My adventure up to the Drift Matsuri started late on Friday night when a couple of friends and I left for Fujkushima-ken. The Golden Week traffic and the toll discounts on the highways, for those using ETC, meant that a 4 hour drive turned into an 8 hour nightmare! We arrived at the Ebisu gates at 6 am, which allowed us to get in nice an early and set up camp in the pits at the Minami course, where D1 is held. With so much to shoot sleep was just not on the agenda so I began setting up and getting the camera gear ready.
The Ebisu compound is simply huge so there was a lot of space for everyone to use and get their cars ready for the week-end ahead. At 8 am on the dot the tracks opened and the party began.
I moved around often in an attempt to get as much action as possible, like this bunch of friends drifting their Corolla's around the Kita course, one of the lesser know track of Ebisu.
Nishi, or West course, is one I hadn't shot at in ages, probably since the last Big X event in 2005. When I dropped by there in the afternoon it looked like an AE86 meeting!
With my "base" at Minami I spent a lot of time there, for the simple fact that that is where the craziest action was going on. As the day progressed drivers began getting used to the scary drop onto the main straight and were pushing harder and harder, literally taking off!
Drift Matsuri went beyond grassroots, there was an element of pure craziness there which I haven't seen before. There were those practicing and enjoying their time out on tack while others were on a mission to go well beyond the limits. See the balloon attached to the RSP13 above? Well, a split second after I snapped this picture it was burst against the wall, literally a couple of meters away from me and bunch of other people shooting! Safety? Who needs it!! And what is that green thing sitting on top of the engine?
The latest in top mount turbos of course! The kit also comes with the world's shortest exhaust system.
With constant impacts and the odd scrape there was a lot of hammer-to-panel action going on in the paddocks, but I was surprised to see that somebody even took their welder to Ebisu. Better safe than sorry!
You guys remember the "rusted-out" look on some of the custom cars from last week's Mooneyes gathering? Well I was happy to see the movement is now spreading into drifting!
Here is one of the Minami "missiles" that was constantly abused on the track. What better way than to get into a junker and go crazy to learn the art of drifting in a reverse-gradual way? Start hard and work your way down!
And when the rear end gets completely mangled up just cut it off and build a complete rear section out of some plywood!
On top of the "demolition-drift-derby" cars there were some very clean examples like this Tex Modify built S15 sporting a GT-RS turbine upgrade and full wide body aero.
I spent some time shooting at Nishi where drivers would come down fast from the main straight, get sideways with a flick of the side brake and let the car travel sideways until it slowed down enough to take the next right hander.
This MarkII Grande was set up for night drifting with a roof mounted reflectors. Another "missile" car that probably didn't make it till out alive from Ebisu!
Fellow Speedhunter Alexi was out doing his thing in his HCR32 GTS-t sporting a GT-R bumper…
…as was another Aussie, Adam, who had purchased his first drift car literally 2 days before the event (another GTS-t). Here he is practicing at the school course…
…and on Minami the first track he took out his new car on, as a complete newbie to drifting. What a nut!
There were plenty of Skylines at the event, including an R33 GT-R I saw drifting at night!
Next up I'm dedicating a post to an aspect that makes Drift Matsuri so unique, night drifting. Make sure you stay tuned for more!
- Dino Dalle Carbonare