2016 has been much less automotive orientated than expected, yet some of the things I was lucky to experience are without a doubt some of the biggest and most satisfying to date. Compiling a post that captures the best of what a photographer shoots in a year, without it getting out of hand is insanely difficult, and that level only ramps up year by year. So let’s get into it. In no particular order is my favourite parts of 2016 captured through my lens.
1 – RAUH-Welt Begriff New Zealand 001 & 002
Establishing RWB New Zealand by facilitating our first two builds alongside a bunch of great people wins top spot. The satisfaction of fulfilling a promise I made with Nakai-san 10 years earlier simply can’t be beaten. New Zealand may have been a bit late to the RWB party, but now we have 2 amazing works of art and a week of memories, laughs, and Jack Daniels that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Many of you will know that RWB has been a huge part of my life for the last decade, and looking at the photos and videos still brings a huge smile to my face.
2 – LeMans museum
As I passed through LeMans on my 5-week bender in Europe (more of that later in the post) I couldn’t help but stop off at the LeMans museum based at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Relics of the famous race are laid out in a chronological timeline from the very beginning to some of the latest race weapons. Silk Cut Jaguars, 787Bs, Porsches, the list just goes on. This is where the greats of LeMans come to retire.
3 – Holland
It was refreshing to spend some time shooting something other than cars! Visiting Holland was a huge highlight of 2016 and seeing the tulips in full bloom was very impressive. As I am half Dutch, getting to see firsthand where the family is from was pretty cool. Windmills, tulips, croquettes, and scenic views everywhere you look shows that Holland is doing it right!
4 – Nojireal Tsukuba Gymkhana
My good buddy Jamie and I made a quick stop off at Tsukuba Circuit to hang out with Yusuke Nojima and his buddies who were shredding tyres at Tsukuba Circuit’s Gymkhana course. Hot summer sun, a raft of ‘hachis’ and plenty of tyre smoke made for a superb afternoon. Getting to catch up with friends you don’t see too often is priceless, it is even better when there are cars involved too.
5 – Bomber Command memorial & S-Sugar Lancaster heavy bomber
As a huge WW2 fanatic, I was yet to see a Lancaster heavy bomber in real life so when the opportunity came up while I was visiting London I jumped at it. I coupled this up with a visit to the Bomber Command memorial in Hyde Park where a bomber crew returning from a mission is immortalised in bronze. The S-Sugar Lancaster is an incredible machine up close, someday I may get to see one flying.
6 – PPRE 6-rotor RX4
This work of art is one of the angriest sounding cars I have ever heard, six doritos spinning on an eccentric shaft makes for an incredible aural experience. After snapping a few shots of the engine back in the day, I have always wanted to shoot it finished as well. My good buddy Glenn sorted that out for me one weekend and let me tell ya, rotaries don’t come any angrier than this one.
7 – Dean’s RS1800
Some of you might be thinking that you have seen this little Escort before, and you would be right. Prepped by Gartrac and finished in NZ, this Cosworth-powered RS1800 pumps out 330bhp. It pounds the tarmac at circuits here in New Zealand on a regular basis and leaves mouths hanging wide open until people understand what is stashed under the hood.
8 – France
9 – James Rocketbunny S15
Dedication to a build is impressive, and when James asked me if he could travel half way round the world to shake Miura-san’s hand and buy a S15 kit I was blown away. So off we went, had dinner with him, then saw the kit sitting at the workshop, and now it is on the road, complete in New Zealand. Pretty cool to have been there to help out in the beginning and now seeing it complete. Well done dude!
10 – Chad Ace Superstock
For New Zealanders, stock car racing is a way of life for many throughout summer months. Superstocks are the brutes of motorsport – big V8 Chev & Lexus powerplants, plenty of steel, and a dirt oval is your basic recipe. This is a full-contact form of motorsport, and isn’t for the faint hearted.
11 – ‘Chigiri’ RWB Australia build
A week of hanging with the RWB family was super memorable, and an experience that comes in a firm 2nd after our own NZ builds. After Chern’s ‘Southern Cross’ comes the 993 known as ‘Chigiri’, a super good looking ducktail adorned build. Nakai-san has created yet another masterpiece for Charles.
12 – Normandie & Auschwitz
While in France I had one day to go and check out Normandie and a bit of WW2 stuff. I hit the Germany gun battery at Longues-sur-Mer that fired onto the beaches on D-Day. I walked down the beach to the waters edge at Omaha, standing here was a humbling experience as looking around seeing kids playing, and people casually taking a Sunday stroll is a stark contrast to June 6, 1944. I also visited Sainte-Mère-Église where the 101st Airborne paratroopers jumped into on D-Day, picked up a original patch that also made the jump into the famous town on the infamous ‘day of days’. I also made a large detour up to Poland to witness the atrocity that is Auschwitz-Birkenau. Words cannot describe this place.
13 – Rocketbunny
I had 2 days in Japan on the way home from Europe, so my buddy Jamie and I ran amok in Kyoto. Of course when in Kyoto the quaint streets and temples are great, but I have to ensure I come and say hi to Miura-san and Nakawatase-san. Until we meet again! Jamie also enjoys cameos in my shoots too as you can see.
14 – TRS 2-seater ride
Not too many are fortunate to experience the thrill of what wings and slicks do to a race car, but recently I was put in the back of a Toyota Racing Series 2-seater. I have been in a raft of race machines, but this was on a whole new level, the amount of grip and braking was just incredible. I have a new-found appreciation for open-wheeler racing and this was a great way to button up the 2016 year.
Already shoots are piling up, and the diary has some incredible things scheduled for 2017 which I can’t wait to share with everyone. 2016 has been a blast and I am sure 2017 will bring new challenges, surprises, and exciting things to shoot. Thanks to everyone for being along for the ride this year and I wish you a safe and happy new year!