Author Archives: Justin Fox

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1–2hrs of Gaming/Day is Plenty

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Controller from my first console, the Atari 2600. Woodgrain baby, woodgrain!

I watched a fair few ‘gaming addiction’ related documentaries on Youtube last year. There are a couple of really good ones BTW, especially loved this one by SBS Dateline where young Korean boys are sent off to rehab to cure their addiction.

How much gaming is too much? The answer is debatable, but I know 15-20hrs a day playing games is indisputably too much, and yet when I was doing it I was quite proud of myself for being more hardcore than even the most hardcore of hardcore gamers out there. “Thumbs of steel!”, these were just the kind of comments I was fishing for when I bragged about breaking landmark levels and hours played.

Speaking of hours wasted (Oh that’s harsh… geez I’m quick to go 180 aren’t I?!), finishing the main storyline and a handful of side quests on a good role playing game (RPG) averages around 30hrs. I’m much more keen on end-game though where the ceiling on upgrading gear and character development are lifted and the carrot dangles forever.

I’ve spent 1,953hrs on The Division (most of these hours were spent in group play with mic active), 1,405hrs on Warframe (mostly keyboard chat), 692hrs combined in Destiny 1 & 2 (50/50 mic play and solo no comms) and 2,308hrs so far on Black Desert Online (BDO), a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game which I play mostly alone (not the point of MMO’s but hey, go your own way?!). Worth noting; there are a lot of ‘away from keyboard’ (AFK) activities in BDO (I fish!) so the number is inflated.

Now that I’ve got the bragging out of the way I realise that those massive numbers aren’t anything to brag about. Much like how I’m not advocating for weed so much at the moment, where I was once so proud to push weed into people’s faces I now realise how much of a passive aggressive dick I’d been.

Whenever the experts suggest that 2hrs gaming a day is more than enough I’d snicker, no fucking way could I keep up with the boys if I was only gaming 2hrs a day. But wow, seriously, without the bong I now find myself struggling to spend 2hrs of quality gaming time in any game. It now absolutely boggles my mind that the boys can play games until 3am nearly every work night whilst their wives and kids are asleep. I’ve been missing the boys, missing my daily login rewards on BDO… I’m not even doing AFK fishing FFS.

For me, bonging and gaming every waking hour, (and every non-waking hour as I often had epic long microsleeps whilst gaming) caused extreme sleep depravation, which caused poor health both inside and out to the point I didn’t want to see people, or for them to see me (I have an unhealthy soft spot for social isolation/being a hermit) which led me to depression and eventually suicidal thoughts.

In relation to problems; people say “sleep on it” but I’m more of a “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” kinda guy, but the unfortunate truth is the shorter your sleep the shorter your life. Sitting for tens of hours straight (well, slouched on a couch) took a toll on my body. I forgot to care for the important things that I wasn’t doing, things that really matter like moving and getting a good nights sleep!

TL;DR, Staying awake gaming was my problem. 2hrs gaming at most per day, with regular sleep at the same time every night, for the same amount of hours every day has been my solution.

Also on Medium.

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Is Writing an Art?

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Writing as Art. Is it a thing? I had to google it.

I enjoyed creative writing in high school, and throughout high school I kept a hand written diary which I made entries in quite religiously.

Recently I rummaged through a plastic tub full of high school love letters and diaries (a memory container!). In it I found A4 sheets stapled and taped together, when un-ravelled and laid out on the floor it went from my lounge room to the hallway in length! I instantly remembered what this was. It was a thing we used to do at Edwina’s place. Punch a cone, go to the A4 sheet on the wall and write.

It was your choice whether to continue on, or debate, or contribute or completely ignore the previous entry, whatever the case, you just had to write your bit. I started reading some of it; “Fluorescence! We are fluorescence!”, it’s all pretty whack, but quite beautiful and mind altering. All of this is the very definition of creative writing to me.

I wrote a lot throughout university but I no longer hand wrote. I used a typewriter for a year but finally caved in and started using the computer to write.

