Across the Pond

DSC_0007

There’s only one place this could be.

DSC_0013

DSC_0025

Tiny shitboxes, coffee shops, and ugly-yet-practical taxis.

DSC_0053

I went to England for one thing: Radwood. But, just because I could, I decided to fly out a few days early and tag along with the itinerary of the Radwood dudes: Art, Lane, Warren, Rick, and Brad. There’s a whole tragic storyline with Brad’s trip, but let’s stick to the fun stuff here. We spent the first two days in London just doing touristy stuff.

DSC_0089

Since I had slept the majority of the flight across The Atlantic, I had pretty much zero jet lag. Plus, due to the higher latitude of England the sunsets are pretty late in the summer. So when we arrived at our rental pad right near Waterloo Station, we decided to walk around and explore. That clock is working fine; 8 PM and there was still sun.

DSC_0091

It’s not always cloudy in London; in fact the weather seemed to change constantly.

DSC_0095

Police cars in Europe are great. There were many different brands and types, very different from here with the big sedan (Crown Vic, now Taurus or Charger) or big SUV (Explorer). My favorite was probably the Volvo V90.

DSC_0112

We wandered into a courtyard of a pub with old school bricks on one side…

DSC_0114

…and The Shard on the other. Of course, like everything else in London right now, The Shard is under construction and looks like crapola. Oh well.

DSC_0117

Sometimes we’d get to a junction and just wonder if we were in a movie set. It’s like Disneyland, but it’s Londonland (Englandland doesn’t quite have the ring to it). It’s just so “London” it hurts. I’m sure people have that reaction when visiting San Francisco, for example.

DSC_0131

DSC_0134

Most English names of stuff just naturally sound like they should be said with an English accent. Take the “Giggling Sausage” for example.

DSC_0146

Super London scene: someone parking their tiny-yet-still-four-door econobox (“supermini” they call them, in this case an Audi A1) on the sidewalk next to their flat. And it’s always just ONE spot for like fourteen residences.

DSC_0160

We’re all completely unfamiliar with the area; I believe Art was the only one who had spent any real time in London. So just walking around the area near the station was very interesting to us.

DSC_0182

This tunnel had cool changeable lights for seemingly no other reason than to just be cool and trippy.

DSC_0192

In the center of London there are almost zero interesting cars, so this 944 was pretty much the first interesting and old car we had seen on the entire trip.

DSC_0202

DSC_0221

Remember what I was saying about construction? Two of the other super touristy London things to see, Big Ben and Parliament, were also under construction.

DSC_0243

These cool Citroens were being used as food trucks on the dock. We had quite a laugh because our missing team member, Brad, had written an article for Jalopnik specifically about how these trucks should not be used as food trucks. Unfortunately though, he wasn’t there to be able to defend his claims.

DSC_0268

I was walking around with my 50mm, and was just barely able to frame this one. A little tight, but I couldn’t back up any further on the London Bridge.

DSC_0280

Dammit Large Benjamin…I guess I’ll have to come back and see you again.

DSC_0300

What’s the deal with phone booths every 50 feet? Were people in London making lots of calls when they were out and about back in the day?

DSC_0301

We went to Westminster Abbey and were literally the only ones there, which was kinda neat. When we rode by in a taxi the next day it was completely packed with hundreds of people in the area where we’d been hanging out alone.

DSC_0335

The next morning was a fairly early start for a full day of exploring the center of London. Starting with the local garbage truck fleet. I love how Mercedes makes all kinds of vehicles, even garbage trucks. Garbage lorries?

DSC_0341

DSC_0344

A Suzuki Jimny!

DSC_0345

Watch for the humps, they’ll get ya.

DSC_0369

We went to the Borough Market when it was actually open, and they had…all kinds of food I guess. They had nothing ready to eat, so it wasn’t very interesting to me.

DSC_0384

I got a really awesome, really expensive (£6) Turkish coffee though.

DSC_0388

Cool as ice, mannn. At this hour, it was pretty much just us tourists everywhere.

DSC_0394

Yup, that’s London.

DSC_0401

We made our way to Brick Lane because we wanted to check out some “charity shops”–what we would call a thrift store, like Goodwill.

DSC_0402

I love how their logo for “camera” looks like a dry plate camera from the 1870’s.

DSC_0408

This seemed to be a place where normal people lived, because we saw some interesting cars street parked in this neighborhood.

DSC_0410

DSC_0411

Mildly bummed I didn’t step back and include the Saab behind.

DSC_0418

DSC_0419

DSC_0438

DSC_0437

Bit of a Haight Street type vibe in some places down there, except for the homeless people (or lack thereof).

