If you have followed the drifting scene in Japan, you are probably familiar with the MSC drift series. Unlike the D1GP, where the grids are filled mostly with pro drivers with large support teams, MSC has more of a grassroots vibe. The first time I saw an MSC event was two years ago, and man I was impressed with these guys. In a way, the MSC events are a like the D1 events from the early days.
Like D1, however, the MSC series has also been growing. Last year, MSC announced a partnership with both Formula D in the US and the EDC in Europe that would allow for driver exchanges between the series. Under this agreement, last year's Formula D champion Tanner Foust and EDC champ Brett Castle came to Japan to show their skills to the MSC fans in Tokyo. In addition, MSC is also offering its top Japanese driver the opportunity to compete stateside in Formula D.
To get an introduction to the series, let's take a look at the second round of the 2008 MSC championship which was held recently on the south course at Ebisu Circuit. MSC events have a few different classes based on the level of the driver and it is also well known for its three-car team drift competitions that are held at many events. The judging is done by a panel of various pro drifters including Manabu Orido and Nobuteru Taniguchi.
The first of three classes is the beginner class. I'm not really sure why it's called "beginner" as the drivers clearly have very high skill levels. The winner of the beginner class at Ebisu was Yosuke Matsuda from JACK Racing. His car is the S15 Silvia pictured above.
Next up is the expert class.Toshihiko Mizuno from Team Biton scored second overall behind the wheel of this S15.
At the top of the expert class was Tetsuro Nakata from Team Out Run. His weapon of choice is this JZX100 Toyota Mark II that is tuned by Kunny'z.
The highest level in MSC is the super class. As you can expect, the level of both the cars and their drivers is top notch.
Here are some of my favorites from the super class-
The JZX110 Mark II driven by Yuki from Team Magician gets me every time. I guess it's the aggressive BN Sports aero covered in gobs of pink flake. An eighth place finish in the super class was very respectable.
Makoto Sezaki's JZS161 Aristo pulls off drifting with class. This relatively mild-looking car finished fifth overall in the super class.
Third place went to Takashi Sugawara in this rad looking AE86 Trueno. He is a member of Team Dragon.
Bringing home second place was Yukio Matsui in this 180SX that has been outfitted with the popular S15 Silvia face conversion. As you can see, this car has also seen action in D1GP events.
At the end of the day, it was Koichi Yamashita who took the victory in his JIC Magic-sponsored Mazda RX8. You don't see a lot of RX8's going sideways, but this car and Tony Angelo's Formula D car show just how sexy these things can be.
You can expect to see plenty more MSC coverage on Speedhunters, and we have already made plans to hit a few events ourselves. For now, you can check out MSC's Japanese site for the full event report from Ebisu.