There are only a few events in New Zealand (NZ) that cover all walks of automotive life. The Chrome Expression Session event for 2015 most definitely fits into that category. It hosted two days of automotive festivities including drive your mates sessions, exotic sessions, drifting, skid pan, burnouts, drag races, show and shine, and special guests. If that wasn’t enough, gourmet burgers and free V energy drinks were on hand to fill that hunger and quench that dying thirst.
The weekend event held a similar timetable for Saturday and Sunday starting with a nice long drive your mates session. As stated in the drivers briefing, this was suppose to be a casual stroll around the track, of course that was not going to be the case. With the weather unpredictable throughout the weekend, it was only a matter of time before someone lost their pride and joy.
It was time to charge all my batteries, clean my lenses and make my early trip down to Hampton Downs in my Silvia with our little convoy. It’s always an exciting drive down to the track. You never quite know what’s installed for you, what cars will be there, who will crash, or where you are going to shoot from. It’s a time where I can plan out my day, and where I want to be to acquire the type of shots I’m after. This spot in particular was a new one that I started to experiment with, and I wasn’t disappointed with a few of the end products.
During the weekend you could see a huge range of cars including high performance muscle cars, rotary powered cars, custom utes, old school muscle, high end exotic, and any kind of japanese car available in NZ. I have to say, NZ is a very lucky place when it comes to cars, if you’ve heard of it, there is probably one registered for use on NZ roads somewhere around the country.
After a few hours out on the track, I headed back into the pits to check out what was on display in the show and shine section. This was an easy way to get your car parked close to the event without paying $5 extra for outside parking and to have a chance to win some prizes! The turnout was huge and filled up the entire gravel area with neck breaking cars to die for.
The boys at Autostance really know how to shake the game up when it comes to modifying some kick ass cars. Between you and me I think that they compete with themselves trying to constantly outdo the other. I’m completely fine with that friendly rivalry as it produces some awesome subjects in the process.
Chrome is a good event to wipe of the dust and get the car out for a weekend of harmless fun. Not much happens over the few months of winter here in NZ, it’s one of those events that gets the ball rolling before summer. The drivers had to put up with the winter weather however, which did lead to a few unnecessary crashes over the weekend. But, you learn from your mistakes, right?
As the Demon Energy National Drifting Championship (D1NZ) ended back in February this year, I haven’t had much of a chance to see any drifting action. As this is the main thing I shoot, Chrome gave me that chance to get back to my roots and into the swing of things after a couple months break from the camera. There is just something much more exciting shooting cars sideways to me than shooting grip racing events.
It’s also a good time to take your friends or sponsors out for some low stress hot laps. But be careful as the first drift section is where most people spin as it’s rather difficult. You have a long run up to a right uphill corner followed by an uphill switch, then a downhill long corner. The switch seems to be the place where most people spin out and cause traffic on the track, beware.
If you didn’t think there was enough entertainment throughout the day, you could see the few D1NZ drivers in attendance having a couple low key practice battles. Having the track open to any paid entrant throughout the day meant that anyone could have a go at tandeming with some of NZ’s best drifters. Something that I’m sure wouldn’t be forgotten anytime soon. You could have a go at closing in on their tail, or have them edging closer and closer to your wing mirror.
The skid pan at Hampton Downs is like a big undercover shopping centre carpark, without the carparks or the big poles holding the roof above the ground. A massive area for drivers to brush up on their skills before heading out onto the track. Although with no tandeming allowed over the weekend, it did make for a somewhat boring viewing area. Usually you would see two or three cars out there at a time producing ear piercing noises from the polished carpark concrete.
The wet weather in the afternoon saw a few close calls, along with an old long car in front of us lose it, spin one way and then the other trying not to hit the car next to him or us behind him. Thankfully the only damage was the grass he spun off onto. After that mishap I think he played it cool for the remaining hours of the day. Most drivers had a good attitude and kept the shenanigans to a minimum, creating a good atmosphere for other drivers.
Luckily for the drivers, during the last drag session the rain held off for an hour. Which meant smoke bellowed out from the more powerful cars for our sensory pleasure. Can you guess who won the drag race? There were only a limited number of cars that attended the last drag session, so it was cut short and the drive your mates session commenced for the final time.
Some of NZ’s most powerful road cars also had a go out on the track. With over 1000hp at the wheels it has been shaking up the internet from all corners of the world. Recently an overseas media company produced a feature video on the car and its owner. I Demon has been around for quite a while now and I don’t think it will go in hiding any time soon!
If sticking to the guidelines isn’t your thing, how about chasing some old school tail on the long straights Hampton Downs has to offer. It was funny actually, seeing cars go head to head. The outcome of most battles was a surprise especially when I saw a stock looking Toyota Vitz take on turbo and rotary cars and not only keep up, but overtake a few in the process.
After a good weekend of antics it was time to pack up and head home. Chrome is now done for another year and what a fun and exciting event it was. Plenty of entertainment for the whole family. Although the conditions weren’t the best, the drivers still managed to use litres upon litres of petrol as well as clock over collectively hundreds of thousands of kilometres. A good event all round, thanks to Premier events and the 4&Rotary group. Until next year.
Photos: Shaun Constable | Words: Shaun Constable | Proofer: Chadd Davis
© Ambition Works 2015