So here we are approaching A Little Bit Sideways’ 2nd year in existence, and thanks to all of you, it’s bigger than ever.
This website now has a good solid following every month, and along with social media, I have a reach of over 750,000 people. And it’s growing by the day. That’s staggering!!
I started this site as a small blog to document my own foray into the world of rallying when I bought my rally car. Very quickly, people approached me saying they loved what I was doing and could they be part of it, so before I knew it, the site started becoming a blog more dedicated to rallying in NZ in general, thanks to the help and encouragement of Danny James.
I write articles for my own pleasure, so they are written from my point of view. I hope you enjoy reading them. I have had several people recently that have told me they love the fact the site is quite “newsy” with all the media releases from teams being readily available, along with my accounts from events I attend.
I’m really grateful for the likes of Ross Teesdale, James May, Jason Addison, Rich Baddock and Danny James, who have all taken time to put some words together to send in for publication. I can’t thank you enough for this, as I’m fully aware of the time it takes. I would love to hear from more of you too. (Here’s how if you want to have a go)
As you will all know by now, I love to take photos of the drivers in action. I feel my rally photography has improved massively from the first ones I took two years ago. I have met many photographers along the way who have been (and continue to be) inspirational. I really admire the likes of Geoff Ridder, Euan Cameron, Mike Peffers and Andrew Bright (to name a few). There are many others that I have enjoyed shooting alongside and hanging out with in the stages, like Scottie Johnson and Greg Henderson, who also help me raise my game by being so good at what they do!
I’ve chosen this image of Lance Williams to be the feature image for this article for a couple of reasons. Firstly I’ve watched Lance progress through this sport since I started. He was one of the sites first supporters, and continues to show his support today with some stickers on his car and follows this site. I look forward to watch him progress further over the next two years. Thanks for you support Lance! And secondly it’s currently my favourite image this year so far.
I love being part of this sport. I love the cars, the noise, the smell, and the sheer exhilaration of doing 160kmh+ on gravel. But most of all, I love the real sense of community, and the people in it. I have met so many people and made so many good friends from this sport, and it’s why I keep doing what I do.
I love people’s willingness to help in your hour of need. Last year’s Clubman’s Rally was a non-starter for me due to a hydraulic clutch failure. I will always remember the willingness of Grant Clayton to pull the gearbox out with just an hour to go until my start time. To this day, I still don’t know who the other people were who got underneath my car in the dirt to try and get me to the start line. Although I was bitterly disappointed not to start my first rally, this is not the memory that lingers the most. It is seeing friends and complete strangers working together underneath my car helping me.
This is by no means an isolated occurrence. If you have read Simon Bell’s “Meet the Driver,” you will have heard his experience of this type of camaraderie, along with countless other stories I’ve heard. I love the fact that this sport has fierce enemies on the stage, but a true bond of friendship in the service area. This is what makes rallying so cool for me!
I recently had the pleasure of spending the day with Ben Brown and his wife Michal at Rally Hawkes Bay. They spent the day hanging out with me, Dee (and Scottie), and I believe they were surprised by what us photographers go through to get the shots, which is usually a lot of hanging around in the cold and wet! [read about it here]
The last year has been a big one for learning. I’m learning how to write with the help of Dee who proof reads 95% of what I post. The 5% I post without getting checked is usually full of mistakes, and a suitable growling from Dee ensues (Thanks Dee – you’re the best!). I’ve also had to learn more about Social Media. I’m getting there on Twitter, although I admit I still don’t see the point of it. I started a Google + page, but that’s as far as I got, and I can’t see me going any further with it unless someone can explain why it’s a good thing?
Fantasy Rally League was started for both NZRC and Rally Xtreme this year. It hasn’t been as popular as I thought it might have, but I suspect it’s because you have to register to the site to take part. The only reason for this is to stop automatic spammers wrecking it for everybody.
Where to next?
I’ve been listening to feedback from some of you, and have already started to make some changes. A gallery has been added listed by event. People mentioned they found it difficult to find images. I have to admit that I designed it that way to try and point people to my event reports, as that’s where all the photos were. I’m hoping to make more improvements as funds allow.
Of course, I plan to do more of the same. Covering as many National and Club events as I can, help promote rallying at all levels within NZ, and to also continue supporting our drivers competing overseas.
What would you like to see on the site in the coming year? I would love to hear from you.
To all the volunteers, organisers, marshals, time keepers, recovery crews, first aiders, drivers, co-drivers, service crew, and residents allowing their roads to be closed – you guys are awesome! Thanks for making this sport great!
The upcoming Wairarapa Rally will be on the anniversary for the site, so I might just have a beer or two to celebrate. If you’re at the rally, come say hi and have a drink with me. Joelle Eyre and Sara Mason are throwing a dress up party with Super Hero’s being the theme, so put your underpants on the outside and party hard!
Since penning this article last week, there has been yet other show of support from friends within the rally community. This time, it was aimed squarely at me.
I made a choice not to compete in the Tauranga Clubman’s this year, choosing to use what spare cash I had for keeping my site running, and covering more events than ever. Totally unbeknown to me, Scott Johnson put out a request on Facebook to try and get me entered into the Clubman’s Rally with some fundraising / support from the rally community.
I’m full of mixed feelings about this. I’m totally blown away that people have come forward to help – completely overwhelmed in fact. I’m not sure I can accept this incredible act of generosity, but maybe I can earn it from you! I’ll be in touch.
Although this has left me feeling a little awkward, it re-enforces my comments before about the camaraderie in this sport. You guys are totally amazing! THANK YOU