Gatebil Vålerbanen 2018
I consider myself a bit of a Gatebil veteran now, this is my 6th year of visiting Gatebil events so I am no stranger to the spectacle that is one of the worlds best and most exciting car shows. But at each event you never know what you might see, what you will do and new people you will meet. That is always the exciting thing about Gatebil, every event is different and will always offer you a new adventure each time.
Gatebil Vålerbanen is the first event on the Gatebil calendar. This always comes around in May and never short in excitement, why you ask? Well for that we have to understand the car culture in Norway. You see Norway and the rest of Scandinavia has a very very long cold dark winter with almost no chance of getting out and driving. So most are tucked away in their insulated garages with heaters pumping working away on their cars and getting them ready for the spring/summer season. By the time Gatebil has come around people are itching to show off their cars and to just get out there and finally drive! So Vålerbanen is that first hit of car season pleasure that Scandinavians have all been working so hard for.
You just never know what you might see at Gatebil, the variety of cars is what makes it so special.
I left early in the morning for the drive up to Vålerbanen race track which is approximately 2 hours north of Oslo. The weather was perfect, but in my experience the past few years the Vålerbanen event has always been freezing cold. I will always remember my first one in 2015 where I spent most my time warming my hands over a BBQ! I had only arrived in Norway from Australia 2 weeks before that though, I feel now I have adjusted to Norwegian weather slightly better now. This year was going to be very different, with Norway having what some have described as a heat wave the past few weeks and with nothing but sun and clear skies forecast all weekend.
I was lucky enough this year to be invited to camp with the Frankenstein Garage crew who had been given the duties in taking care of Hunter Taylors (Fredric Aasbøs partner) Supra all weekend. This car had been getting prepped all winter so she was one of the drivers keen to finally get out and drive. I truly admire her for getting out there and mixing it up at Gatebil.
Make no mistake Gatebil is no easy event to learn to drift at, there are always plenty of cars out on the track, most pushing well beyond 500HP, plenty of smoke so your visibility at some corners is almost nothing. Also the Vålerbanen track is very unforgiving, any error will send you off into the sand trap or worse...
But all of this makes watching it as a spectator so enjoyable! As soon as I got there I could hear the screeching of tires and instantly smelled that all too familiar smell of e85 and burning rubber. I grabbed my camera and headed straight to the track. Every event I always enjoy trying to find cars that are new and I have not seen before, and also some of those crazy engine conversions that make Gatebil so famous.
This AE86 was one of the stand out cars for me. You don't see that many here drifting and this one was going hard all weekend. SR20DET powered and looked like a lot of fun!
Someone say engine conversions?... What is it with Scandinavians that put the 2JZ engine in everything but the Toyota Supra?! This one was powered with an Audi AAN engine! Crazy...
There is something for everyone at Gatebil no matter your taste in cars. I spent a few good hours on Saturday walking around the show n shine display. Once again the long winters have helped create the some amazing street driven cars and there is always a few stand out cars that are just perfect in any way you look at them.
Absolutely perfect period correct Datsun S30 240Z
Supras are the choice car for drifting here in Norway but its always good to see one that is clean and still street registered.
Stanced Lexus RC100. The stance scene in Norway seems to just keep getting bigger and bigger each year.
Another of my favourite cars at this years event. This Datsun 510 was seriously stunning and another car you normally would not see at a Gatebil event. Setup for track use and was actually out on the track, plus the owner won a trophy for his efforts!
Gatebil Extreme series is never short on excitement, basically a race event with no rules and a variety of cars. Over the years I have really enjoyed watching this as there is always some action and I was not disappointed this time..
Lamborghini and a Ford Cosworth have an expensive coming together..
The variety of cars in the Gatebil Extreme series makes for some action packed racing.
The action Does not stop when the track closes for the day, as drivers and mechanics and friends all open a few drinks, fire up the grill and begin fixing the damage that a day on the track at Gatebil will do. This is most probably my favourite time, walking around the pit area as people get into the party mood and chat about the day's events. As a visitor this is a great time to walk around the pit area and have a chat to drivers share a beer and talk to them about their cars.
The friendly atmosphere of Gatebil is what always draws me back.
Another thing that makes Gatebil famous is the aftertrack party, I have to admit I am more at Gatebil for the cars than the party but it's always fun to check out and watch some live Norwegian music. Also another highlight is walking around the camp depot area, plenty of crazy caravans pumping music, old Volvos and drunken Norwegians and Swedes that love to chat!
Sunday started off with the qualifying for the Gatebil Powerslide competition. This is the highlight of any Gatebil event, open to anyone to enter and one car goes at a time. What makes this interesting at Vålerbanen is they use a middle section of the track that is not open to use during practise so it can catch plenty of drivers out.
Nice drift spec S14 putting a smoke show during the powerslide competition.
Here in Scandinavia Diesel drift cars are actually a thing, and more seem to pop up each year. This BMW competing in the powerslide competition with a combination of black and white smoke coming from the rear.
Without a doubt Toyota Supras are still the most popular car for drifting here.
With the powerslide qualifying completed I continued walking around just soaking up that Gatebil spirit. There is never any shortage of action at Gatebil no matter if you are watching the track or in the pits.
The heat was a welcome change but did have an affect on plenty of the cars.
No doubt the face of Gatebil and an absolute champion of a guy and celebrity here in Norway, Fredric Aasbø always has time for his fans.
Hunter seemed to be getting more and more confident and used to her car more and more all weekend. She took every opportunity to get out there and drive and was always out there tearing it up with the Gatebil locals! Cant wait to watch her improve throughout this year!
Joachim Waagaard's bmw is a work of art. Stunning workmanship and built to not just look good but destroy tires!
Where else can you see old Diesel Mercedes wagons mixing it up with Toyota Supras?
Sunday afternoon finished off with the final of the powerslide competition and the grandstand was packed to watch if Fredric Aasbø could win back to back victories.
There is no doubting that the level of drifting here in Norway is super high and there is a very high standard of competitiveness among the drivers.
Ørjan Nilsen took out second place in his 1JZ powered Toyota Soarer with consistent runs all weekend.
But once again it was the Norwegian hammer, Fredric Aasbø that took out the Powerslide drift competition with 2 faultless runs. He really is one to keep cool under pressure and can bring it when it counts. The 86 looks amazing with its new livery and wheels also.
In true Gatebil style the action did not stop there though with a 4WD Powerslide drift competition also!
This little Toyota Starlet has become a Gatebil crowd pleaser and a true testament as to what Norwegians can build in a garage during a cold winter. Powered by twin 3SGTE Toyota engines with a single turbo supplying boost to both, it is an engineering marvel. Can also fry all 4 tires and turn a racetrack into a forest fire replica!
I left Gatebil not disappointed again and like always had the time of my life. It was also great to catch up with all the friends I have made there over the years, and make new friends which I seem to do at each event. That is what makes it so special, just friendly people who all share a common interest and love to talk cars. The next event is Gatebil Mantorp which is held in Sweden, this has slowly grown to be my favourite event on the Gatebil calendar as the Swedes really know how to bring the party and you get a great mix of new cars that come from all over Europe.
Can't wait and see you there!
- Rudi Minelle