Tuesday, 11 June 2013


Well the second coming of Dirt Quake was a real blast I took an almost coast to coast trip to Kings Lynn Arena via London to sketch and spectate the phenomenon that is Dirt Quake. If you don't already know Sideburn Magazine host an event where they take over a dirt oval and let anyone and everyone enter their motorbike of choice into one of three categories, Street Tracker, Inappropriate Road Bike and Chopper. People enter all sorts of bikes into the event and it is a real blast to watch. 
After last years event the Dirt Track Riders Association have been running a league and they were competing in their third rounds of this years season. It was really impressive to see the level on riding and competitiveness that the Association has achieved. If you haven't seen Flat Track Racing before get yourself along to one of the 3 remaining rounds, you won't be disappointed.
As well as all this flat tracking action there was other attractions including Davros the Compare (with a Vic Reevesesque accent), a milk chugging competition and a huge pie being driven by a chef. Where else other than Dirt Quake would you expect to have such an experience?

Old Blu

(ink and watercolour)

Old Blu is a chopper that was original made in 1968 in the UK, this is a rare beast indeed as not many choppers were around in the UK at that time. It won Belle Vue twice in the 70's. The heart of the current bike, frame, engine, gearbox, tank and rear mudguard, is from the original chopper. It has changed a few times within it's life and is now owned in it's current form by Pete from Eat the Rich who has now owned it twice. The Frame is a '48, engine '60 and gearbox is '52/'53. I had no idea of the history of this bike before I sketched it but I'm glad I did now.
 Dent in the oil tank comes from a previous bike where the exhaust cut through/
 Rear wheel addorned with various stickers including a couple of naughty ones designed by Pete.

Love the decal and patina on the tank.

Rusty Nail Honda

(ink and watercolour)
This custom Honda run by Ross Herrod was flying round the track. I chose it because of it's simplicity, there's something about a bike that is assembled to ride and have fun that is genuine and I really respect that. The donor bike is a1980 honda cg125. The tank is from a honda cb125s the frame was modified to take the tank. The rear of the frame was chopped and the upswept loop added. The motor is a ccm 230cc. Other bits include custom seat, flattrack bars, standard 18" wheels, custom exhaust.

Here are more photos from my adventure at Dirt Quake:

 On route to the Quake I put the van to the test and picked up a friend and his 650 Triumph.

It wouldn't be Flat Track without Co-Built

Ross's other ride for the day was this Flat Tracker with Death Spray paint job

A quick jaunt in the car park turned out some great stuff
 Chopped Ford Rod
 Another Ford Rod

 Sorry Couldn't help myself
 This was the beast of the chopper class a Turbo Diesel Engined Chopper

 Look closely and you'll see men chugging milk for money along with the pie (stage right) and Davros on the left.
El Solitario's whip for the day
 above and below proves it was anything and everything

 Krazy Horse gave Dimitri Coste a chopper to ride this is what happened

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

La Vie En Bleu 2013

After having such a great day out at the Bugatti Owners Club bash La Vie En Bleu last year I definitely had to go back, and I must say I had an even better experience second time around. If you are to go to Prescott once a year this may well be the event to go to.
As well as seeing a great array of cars and having a great time sketching I also got to catch up with another car sketching fanatic Stefan Majoram. I must say this guy is a great inspiration in terms of his loose and fluid sketching ability. Go check out his sketches from La Vie en Bleu and much more at his blog stefanssketchblog.blogspot.co.uk.

1950 Cooper Mark IV

 (ink sketch)
First sketch was this lovely Cooper which has been sensitively restored in order to preserve it's history, I'll leave it up to one of the current owners to tell it's story:
"Little is know of the early history of this car prior to 1970 when it was discovered by Bill Needham in a Potefract scrap metal yard. Bill restored the car back to original specification and began to campaign it vigorously over the next 25 years, finally calling it a day in 2007. In that time not only had the car regularly competed at all the major UK circuits, but also all over Europe including Nurburgring, Spa, Zolder, Zandvoort, Knutsdrop, Chimay, Montlhery, Peronne, Pau and Monza. It has also competed on a number of occasions at Goodwood Revival. Bill reckoned that the car must have covered at least 1000 racing miles each season, which computes to in excess of 25,000 competition miles in his ownership.
It currently runs a 500cc JAP engine running at 15 to 1 compression on methanol."
Ian Patton (current co owner and campaigner)

1953 Staride

(ink and watercolour)

Whilst sketching the Cooper I was asked to sketch this Staride this is the second Staride I've sketched this year and I was delighted to do so. 

