There is just something awesome about watching an MSC drift event. I love going to all sorts of drift events ranging from normal soukoukai practice days to D1GP matches, but I think I have found that MSC offers something that you can't really find at other events. I guess you could say that it combines the "balls to the wall" spirit of pro drifting with the car style and overall casual atmosphere of a typical practice event. As I was watching the drivers make their runs, it was hard to think that nearly none of them were pro drivers and that most of them were driving their own personal cars and not ones that are built and maintained for them. There is prize money at MSC events, but you can tell that is not why the drivers were putting it all on the line. I got the feeling that most of them were going at it simply to gain respect from the judges, the other drivers and of course to impress the spectators. I don't think anyone was thinking about prize money or sponsorships here.
Just look at the photo above. As I assumed, the Triple Class was the crowd favorite, and when you see the tandem drift of teams like Gunma Prefecture's "Pulthermal", it's not hard to see why. Check out the car in the middle, its a Nissan Stagea. Now I have seen a handful of Stageas driving at different events here, but none of them were being driven as aggressively as this one. The driver did an amazing job of driving in formation with his two teammates in the more traditional S14 Silvia and R33 Skyline.
I don't think I will ever tire of looking at S15 Silvias. While I love the more extravagant drift cars, to me S15's look best when they are just like the cars in the photo. Simple coloring, understated aero parts, and of course the wheels. The orange car is wearing a set of white TE37's and the white car is running a set of R33 Skyline GT-R wheels. The R33 wheels are tremendously popular among drifters in Japan for a lot of reasons. They can be bought cheap, have decent sizing (usually improved upon with spacers), they are light (forged), and they happen to look awesome. Especially when smaller tires are stretched around them like on the white Silvia.
This pink R32 Skyline sedan belongs to one of our new friends from Team Magician. This is a prime example of a nice street drift car. The engine is nearly stock, and there is no cage. I actually noticed that a good number of the cars competing in the event lacked roll cages of any type. Not surprising when you consider that the good majority of them are street cars that see plenty of action outside the track as well. All of Magician's cars have pretty wild styling, but this car is actually one of the simpler ones.
Without a doubt the 180SX is still the quintessential Japanese drift machine. The number of privateer-owned 180's entered in the event proved this point. It looks like this particular car has had a nice pull on the rear fenders in order to fit more aggressive wheels. You can also see the that the rear bumper has been repaired with some classic "zip tie engineering". By the way, I am beginning to think that blue is one of my favorite colors for 180's.
Throughout the day the track conditions at Honjo were changing. It was wet in the morning, then dried up in the middle of the day before the rain came back and soaked everything again in the afternoon. I could tell that a lot of drivers were struggling with the transition from wet to dry. Early in the morning, this S14 Silvia was taking a nice line through the main sweeping corner, and he would put his rear bumper pretty close to the foam barriers. Surprisingly, only a few cars went too far and hit the barriers. Luckily, thanks to the soft and accommodating foam, none of the cars were damaged much.
Here is Shino's AE86 Levin. A lot of the AE86 drivers seemed to be struggling throughout the day. Maybe Honjo isn't a course that is well suited to the Hach iRokus? Nonetheless, Shino and the rest of her AE86 teammates displayed some fantastic driving during both the single classes and the three-car team drift. In case you have never seen it, three screaming AE86's rounding a corner in close formation is something not to be missed.
Here is another shot of the ridiculous C33 Laurel. We will be posting more on this car later, but it is honestly one of the most wild privateer drift cars that I have ever seen. Just look at the wheel fitment! Luckily, the driver had more than enough skill to back up the outrageous looks of his car and he advanced deep into the competition during the single judged runs.
Just another awesome-looking 180. The front wheels on this car are the highly desirable Nismo LMGT4's and the body color looks a little similar to the "Brickyard" color that was used on the early model Nissan 350Z's. Antonio and I were just amazed by all of the cool looking 180's that came out to Honjo. I have seen plenty of cool ones before, but never this many in one place.
Here is the 1JZ-powered GX71 that was seen in Antonio's first post. I can't get over how cool this car is. You will probably also remember this car from my coverage of the FLUKE soukoukai at Nikko Circuit back in June. You will also notice that the driver is waving to my camera in this photo. Any sort of GX71 drift car is cool, but a 1J-powered example that is highly competitive at the grassroots level is even better.
More Triple Class action. This competition was the last part of the event, and by this time the track was completely soaked from the rain. This made the tandem drifting even more difficult for the drivers. I am not sure if it was planned this way or not, but I thought that the three colors of cars in the photo above look so cool together. The guy in the green S13 in particular was an amazing driver and he was putting down some amazing entries all day long.
I really liked this 3-door Trueno. It wasn't the most aggressive car on the track as far as styling goes, but I think that is what made it so cool. It has a timeless feel that is enhanced by the TRD rear spoiler and the moderately sized TE37's. In keeping with the car's traditional vibe, it was powered by a standard 16-valve 4AGE fed by a gleaming four-throttle set up. You can bet that it sounded amazing as well..
I am not exaggerating at all when I say that the driver of his JZZ30 Soarer was INCREDIBLE. The car may look fairly standard, but it was being thrown around in ways that you wouldn't think are possible from a luxury sports coupe. The entries in particular were breathtaking. Look at the rear bumper in this shot as it hangs over the weeds on the trackside. Unlike a lot of tracks where you will go into the dirt if you go too far, at Honjo all you have is a hill filled up with a bunch of dangerous looking rocks. An entry that is too aggressive could end up with a very bad accident. Fortunately, the Soarer driver had his stuff together and this one was one the most awesome runs that I saw all day from ANY car at the event.
Lastly, here is another car from Team Magician. This JZX100 Mark II was actually on display at Tokyo Auto Salon this year and it represents Magican style to the max. If you like this sort of thing, we have a lot more Magician content coming up soon. The two entry numbers on the hood mean that the car was entered in both the single car competition, and the Triple Class where it drove with the rest of its Magician teammates.
Time to get ready to leave for another trip, so I will stop here for now. Next time I will look at more cool cars from MSC Honjo.