Initially I was writing everything in Outlook Express, an email app. Outlook would underline spelling errors in red and sentences that were too long in red too. I got better at writing by using Outlook. I started to spell better and I also started to learn how to order a sentence better by cutting and pasting words from back to front and vice versa. This cutting and pasting was something I couldn’t do on the typewriter so I never went back.

Eventually I got sick of Outlook as it didn’t accept my writing style. I try to write how I speak. I ramble a lot and thus I use a lot of dots… every time I’d use these pauses I’d get red lines and having red lines all over the place whilst I was writing was really starting to piss me off.

I’ve heard of multi-platform add-ons I can use to check my spelling and grammar but I’m not too interested to be honest. I’m not getting too many red underlines right now, looks like either I’ve finally conformed to how my computer wants me to write, or AI has honed in, recognised and accepted the way I write?! Creepy… right?!

Also on Medium.

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Cars For Hope, Cars For Dope, Cars With No Hope

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Say Nope to Dope!

This feature will be broken down into the following parts:

– My Story.
– How I have supported Cars For Hope since 2011.
– Where were Cars For Hope when I needed them most?
– Building a better bridge.

My Story.

I’m 44 years old this year and I’ve just survived my darkest days to date. Last year I smoked an ounce of chronic marijuana a week (wake and bake 4.20AM-Midnight every day). I didn’t sleep in my bed. I pissed in empty soft drink bottles instead of using my toilet. I turned off social media and turned away friends who rang my doorbell. I spent a lot of time gaming and researching ways to kill myself. I attempted suicide towards the end of last year but I bailed out hard on the night I tried to actually go through with it. Call it a mid-life-crisis, but it was a hell of a lot more hardcore than any depression I’d ever felt in my younger years.

I’m a “rehab is for quitters” kinda guy. Seeing a therapist was something I never wanted to do as my preconception of them was rather pessimistic. My mother had to pick me up and make sure I attended the sessions, if anything therapy got me out of the house and closer to my mum, but it wasn’t enough.

Being told to go out and get some sun, or hop back on your bike and start riding, these were extremely logical tips on how to get better, but when you’re down in a hole you just can’t act on logic. Even if you wanted to save yourself you can’t. Absolutely nothing can help you get out.

I was advised by my therapist to see my GP. My GP freaked out when he saw how skinny I was (51kgs down from 60kgs), he then freaked out when I said I’d been having suicidal thoughts and have felt really down for the last 6–12 months. He had no option but to get me on antidepressants as 6–12 months of being down in his opinion was way too long left untreated. I’ve never wanted to be on meds, but I realised that I didn’t have any more power to help myself, and meds were the only way forward.

I’ve spent 6 months in therapy which I found more helpful than the psychologist I was recommended. I’m now only seeing my psychiatrist every 4 weeks or so to hone in my medicine (which is treating me for bipolar more than depression, though I have been diagnosed with having both). I’m not completely sober, but I’ve broken the bong and I’m now more sober than I’ve ever been in my entire adult life. Being straight is way more hardcore than being stoned, but I’m loving the clarity and my productivity so I intend to keep it up.

How I have supported Cars For Hope since 2011.

I first heard of Cars For Hope (CFH) in 2011 when I was setting up ZEN Garage Leichhardt. I checked out the CFH web site and felt that all of what I read was a bit vague so I called Berty out on it and the rest is history.

ZEN Garage was the only physical bricks and mortar shop you could buy CFH stickers from. We were also the only online shop selling them. Over the years we’ve proudly displayed banners and advertisements on our sites, forums and cars. We’ve sold tens of thousands of CFH stickers with all profits going to CFH. Some weeks we sold more CFH stickers than our own!

In 2013 Berty took a full time job with Motor Culture who shared an office space with us at ZEN Garage Leichhardt. We had a few years there working side by side in the same office where we didn’t spend any quality time talking CFH. An opportunity wasted in retrospect as I believe CFH could do with a lot more discussion and development.

Where were Cars For Hope when I needed them most?

When I was down in the hole I wondered why CFH hadn’t reached out to me. I wondered why my friend Berty from CFH didn’t reach out to me. My last memory of Berty was being a referee, talking to a recruitment agency on the phone for half an hour waxing lyrical about how amazing Berty was as he was going for a job with the NRMA (he got that job too!).

