Castle Combe Circuit – Spring Action Day 2019

We now enter the seasons where daylight lingers, less layers are worn, and of course when nearly everybody gets their pride and joy out to get their respective motors’ rubbers and fluids warm because they have been sat stone cold in the lockup.

The car show season kicks off unofficially at Castle Combe Circuit nestled in its home village of which it is named after, located in Wiltshire, UK. This track is quite a trek for someone who lives ‘up north’ so that is probably why I have never ventured this far before, but I can honestly say I did not regret the early start that Saturday morning. With a mix of ‘show & shine’ cars sitting pretty in their club stands and vendor tents, and track-ready monsters hauling ass on the tarmac, it was kinda like a small scale Goodwood, but instead of elite-level four (and sometimes 2 or 3) -wheeled weaponry, you have normal guys and gals who cherish their cars and just want to enjoy them however they like. Saying that, a Mclaren did show up, so…

Upon entering the circuit’s premises from across the road where we parked up the Demio in a grass field, I was drawn to this R35 and its clean and sharp look. The all carbon Knight Racer rear wing compliments the back end quite tidily, and even though its probably not all that functional, I can still appreciate the uniqueness of those bowed ends.

Innocent Blue Mica. I reckon the ability of the powertrain – from the looks of that single-turbo conversion – is nothing like the innocuousness of the name Mazda gave their colour option.

A stock-bodied S15 Silvia sporting the stylish Spec-R aero kit that could easily be mistaken for an aftermarket setup, especially with the rear-wing’s extravagant design including its integrated third brake light. The late 1990’s to early 2000’s gave birth to some of the most modern and fresh looking Japanese cars, that even to this day, pushing nearly 20 years old, still remain youthful in appearance.

Questionable styling on the rear end of this FD RX7. The rest of it including the fine details such as the metal flake paint and FEED carbon door handles add to the Mazda’s already characterful presence. The Scoot ‘Viper-style’ bonnet rounds it off nicely aswell. Very 1990’s Japan feels when I spotted this.

Ahh, the LanEvo IV. These generation of rally-bred beasts always make me swoon and I put it down to two things: the aggressive look without very much sharp lines on the car, and the analogue nature of the chassis, which in fact weighs ~1260kg in RS trim, which is unheard of in the modern gizmo-filled AWD performance cars of today!

These E30 M3s do give off a cool vibe, I will have to admit, even if I am more swayed by the 190E. You could tell the owner really treasured his Evo II model, as he had the boot stuffed with detailing kit which he obviously uses well enough to make the purple body gleam when the sunlight beams off the paint.

White on white RX7 looking healthy with its Borg Warner snail sitting snug in between the engine and chassis.

Walking through the paddock area, we stumble upon a set of rough looking, but well put together drift machines, mainly Silvias and Skylines, the odd Soarer, and then one brown coloured FD sat in the corner patiently waiting to rip up the course.

The ER34 Skyline you see above is easily ranked highly in my books for best in show. Very well executed, but I find it hard to imagine making a 4-door R34 ugly to be honest.

I am consistently irritated/saddened by the lack of well-built and styled Mazda 3/Axela MPS chassis, in the UK especially. I know of a few cool looking ones overseas, but never have I ever encountered one over here that hasnt been wrapped awfully or specced with distasteful wheels/aero. The limitless potential of both generations of Mazda’s hot hatch have been suppressed, I feel.

Another highlight of the show was this early generation VW Scirocco. I love the look of headlight deletes, do you reckon new cars would look cool with this mod? I wish I got more shots of this raw beast but thats my retrospective bane in life as a photog. Shame I did not see it out on track either.

This E46 in Alpine White wowed me, which isn’t difficult when I am met by one of the best M3 models to come out of Munich. Someone is ballsy/experimental when fitting current-gen M4(?) wheels to the predecessing coupe. It surprisingly suits the car almost perfectly, going to show how timeless this BMW is.

Now this is where the action takes place. Castle Combe is actually bigger than I imagined, and lapping the grounds’ perimeter is atleast more than a couple of mile. Sessions were split into the standard ‘Run What Ya Brung’ format and drift demonstrations performed by those more familiar with track work. Its refreshing to go to a show where you can see cars in motion, thats when they come alive in a sense.
I’ll let the photos do the talking.

