One global pandemic and a very strange year later, Final Bout’s Special Stage Northwest finally went down at Pat’s Acres Racing Complex just outside of Portland, Oregon. The rescheduled event threw a monkey wrench in many drivers’ plans, and with the Canadian border still closed to the United States a number of drivers hoping to come just weren’t able to.
With Final Bout Gallery West taking place the following weekend in Southern California I think attendance may have been further dampened a bit, but regardless, when it might have just been easier to throw in the towel, Final Bout made it happen. The sight of a solid 40 or so drivers readying their cars greeted us as we rolled in to the track, and I felt that I was almost more excited to get out on track than the drivers were.
At least in the US a number of drift events and other races have carried on as usual, either with or without reduced crowds. But for the most part over the previous 18 months, I just stayed put in our house. I might’ve spent too much time scrolling through Craigslist and making desperate offers on skyrocketing ’90s cars, but that’s a yarn I’ll spin another time…
There were plenty of iconic cars from the era (or thereabouts) out at PARC last weekend. Take the R34 Skylines above for example, except that one actually is an R32. It’s on air, too.
It seems in many ways the driving experience peaked at some point beginning in the 1980s, though, only to flatten out and then decline sharply as we passed through the 2000s. There are natural exceptions to this statement that come to mind, but it was a time when simple, economic cars could still deliver something worthwhile behind the wheel. This simplicity itself is what helped bring that feeling to fruition, before a time when electronic everything weighed down even a base-model Corolla.
That analog affair might be gone forever, but at least some auto manufacturers are making a decent effort to bring some of this excitement back to cars that are offered new today. In the meantime, and hopefully for a long time to come, Final Bout and events like it help to deliver that necessary dose of nostalgia. This is why I loved the vibe at Final Bout NW, and it seemed like I wasn’t the only one pining for a bygone era.
I wanted to shoot some film at the event, but I ended up keeping the 35mm setup packed in my bag. Still, I couldn’t help sneak a shot of this Polaroid a spectator in the crowd — Luis — snagged of Derrik Pompeo’s S13.
As far as engine bays go, it’s pretty hard to resist.
Justin Shreeve was out as well with a twin-lens Mamiya that was his father-in-law’s. What a legend. I featured Justin’s S13 on the site at Hot August Nights (of all places) back in 2018, and it was great to run into him again out here as the Bash to the Future drift events that he/Tandem of Die hosted in Southern Oregon years back were what solidified my love for shooting drifting.
You might recognize this car from the archives as well, but Earl’s FD3S and a bunch of others are for next time — a full drift gallery will be up soon.
Additional Photos by Sara Ryan