Part Two – Harray Road, Gravel Event
For those of you that read my write up on Part One of this challenge, you’ll remember that I missed the event as my car was more setup to be on gravel than tarmac. Having been to the last event as a spectator and watching everyone having fun I was REALLY looking forward to Part Two – Gravel.
Saturday rolled around and I got up early to prepare the car. There were a few little things that needed changing / fixing from the last venture out. With these done I gave the car a wash and decided to take it for a spin up the road to dry it off. As I pulled off the drive way something was wrong….the clutch was slipping. My heart sank. I decided to drive a bit further just in case, but as you guessed nothing improved. Every time I tried to pull away it slipped.
Jason Addison and Danny James both very kindly offered to work through the night to help me replace it if I could find one. I rang everywhere I could think of in Tauranga, and then started on Rotorua and Hamilton, but no-one could help. My event was over before it started! I was totally gutted! I would be photographer once again.
We (the wife and kids came too) got up early Sunday morning and headed for the event. The sun was coming up and it looked to be the start of a beautiful day. As we arrived at Harray Road, my heart sank even further as we drove up to the service area. The road looked like it would have been heaps of fun in the Escort.
Dee and I popped into the caravan to let Linda know I was withdrawing, due to mechanical failure. Before leaving the caravan Linda had volunteered Dee as an Official to look after the spectator parking area. I think Dee was a little nervous about doing it, as she didn’t want to get it wrong etc.
Paul (Dad) & I decided to walk back down the hill and setup to take some photos, away from the usual photographer spot. The sun was now pretty strong and maybe our choice of location for the first few photos was wrong due to the contrast between the shade and the sunnier areas. Before long the first car (Shane Wright) came flying around the corner. Despite this only being the practice run Shane looked to be going well. As he went past, we were showered in dust. It was unbelievable how much there was.
We could hear Shane carrying on up the hill while we dusted ourselves off. All of a sudden there was silence. Shane’s car just stopped. There wasn’t a crashing sound which was a good thing, but the total silence didn’t sound good either. I decided to go back up the hill to see if he was OK. As I got near the spectator area, I was told he was OK, just a mechanical failure. I can only imagine how disappointed he would have been as I know he would have been pushing hard for the trophy.
After the first batch of cars had gone through, Paul decided to move up the hill, while I stayed put, as I wanted to try and get at least one photo of every car entered. I have tried to capture everybody in the gallery, but if I’ve missed you let me know and I’ll have another look – I took heaps of photos but the dust made most of them un-useable. The files in the gallery aren’t all named correctly yet.
After the first runs were done I moved up to the popular spectator point. As I was taking photos I had to pick a spot and leave the camcorder going so I could be free to shoot photos. The spot I chose looked like it would capture the action as the cars came around the corner. I got it set and stood nearby to start/stop the camera as well as take photos. The first car through was Ian Woods. Now earlier I mentioned the dust, well as Ian came past in his usual exuberant and totally sideways style the camera and I got completely blasted by dust and rocks. I think the video clip shows it better than I could write it!
For all the photographers who might read this, I’m sure you’ll understand just how harsh dust is on the equipment, so I hope the gear will live for another day, but at least we got the shot and that’s what counts!!
I was really impressed with all the drivers. They were all pushing hard, and looked like they were having a ball. I think there were a couple who were pushing just a little too hard occasionally, but all credit to them for using every inch of the road (and grass!)
I think at this point I’d like to pass on ALL our thanks to Paddy Whyte who was most generous in allowing the club to use one of his paddocks for the service area. Paddy arrived in style later in the morning in his Audi. It looked fantastic coming up the hill.
After the final run of the day, we had our two winners. Ben Thomasen took the 4WD title, and Mitch James took the 2WD title. What a great result! Well done boys.
Prize giving was to be later in the afternoon at De Bier Haus. Thankfully there was time to go home and shower first as we were totally covered in dust. When we arrived there was a pretty good turn out, and luckily we were there before the presentation started. The first beer went down really well, washing away the days dust. There was a short presentation of the trophies, followed by a few more beers with some great company. It was a bloody good way to end what turned out to be an awesome day, despite missing out on driving.
Once again congratulations to Ben and Mitch on winning their respective titles.
Video compilation of everything I caught on the movie camera