This Staride has a 1953 Manx Norton engine in it which has surprisingly never been in a bike. It is one of 3 engines that came out of the factory and has never been installed in a bike. This type of engine is standard for the Staride and is preferred for track racing due to it's robust nature, as opposed to the JAP speedway engines that are used in other 500s, which are more suited to short runs as is expected with speedway engines.

Traction Avant Front End

(ink sketch)

I managed to sketch this whilst the Staride was going up the hill on it's second practice run. The ski slope nature of the avant front grill caught my eye and I thought I'd give it a go.
This Avant is a bit different as it was built, rebuilt and modernised by Malcom Saggers. The moderisation comes in the form of a 1.9 Citroen BX diesel engine and 5 speed gearbox, style with practicality. 

Amilcar Aero Special

(ink and watercolour)
Last but by no means least was this incredible Amilcar. The special utilises a 1930 Amilcar M2/M3 chassis and a 1917 American Hispano Suiza v8 11 litre aero engine. 50.000 of these areo engines were built and used in a variety of planes during WWI. This particular one came from an SE5a biplane and according to the wikipedia article it produced 200bhp. The car uses a Fraiser Nash transmission and the engine sounded perfect when the owner and builder Rob warmed it up before his final run of the day.

More photos from another glorious day at Prescott:

Cooper 500 wheel off 
Iota Race Car with a fantastic body shape
 Pembleton 3 wheeler utilising a Moto Guzzi engine
 Edwardian racers and their not so Edwardian owners
Two of three convertible Traction Avants on display 
 It wouldn't be a French celebration without a lovely 2CV
Vinot & Deguingand 
 I think that's more than a whale tale.
 Whilst drawing the Amilcar I was asked whether I'd like to see another supercharged example. This is a fantastic restoration carried out by Aston Keynes Vintage Restorations 
with a supercharged v6 engine.
One of the huge Edwardians leaving the pits for it's last run of the day.

NSRA Billing Fun Run 2013

Another event that I'd failed to go to for the past few years is the NSRA Billing Fun Run. Held at the Billing Aquadrome holiday park near Northampton the NSRA run a weekend with a Cruise on the Saturday and a show and shine on the Sunday. This years cruise included the obligatory pub stop and an afternoon at an oval track with amongst other competitions a burnout competition. I however stayed in the holiday park and sketched in the long awaited sunshine.

In between sketches I met with my good friends Tim and Paul from Raygun Industries who were hosting an art show and selling their wares of t shirts and of course the mag with an ever increasing circulation Raygun which is now on the third issue. An incredible mag with a great mix of articles, it's not all about hot rods so go buy yourself a copy before they sell out!

1954 Ford Country Squire

(ink and watercolour)

My first sketch of the day was this fantastic Country Squire in sun bleached condition. Apparently the owner uses Ankor wax to keep the elements at bay, something I'm now looking into using on my own pick up.

1946 Hudson Big Boy Pick Up

(ink and watercolour)

I initially chose this to sketch as I love the sting rayesque grills on the Hudsons, and combining it with a pick up is a perfect combination. After having a chat with the owner I soon found out that this is a pretty rare beast. It is right hand drive and one of only 3 known to have survived from South Africa. Hudson like many other companies shipped their cars out to countries like South Africa as a kit which was then assembled. After asking to look under the hood I instantly recognised the engine as a Plymouth engine, the owner suggested that they possibly didn't include an engine in the shipped kit and hence the different engine, something that I will try and find out about....

Great Dr Pepper bottle opener.

1971 Cadillac Coupe De Ville

(ink and watercolour)

I'm determined to get these cruisers right in terms of sketching, they are always a challenge to get something so long in proportion on the page. One day I'll get it right.
With a 7 litre v8 this is one beast of a "land yacht"

Here's some more snaps from my time at Billing:

Ford Thunderbird

 30's Ford Pick Up
 Hillman and Rily Elf
 VW Split pick up with tilt
 Ford Country Sedan
 I wasn't sure whether this was Elvis or Michael Myers?
 Buick Eight
 Ford Suburban, but with a bit extra I think.
 Chevrolet panel van
This sums up Billing Fun Run