What's a short, Indian lookin' dude with an Aussie accent doing here? I've been asking myself that very same question for many years actually! When it comes to narrowing down what it is exactly I do, and my areas of expertise, I'm really a one-off. And hopefully that's what is required of Tribe leaders.
There aren't that many car enthusiasts in Sri Lanka, which is where I was born. My parents settled in Australia when I was 3. Thankfully, they took me with them. By that age I was already fascinated by absolutely anything that moved on wheels, from cars, trucks and motorbikes, to trains and even bullock carts. My parents (now both retired) had artistic flair. My father was a draftsman and my mother drew and painted when younger (and is still doing dressmaking and quilting), so my brother and I have been genetically gifted with the ability to draw and paint. He mostly did portraits, whereas I mostly do cars.
Here's a freehand pencil drawing I did at the ripe old age of 15. The reference photo by John Lamm was in an issue of 'Road & Track' magazine.
As a teen growing up in a vast country where cars are a necessity, and the car culture that went with it, I wanted to become a car designer. I got into university on the strength of my portfolio alone but being burned out from high school, my heart just wasn't in it when the time came. I'd already had a strong 5 year interest in photography by then, learning the hard way with 35mm film and a fully manual camera. I took some time off from study and went to the 1992 Formula 1 Grand Prix in Adelaide, and that's when this happened:
Ayrton Senna hustles his McLaren-Honda through the crazy-fast Brewery Bend sweeper at Adelaide in 1992
That race-weekend changed my life. I discovered that I could create artwork in-camera, rather than taking reference photos for my artwork. It was another 5 years before I made the tentative steps into shooting motorsport professionally, and the momentum gathered. I teamed up with another photographer to form "Slipstream Photographic" and we were ready to take on the world. And then after about 5 years (are you seeing a pattern?) I got into a retail business and pretty much walked away from it all. It was at this time that I also bought my first Renaultsport, a lovely Monaco Blue 172. Yep, things were never going to be the same!
My first Renaultsport, a 2002 Clio 172
The creative urge was always there however, and things started building up once again from 2007. I shot boring things like weddings and real estate, but the call of cars kept me wanting more. I started drawing again after many years but photography was taking up more and more of my time. The digital era brought with it so many new aspects and it was a matter of either embracing it or being a Luddite... and I've never been a Luddite.
Fast-forward to today: I'm shooting cars full-time, drawing and painting cars whenever I can, dabbling in digital artwork, running photography workshops and mentoring other photographers... and 14 years on, I am still smitten by Renaultsport cars. I progressed from that first 172 to another identical 172, both of which met untimely ends. I eventually got another Clio, a later 182 Cup (one of around 45 of that spec in the country). It's a keeper, and I doubt I'll ever part with it. If you have driven one, you'll understand why I say that. My girlfriend has a Megane 225 F1 (one of 30 that came to Australia, which she bought new) and we share a Megane 265 8:08 Trophy (another limited edition, one of 50 in yellow).
Our 'fleet' of Renaultsport cars. Top to bottom: 2005 Clio 182 Cup "LE", 2006 Megane 225 F1 Team Edition, 2012 Megane RS265 8:08 Trophy [click on this pic to see the other cars]
As much as I have a very broad knowledge, interest and respect for all car brands, I've been heavily involved with the local Renaultsport scene since 2003, and am co-owner of the ozrenaultsport.com forum (which BTW is possibly the longest running English-language Renaultsport specific forum in the world, with over 4000 members now).
The Drivetribe application process didn't allow for such an elaborate explanation as to my credentials, so I hope this now cements the reasons why I am here, doing what I am doing. Who knows what the future holds... whatever it may be, I'd like to thank you for joining my Tribe on this journey. It's going to be fab!