DSC_0445

DSC_0451

London, like any city that grew up really fast (like SF, NY, etc), has many cool juxtapositions of old and new.

DSC_0464

DSC_0465

I suppose this is like a Londoner taking random pics of random areas stumbled upon in San Francisco, but hey. I am under no impressions that I am not a tourist.

DSC_0468

We made our way over to the Mayfair neighborhood in a misguided attempt at finding fish and chips.

DSC_0470

DSC_0472

This neighborhood seemed a bit fancier than where we were staying.

DSC_0494

DSC_0495

Tally ho! Luxury metal was spotted at the Connaught Hotel.

DSC_0501

DSC_0504

I went straight for this white GT2 RS with Weissach Package. I love the 2RS gold mag wheels. Gorgeous car.

DSC_0509

Aston Martin’s DB11 is also a beautiful car, but this understated two-tone paint scheme isn’t my favorite.

DSC_0521

DSC_0524

Uh, is someone street parking a Mercedes SLR?

DSC_0525

And a Cullinan? Hey, get that E46 M3 out of the way…

DSC_0531

I wonder what the owners of these cars were doing in this neighborhood; there didn’t really seem to be any shops or even many people walking around. I had to wait for a bit to get those people in my shot.

DSC_0533

This sign explains a lot about seeing only boring cars though.

DSC_0535

Still, there were a few 911’s to see which made me happy.

DSC_0538

How to take your car everywhere and not rack up the mileage.

DSC_0558

The bros, next to an omnipresent phone booth.

DSC_0578

And then it started to rain a little, so we took off during a pause to seek shelter.

DSC_0581

Sometimes the timing is just right. When we chanced upon this large arch, it started pouring rain.

DSC_0582

I mean bucketloads. Biblical amounts.

DSC_0586

People stumbled in completely soaked.

DSC_0594

And then it stopped raining, and people just went back about their daily lives.

DSC_0609

Any car just seems to look better in Euro spec. And they’re all lower!

DSC_0616

DSC_0617

Whoa, a Peugeot 1007. Check out that sliding driver side door.

DSC_0629

DSC_0621

DSC_0668

Well, after two days of walking around, we were done with London.

DSC_0673

On Saturday morning, we picked up our rental Volkswagen Transporter to haul us down to Goodwood with all our stuff.

DSC_0683

The first stop out of the city was the hospital where Brad was being treated, which was a bit depressing, to say the least.

DSC_0686

Pardon the rear seat snaps, but there were a few things along the way that caught my eye. Like this gigantic roundabout, for example. I love the concept of a roundabout, especially when it means deleting traffic signals.

DSC_0687

However, sometimes you need to wait at a light to enter a roundabout. Look how many layers of lights there are.

DSC_0694

The variable speed limits on the highway were interesting; the speeds would gradually lower to make a smoother transition into the traffic jam.

DSC_0697

This guy was driving and rolling a cigarette!

DSC_0706

Just by coincidence–it was on our way–we stopped into the only place I had already been to in England: the town of Guildford.

DSC_0722

A few years ago I came here to visit EA for a media event when they launched Need for Speed Shift. This time, we were just stopping by for lunch.

DSC_0724

On my first trip I didn’t really get to do anything besides work, so I was a bit surprised to see that it was quite a touristy spot on this Saturday.

DSC_0742

DSC_0746

The roads got smaller as we got further from the city.

DSC_0754

Yes, that tiny white-and-red sign means 50mph on a narrow twisty road with driveways, blind crests, and no shoulder. You’d be lucky to get 45 on a road like this in California; most likely it would be a 35 or 40. The majority of people tended to drive swiftly, but we did see our fair share of trucks and vans.

DSC_0755

And how about a giant Volvo trying to get through a village? We had to pull over, stop, and wait for this guy to drive by. It must be very stressful driving such a beast through England.

DSC_0762

In this area it was mostly the usual mix of mini SUV’s and tiny shitboxes, plus work vans, with a nice sprinkling of Land Rover Defenders. So it was a big shock to see a 720S coming the other way.

DSC_0767

Do English cows moo with an English accent..?

DSC_0770

We then entered the beautiful, historic village of Cocking.

DSC_0771

DSC_0773

Ah yes, the Cocking Church, which dates back to the 11th century. On another note, is it just me or do these twisty, flowing roads make you feel like an old time Grand Prix driver? Suddenly all the little roadsters and British sports cars just make sense.

DSC_0780

The first sign! We have arrived!

DSC_0792

Typical English design…it’s a two way street that barely has room for one vehicle each way. We tip-toed down the entrance, only to see a Land Rover coming at us. And he wasn’t stopping–so we had to back up, and try again.

