What will you remember 2006 for? For us here at GTspirit.com, 2006 has been an incredible year seeing rapid expansion to the site and the events that we cover – with more then a million unique visitors to the main site, 170000 unique visitors on the forum and over 6 million page views this year. Throughout the year we’ve teamed up with more rally organisers and participants to bring the best of global road rallying to you, the fans, and have seen our membership grow from strength to strength.
April saw the first event in the annual rally calendar, the 8th annual Gumball 3000. This year’s event was the monumental task of covering 3 continents in only 8 days with the usual party pandemonium thrown in for good measure. The event wasn’t without some spectacular crashes – the FLA5H Lamborghini having an argument with a tree in Thailand and the Camo Rolls Royce Phantom headbutting a barrier were two of the more wallet-crunching examples. Some of the usual suspects participating included Alex Roy (this year teaming up with Michael Ross), Ant and Pete, Team Tangospeed, Nods and Dean and Torquenstein, who returned to the rally following his legendary Dodge Viper crash in the 2004 event. Ultimately, the first to cross the finish line in Los Angeles were two teams in a tie – Team Polizei and Team Torquenstein.
June saw the relaunch of the website, re-branded as GTspirit.com to reflect the direction in which the site was progressing – no longer to focus on one main road rally but to support a whole new jet set of rallies both established and fledgling.
July saw us cover the massive US-based Bullrun Rally for the first time. Andrew Duncan and David Green have been running the rally since 2003 and it’s now firmly established as a major player in the road rally scene. With an eclectic mix of drivers and wheels, 2006 saw the rally rip from east to west coast in a week of pure, unadulterated mayhem. GTspirit.com teamed up with participant Colin Herrick from Team Rising Sun to bring you the latest insider updates straight from the road and we expanded the forum to provide member discussion and further insight into this incredible event. From Gallardos to vintage gas-guzzlers, from Darth Vader to the dulcet tones of Richard ‘Redstate’ Rawlings, the Bullrun showed the world its muscle and established itself as a firm favourite with our members.
In September, GTspirit.com’s sponsored team, Team Gumball Patrol, took part in the Student Gumball Rally (now known as the Teabag Rally) travelling from Dover to Zadar in 6 days of thrills, spills and bellyaches.
The Challenge (formerly the Quote Challenge) and Cannonball 8000 rallies also got underway and GTspirit.com provide unrivalled updates and forum support for the duration of the events and beyond. Site members from across Europe got involved, providing us with some fantastic pictures to bring the spirit of the events directly to you.
The boys from GT3000 unveiled their new rally, the Top Run, which will be smoking its tyres on a road near you in 2007. As always, we’ll be providing first class coverage as it happens.
By far the biggest month for us was October, when the inaugural Carbon Black Rally was launched and we celebrated the site’s first anniversary. What had been billed as the most exclusive rally on the planet certainly didn’t disappoint, as rally legends Paul Naden and Dean Philp (aka Nods and Dean) scored a coup with their offering. A refreshing twist on similar events, Naden and Philp’s vision of a week of sexy cars, sultry girls, hard driving and hot parties was realised and received a massive thumbs-up from participants and fans. Experienced Gumballers were lured en masse to the event and included the legendary Tango, Sten, HeCe and Henning from Team Tangospeed; Joe and Lars from Team 7×8; Polish Adam in his jaw-dropping Lambo and Pete Fenton driving the official support car. Even if they weren’t taking part, support was evident from Ant Howarth and Donut-King Lonman, amongst other notable ralliers, celebrating with them at the finish line.
GTspirit.com members were equally as enthralled with the new addition to our rally family, and provided some amazing shots from various stages of the event. Site founder, Des, was present at the official launch party and followed the event across the continent providing exclusive updates – finally securing a slot behind the wheel on the last day of the event! Once again, GTspirit.com hosted a dedicated forum for the event, which proved extremely popular with site members and participants alike.
Carbon Black is set to take us to even dizzier heights with two exclusive events in 2007. We’ll be supporting them with full coverage for these events as a compliment to the official website and we’re anticipating that our fan forum will again prove to be a key focal point for the growing fan base.
To round off this blistering month, we announced that we have teamed up with ex-Gumballer, Jerome Fohet, to act as an official partner to his new rally project, the US-based Diamond Drift Rally. The opening rally kicks off in May 2007, so keep watching for further updates as we build up to the event!
November brought us La Carrera Panamericana, our wildcard event – a race. Our friends from The Unlimited Class, Bret Haller and Kevin Ward, played a pivotal role in the event and are seeking to expand the Unlimited Class element of the event in 2007! Who can forget Rachel Larratt showing the boys exactly what girls are made of in her Lotus?
At the end of the year, even with the rally calendar quiet again, we’ve continued to work hard to develop the site. We launched the new forum with brand new topics and a much-improved layout. We also launched our own online shop, where GTspirit.com merchandise is available, and recently teamed up with Team Tangospeed and Diamond Drift to bring you their branded goods.
As if that weren’t enough, we hooked up with GT3000 and photographer extraordinaire, Dino Pannhorst, for an exclusive interview and photo shoot as more details of the Top Run rally were established.
From the site that never sleeps, the team here at GTspirit.com would like to thank the members, readers and our brilliant rally friends for all your incredible support throughout 2006. 2007 is going to be a massive year!