Having spent my Sunday last week stood watching everyone having fun on the Rockingham Meihan layout, I knew I had to get back on track ASAP. I haven’t drifted myself since STL!3 at Driftland in June (I think?), so the urge to get back into the drivers seat was the highest it had been for months. There was no way I could stand by and watch the final Rockingham drift event from the sidelines having spent 99% of my time at the venue in the past filming others have fun.
After umming and ahing about taking part, I got my gear together and washed the dirt off my C33, which for the last few months has only seen use driving to the Post Office every now and then to drop off orders.
I filled the Laurel with the usual array of tools, spares and tyres and headed to grab some food, making sure that nothing would fall off en route. Nothing did, so testing was deemed a success!
After a super early start the next morning I arrived at a very cold and windy Rockingham. The atmosphere in the pits was already buzzing but you could tell that everyone knew that this would be the last time that we would be stood here as the sound of cars being unloaded filled the air.
The drivers briefing was a carefree affair and it was time to get ready to head on track before we knew it. I soon realised I’d spent so much time talking with everyone that I hadn’t unloaded anything from my car; drifting can be such a social event that you end up forgetting what you actually went to do.
As per usual with the Outer Paddock the queues were a little large to begin with but, as soon as the organisers started sending multiple cars out at a time, things soon sped up and we all got to drive with our respective friends.
I find that I often tend to struggle with “car park” style tracks as there is a lack of rumble strips, glass verges and other similar objects that you would usually use to dictate your line, speed and angle. On such an open course there is a multitude of lines that you can take, so I find it hard to focus on improving a particular bit of my driving when you can drift the circuit successfully at a more leisurely pace without stressing too hard.
On the plus side, it means that you can drive with your friends in a much more relaxed environment, with space for everyone to move around, hold their line and practice the art of following a driver closely.
What was I saying about driving with friends in a relaxed environment? I was leading a large train with Huxley close behind when I completely messed up one of the corners and quickly realised I was on a collision course with a concrete barrier. I decided to abort the drift and Huxley appeared to notice as he adjusted his line accordingly as I slid slowly into the wall, the impact being cushioned by the foam barrier.
Unfortunately, Tom was right behind Hux mid-dive and, due to a mix of lingering smoke, a very low sun and the proximity involved, wasn’t able to see me until it was too late. The rear left corner of his PS13 didn’t look too great afterwards, although this corner of his car has already been heavily reworked a handful of times in the past which possibly contributed to the damage looking so severe.
As we pulled away from the scene of the crash I was half expecting my car to be bent in half; the C33 platform is pillarless and my car has no door bars, so any considerable side impact will fold the entire side of the car without too much effort. It was at this moment I came to realise how much I value my legs.
Unbelievably, Tom had managed to miss the doors and land on my front wing, moving my car into the barrier rather than folding in the doors. There was some damage to the passenger side rear quarter too from where it had been pushed into the wall, but Huxley amazingly had this sorted within minutes after some light hammering.
Tom’s car unfortunately required a larger hammer and heavier hits, but Hux got it back to a state where the stricken S13 could be driven home (albeit missing a tail light). As we packed up and headed to get food with a few others, the drama still wasn’t over for the day.
As I approached a major roundabout behind Jonny and his E36, I thought he had hit a pothole as the rear of his car leapt into the car. Unfortunately, this was then followed with the wheel falling off.
Pay attention kids: this is what happens when you hear a knocking sound and think “it’ll be fine” (hint: check your wheel nuts/bolts). Oh, and if you’ve enjoyed a flawless drift day in your daily driver, you can guarantee it’ll decide to break on the drive home!
After the meal we all went our separate ways; somewhat amazingly not one of my suspension components had been damaged or bent in the impact, so the two and a half hour drive home was relatively straight forward. Looking at the front wing every time I stopped made me sad though, but I’m sure it’s nothing some hammering and rattle can paint can’t sort.
I didn’t get much time to film anything or take many photos throughout the day but I can safely say that it was one of the most enjoyable drift events I have been a part of for a while. I’m going to miss Rockingham but I really hope that a new venue emerges from the ashes next year and reinvigorates the grassroots drift scene did like Rockingham Drift Days. You can be sure that I’ll be there and taking part (perhaps with door bars this time).
Photos by Fraser Macaulay.
Photos by Alexa Webb.