Words & Photography: Jonny Smith
So if there's one thing this year that I'm sure everyone else like me is fed up with, it's the weather. Cold, damp and gloomy mornings have been the staple to most all year so far. But upon waking up early on a Friday morning and setting off towards the train station I was optimistic with blue skies and the sun peaking out that Spring had finally arrived.
A few trains later I had arrived at London City Airport and having checked in online I was through security pretty swiftly giving me plenty of time the other side to grab a coffee and a bacon roll whilst watching tiny commercial flights take off. This was my first time flying in a propeller plane and it was an experience, a good one at that. It's only a quick hour flight from London which makes me wonder why more people don't go over. You don't always need to have your car at a show. Just make sure you fly into Belfast City Airport by the way!
Set up on-board with the 2nd Lord of the Rings to read I was ready for the hour flight and looking forward to a packed weekend ahead. But upon arrival, the captain announced wet and miserable weather... great. Nothing like the weather to kill your enthusiasm and mood.
I was being hosted by the guys from ILB Drivers Club, formerly called ILOVEBASS. The great Adam McPeake came and collected me from the Airport along with Alex Carroll who'd landed a few minutes before. He arrived in his new F80 M3 sitting on very comfortable Blistein and fitted with some Ispiri Wheels. Loud is the word for it and in the pouring rain, sideways can be another description.
A quick lunch break for all the guys in the office it was then time pack their van full of all their trade stand equipment and head towards the Eikon Centre. Around 15 minutes away from the center of Belfast, it's not too far.
The Eikon Centre.
This was the 9th year of Dubshed and 3rd at the Eikon venue where it has been growing bigger each year with the opportunity to grow even more in coming years, especially with a new hall being built and near completion.
The Eikon Centre has been built on the grounds of the late HM Prison Maze and used to house prisoners during The Troubles in NI it was open from 1971 and closed in the mid-2000s. Quite an interesting part of history very close to home and not too long ago and still a sensitive subject.
The show is held over both Saturday and Sunday starting at 12pm, which by the way every show should do, and running to about 6pm. Thus giving a gentle start and allowing plenty of time to walk around both halls and the outside areas. Packed out, it showcases the highlights of the Northern Ireland car scene, giving everyone the chance to show off their builds they've been working on over the dark, cold and snowy winter.
Similar to UD the Saturday feels like a preview day and Sunday the crowds queue up and the show steps up a gear. And with the rain coming and going throughout everyone would aim for the halls for cover. I was very wrong with my optimism for a sunny weekend.
This was my first time over for Dubshed, having only gone over to NI for ILB Districts last July, it was a great recognizing a few cars but a lot being completely new gave the show a really refreshing feel. Niall O'Dowd's 993 was obviously one I remembered, how could you forget it. Sat to perfection on BBS's and using hydros to get it sat on the ground. It's glorious.
The quality of the cars inside, mostly from Ireland, is easily up there with any mainland show and even those on the continent...
Not all the cars here are Dubs though. Over the past few years the doors have opened to all German Manufactures but also opened to let ILB bring anything they like non-dub too. It brings a slice of something else to the mix and adds some diversity amongst the crowds.
One of a few cars from the Mainland:
"Hmmm, lets put a SR in a Mk2 Escort...?!"
"Ohh and add a turbo to bring it well over 400bhp!"
Was so good to see people wearing merchandise around the show and some cars with a sticker or two, all support is very appreciated from all of us here. Thank you!!
This Hillman Imp from the second it arrived gave off a huge presence which is remarkable considering it's size. With a fully hand built tubbed front end and custom air-ride system, it sits so low to the ground and just looks the part. We will keep an eye on this build as more is to come.
And finally, of course here at Rollhard, many thanks to Dan and Bricky. RIP. we love a Volvo.
With the end of Sunday that came my last night in Belfast with my flight back to London the following day, which did not go to plan at all thanks to even more bad weather back home, I reflected on what had been a great weekend. Not just for the cars but also for all the people I got a chance to meet. Personally I think this makes the shows and the scene special. If you'd have said to me 8 years ago when I first bought my silly blue 6N I'd be meeting people from all around the world I would've never believed you, but here I was, another show in another Country once again. It really is the Journey that makes us.
The guys at GTINI absolutely smashed it with the show and never failed to impress everyone with their hard work to produce such a show. I'll have to add this on to my list of must-attend shows for next year and regret that I never came sooner.