When I spoke to Berty recently to question him about his absence, he let me know that he got messages from people in the automotive community who were concerned for me. I’m like; “why the fuck didn’t you pass those messages on to me Berty?!”. At one stage I finally did go to the CFH web site looking for help. I saw the “FIND HELP” button and clicked it, it loads a wall of text suggesting CFH aims to provide a bridge, but CFH rinses it’s hands of any legal responsibility, so instead, please call the recommended hotlines below, but keep in mind CFH also clears itself from any responsibility the hotlines may provide.

I just shut the browser window. Calling my mother was impossible when I was down in a hole, let alone calling some random on a hotline.

Building a better bridge.

There’s a story section on the CFH web site and from what I’ve read, it’s great except I’m a bit iffy on stories being written by anonymous people, some of which have hidden their age too. I’ve noticed hardly any comments on any of the stories, that’s a bit worrying considering engagement could be life saving on the topic of depression.

If CFH intends to be a bridge, where was my bridge? Can there be a better bridge?

Nothing worse than wrapping up a feature on the topic of depression with “well that’s a wrap, be safe kids!”. I’ve reached out to Berty to organise a real life meeting with the CFH team. I’m hopeful that will happen soon. More importantly I’m hoping that by publishing this we can generate some legitimate ideas and solutions to form a better bridge. Perhaps a Twitch CFH Channel where there could be a real human being on chat for a few hours/week or month, just to… well, chat! Personally I’d love to contribute my time and energy into chatting in some sort of open discussion/open forum with the CFH community.

On a small/er note; I believe CFH should be careful with corporate language; “Trust us, it’s worth it.”, “limited edition kit” and “We’re going to show the world that carsforhope is louder than self-injury.” reek of corp. talk. We spend so much time and energy navigating words which try to get the better of us, when looking for help it would be nice to land somewhere soft but real.

Visit: https://carsforhope.com.au
Also on Medium: http://bit.ly/carsforhope

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Quetiapine update – 40 Days

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I’ve been on 3 tablets of Quetiapine per day for the past 40 days now (25mg/tablet 75mg all up). Quetiapine takes effect on me fast, about 30 minutes from dunking them. Since I’m no longer napping during the day I’m already quite sleepy by midnight, which is when I dunk all 3 and go straight to bed. I get a solid 5hrs sleep every single time doing it this way.

Dr. Hyde assured me that it was OK to dunk tablets during the day if I felt like a mood swing was coming on, but when I do have Quetiapine by day I turn into a zombie and I end up napping. I tried not taking any at all one night, I had a rough sleep and felt down the next day (started the day off on the wrong foot and couldn’t turn it around). I’m meant to have the tablets at about 9PM but when I do I get up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. I’ve tried taking only 2 tablets instead of 3 and I wake up too early. I’ve not tried taking 4, could be good, but I’m afraid to have any more if I don’t need more.

The speedy body high’s I’ve been feeling have subsided somewhat, but I’m still going a million miles an hour. Speedy as fuck in my head. I feel short of breath, like my heart is beating fast. I’m literally bashing the keys right now as I type. I have only one speed and it’s full steam ahead, all cylinders firing.

Today I saw Dr. Hyde and reported all the above (and more). He agrees I look and sound better (I’m 62kgs today and was 51kg’s when I first saw him, he says I’m still too skinny and could do with more weight!). He also thinks that lots of the boundless energy I have now has to do with being more sober than I have been in a very long time. IE: For the past few months I’ve felt like I broke something up there in my head, but maybe it’s more that I’ve never been sober.

He’s not too happy about my drinking situation. I don’t drink every night, but when I open a bottle I finish it, every time. I scull my wines too. He says 1 glass would be AOK, 2 at most, but not a whole bottle. Having 1-3 joints a day isn’t great either, but the alcohol is more of a worry to him at the moment. Personally I don’t think I’ll have an issue with cutting down the wine, or the weed as I’m cutting it down more and more as we go in any case.