DSC_0793

What the fuck, man. Why would any English person (or anyone at all, really) decide a PT Cruiser is the right car? And it’s diesel! Horrible.

DSC_0798

When we arrived, there was a little track day going on. So of course, we poked around.

DSC_0801

DSC_0808

The front duct on the 488 Pista is just insanely cool. I love how you can see the ground through the car.

DSC_0814

918 and LaFerrari were present; there was a 720S but I was slightly bummed not to see a P1 in attendance.

DSC_0822

The amazing thing, for us at least, was that anyone could drive off the street and right into the track’s parking lot. No security, no entry fee, nothing at all. Actually, it was set up so casually that you could just drive off the road, into the paddock, and straight out onto the track if you had the balls. The security presence in the United States, especially California, is quite a bit more elevated.

short, flat, with a train in the back

That reminded me of Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. The entrance to the track itself is a gate at the exit of Turn 4 that opens directly out onto a public road. When I was laser scanning the race track (for a video game), the gate was kept open as it usually is during the day when vehicles are going in and out (check Google Maps street view). While scanning the main straight, a car just drove onto the track and stopped behind us. I thought it was track staff coming to talk to me, but quickly found out it was some dude just driving by who saw the open gate and drove in just to see what was up! Sheesh.

DSC_0823

Anyway, back to England. Sort of. This very American ’63 Ford Falcon Sprint was badass.

DSC_0830

Sadly though, we arrived too late to see anyone turn laps. This, and pretty much everything else was already done for the day when we arrived.

DSC_0838

We were seeing the venue for the first time, and although there had been talks going on for months, there were still some minor logistics to iron out.

DSC_0852

DSC_0856

Plus, I think you never know exactly how you want everything laid out until you see the actual venue in person.

DSC_0862

And although it wasn’t necessary at all, we were treated to a ride-along of the circuit! I’ve seen it on Youtube a million times and driven it in Gran Turismo, but nothing ever compares to driving around a proper race track. Another circuit ticked off the list, I’m excited and proud to say.

DSC_0866

This site was a base for Spitfires back in WWII, and a few of the war structures are still up, like this observation tower.

DSC_0873

Even though it’s ostensibly a “simple” track, it still seems like it would be a bit scary to drive given that all the turns are very fast and what little runoff exists is slippery grass.

DSC_0884

We saw the phrase “naked lights” a lot, which simply means “open flame”. One of the fascinating aspects of the entire trip was comparing the different words used in British versus American English.

DSC_0886

We were all pretty enamored by this handsome workhorse. Would we be as stoked if they were offered here? Hmm, not sure. The “can’t have it, never seen it” factor definitely adds some intrigue.

DSC_0888

But, I do think it’s objectively a handsome, clean design for a van.

DSC_0893

Look ma, no hands! Warren had never driven a RHD vehicle, and since he had some trepidation about driving the van out on the open roads, he drove it around the paddock a bit.

DSC_0902

This is a test pic of him hopping out. Long story short, I went to swap lenses, but there was some kind of weird malfunction and it wouldn’t focus, so this is the only pic I have of this particular moment. It’s okay, I’d make up for it the next day…

DSC_0918

I did get the wide lens to work, but we were being kicked out of the track so I didn’t get a chance to take the shot I wanted. So here are a few snaps from the drive “home” with the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 mounted to the Nikon Z6. For the actual Radwood coverage, I had the 50mm f/1.4 on the Z6 and put the 16-35mm on my D750.

DSC_0931

DSC_0936

DSC_0948

Our castle for the weekend. Actually, it was a kinda funky duplex thing.

DSC_0951

It had a pretty interesting driveway. Maybe there’s some benefit to gravel in the rain? Or it’s some traditional thing?

DSC_0953

For dinner, we went to meet up with some local car guys at a real pub. This involved going down a one lane, two-way road.

DSC_0960

Since your car takes up the entire lane, what do you do when you come up to someone?

DSC_0968

Well, somebody has to reverse until you get back to one of these tiny spots where you can pull over and squeeze past each other.

DSC_0977

I’m glad they put fences up in this neck of the woods; I’ve seen plenty of clips from Wales and Scotland where sheep just hang out in the road, because they aren’t fenced in. That seems a bit dangerous for all the mammals and machines involved in such encounters.

DSC_0981

We arrived at our traditional pub, or rather “Free House”. I’d never heard the term, but the internet tells me this is a type of pub that is owned independently from the breweries which supply it.

Our dinner was wonderful; we yakked about cars and culture over slightly cool alcoholic beverages and feasted on delicious pub favorites. Then it was time to hit the hay, because the next day was Sunday…time for Radwood UK, the first ever Radwood event outside of the United States!

Something to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: