Yesterday I went to Three Sisters in Wigan to check out another of their drift practice days, although the difference this time was that I was actually going to be driving myself.
I haven’t drifted since May last year and I also haven’t made much of a secret of the fact that this has mainly been due to my outlook on the sport having changed as of late. Of course, building Street Track Life/326POWER UK over the last year or so has overtaken all personal car commitments but, regardless of that, I hadn’t been very keen to hit up a drift track in the drivers’ seat for a while (of course, I’ve still been to plenty of drift events as a spectator in this period and I always enjoy watching from the sidelines).
For some reason though, when I saw so many of my friends booking onto a Three Sisters practice day that was coming up in a couple of weeks’ time, I decided to throw caution to the wind and book on myself. Of course, I did so in the blind faith that my C33 Laurel (that hadn’t turned a wheel in nine months) would still be up to the task and, on the Friday afternoon before the event I began to give it a good going over in preparation for a sudden return to service after a long hibernation.
After a chilled out drive to the circuit in the morning sun I began to get unpacked and give the car a final bolt check before the action kicked off. I’d given myself plenty of time to do this but, before I knew it it was time for the driver’s briefing; there are so many great people to talk to in drifting that you quickly loose track of time, especially when you’re actually supposed to be doing work.
The first mate to arrive was Stew in his stunning S15. This thing is straight out of a 2001 Option VHS tape, what with the stock body lines and staggered 17/18″ AVS Model 5s. The DC2 Integra front lip is a brilliant addition too.
Tooley was next to show up in his Rocket Bunny S15.
How long would Alex & co’s aero last? We would have to wait and see…
By this point it was time to drive! As my car doesn’t have door bars (despite having a 6-point cage) I would be driving in one of the non-caged classes, which didn’t bother me too much as I was more interested in trying to remember how to stay on the track as opposed to getting up close with other drivers. The day consisted of three groups running in twenty minute sessions and, considering my previous qualms with seat time at Three Sisters, I was keen to see how the day would flow with this format.
As it transpired, I needn’t of worried. At the end of my second lap third gear exploded in my gearbox, taking out other components in the process and causing my transmission to lock. I was able to be recovered off track on the proviso that I put the car in neutral and kept my foot on the clutch, otherwise the drivetrain would lock up completely.
I was absolutely gutted; I’d really been hoping that this day would be a wonderful reintroduction of sorts to grassroots drifting and, at this precise moment at least, it felt like all of the stereotypes that I’d assigned to the sport had instantly bit me hard.
My sourness wasn’t to last too long though as the absolute saint that is Adam from Retroshine offered me the use of his boosted MX5 for a few sessions. I can never get comfortable drifting other people’s cars (considering how easily I manage to break my own) but I was determined to give it a go this time round considering how little track time I’d had.
In the end the MX proved to be hugely enjoyable and challenging all in one go. Sure, it does have around 260-270bhp which makes things a damn sight easier than in a stock Roadster but the handling certainly took some getting used to. My driving style nowadays is fully adapted to the long wheel base and smooth, almost lagless power delivery of the C33 (translation, lazy driving style) and so hopping into this short wheelbase car with a slightly laggy turbo setup and drop knuckles was eye opening to say the least. I eventually got the hang of it though which, considering the car had been in a heavy front end impact at Buxton the other weekend and hadn’t been entirely fixed since, I was more than happy with.
While Adam and I are roughly the same height, our frames are somewhat different and so it took some special bodges to ensure I could sit comfortably, steer and reach the pedals.
Elsewhere in the pits, I could be found admiring this JZX100. What a colour.
Also parked amongst the selection of large saloons in the car park was Fraser‘s C35.
Having recently moved down from Aberdeen (aka the middle of nowhere when it comes to being a car enthusiast) to the much more central city of Birmingham, it’s been awesome to see Fraser heading to pretty much every event possible as of late due to everything being within an acceptable driving distance. Plus, who else is going to yell “SAFFFE!” every time there’s a hugely exciting near-miss on track?
I was a big fan of this R33.
Dave‘s super cool R32.
Some sweet cars in the pits including Morzy‘s S14.
Will‘s freshly painted S13 looked great.
Toby aka Monky London was also in attendance and was being as mental as usual, always trying new lines and finding the limits of aggression.
The RAYS Gram Lights 57C6s on his S15 have to be amongst some of my favourite wheels around at the moment. I’ve recently added a bunch of RAYS wheels to the shop recently (including the 57C6 range) so please hit me up if you fancy some for your own car.
As the end of the day came I was extremely lucky to be able to use Alex’s trailer on which to load Laurel, while he would drive his Low Origin S14 home. Once we arrived at our destination though we quickly realised that there was nowhere to safely dump the C33 and, as it would be a two man job to move him (due to the binding drivetrain/clutch pedal issue), we couldn’t really put it anywhere.
So, what to do? I remembered that I had a semi working SR20 ‘box that I’d removed a few years ago sitting in my parents’ garden (they’re extremely understanding!) not too far away, so we went and picked it up, put Laurel on the Retroshine ramp and set about doing a box swap with Adam so I could at least drive it home.
After a long day at the track in sweltering temperatures (by Manchester standards) this was the last thing either of us wanted to do but, needs must eh.
The amount of metal flying around in the broken box was incredibe.
I was a bit gutted that said metal had also chewed up my speedo sensor but, somehow, it still works at least.
A few hours later we were all done and the car was back on the road in the early hours of the morning. A huge thanks must go to Adam and everyone else at the track who helped out; I’m actually really keen to get a healthy ‘box fitted now and get back on track ASAP, or at the very least be able to enjoy the car on the road again as it’s just so much fun.