Forge Action Day at Castle Combe sprang into life for the 2019 track attack, drifting and show ‘n’ shine antics it is well renowned for.
It was all aboard on a glorious Saturday morning for the annual Forge Action Day at Wiltshire’s premier racetrack as crowds arrived in their masses at Castle Combe. The annual pilgrimage for performance car fans who want to experience a hefty slice of go-faster goodness is always popular, but 2019 saw a whole new wave of fans flock in as numbers topped all previous outings. With no fewer than 2000 cars rammed in and around the venue – extending as far and beyond the famous Quarry corner, all the way from the Avon Bridge, this was the hot ticket for every sort of car enthusiast.
Of course, being hosted at a racetrack brings a far superior element of “performance” to proceedings that we don’t usually get to see as modified car fans. Sure, there was a heavy presence of ground-scraping, stance obsessives who lined the grassy banks and sat proud amongst a hugely diverse array of marque specific car clubs – the quantity and diversity of which makes this event all the more appealing. Yeah, we all go to car gatherings where our particular brand or badge might be represented exceptionally well by a solid community, but few UK events seem to combine such an eclectic array of excellent machinery as well as Forge’s Action Day. Where else would you get to see a Mk1 Escort Mexico mixing it up with a LS7 powered Mazda RX-7 or even a smattering of tuned Abarths and gleaming Monaros? It really is a melting pot for all kinds of automotive enthusiasm, and we love it.
The official, pre-entry Show ‘n’ Shine event was buzzing with high quality exotica this year as well. Adam Elvin’s Mk1 Golf with a stage 4 G60 lump stole many admiring glances and went home with a 2nd place in the trophy hunt. Meanwhile, Liam Miller’s incredibly detailed Escort Cosworth took home the top tier trophy. Third place went to the wonderfully pristine Vauxhall Astra VXR belonging to Alex Roberts’. Even the spread of top three cars points to the wide variety of metalwork on display, and although not on the end of the silverware, we were particularly drawn to the E30 3-series belonging to Matt Maddocks and the totally off-the-wall Mad Max-esque Corrado TDi of Ryan Hatcher.
Whether Fiesta, Supra, EVO or Abarth be your thing, there was truly something for everyone as the sun shone down and a pleasant breeze whispered around the Wiltshire countryside.
Public track time and the drift demos are what everyone goes for at the Action day – after all, the clue is in the title. So, as the assembled demo cars from the likes of Ramair, Milltek Sport, Pipercross, V-hub Performance, Meguiar’s, Eibach, Cobra and Powerflex took to the track, things started to look incredibly action packed. One of the most exciting discoveries at the show had to be the reveal of the all new Supra, a car that looks even better in the metal than any picture suggests. Both Milltek and Forge themselves had one on display and they looked and sounded absolutely out of this world – no doubt it will be a tuner favourite for many years to come. Likewise, the Hyundai i30N that has had a whole heap of aftermarket parts produced for it in recent times.
We keep coming back to it, but the eclectic vibe that surrounds the Action Day makes you realise how buoyant the UK modified scene currently is. Car clubs in their droves pitch up to show off their collective detailing might. Everything from Audi to Zagato occupies the Avon Rise straight, yet it’s always the ultimate show-offs who are the drifting crew that everyone most looks forward to seeing spitting rubber, firing stones and losing body panels. As plumes of smoke engulf every possible section of twisty tarmac on circuit, there were a couple of very notable cars achieving such crazy entry speeds, apex-clipping angles and hang time that the acrid smell of burnt rubber and possibly tortured clutches wafted over the crowds at Quarry. The cars in question though? Remmo Niezen’s GTR-widebody BMW Z4M Coupe running a supercharged S65 V8 engine and a very humble looking Mk2 Escort four door that it turns out was running a big turbo SR20DET Nissan engine. Both of these flamboyant lunatics whipped the crowd into a frenzy, Remmo in particular doing a number of one-handed, door open 80mph flat out skids through Quarry. They say the Dutch are often crazy, arguably a lot like us Brits, but Remmo’s measured balance of lunacy and control never fails to impress. The car as well is an absolute work of art, as a quick guided tour by the man himself in the pits swiftly confirmed. Again, something that marks the Forge action day out as particularly special is this unlimited access to the pits, the drivers and their awesome machines. No one seemingly too busy or too big-headed to stop for a quick chat about their hobby and passion.
Particularly noticeable at this event was the outright dominance of both Japanese and Ford culture throughout the venue. Whether it was outrageous EVOs or Focus STs as far as the eye could see, this day served up the goods. If Subarus, Astras, Escorts, Golfs or even Renauilt 5s be your poison, this is the event that soaks it all in. One car of particular note that stood out to us just behind Quarry, was an Audi 80 Coupe belonging to Bryan Marland. This divine restoration had a big turbo 20vt turbo engine from a later Passat and looked absolutely stunning. As part of his Retrospec+ club this car had to rank up there as one of our favourites from the day. Ultimately though, trying to pick a favourite is a slightly fruitless task, as the next row of car always harbours another mouth-watering specimen from the skunkworks of motoring legends. From the 1950s through to the modern day, Forge Action Day brings them all together, and with the chance to see many of them exercising out on track, this event brings alive the very notion of performance and aftermarket tuning. Long may it continue.
Will we be there next year, er… hell yeah, of course we will.
Words & photos Jimbo Wallace