Author Archives: aaronmai

Micromachine with a wild streak

It might be pint-sized, it might not be an obvious choice, but believe it or not this micro-machine packs more punch than it lets on.  Yes it is a Suzuki Swift, which is perfect for grabbing groceries, pottering off to the garden centre in, or picking up granny on a Sunday afternoon.  This particular example though, would for sure give granny a full-blown heart attack.


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4 doritos in a dinghy

A while back I did a spotlight post on a very special boat that is circulating around ponds here in New Zealand, although this one breaks the mold.  Jet sprinting originated in NZ, and is dominated by V8-powered boats.  So when Peter Huijs showed up back in the day with boat that sounded slightly different, we all sat up and took notice.

Jetsprinting in a nutshell, is a jetboat with a crew consisting of a driver and a navigator racing against the clock through a twisting series of channels in 70-100cm of water. Each run usually takes around 55 seconds, and consists of 25-30 changes in direction, and as far as spectator sports go this one is hard to top!

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Adventures of 2016

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!

 

 

 

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Chigiri – the human element

Life at times is very impersonal.  Scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram feeds consists 90% of cars, it feels like we are starting to forget the human element when it comes to photographing the car scene.  We always talk about the people behind the builds…why not the people in front of the builds? The machinery is a by-product of people not the other way around.

This post is dedicated to the human element of ‘Chigiri’. It shows the experiences and the people Nakai-san brought together in Melbourne to make for an unforgettable experience.

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Simple beauty – Chigiri part 4

After removing the window banner from another successful build, the one question hanging in the air was what the 993 would be named.  Without pressing Nakai-san, we knew that the right time would come and he would decide on the name when he felt it was the right time. There was one last thing to do as a group, and that was to head for a celebratory dinner.  Feeling full and very content, it was back to the workshop for a brief stop before bed time for most.

As Nakai-san and everyone else departed the workshop, the freshly completed RWB sat quietly in the workshop, so I seized the chance to take a few shots before the public meet and greet the following day.  Ladies and gentleman I present you with Australia’s latest RWB.

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Simple beauty – Chigiri part 3

One of my favourite things about reading a book rather than watching a movie is that the visual story I form in my mind is my own version, individual and unlike anyone else’s.  By only writing the time that I took each photo in these posts, I am hoping you too will form your own visual story of the birth of ‘Chigiri’.  It truly was a different experience for every person who attended.  Enjoy the final build chapter of Australia’s first 993.

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19 August – 9:56pm

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Simple beauty – Chigiri part 2

‘When you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes.  When you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their soul’.  For those who have witnessed the art of RWB in person, one thing resounds with everyone.  The cars are beautiful creations, yet it is the man behind the name who captures the hearts and minds of people.  Welcome to part 2 of simple beauty – the birth of ‘Chigiri’.

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August 19, 2016 – 12:14pm

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Simple beauty – Chigiri

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature onto his canvas.  The bright vivid colours of the world today can sometimes mask simplistic beauty.  To tone back the vivid colour can allow our eyes to appreciate things in the purest form.

On my second visit to RAUH-Welt Begriff while sitting down with Nakai-san he lit up a cigarette, turned to me and said ‘sometimes we need to peel away the layers, and appreciate the true beauty that lurks beneath, but is right in front of our own eyes’.  As he stood up, stubbed his cigarette out, and walked back to work, I remember being a little taken back, yet this chance moment I had with him has remained with me ever since.  In honour of that moment, this blogpost is about toning back the colour, removing the distracting chatter in order to show you the birth of ‘Chigiri’ – Australia’s first 993.

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10:47am

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Behind the visor – Idlers 12 hour enduro

Every July, Nakai-san and the RAUH family get together, it isn’t exactly dinner and drinks but rather a gruelling 12 hour endurance race held at Motegi Circuit.  RWB family from all over the world, jump on a plane and make their way to the man cave to hang out, prep cars, and eat bowls of ramen at 5am.  This may seem a little different to the approach of most teams but it is as much about the experience of the journey to Idlers, as it is driving in it for 12 hours.  I asked my friend Caroline, who was driving in the 12 hour enduro for the first time to answer a few questions, and give her take on driving in the enduro for the first time.  She is certainly no stranger to driving fast, so here is a ‘behind the visor’ take on her Idlers 12 hour enduro.

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Blue Streak – Paul Dowdall’s RX8

There is nothing cooler in motorsport than when someone shows up at the strip with something individual, different and it’s a bonus when it sounds good!  Paul Dowdall has gone and ticked all the right boxes with his RX8 drag car.

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