AUTOLIFER | My Year with Autolifers

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This year has been pretty awesome I have to admit. As the Editor-in-Chief I wanted to be the first to tell you about my year at the helm of Autolifers.com. This year has of course been a year of many firsts with some being more important than others. If I am totally honest I did not really expect for us to come as far as we have. Having said that we still have a long, long way to go. I also knew it was going to be hard work although I think I may have underestimated how much work it actually takes to make things happen. In this article Im going to just go over some of my favorite moments from the cars we have featured and the events we have covered.

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So on January 1st came and along with it the launch of www.autolifers.com. This day was a very proud moment as we launched with two of my favorite features Mike Fitz’s RX7 and Neeraj Sharma’s MkVI Golf. To see the Autolifers logo up there and feature two amazing cars on our first day was fantastic and having a drift car and a stanced dub was really important as I wanted people to know that Autolifers was about all facets of the automotive life hence Autolifers. January on the site was pretty busy and I was working part time so I was shooting quite a bit.

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January really should be looked at as “Peden Conceptz Month” as we featured so many cars that our good friend John Peden had worked on and indeed two beauties he owned himself. The Alfa 156 and the Porsche 964 we shot on the same day and had great banter all day long. The Porsche we all love but the Alfa with its odd motorsport/stance look, I don’t know., it just does it for me. John always impresses to be honest. Indeed Michael Burrough’s of StanceWorks contacted me about the Porsche and asked would I shoot it again exclusively for StanceWorks. This was a huge thing for me but I’ll be perfectly honest it was because of the car not my photography skills although it was still nice to think I was asked. Soon after the Porsche shoot came more of John’s handy work in the shape of Phil Guiney’s Juiced Prelude

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I also enjoyed hanging out with my pal Connor McCann from ShedSixty2 as I had lost contact with him. The Polo still looked the same though 😛 Dubshed 2014/2015/2016 right dude?

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February seen my first chance to do an event article for the site and nothing more fitting could have cropped up than the Spring Rally. Armed with my trusty 50mm f1.4 and a wideangle and only 2 stages to shoot I tried to come up with a variety of shots that would make the article interesting and also touch on my own experiences of the rally as a kid, as a spectator, as a competitor and lastly as media. I really enjoyed this event an awful lot.

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My next event was some drifting but not the Irish Drift Championship, this time it was closer to home at the first round of the N.I Drift Series. I took my favorite image of the entire year here of the E36 BMW above, again just armed with one lens I shot at stupidly low shutters just to get something cool. Out of over 1000 photos that day I only used about 30 or 40 for both Autolifers and OMGdrift.com.

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My next shoot was of Jonny Irwin’s F20c Trueno in that Hot Pink colour which I love. At this point of the year I was getting steadily drawn into loving all things Hachi Roku and to date this article is one of the most liked articles on the site. Take a bow Jonny!

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Late March and early April I was on holidays in Los Angeles and Las Vegas but my guys were holding it down with the site with some awesome features: Martin had shot Adrian Walsh’s newly unveiled Hankook SR86, Chris had covered the AE86 Track Day and John had hit Dubshed. Myself and Drew Fishbein of OMGdrift had hit Formula D Tech day which was awesome!

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Towards the end of April we had covered our first Irish Drift Championship event at Round 1 in Mondello. This event was so odd for me as before I had always been shooting video at ProDrift/IDC so shooting only photos was a change. I have to admit I did miss releasing a video after the event when seeing the other videos from the likes of Good Luggage. I also got to shoot a pair of 205 GTi’s and if you know me, you know I enjoyed it a lot!..

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Over the coming weeks I shot some very cool cars like Wayne Douglas’ E36, Stuart Cargill’s Merc 190 and Christopher Darragh’s Fiesta. This is what I love about shooting cars in Ireland – all these cool cars and all very different and, most of the time, close by.

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If you have been with us from the start you’ll know my feelings towards Mitsubishi Lancers… I LOVE THEM!! Both Ryan Eves’ Vii and Stephen Brannigan’s Vi tickle me where I itch. Scotia White Lancer’s are the last word in my humble opinion.

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Donegal was our next rally to cover but I only got to do one day (and really only half a stage as it was cancelled) but luckily John and Graham where also up in Donegal and got some great coverage too. At this point I was in possession of a Canon 70-200 f2.8 lens and finally I was beginning to enjoy shooting motorsport! Thankfully the only day I was in Donegal was sunny!

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Although we had hit Fintona: Low and Live and when I say “we” I mean “me” it was the Showerks: Bangor400 that was our first proper show as a website and we loved it!! We had a decent sized stand with awesome cars on it and it was such a fun day. Normally at shows when you get there you just want to go home. I could have stayed all day into the night!

