So I went to Northern Ireland with the boy to contest the 2.0 Hot Rod British and Irish Championships, being held at Aghadowey Oval, at their, as it turns out “optimistically” entitled “summer” speedweekend, a 2 day event also featuring the Lightning Rods World Final. First time in Northern Ireland, first time at this track, so we travelled overnight Thursday so we were there for a practise session on Friday. Once again a new experience for me, and all of us, Aghadowey Oval is different from what we’re used to, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, not sure we even saw a sign for it on the approach, an oval track with a slim grass bank around the outside, a covered grandstand at one end that was completely devoid of any kind of seating, a burger bar and toilets at the other end (that to be fair were a step up from some UK tracks), and a pit area that was basically spread out over what I’m told was formerly a circuit of some sort, bikes perhaps, or karts, not sure.
Despite the narrowness of the grass banking Aghadowey allows vehicles to park all around the track, which if it were my local is a feature I’d love, turn up and watch the racing from the comfort of your car (or campervan). Hednesford does trackside parking but the spectator area at Aghadowey is nowhere near the size.
The track itself is also slightly odd, being not so much an oval as a rectangle with rounded corners, and not the widest so it was clear this wasn’t Foxhall and Damian was going to have to properly learn this track.
When we got there on the Friday it was raining, and although I signed in with the race promoter, a very welcoming Darren Black, I stayed on the outside (neither of the 2 regular track photographers were there on Friday). Practise was wet to say the least, but not anything I couldn’t cope with, and I got some great shots as a result:
Saturday was a different kettle of fish however. Wet again, but not just wet, absolutely soaking wet, the rain just got harder and harder as the day wore on, and after 5 hours out on the in-field I was soaked to the skin. My waterproof boots turned out not to be waterproof, my socks and feet were as wet as I can ever remember, and the boots hadn’t actually dried out the following morning, we had to sit with a hairdryer blowing into them for ages to dry them out.
I also boasted to the other photographers, the “2 wise men” I called them, Brian Lammey and John Wolsey who’ve covered the Northern Ireland oval scene seemingly forever, that my cameras were waterproof even if I wasn’t. They’re not of course, they’re water “resistant”, and on my older EM1 Mk2 the sealing is coming away under the shutter button, and sure enough on Sunday it stopped working! I also got some moisture in the viewfinder of the newer EM1-X, which made shooting difficult on Sunday.
The rain did allow me to get some shots I normally wouldn’t have:
Got to love a wet track for capturing reflections like this, makes up for the less inspiring backgrounds.
I took a ridiculous amount of photos over the 2 and a bit days, spent a ridiculous amount of time processing them, and am still going through them to pick out my favourites, but everyone seemed to enjoy the weekend, rain notwithstanding, and we’ll definately be going back next year if we can.