Gatebil 2017 - Part 1
by Lorin Gannon
There are a couple of events that should be on every motorsport fan's bucklist, and Gatebil is exactly one of those. Ever since I first came across this insane event back in 2014, it has been near the top of the list of events to visit. And thanks to the guys over at Monster Energy, we are finally able to bring you this incredible content throughout the weekend.
Gatebil is an event based in Norway, Rodskogen Motorsenter, featuring various types of motorsports from time attack to circuit racing and of course, my personal favourite, drifting. It's a motorsport event by day, festival by night. And if you know anyone who has ever attended this event, they'll all be able to tell you how absolutely mental it is.
From the second I got off the plane the Monster guys greeted me, all with a huge smile on their face and opened their doors for a sneak peak into previous events that they attended. Shout out to the entire Monster Energy team, you guys really are awesome! But I must digress, let's jump back to Gatebil. Drawing crowds of upwards of 50,000 people throughout the four days, and over 12 hours of constant track time each day - this is absolutely nuts when you think about it, and when I say constant, I really do mean constant. If there's debris on the track, a huge sweeper is sent out, while it's still live. Sometimes it can even be a recovery truck. How many events can you say you have seen a recovery truck, loaded with an s14, hitting each apex of the track?
The people at Gatebil are by far the most welcoming, slightly crazy and warming people you could ever meet. I had just managed to introduce myself to the owner of the Volvo in the image above - this car is boasting an impressive 700bhp. He had offered me to take his car out on track and "have a shot" as he put it. These incredible people travel day and night, covering thousands of miles and multiple countries just to visit this event. It really shows how completely unique it is. No matter who you are, where you come from or what age you are, you'll be accepted with open arms into the huge family the second you come through the gates. After about ten minutes of leaving our rental car, I was greeted by a Norwegian man who ran straight over to me asking for a photo, of course I'm not going to turn him down and afterwards he jumped straight in for a hug. It's the small things like this which all add up together create the Gatebil atmosphere.
As an Irishman, I can handle my fair share of rain - but at Gatebil it's known for being always incredibly warm and sunny. Sadly this year, that wasn't the case. The skies opened up and the rain came down in full force across the track. This was a burden on some cars as not many had the correct set-up or wanted to risk taking their pride and joy out on track just to spin off and cause some serious damage. The weekend is young though and the weather can always clear up!
Gatebil is far from small, in fact, it is hands down the biggest motorsport event I've ever attended, also the furthest I've had to travel. ATV's are used on track to get around a little more quickly as you could easily spend hours walking around each day. It's pretty nice seeing that even the smallest of things are branded, Gatebil is plastered on almost everything, and if you're like me, you'll love seeing branding done right!
Gatebil is just pure, raw motorsport. The commitment levels here are just crazy. Entering into a walled clipping point at the end of the pit lane, hitting speeds over 200kmph, almost backwards and at most 3 inches away from the wall, all just before the first corner. It's safe to say these guys are dedicated to their sport.
With it being an event for motorsport fans, you can be sure that they've got an impressive show and shine. With some people putting Gatebil down on their yearly calendar, they drive thousands of kilometres to camp out at the event and intend to show off their street build to the thousands of attendees. Each car is lined up on the go-kart section of the venue, hosting home to the hundreds of incredible builds from fully fledged show cars, right down to some classic American muscle. Whenever you walk through the paddock, you can find professional time attack cars right next to cars that have been dubbed "Gatebil beaters". Their soul purpose is of being brought to Gatebil, is to die. Back in Ireland we don't see many Volvo track cars but as everyone knows - they are one of the most robust cars ever built. In Norway, a Scandinavian country they're in an abundance. It's not just strictly Volvo's though, if it's RWD, it will be drifted and if it's not RWD it will be converted or forced to drift - that's just the Gatebil way.
As I've mentioned before, many people travel thousands of miles each year just to visit Gatebil, myself being one of those people. There were two people in particular that stood out to me the most, Reuben and TeeJay. I simply couldn't write this article without touching on their story. Both men drove the 5000km round trip from Ireland to Norway with a small crew of incredible people. Loading their vans up with two beautifully built cars, one Nissan Laurel C33 and one flawless white Nissan Skyline R32, a Yamaha Banshee and an ice cream machine. They set off on the long haul trip. Sadly TeeJay was troubled with problems in the R32 all week and couldn't get as much track time as he would have hoped for, however Reuben was out almost every run could. Watching a simple, budget built C33 on Irish plates tandem with Formula Drift champion Frederick Asbo was pretty impressive. I called into their setup in the paddock on Saturday night and was greeted by a big bottle of vodka and the rest is history.
This is far from the end, with Gatebil being such a huge and impressive event we've another instalment of coverage from throughout the weekend. Keep an eye out for part 2 coming to ILB very, very soon!
Location: Rodskogen Motorsenter, Norway
Words by: Lorin Gannon
Photos by: Lorin Gannon