SH needs to get "paid!" Like NBA or NFL athletes. Or like Lewis Hamilton! The car people around the world appreciate this site and we'll make sure it carrie's on! Great work! Great year! Best to you and the entire staff! Long live Porsche! Your GTI looks nnnnniiiiicccceeeee!


Thanks, David. Always enjoy your enthusiasm and appreciation!


Target audience aside assuming SpeedHunter not only aiming for US and EU readers like most lame auto related automotive sites. Your first pic of the Golf next to the open-wheeled on the lift makes GREAT hi-res poster on any young motorhead these days. Congratz on continuing that tradition.


Thanks, Charles. We've always tried to be as global as we possibly can. Not always easy, especially when we only publish in one language.


English IS the international language afterall :)


Great article, Paddy. Goal recommendation for 2020: experience the WRC


That's not the worst idea you've ever had, Ross. Might need to prioritise it as well as it looks like the WRC is in a bit of decline, too.


Well, I do try! I hope that isn't the case but it is definitely going through transition at the moment. Book Wales for sure, it's nice and accessible.

I have Finland and Wales earmarked for this year. I can't let this current era past without seeing them in Finland!


Ashamed to say I missed the Minichamps article... BRB x

*door slams as link opens*


I'll forgive you.



2020 is going to be lit!

I just got a breakthrough as a parts driver/ driver jobs for stores so its going to be great!

I hope to see more great things from speedhunters now and in the near future and years to come!

Definetly excited (if its happening) for the 2020 WRC season.

Definitely excited to see speedhunters finish their BB build and NSX build (maybe this one is finished)

Hope to see what IATSH program crops up and what wonderful 3rd party articles will come from that program

Heres to a wonderful 2019, leaving on a good note and a cheers to a successful and wondeful 2020 for everyone! :D

*racecar noises*



Cheers, Tofu, Have a good one!


Reading through the article kept on having the feeling that you're gonna announce you sold the GTI or are quitting lol fortunately neither of these happened. :) keep up the good work mate!


I'm not going anywhere, although I - think - the GTI might be in 2020.


letting the GTI go…

Wait....what? no.. NO!
If you truly plan on selling it and eventually putting it back to stock like post ppl do:
Hit me up for those front and rear carbon wings - I think they'll look good on my red MKVI :D


That's alright, you've already been through a lot & had a lot of fun w/ it and - hey, as us Chinese always say, if the old doesn't go the new doesn't come right? :)


Well done this year Paddy. 2020 is going to be even better


Thank you, Jason. Here's to hoping!


Job Well DONE. I am personally excited that you are going to post again more feature stories.


Already been shooting 2020 content this week and have my first trip booked for January.


Great article as always. I can’t wait to see where you report from next year. Also very interested to hear what project car you are thinking about.
Side note: here’s hoping 2020 is the year the speed hunters shop returns!


I would also like to see the return of the shop in 2020!


Great photos all through the year Paddy. Your photos are great inspiration for me to get out to events and level up my own photography skills. Good luck to you in the new year!


Thanks, Josh!


Dude, your car is sick.


I still love it, but it's looking increasingly likely that it's going to go in 2020.


Great article Paddy ,met you at Goodwood a couple of times .I am looking forward to 2020 ,the season can’t come soon enough. Hopefully I will bump into you this year somewhere maybe at the members meeting,keep up the good work.



I got a job because I wanted the ‘security’ of a salary once I had gotten married and became a father to my eldest son. It felt good at first. However, as time wore on I increasingly spent more and more time at work. This took a toll on my marriage, mental and physical health.

A couple of years into my ‘career’ my wife and I found out that we were going to be blessed with another child. It was around the same time that I decided to quit and start a business with my best friend. It wasn’t an easy decision to make but I had squirrelled away enough money to give it a proper go.

That was almost 4 years ago. The journey has been chalk full of ups and downs, smiles and frowns. Friends and family members have told me over and over again that I was ‘in over my head’. There’s been so many times I’ve questioned myself whether or not I was crazy to pursue my dreams.

Through all of this I’m proud to say that we’ve finally signed a lease to a space to call our own! Just waiting for the engineered drawings needed for renovations. Looking to apply for the construction permit in early January and receive approval from the city shortly after.
This proves that you’ll never know unless you try.

I wish you and the rest of the Speedhunters crew nothing but good vibes in 2020.


P.S. Sad to see the GTI go but excited to see what’s next.


Great Read, Paddy!
It's funny. The moment I saw the picture of Limone sul Garda, I wondered if You snapped a picture of the lurking E12.
Was there last summer with my SO and a rental Fiat Panda when we toured northern Italy. Gorgeous place.
Only the food was subpar compared to the rest of Italy.