Whilst I like to think in my mind that the Quetiapine is just a sleeping tablet. It’s not. Dr. Hyde was quick to remind me that it’s still acting as an anti-depressant (even though I am off Effexor antidepressants) and mood stabiliser which affects my every day. He reminded me once more that I’m on a very low dose, and Quetiapine only really works on bipolar patients when given in much higher doses. He believes my mood is at least stable (I’d say yes, only just… but definitely more stable than ever this year) and that I should try to up my dose to 100mg, or even 150mg.

The plan is to take 100mg at midnight from now on. If I end up getting more than 5hrs sleep I’ll start taking the Quetiapine earlier so I can still see the sun rise every morning. I’ll also cut down on drinking to 2 glasses/night max and I’m really struggling to make joints at all now that the kief has run dry. Joints are mostly rollie tobacco with a sprinkling of kief.. I’m basically down to stems and I was told not to smoke stems (not sure exactly why, I assume they hold more chemicals, or something?!).

More updates soon!

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GOT THE FOX OUT!

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With David and Lighting Resi.

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The first old face I got to catch up with, thanks Michael for the chat and the shade!

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Comparing old man bellies!

LOL! Holy shit Sam. I only just found this via a social media tag: http://chongland.com/2019/02/16/get-the-fox-out/ – I love it! Thanks SO much Sam for letting me chew your ear off, for the ADVAN T, for getting me out of the house and back again!!!

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NOS Sold Out Yokohama ADVAN T-Shirt Design

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NOS!

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It was Sam Law’s B’Day the other night (on Valentines Day!), and he gave me a present, this Yokohama ADVAN T-Shirt which I designed for Yokohama quite a few years ago. NEW OLD STOCK! I was always upset that the shirt sold out at WTAC and that I never got a copy of it! Call it vanity, but I LOVE keeping one finished and printed design of every design I ever do, just to hold and have. It feels good to finally get a copy of this T for my physical portfolio!

PS: I particularly like the “NOT FOR EVERYONE” bit!

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NEED FOR SPEED NFSZEN CASE STUDY – HOW A DREAM JOB WENT PEAR SHAPED

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NFSZEN.

Whilst I can’t quite say that we never compromise with all things ZEN, the truth is we quite often have to, but if we do have to we like to compromise with a little “c”, not a capital “C”!

It’s finally live. Why did it take so long for me to publish this case study? Who was I protecting? What was I scared of? This is a case study I wrote the day the Need For Speed NFSZEN project was done in November 2015. It’s now live: http://bit.ly/nfszen

Also on Medium: http://bit.ly/nfszenmedium

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From Wake & Bake to Woke

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Heart-Shaped Bud. Miss CJ Miles shot by yours truly.

I recently watched a Joe Rogan podcast on weed. He had 2 guests on the show; a guy who’s just published an anti-marijuana book (Alex) and a Doctor who uses weed on his patients (Dr. Hart).

Joe Rogan Experience #1246 — Pot Debate — Alex Berenson & Dr. Michael Hart.

Alex is an author of several thriller novels (take note?!). His new book “Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence” is out now. Dr. Hart is the founder and medical director of a medical cannabis clinic in Canada.

The podcast is just under 3hrs long, about right IMHO if you want to go deep on a subject. I’ve listened to it a couple of times now and pulled out a few key quotes as bullet points which I’d like to expand upon as we go:

– Marijuana is safe
– Marijuana is not medicine
– Marijuana use is associated with schizophrenia
– Marijuana is a gateway drug

Marijuana is safe

“Cannabis doesn’t kill. Clinicians feels safe knowing they can’t kill anyone with prescribed cannabis.”

After taking in both sides of the debate I have to disagree. There have been 0 deaths contributed to the use of cannabis at the legal limit. “At the legal limit” was the bit I was missing! I’ve personally always loved the thought that weed could do no harm. Bob Marley. But times have changed. I’m now much more open to the idea that extremely heavy use of Marijuana could lead to schizophrenia, violence, suicide, and even murder.

