The year is 2019 and the Drift Masters European Championship (DMEC) is not messing around.
Over the past few years, this fledgling series has broken off from its roots in Poland, overcome heavy competition, and made a name for itself as the proving ground for European drifting. Other championships have come and gone in this time, but if this past weekend’s season opener in Austria was anything to go by, DMEC is here to stay. And it’s setting itself up to be the best drift series in the world.
Yes, I said that. Controversial I know, but here’s why…
Drifting in Europe is in a very strong position right now. Collectively, the continent is honing the best drivers of the moment – no exaggeration. I don’t want to throw any shade on the US or Formula Drift, but who was the last American driver that you can remember coming out of nowhere and blitzing the national championship? Me neither.
Then there’s the circuits. I’d never heard of PS Racing Center Greinbach in rural Austria before – and I’m guessing neither had you – but it ended up being the ideal battleground to open the 2019 championship at. This small part-karting part-rallycross venue was both fast and technical, and pushed the drivers and their machines heavily over the weekend.
Circuits like this are in abundance around mainland Europe, something that will hopefully keep the championship fresh and challenging for years to come.
Perhaps the biggest leap that I’ve seen in the last few years in Europe is the high standard of vehicles. Not so long ago, a European drift event meant a full field of E36 BMWs with undoubtedly questionable and often somewhat agricultural modifications throughout.
Now, almost every car in DMEC should be considered a fully-built professional race car. Winters quick-change differentials, sticky track rubber, sequential gearboxes and fully custom tubular steering and suspension geometry are the norm, and if you’re not bringing at least 600hp with you then you’re at a real disadvantage.
James Deane’s new 2JZ-powered Falken Eurofighter is the perfect example of this. Sadly, due to ongoing fine-tuning and setup adjustments during round one I wasn’t able to take a closer look at this impressive car, but I will in the near future.
But perhaps the biggest improvement that I saw in Austria this past weekend was in the presentation and production of the event. Behind the scenes, DMEC is a well-oiled machine, and it seems to be overcoming what I’ve always thought was drifting’s biggest issue – downtime.
What’s more, for 2019 DMEC has teamed up with Red Bull TV to produce the series livestream, and I have to say, without embellishment, that the show and user interface is on another level. If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself. The live on-board cameras for one are a game-changer – being able to see each driver’s actions and reactions in the car during the run completely changes the viewer experience.
For this very reason I’m not here to rehash the events of the weekend – you can watch them back for yourself and gain a far better representation of what happened than from reading my words.
Instead, let me give you a look through my lens trackside as things unfolded. Enjoy the gallery below.