So, thats your lot. Making the trip down south was worth it, especially when it can get tiresome seeing some of the same cars when attending shows in the northern part of England. I suppose it also gave me some practice taking panning shots, obviously I have loads to improve on in terms of composition and tracking, but for my first time these came out better than I expected. Stay tuned for future posts and let me know in the comments what your favourite car was out of the set!

Thanks for reading if you stayed this long!

Below the Surface: Tom & Co’s Underground Unit

It was a bit miserable and rainy last Saturday, but I had been meaning to utilise my workpal’s (Tom, who might pop up in another story if and when he completes his 1st Gen Mustang Fastback) car lift in a den he shares rental with.

Long story short, I ended up doing no “work” on my car but that can be rationally excused due to the unnecessity of a 2010 Mazda 2 fuel filter change. It’s one of those inline filters and we couldn’t work out where it lived under both the car and bonnet, so I thought frig it, theres a fresh Lotus outside thats waiting to be drooled over…

This Series 2 Elise belongs to Nev, a resident (literally) of the decently sized industrial unit Tom and his mates share to store and fiddle with their cars, bikes, vans, and tractor.
I met with Nev once before, when I was running the MX5, and I think it was he who kindly donated a set of wheels for me to drive about on whilst my Buddyclub SFs went in for a desperate powder coating. He happened to be working on his El Camino on that day, but immediately got distracted when I asked if it would be cool if I shot some pics of his Lotus parked up outside under the dull sky. Kindly agreeing, he then jumped at the opportunity of whipping his own pair of compact-system cameras out and decided to join me in capturing as much of the iconic aesthetic of this 2-seat B-road-beater.
Every curve on the car is near perfect, and that is probably why this car has not aged in all those 18 years of existence. It is extreme in its nature, but the intensity of its striking demeanor is not overpowering or distasteful. In a subtle way the Elise is graceful, perhaps it is this colour that makes it so.
I had never seen an S2 in this colour, both in real life and Gran Turismo (virtually the same thing). When I made my thoughts known to Nev, he informed me that his car was in fact of a darker blue hue before his ownership which could be seen by the graze on the passenger side’s wing mirror. This meant that it has had a respray in the blue tone seen on the latest S3 Elise, which suits the S2 sweetly.
As the rain kept on coming, Nev decided to bring his car into the unit, which is access only by a cobbled driveway tilting downward, which was scarily dodgy for me when I brought my MX5 down for the first time. Once through the roller shutter, you are greeted by this place that is booming with character. In some way it is an escape from the bores of everyday life; guys just wanting to let their creativity and madness loose.

Nev plans on taking this thing out on a track once the weather pick up and he finds the time. I hope I am able to join him to catch it flying on some open road and hearing that 1ZZ-FE engine emit its signature exhaust notes when that does happen. Lotus geeks will also be wondering what a pre-2008 model Elise is doing with the Toyota engine as opposed to the Rover K-series that the first batch inherited from the S1. I am told, this non-swapped example is a pre-production test model that Lotus built back in ’03, but even I am surprised at the fact they chose to sell it to the public. Were they that confident in the new powertrain configuration? Well, it is a Japanese unit after all…

The ‘Unit’ as its referred to, is a pretty cool hangout built up by all those that occupy it. I don’t know the exact count of heads who rightfully own the garage, but Tom is kind enough to let anyone he knows to freely use his and his mates’ gear for any repair or maintenance.

The Mercedes-Benz van you see before you, roller-painted in a military-esque grey, is where Nev and his girlfriend Neo dwell. You can catch them on their travels on Instagram [@vanwankers]. It is cool to meet people who steer off the beaten track and I admire their free-spirited personality.

Internally marrooned. Tom needs to get in gear and make progress on this classic machine.

Here we have yet another dusty item on the racking. This RX7 FD shell belongs to guy from my workplace. He rolled it into the unit more than a year ago, no engine or gearbox, along with a half empty interior. I am unsure on what the planned future is for this car, but I am praying that it has a long and prosperous one, with a rotary motor (queue jokes about the “unreliability and short lifespan of rotaries”).

I will end this entry with some of the shots I got when light-painting for the first time. This photography technique is epic if you can get it right, so that is going to be my mission heading forward so you might/will see more. Low-light/Night environments are not favourable when it comes to getting the best out of your DSLR, as you tend to get noisy and not-as-crisp shots unless you use a tripod and keep the camera as still as possible to draw sufficient enough light.