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My good friends Chris Brady and his partner Emma Saunders invited me to have the exclusive shoot of their amazing S14.5 which I was delighted to get shooting. I have known Chris since I started doing videos of drifting back in 2010 so it was nice to get the first photos of the car for Autolfiers.

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Another friend, another cool car. This time Jayme Hill’s fully rebuilt classic Mini. It is so nice to have a shoot so close to home! Jayme and I had been threatening to shoot the Mini for a long time and low and behold we got it shot and without any rain.. in Omagh!! :O

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More drift action and this time from Round 4 of the IDC in Fermoy. Fermoy is my home away from home especially when I was a teenager – it was a place of many firsts I can tell you! First job, first drink, first Hangover…. I’ll stop there.

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August seen my relationship with the AE86 almost set in concrete. I was privileged enough to get sitting in along with IDC drivers Brian Egan and Adrian Walsh and also Mr. Team Tekno himself Killian O’Brien – I won’t go into it here as there is FAR too much to say. Check out the article and video it was so much fun!

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It is not often you get beautiful days like the one I happened upon to shoot this S2000 belonging to ShoWerks co-founder Bob Kennedy.In fact I do recall myself and Bob hmmmm’ing and haaaa’ing about the weather. I love these shots of this car as I think it really shows the car off so well and I guess the weather helped a little. Nothing like a dark, dreary day to ruin a shoot.

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The Ulster Rally was the last rally I was able to cover along with Reinis and it was a long long weekend as I was working night shift and shooting photos during the day. Typical Ulster weather being mixed and unpredictable but very enjoyable. I especially love the image above of Derek McGarrity’s Focus WRC spitting up the stones and water as it thundered past me on the stage just outside Fivemiletown on the Friday stages.

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My last drift event of the year would see me videoing for IDC TV and leaving the shooting to Reinis hence stealing two of his photos. We have a special love for drifting here at Autolifers and to all those who support us like the awesome PS13 of Paul Stryker who has the best window sticker EVER! We also love the capture Reinis has of Martin Ffrench in the Low Brain Drifters PS13 heading for the barrier and yes that is an Autolifers sticker on the back of it!

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Two very different rear wheel drives that I shot and I love both Graham Thompson’s E46 and Chris Gray’s AE86. You’ll hear me say time and time again that I love a car and I genuinely do love the car it is not me just saying it to make the owners feel warm and fuzzy about their cars. If I had my way I would have a warehouse and I would have an example of each feature car I have shot.

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The above photo was what I call the “eye opener” article as I really had little or no clue about detailing and after seeing the transformation on John’s MkII Golf I was sold on what the likes of PMG Autocare can do – it was just so impressive.

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Myself and John went to Titanic Dubs but as I expected he trumped me on his show photos. I spent most of the day chilling with people I hadn’t seen in a long time and just enjoying the event which was brilliant I have to say and once again we lucked out with the weather.

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Within the space of 7 days I shot these two beauties above. The Peugeot 106 is a car I will always love and to get to shoot the best example in the country was something very special – you left me very jealous Davey Bradley!. The Impreza belonging to Aidan Corr is awesome for two reasons 1: It’s an Impreza and 2: I got to drive it! This was my first experience of driving something powerful and Japanese, needless to say I am hooked!

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My year finishes off exactly how it started. Featuring a motorsport/competition car and a “juiced” road car. The Citroen C2R2 belonging to Stephen Lipsett just made me want to get back into my own FWD French rally car and Owen Maguire’s Borbet’ed 306 instilled in me the belief that the 306 can look awesome when done right.
 
I want to take this opportunity to say a huge thanks to all of our readers, to all of you who “like” us on Facebook, to those of you who “follow” us on tumblr, to those of you who “retweet” us on twitter and to those of you on all the other social media platforms we frequent – the entire team thanks you all. Without you the site would not exist and that is an often bandied about phrase but it is only because of your interest that we continue to shoot photos and write articles for our little website.
 
A personal thanks also goes to my team, for without you all helping me keep the site going we would be nothing. I would also like to thank those contributors who contributed to the site during the year and have moved on to pastures new – your help, input and content was and continues to be greatly appreciated.
 
The last time I made a bold statement about a certain year going to be “amazing” I duly ended up with a terrible year on my plate so I am not going to make that same mistake again. What I can say is that I am looking forward to 2014 an awful lot because with the help of my staff and the continued support from you, our valued readers and fans, we can only grow and become better. I’ll finish off by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!!
 
Words: Patrick McCullagh
Photos: Patrick McCullagh & Reinis Babrovskis
 

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