To Gatebil and back

Imagine this for a second… You live in a country which is rich of culture, history, art, stunning nature, plenty of automotive activity and much more, yet you can’t seem to find your way here. You’re seeking for a different form of excitement and joy to fill those boring Sundays and weekends – the kind of pleasure you can’t seem to find close to home. I’m sure many of you can relate to this and begun looking for places beyond your natural environment.


I like to think that we’re still very humble at Wangan, we’re still the same fellas we were years ago. If I have to speak for myself – my desires, passion and adrenaline limit did change quite a lot over the years, I rarely go to local events anymore but I’m trying to find mayhem beyond our Dutch borders more and more.


That might sound a little spoiled but it’s not, I just like to travel more and enjoy life every second I can with the right people around me. Last year we covered Gatebil at Mantorp park and I would lie if I said that this event didn’t leave an impression on me. The idea to go to the main event at Rudskogen motorcenter has been in my mind for the entire year and luckily last minute everything worked out to go to Norway for the event.


Just a day before we left Allard and myself scheduled our trip, packed our bags, stepped into Allard’s trusty road trip car and we were on our way to Scandinavia with 1400+km ahead of us until we arrived at our hotel for the weekend. On the road you’re enjoying such beautiful views, we may well have similar views over here in the Netherlands as well but as I stated, I just don’t seem to appreciate them any more, it’s become so regular.


We had to cover ground in 5 countries and every country left it’s impression on me in one way or another. Try to imagine two chubby 20 and 30 something Dutch guys in a closed environment for at least 13 hours – they’d start singing songs at one point during that trip, but let’s bury those thoughts for a while because it’s not pretty.


Norway is amazing. For the little that we saw of the country side and citylife, I certainly will return to see and experience a little more of this beautiful piece of Earth. But we had a job to do – that was to cover Gatebil Rudskogen 2015, an event which has been high on my bucket list and I’m glad I got a taste of it.


We met up with our fellow WW shooter Bill Jefferies and his travel companion Dave Cox of Fueltopia. I was excited to meet up with the guys because it’s been over a year since I last saw Bill and I was excited to meet some new faces especially after Dave did a WNGN Guest article for us earlier this year.


As soon as I’m trackside it always feels as if it’s business as usual. The body language of the people are all saying the same thing, you’re navigating in the pits and on the paddock and you’re finding your way within seconds. Just a little nod from a known driver says more than words – we might come from all over the globe but we all talk the same talk.


However, Gatebil is something special. It’s not just a race event, it’s not just a drift event, it’s not just a get together of gear-heads of young and old. It’s something I can’t really describe to you.


Gatebil is not only for the pro’s and extreme pro’s, it’s one of those rare things where even amateur drivers and drifters take it on the big boys and pretty often they surprise you with their skills.


It also amazes me how down to earth everybody is to each other. Drivers to photographers, photographers among each other, crew and marshals to media personnel and vice versa. We respect each others function and duty and I like to think that with that respect we bring such events to a good end and it’s up to us photographers to provide some visual entertainment after all the madness.


I wasn’t planning to go through the coverage in a chronological way or tell you who was present who won what or which projects impressed me the most. I like it better for people to get a general impression of what to expect without only showing highlights. For some, Gatebil is a place to learn and I’m sure there are people who visit the event to do research or find inspiration for their own projects.


It’s also good to know that the most impressive projects out there are not the ones who scream for attention. Everybody is simply enjoying themselves and trying to progress in their work field whether it be time attack or drift.


There is no real stereotypical Gatebil project, most of the cars out there are just crazy and impressive in their own way whether it be the exterior livery (which is never the main feature of the car), or when the engine/turbo/SG set-up is something most people haven’t seen before. They own express their own character which is a reflection of the owners mind-state I guess.


They say nights are short during the Scandinavian summers, it feels like the sun never completely sets. That’s the beauty of going north in Europe so you experience and see things we don’t have in The Netherlands.


Somewhere far in the woods behind the Rudskogen Motorcenter it gets a little darker during the nights and that’s just fine for a party like Monster Energy throws every year. We decided to go down there with a couple photographers and hang out with some people we’ve met.


I really enjoy the entire social side of these trips because as I was saying before, we all speak a same language and get along pretty damn quick. Even if you have to make yourself understood with sign language when talking about Gatebil related stuff, you’ll always get a good conversation going. Even when you’re drunk and it doesn’t make any sense what you’re saying.


During the day it’s back to business and you’ll just try and set the mild hangover aside and enjoy all the drivers and their action on track. I like to give a face to the people who are mostly seen from a grandstand or on videos in their cars. I like to show who’s behind the visor.


Including the human part in the coverage of an event might be the most important part for me, I’ve never considered myself a proper action photographer. I know plenty guys out there who do a far more better job than I do so I always try and find some opportunity to take some portrait shots.


As you might have read in Allard’s article we’re working on a couple car features as well. I really enjoyed meeting Dennis Häggblom and hearing him talk about his S2K project. I’ll be in touch with him shortly to find out everything and will tell you readers all about it in a coming feature.


Again an event to tick off the bucket list. This will certainly not be the only time I visit Norway because from the little that we saw of the country, I really had an amazing time and enjoyed everything and everybody around me. These trips are always too short and work on your fatigue after the weekend is over and we still had a 14 hour drive back home. I’m pretty happy I could share the experience with my close friend Allard who took care of me when I got home and received some terrible news.


Therefore the delay of my part of the “Wangan Warriors goes Gatebil Rudskogen” coverage, but every now and then you have to take a step back and take care of some personal stuff first and put work and pleasure aside for a while. I hope everyone I met is having a great season so far whether it’s driving or behind the camera. I love all of you!