You might remember earlier this year I published a story about my first time with a Formula Drift media credential. I loved every minute of that Long Beach event, so it felt appropriate to do a similar story about my first time shooting at Pat’s Acres Racing Complex (PARC) in Canby, Oregon.
Summer Jam, as hosted by Team Tanoshimu, presented a perfect opportunity to photograph some grassroots drifting at PARC. Over 100 cars were registered for the weekend, and with the track just 20 minutes from our apartment there’s no way we would miss it. I will say I have previously attended the boisterous annual event, but never with a media pass.
This pass makes a highly stimulating experience that much more visceral, as at a grassroots event like this you can get so close to the action.
There is a shortage of fences and formalities but no shortage of fun — PARC is one of my favorite venues for drifting. It’s a small, often misty and overcast go kart track that adds just a touch of grandeur to what might otherwise be your typical grassroots drifting. It’s swirly, full of hairpins and absolutely gorgeous all around.
Summer Jam, which took place during the Memorial Day weekend, is all about getting together with friends, camping out in the whimsical PNW forest, decompressing, and above all getting rear-wheel drive cars sideways.
Unwinding and sliding was the national MO for the holiday weekend with Final Bout in Wisconsin scheduled for the same time. Trevor and I had planned on attending that event but we were having trouble getting all the logistics in order. When we found out Summer Jam was happening right down the road and would easily satisfy our appetite for sliding cars and burning tires, we decided to hang out and support our local track instead.
And satisfy it did.Grassroots Goodness
Grassroots drift events are rougher, rawer, and less refined than Formula Drift, for example, but it’s drifting in its organic and elemental form. Witnessing grassroots drifting feels like you’re seeing the origin story play out again and again — this is where the pros are bred.
Ultimately, the essential purpose of Summer Jam is to have an exceptionally good time being stupid in cars. Whether you’re drifting a lovely Laurel, squatting with a couple dozen pounds of camera equipment in the grass, or watching from the sidelines, we are all here to transcend the day-to-day grind.
The catharsis is contagious.Fan Favorites
Although there really weren’t any cars I couldn’t get behind, there were a couple I was especially excited about.
Namely, this FC3S Mazda RX-7 that has been transformed into a funny cartoonish demon. I’m guessing the front end was wrecked at some point, so the owner made it far more… original. It’s definitely a different take on the car, but sometimes you have to be a little different to separate yourself from the crowd.
Another longtime favorite that showed up was this 1970s Toyota Corona which is part of the Shadynasty family. You might remember that team name from a story Trevor did a while back. There’s just something so right about a ’70s Japanese car, and the appeal is multiplied tenfold when the thing is roaring around the track.
I was also excited to see a few Nissan Laurels out at the event. This model was marketed as a junior version of the Nissan President — one of my top 10 favorite cars — and were produced for a good 30 years. They just look right in line, sliding sideways through a hairpin.
Trevor will shine some light on these and some other right-hand drive cars that were at the event as well soon.
At the end of any good day of rubbernecking at a drift event I’m often entirely exhausted. Early in the afternoon, in typical PNW fashion, it began to rain so we packed up our gear, ready for a hot shower to wash all the vaporized tire out of our pores.
The exhaustion from a day at the track is a feeling that’s seasoned with fulfillment. It’s the kind that makes putting your feet up at the end of the day feel well deserved and extra gratifying; the kind that leaves you somehow wanting more.
Luckily, Formula Drift Monroe is just around the corner, and I assure you that we won’t be missing that one.