After a couple of missed drift days due to car issues and parts failures, I was getting pretty sick of watching my friends having fun on track while I ran around sticking GoPros on their cars. Thankfully, I was able to get back in the drivers seat yesterday for one of Rockingham’s fantastic Outer Paddock days. Considering how many headaches I’ve had with my Laurel over the past month or so, it was somewhat of a miracle that I didn’t need to lift the bonnet once, let alone jack it up for anything other than changing tyres.
A group of us met up at Sandbach services on the M6 at a godawful hour before making the trip southwards. A convoy of street driven drift cars on their way to an event never fails to raise a few eyebrows, with the ladies manning this particular petrol station being no exception. Alex‘s S14 was getting enough attention just sitting on the trailer as it was.
This was the first time I’ve seen Dave Saunders’ R32 in the flesh; you probably don’t realise how utterly ridiculous those tints are until you drive past this Skyline on the motorway and cast a glance. I loved it and I definitely need to sort something similar for my car.
Arriving bright and early, we got set up in the pits and made sure nothing had fallen off our cars en route. It’s at this point I must give an honourable mention to Adam’s big blue tarpaulin sheet that kept all of our gear protected from the sporadic rain showers that we were treated to during the day.
Tom and Perry‘s Slipwheel S-bodies are beaten and bruised but both have that unmistakable early 2000s Japanese street vibe to them. If anything, it’s the paint that really sets them apart for me, being something you wouldn’t find on most drifters’ colour pallets that usually consist of black, various neon colours and, er, matte black.
Perry was still rocking his 326POWER wheel nuts; just after I took this photo a small child that was passing through the pits shouted at her father and demanded that he take a closer look at them. Grassroots marketing at its finest.
While the Slipwheel cars might be very in-your-face, this E36 was a lot more subtle yet still had the same visual impact. The unusual choice of R33 wheels mixed with that rear wing (I can’t remember the type for the life of me) gave an extremely well-rounded end result.
The owner was pitting with two similarly well-styled cars, namely this E36 on Buddyclub P1s and Alfred‘s IS200 on WORK T7Rs.
Speaking of cool E36s, this Compact was pretty funky.
Adam off of 6TWO1 fame has also made the move to a fifteen, leaving his BMW days behind. His E36 definitely served its purpose and, having packed so many drift days into such a short space of time, Adam has rapidly gone from a beginner to an extremely competent and committed driver.
He’s now decided to conquer a fresh challenge with a turbo powered Nissan and, judging by the grin on his face at all times of the day, it looked like he was thoroughly addicted to his new car.
Funnily enough, it was Adam’s 6TWO1 blog that inspired me to create STL (formerly ej9.co.uk) seven or so years ago after reading his articles linked from the CivicLife forum. Funny how things change.
Toby‘s ex-D1SL S15 is on track more frequently than I can refresh his Instagram feed and it absolutely shows in his driving in terms of confidence, bravery and technique.
I spent a load of time driving with both him and Phil Morrison in the Driftworks S15 during the afternoon’s sessions. It was a real shame that the weather kept varying between light drizzle, dryness and, eventually, a torrential downpour but, driving with these two behind me lap after lap was some of the most fun drifting I’ve done in as long as I can remember.
My car isn’t particularly loud but still, having Phil so close to my door(s) that all I could hear was his Borg Warner turbo over the sound of my own exhaust and whatever liquid drum and bass mix I had on at the time was a huge buzz.
It’s things like this that confirm for me that I have no intention of drifting at a more serious level than this. Feeling the pressure of driving as wildly and as closely as possible with your mates, all while desperately trying not to f*ck up and cause a pile up is all the drifting fun I need. I’ll post a video of all the fun up as soon as possible. For now though, you can check out some of the fun in this video that Driftworks posted straight after the event:
S13s were well represented in various shapes and sizes, with James‘ Bustin Loose 180SX…
…and Jaime‘s 200SX being two of the notable hatchbacks.
I wasn’t sure who the driver of this PS13 was but it looked great and was being driven extremely well, which is always a good combination.
This KP61 Starlet was also enjoying plenty of abuse on track. I’m not sure who the current owner is but I believe this car used to belong to Mo of SuperStyle Garage. The new owner has done a fantastic job of building it up and I was especially a fan of the pastel blue paintwork.
Speaking of retro Toyotas and this Corolla wagon parked near the pits was absolutely awesome. I’d love one of these as a daily driver for parts and order carrying/delivering duties.
Another Toyota parked up in the pits was Alex‘s Mk3 Supra sitting on a stunning set of VS-KFs: clean and simple with perfect execution.
I was really hoping that the rain would hold off during the afternoon sessions but, as I lined up for another run with Phil and Toby behind me, the tiny raindrops on the windscreen suddenly became huge blobs and the rain came hammering down. Dale (the start line marshall) warned us that it was now too slippy and dangerous to drive in a group and that he would be sending me out on my own. That was fine, until I set off only to find Phil and Toby following me anyway.
What followed was an extremely nerve wracking lap that began with a flick entry and a lot of hope that my car would generate enough mechanical grip to keep me from flying off the end of the track backwards. Thankfully, it did and, after tip toeing round the rest of the layout with Phil breathing down my neck, I decided to call it a day as the weather didn’t show any signs of getting better before the track was due to close.
If there’s one benefit of a four door road legal drift car, it’s that you can throw all of your wheels and tools in the back and be on the road home within minutes. That is, until a friend overtakes you on the motorway before texting you to warn you that your tail lights aren’t working.
After locating the blown fuse under the dashboard and using Google Translate to read the fuse box lid to locate a less important fuse to borrow to get me home, we were back on the road.
I’d like to thank the Rockingham crew for yet another flawless and fun event. The track layout was fantastic, with a strong focus on fast to slow style drifting, which is very Japanese and allows for big entries followed by a need for tight and technical driving. As a result, this meant that everyone could have fun driving closely, whether they were in an Mx-5, AE86 or BDC car. In other words, a perfect recipe for fun with your mates.
Any negatives? As usual, the only bad words I’ve seen said have been written on the internet by people who weren’t at the event, barely drift themselves (if at all) and would rather take online pops at people who were having fun on the day than do anything productive with their time. It’s getting rather boring now, so unless you’re passing comment on a particularly awful looking car, just give it a rest, perhaps?