What makes a drift event? Of course the sight and sound of cars being driven at the very limit, doing things that the designers never envisaged plays a large part. But behind the scenes of what you see on track are a multitude of people and stories that make an event a success or failure. For my coverage of the second round of The British Drift championship I thought I would focus more on the stories away from the track.
There is something to be said for arriving early to an event..
.. it gives you a chance to see the paddock before it turns into the manic beast that is a drift event.
It’s a chance to see things that you may never see at any other time of the day. A monkey in a sleeping bag, who would have thought.
As the paddock comes to life the drivers and crew crawl out of their tents or arrive from nearby lodgings.
It’s a surreal time of the day. The usual burnt tire and clutch aromas are replaced with the smell of bacon, as a multitude of barbeques are fired up for breakfast.
Breakfast is high on the agenda and Norfolk Arena’s ‘Pit-stop’ cafe is renowned for the best breakfast on the calendar.
Start line marshal Malc Fosgate runs regular drift days at Norfolk Arena and is in charge of track marking duties.
As the morning progresses drivers make their way from paddock to briefing room to get the lowdown on the day’s proceedings.
Team Sukeban-San’s Julie Robinson in her nomex race…errr pajamas.
To make sure the day runs smoothly, the first meeting of the day is between the judges and clerk of the course. It’s quite rare to see them distracted during the meeting…
…but JDM Garage’s rather innovative paddock transport was enough to raise a smile or two as it trundled past.
Pit bikes are so 2011. Mini eighteen-wheelers are where it’s at.
Judges Rich Newton, Brett Castle and Sid Crowfoot run through exactly what they will be expecting from the drivers throughout the day’s competition.
These briefings are the key to winning an event. Impress the judges by doing exactly what they ask and you are half way there.
With everybody fed, watered, and briefed, the track is opened for practice and BDC round two is go.
Team Falken had just returned from a month of demos in Germany.
Unfortunately the month had taken its toll on 2011 champion Matt Carter’s S14.5. First lap of the track and the gearbox threw its arms in the air and declared no more.
With no spare gearbox available, Team Falken honors were left with Paul Cheshire in Pro Class..
…and Alan Green in Super Pro.
Just a week before the event Dan O’Brien’s engine started making some unpleasant noises during a test session. Better to be safe than sorry so the decision was made to swap the engine and revert back to the previous year’s set up rather than risk a total failure during the competition.
The effort was well worth it though. The engine, even on an old turbo set up, was good enough to get into the top sixteen.
Nathan Chivers destroyed the RB25 in his S14 back at round one. Instead of simply rebuilding the damaged RB, the GDA crew took the opportunity to completely change the engine setup.
In just four weeks the GDA S14 was converted from RB Power to V8 LS7 power. That’s an impressive piece of work in such a small time frame.
My walk around the paddock gave me a chance to have a really good look at Wayne Keeber’s Toyota Soarer.
Last year the car was plain white with a stock body. In the off season Wayne handed it over to CMR to sort out the look of the car.. Oh boy what a difference.
Now on wide over-fenders giving almost a NASCAR look. Wearing a striking red,white and black livery, the Soarer couldn’t look more different from the 2011 car.
The steering wheel caught my eye. I’ve never seen a drilled aluminum wheel before. Incredibly light and according to to Wayne feels great to use.
A little Speedhunters love finishes off any car nicely.
The Toyota Soarer is not the best looking car in the world as standard, but with the work done to Wayne Keeber’s car it’s now in my opinion one of the best looking cars in the BDC Paddock.
Simon Perry struggled a little with gear ratios during practice and qualifying. With no bolt-in diff available, it was built over night and fitted for the top sixteen battles.
Team SATS were running a brand new clutch after the transmission failure that put them out of round one. However, driver Mark Luney reported clutch slippage during practice so the plan was to limp the car through qualifying then change the clutch over night for the following day’s main event.
The new clutch must have just needed a little bedding in. As Luney took to the track for his three qualifying runs there was little sign of any clutch problems as he smoked the track up to 88 points becoming the second highest qualifier.
I dropped in to see the SATS guys early Saturday morning to see how the weekend was going. With memories of an expensive engine failure from Norfolk 2011 still fresh in their minds, they were taking no chances.
All filters were either cleaned or changed, and all fluids checked for any sign of impending mechanical doom.
With the SATS boys busy, I thought I would take the opportunity to have a sneaky look inside the SATS race truck.
And who is the first person I bump into on my stealthy mission? The man who puts the S and the A into team SATS. The rarely photographed Sandy Authur himself. I never said I was any good at this sneaking in places lark.
Everything has a place and there is a place for everything.
How much fuel does it take to slake the thirst of a 1000BHP Supra for a weekend? The answer is lots!
I moved from the business end through to the living quarters, to find Kerry Palmer poised like a voyeuristic sniper picking people off in the paddock.
The SATS guys are a friendly bunch. Vernst Media’s Ciaran Smith even took time out from setting up his camera rig to make me a rare thing at a drift event. A proper cup of coffee.
I’ll be dropping in on a few more teams as the season progresses. Get the coffee on guys.
Loving the nod to Bosozoku styling in the triple up-swept exhausts. Not sure the bumper would agree with me though.
I’ll be back in my second part with more of a look into the workings of The British Drift Championship.