Every weed show/documentary I’ve watched this year defines a heavy smoker as someone who smokes less than I was. 7 jays a day is heavy? Please. 5 years using is heavy? Please. I was a weed junkie. A true wake and baker. 4.20AM cones were a thing. An ounce a week, no doobs, all cones. Easy peasy.

I don’t agree with Marijuana is safe just because I didn’t OD on it. I think heavy Marijuana use was killing me… just very, very slowly.

Marijuana is not medicine

I think there must be a lot of heavy smokers in their 40’s like me who are waking up to health issues and concerns. There’s a desire for a healthier, legal/medicinal alternative to smoking the whack THC gear we source from the streets. 2 years ago I saw UFC fighter Nate Diaz smoke a vape pen in a post fight press conference. When asked what he was smoking he said “CBD, google it”, and I did.

Dr. Hart suggests that a majority of his patients do NOT want to get high. That’s where CDB comes in. He suggests that if clients are the type that can’t sleep well, can’t leave their home, maybe they go out only 5–10 days a month, then CBD decreases ‘learned fear’, so if you can get people out of their homes, to get the groceries, then CBD is excellent for that. He also mentioned that THC can be used as a night time component for sleep as studies have shown that THC can reduce nightmares.

The ‘learned fear’ thing is fascinating as that’s exactly what happened to me when I was smoking bongs every waking hour. I can’t but wonder what CBD in place of bud could have done when I was unable to get out of the house, or order home delivery when I was starving.

I find it interesting that there could be a holistic weed solution; CBD by day, THC before bed, but holistic and smoking don’t go so hand in hand in my mind. I think smoking itself is the bigger issue. IE: If you ask any heavy smoker if they would quit at the flick of a switch would they? If quitting was instant and pain free, nice and easy. I’m pretty sure many, if not all smokers would say yes. If it was that easy then yes… I’d like to quit.

A good question raised in the podcast was; why then, if weed is legal and readily available, do smokers want such high concentrations of it? Joe simply suggested tolerance, and he used the Sober October campaign as being somewhat of a necessary reset button on addiction. Worth noting was Dr. Hart suggesting that CBD is unlike THC in relation to tolerance, he noted that he had a particular patient who hasn’t needed to increase their CBD dose for 5 years running.

Since you can get CBD with no traces of THC, this would allow me to drive again without fear of Mobile Drug Testing (MDT). In short; I really want to try CBD oil.

Marijuana use is associated with schizophrenia

In Canada you can’t buy cannabis if you’re under 25. Why 25? Well 25 is the age they believe your frontal lobe is fully developed. If that’s the case then I blew my brains out way too early, no wonder I feel like I’m stuck at 21! Studies on adults with psychosis show that they were smokers since adolescence.

OK so now I know I’m in this boat of adolescent smokers. How to I get out?

One study Alex quoted in his book concluded that cannabis does not cause schizophrenia, yet Alex chose not to publish that finding, and instead quote other facts from the same study to suit his agenda that cannabis does cause schizophrenia.

Alex believes that cannabis use is associated with a risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychosis, the higher the use, the greater the risk. He pulls on studies which show cannabis is directly related to depression and suicidal thinking.

Joe concedes THC is not a good medicine for adolescence, or any hard drug for that matter, but everyone agreed on isolated cases where there have been clear benefits of CBD in young patients.

Joe mentioned paranoia, but in a pretty left-of-field way in that he enjoys it. He feels that he’s blessed in life, that he has an abundance of confidence and success. Smoking and getting paranoid allows him to check himself and examine his behaviour, reflect better and more objectively. Alex diffused the justification by suggesting Joe’s paranoia isn’t the same as ‘my wife is trying to poison me’ kinda paranoia and that’s a valid point. I feel that not picking up phones and not wanting to answer the doorbell are symptoms of paranoia, whilst not as drastic as the thought of cops busting through the front door, I still think it’s paranoia from smoking.

Joe brought up social media, in that an increase in mental health issues in young kids may correspond directly to social media. IE: Almost ALL kids are on social media. Not ALL kids on social media are on weed. The panel all agreed to social media playing some part, and also the fact that Psychiatrists give out ADD medicine way too easily. “At age 14, you can’t run into your first hurdle in life and jump straight on the pills”. IE: Kids need to be tougher, and there are a lot of answers to be had in diet and exercise as prevention.

