Sri Lanka Revisited – Part One

SL (58)Back in February 2011, my girlfriend and I traveled to the idyllic island of Sri Lanka for a month of backpacking adventures. Any Given Reason didn’t exist back then and I’d only had my DSLR for less than two months, but even without the looming task of compiling a blog report I still felt the compulsion to document the motorsport I found. It ended up being probably the craziest trip I’ll ever be lucky enough to do, and it wasn’t until I was recounting a tale the other night that I realised I’ve never properly published the full story. So, here goes.

SL (3)It was Chantelle’s idea to go as she had organised a work placement there as part of her Veterinary Science degree, so I agreed to come with her without really knowing anything about Sri Lanka. We booked flights, and my poor Mum was almost beside herself when we told her we were going to a country less than two years out of a brutal, bloody, three-decade long civil war. But the place looked simply stunning in pictures and everybody said that the South-Western regions were safe now, and we were excited. Combining travel with motorsport is one of my biggest passions, so before our departure I did some Googling to see if there was any racing there. I found the website of a local driver named Dinesh Deheragoda, and emailed for a quick bit of advice.

SL (83)Fast forward and I’d been in Sri Lanka for less than 48 hours, and Chantelle is on the other side of the country at a Vet school. It’s 430am, and I’m standing in the rain on the side of the road in a distant suburb of the capital Colombo, waiting to be picked up by a car load of locals I’ve never met. Dirty trucks whizzed by just inches away, and zooming Tuk Tuk’s sliced their way through the traffic. When I told the guest house clerk of my plans that morning he almost didn’t let me out the door, which did nothing to allay my fears. It was the first time I’d traveled on my own, and I was feeling more helpless and out of my comfort zone than ever before. I’d been communicating with Dinesh for a few weeks via email and he made the generous offer to take me to a local race, but he had some issues with his car and couldn’t pick me up as planned. He’d organised a ride for me with some friends of his and I rationally knew I had no reason to be concerned, but the mind does wander on occasion. Continue reading

Ben Simpson Memorial Cruise 2014

BSMC 957Well over 600 enthusiast cars gathered recently on a hot Saturday night in early February for the Ben Simpson Memorial Cruise; an interclub, everything welcome, drive through Adelaide and the hills to raise awareness and funds for a variety of mental health issues.

BSMC 947Initially organised by the late Ben’s parents as a small memorial event for their son who tragically took his own life, the BSMC has quickly become one of the biggest events on the Adelaide calendar. Whilst it’s the cars we come for, the cruise has a sub-plot and serves to not only raise funds but to spread knowledge of mental health issues within the automotive community; a group of people that would sooner give away their cars than discuss their mental health.

BSMC 1018But it is the cars that we come for, and most certainly the cars are what takes centre stage. The cruise met at the Tea Tree Plaza carpark, and managed to completely fill a fair proportion of it. Think how busy the carpark is at the height of the pre Christmas rush, and that’s a fair indication of how full the BSMC was.

BSMC 1016However rather than traffic jams of family trucksters and people negotiating tiny gaps with overflowing trolleys, there were lines of immaculately modified cars and people with cameras far outnumbered people with shopping bags. Continue reading

Any Given Reason Burger Meet 3

BurgerMeet3 627The concept of Burger Meet is simple – a car park meet to get as many readers of Any Given Reason and their cars in the same place as possible. The emphasis is on diversity and informality, and the vague idea of standing around a car park eating burgers is about as far as the planning goes.

BurgerMeet3 525On the evening of Saturday 28th December, the readers of Any Given Reason descended on the Hagen Arms Hotel at Echunga in the Adelaide Hills to watch the sun set with burgers, beers, and of course, cars. And what a spectacular array of cars it was – but more on that later.

BurgerMeet3 518The thing that makes organising Burger Meet such an exciting, rewarding and completely terrifying experience is that I have absolutely no idea who actually reads and follows this blog. I get traffic statistics but they’re just abstract numbers and graphs, so when I put the word out that Burger Meet 3 was happening I had exactly zero idea who and how many people would actually come. I guessed about 80 cars and thought it would be pretty cool if we could fill the car park, but when streams of cars started pouring in and it wasn’t even the 6pm start-time yet, I started to get a little nervous/overjoyed. Continue reading

The Isle of Man TT experience

DSC_0163What! Has he gone mad, this is a car blog, I hear you cry. And yes, you are correct, however I think you’ll agree that the Isle of Man TT is of interest to just about anyone with even the slightest interest in anything mechanical or sporting.

DSC_0057So with this thought and an open mind, I took my almost nonexistent knowledge of motorcycle racing along to experience nearly two weeks of spectating at the TT. In fact the TT is actually the first motorbike race I’ve ever been to, and I reasoned that an event this crazy really needs to be witnessed first hand before someone bans it, like so many other brilliant races before it. Volumes have been written about the TT much more eloquently than I ever could, so this is simply the story of my experience attending the greatest motorcycle race on earth.

DSC_0603To properly understand the TT, you first need to understand its location – the Isle of Man. A little island just 52km long and 22km wide, the Isle of Man sits in the middle of the Irish sea between England and Ireland. Officially it is a Self Governing British Crown Dependency, essentially meaning that the United Kingdom takes control of its international affairs (defense, EU representation etc), and the Isle of Man Government takes control of local matters, such as laws. It’s this crucial legal arrangement that allows events like the TT to take place – there’s simply no way it would be allowed to happen anywhere else in the world.

DSC_0989In a similar fashion to Monaco, the Isle of Man is a popular tax haven for wealthy Brits. One person I met told me that the island’s biggest industry is “sitting back and counting your money”, so therefore its second biggest industry must be tourism. The Isle of Man is blessed with some simply fantastic roads, and the government exploit them with a packed motorsport calendar to attract visitors throughout the summer. They also have no speed limits outside of towns to further encourage visitors when the big events aren’t on. Continue reading

Scouts Rally SA 2013

DSC_4397Eli Evans and Glen Weston have made Australian rally history by winning the 2013 Scouts Rally SA, leading the event from start to finish in their Honda Jazz G2. This win makes 9 consecutive wins from 9 consecutive starts, equaling the record set by the great Possum Bourne during his period of dominance in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

DSC_4402In a strong showing for the new factory supported Renault Sport team, Scott Pedder and Dale Moscatt claimed second place driving their freshly built Renault Sport Clio R3.

DSC_4182The experienced crew of Brendan Reeves and Rhiannon Smyth finished third in another strong showing behind the wheel of the Rally School G2 Mazda 2.

DSC_4189Jack Monkhouse and John Allen were fighting hard for their place on the podium until a broken water pump ended their efforts on Saturday afternoon. They fixed the car and rejoined, but were unable to place highly. They certainly entertained the spectators with long slides and big jumps wherever they went.

DSC_4375

Neal Bates and Coral Taylor once again won the ARC Classics class in their brilliant RA40 Toyota Celica. Bates is a seriously good steerer and this RA40 is like no Celica you’ve ever seen before so it’s not hard to explain their consistent wins. Some of their stage times are actually up there with the leading 2WD ARC cars!

DSC_4139The fight for the remaining two podium places was hot, and in the end it was the local crew of Neville Whittenbury and Dave Rudham who just edged out their competition to claim second. The battle would have been even tighter had Barry Lowe not rolled his thundering Commodore on the second stage of Saturday in the Mt Crawford Forrest stage.

DSC_4382The popular NSW crew of Fro Horobin and Greg McPherson fought hard for the final podium slot in their similar Datsun 180B. Continue reading

The second Any Given Reason Burger Meet

DSC_0291As the alarm went off at about 6am on Sunday morning, I awoke to a really odd sound. A constant, almost comforting patter. What was it? Ah yes, rain. And lots of of it. In my early morning stupor I came to the conclusion that I should just go back to sleep, and it probably will stop by the time I need to get up. 7am and the alarm buzzed again, and for some damned reason it was still raining. At least I wouldn’t need to wash the car I concluded, and promptly fell back asleep. Wintery mornings do not welcome the early bird.

DSC_0075Rewind a couple of weeks. After receiving some feedback from the first Burger Meet held on a Friday evening at Fancy Burger in Blackwood, I decided to try something a little different for the second Burger Meet. The main suggestions were that the location was less than inspiring, and that people wanted to go for a bit of a drive as well. So with sunny late summer hills mornings in mind the decision was made to hold the second Burger Meet on a Sunday morning in Mylor, with the burgers served up from the picturesque Harvest Cafe.

DSC_0370Gourmet breakfast burgers? Check. Picture-perfect surroundings? Check. Twisty driving roads to arrive at the venue? Check. Constant rain and freezing cold temperatures? Check. Damn. With this in mind I didn’t really expect a huge turnout, and I couldn’t really blame people for not coming. It takes a strong passion for cars to get out of a nice warm bed on such an awful Sunday morning.

DSC_0025But then one by one, people started arriving in all sorts of interesting cars. Continue reading

All Japan Day 2013

DSC_0027All British Day, All American Day, All French Day… it seems each major car manufacturing nation has its own day, where respective enthusiasts gather to celebrate their favorite cars that somehow share similar traits based purely on their place of manufacture.

DSC_0127But All Japan Day is a little bit different. Whereas most All <insert country> Day’s seem to be run by traditional clubs and have a heavy influence of restored and stock standard cars, All Japan Day is populated by a much younger crowd who like to modify their cars. Whether its drift, grip, race, rally, street, show or drag, pretty much every car at All Japan Day was modified in some way. This sheer variety alone makes for a fascinating show, and I think the photo above highlights what I mean. There’s a Toyota Sprinter built for hills use in the foreground, a drift hack S13 in the middle, and the limited run, three-quarter-million-dollar V10 Lexus LF-A supercar in the background.

DSC_0002Even most of the stock looking cars packed a surprising punch…

DSC_0004This super clean first generation Mazda 323 sported a subtle 13B rotary conversion!

DSC_0056Andy from Autosport brought along his new daily driver Evo 5, which looks super aggressive on its 10″ wide Rotas. With 240kw at the wheels, it’s plenty quick enough for the morning commute to work! Continue reading