As a kid I used to get bullied all day at school, but when school was over I’d get home, get out of my school gear, grab my board and skate out in the streets until the sun went down. These days you get bullied at school and once you go home the bullying continues on social media. I’m sure kids get up at 2am in the morning to refresh and see if more people have commented, liked or followed.

Marijuana is a gateway drug

Those against weed often make a strong case of weed being a gateway drug to cocaine and heroin. Personally I’ve always had cocaine available, if it’s free I’ll do it but I never pay for it. If I have it in the house I won’t use it. I have never taken it alone. I just don’t like the drug. I’ve had many weed dealers over my lifetime and not one has ever sold me anything other than weed.

One interesting left of field thought on legalising weed came about when the guys discussed “I’d rather have my kid smoke weed than drink”. If pot is legalised will it become undesirable, and thus a harder drug like cocaine could take it’s place? Freaky thought.

Dr. Hart had something to say for weed being a gateway drug for people getting off opiates, but in reality I’ve never ever seen a clear way to heroin. Not through any channels I’ve ever come across. I’ve always assumed heroin is something you might meet when you’re really at rock bottom, broken and homeless.

Conclusion

Joe agreed weed is not benign and as safe as he once thought it used to be. Too right! When I was a kid weed was bush bud, then it went hydro, and now it’s chronic. Alex mentioned alcohol, and how it generally affects most people the same way; how drunk people look, slur, walk off-balance. We roughly know how long it takes for alcohol to leave our bodies etc. but cannabis is so different from person to person. 2mg could destroy a non-smoker but a smoker could do 200mg easy. Then there’s edibles, these THC rich chocolate bars really are designed to be used as psychedelics and really could send people to Mars.

The panel agreed that humans are diverse; there are people out there allergic to peanuts, shellfish, you name it. IE: It’s probably not a great idea to use blanket statements, but to wrap this up:

Question: “Why didn’t you include the part of the study you quote that shows the benefits of marijuana on psychological disorders?”

Reply: “I will admit my book is not balanced”

There’s a lot in this, and I’d like to end this article on this point as I feel it’s a bigger point that needs addressing.

The whole panel admits to being guilty of only focussing on the good stuff and not the bad stuff, but Alex came clean and admitted to cherry picking from studies to suit his agenda. No one doubts that Alex is telling the truth in his book, but to only tell part of the truth is somewhat deceiving.

Telling the whole truth is really where it’s at. Being accurate and portraying both positive and negative sides of the argument would allow for more informed decisions. IE: If we were to only show a small part, and ask people to make a decision on that part, it wouldn’t be accurate as a whole.

/rant.

Read this feature on Medium (much nicer on the eyes!): https://medium.com/@justinfox_30083/pot-debate-69fa5479ace9

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Whiteline Tarmac Rallysprint Series – Round 4

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Spent Valentines supporting ZEN Sponsored Driver David Dalrymple who entered the WTAC ZEN Garage BNR32 in Round 4 of the Whiteline Tarmac Rallysprint Series at Sydney Motorsport Park. ZEN sniper Sam Law picked me up at around 3PM, we then sat in traffic on the M5 for a good 1.5hrs (get out of the house they say…) and then we realised we were going through this traffic to get to the… tip. Awesome! Over an hour in the car with me, in traffic?! Sam’s a quiet person and I absolutely talked his left ear off!

Sun was still up when we got there, and it was absolutely smashing us. I signed on as a photographer and got given a free meal voucher, what is this? This is unreal. The smell of brakes and tyres overtook the smells from the tip, and magic hour was fast approaching as the sun went down. The rally format had car after car flying past us in very quick succession making spectating pretty damn fun (especially since we were allowed basically anywhere on the circuit as photographers).

Panning? What’s that?! Sam… what shutter speed should I be using?! I took a few shots, but let’s be honest. I had no fucking idea what I was doing.

Links:
North Shore Sporting Car Club: http://nsscc.com.au
Whiteline: https://www.whiteline.com.au

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