When it comes to car culture, my background is stance-oriented. As a teenager, my general approach towards modification was that the lower the chassis rails sit the better. I got a certain satisfaction from seeing sparks fly up from underneath a car and hearing the front bumper fight the floor as I drove around town.
The thing that drew me towards low, modified cars was the limitless creativity that came with them. Expressing what you liked and building your vision was half of the fun, with the other half of course being driving the thing you put together.
One of the best things about drifting is the ability to incorporate your own flair and personality. This goes for both the way your car looks and the way you drive it.
Drifting is a sport that rewards you for being precise, whilst also being wild and stylish. Whether that’s a product of the motorsport’s roots, which come from a country known for both precision and self-expression or a happy coincidence is a topic in itself.
From my experience, there’s a million and one ways that people have stumbled across the drifting. Mine came from the stance movement. With age, my budget and knowledge of cars increased and more and more of my friends started to get their hands on BMWs. Give young lads access to a rear-wheel drive, front-engined manual coupe and the results are inevitable.
While I had an interest in the aesthetic, history and culture of drifting, my friends were the ones who wanted to get their cars sideways.
And getting them sideways they did. Many late nights were had taking questionable cars sideways around wet roundabouts in industrial estates. But it didn’t take long for my group of friends and I to realise that an organised drift event was the place to be to really make the most of the cars they had.
Over time, cheap BMWs turned into expensive Nissans; factory wheels turned into Japanese split rims; and the wet roundabouts became tracks with clipping points. I happened to be the guy with a camera capturing it as it happened.
This is how we end up at Anglesey Circuit – a race track on the island of Anglesey located in the top left part of Wales in the United Kingdom.
Being right on the edge of the island, the track itself overlooks the Irish Sea and the Snowdonia mountain range. I knew the vista would be good before I got there, but I wasn’t ready for just how stunning it would be.
The event that pulled this all together is Drift Matsuri, the UK’s largest community drift weekender. Despite being held at race track, the team behind Drift Matsuri open their doors to everyone in the community. This was my first time ever shooting at a race track, so I was a little anxious making my way around with so much action going on.
Drawing in people from all corners of the sport resulted in a range of attendees – from those who drift as a hobby, to those who live and breathe it, and even those who do it professionally. These people all shared a common interest though: they all take drifting seriously as well as fun.
There’s a desire to make your car look good as well as to hit the best lines and angles with your friends. The only catch though is that the tickets sell out almost immediately. You have to be on the ball to make it to Drift Matsuri.
This quick sell-out time is a testament to the quality of the event. With multiple matsuri events happening each year, the organisers are well known in the community.
They’ve been building a strong relationship with the attendees and Anglesey Circuit since their first event in 2013, and have spent the years since perfecting the organisation of the weekend.
The track is split into three sections for Drift Matsuri, all of which are run as point-to-point layouts across the whole weekend. The photos of the cars stationary on the track were taken where the drivers waited to hit the section before finishing and going to the back of the queue again.
The first section is a high-speed straight into a sharp hairpin. This is the place where maniacs can practice their reverse entries throughout the weekend.
The second part is a super fast paced, wide, sweeping section allowing drivers to practise their manji slides before entering a fast hook. More than often, the drivers would hit top of 3rd or even 4th gear before initiating into the main turn. We’re talking speeds north of 100mph here. The section then finishes with a long, dragging right-hander which lets you build up even more speed than the hook upon exit.
The third layout takes place on Anglesey Circuit’s ‘Club’ section, a tighter, more technical uphill layout which everyone referred to as the touge section. The highest part of this track is where the real views of the Snowdonia region were at. Here, drivers had room to see how close they could get to each other’s doors.
Incredible views were met with a line up of colourful, low cars taking these track layouts head on.
Every car on the track had to pass a technical inspection, and much of this took place on Friday night, giving me a taster of what to expect over the following days.
The driving throughout the weekend was highly engaging to watch, and became more intense as the hours ticked by. I could see the drivers getting to grips with the layouts and naturally with time hitting them harder and harder.
The sound of engines, especially SR20s and M52s on their limiters became the soundtrack of Anglesey over the weekend. I was specifically impressed with the pluckier cars giving it their all on the fast-paced sections.
While many of the BDCC cars sported big power, the majority of the cars on track were street cars. The pink S14 on small wheels features a naturally aspirated SR20, and the red MX-5 that entered the hook at 100mph only has 1.6L under the bonnet.
Alongside these cars, the track was also home to some real heavy hitters. This red Honda S2000 springs to mind, with its unique highly-strung sound. The green Chaser’s larger, saloon shape with tight fitment gave it a truly unique presence on the tight touge layout.
Low altitude with fitment was the general styling blueprint for a lot of the cars on track, and Drift Matsuri is proof that there is a huge interest in blending form with function in this sport. It’s also proof that the UK has the creativity and ambition to punch upwards into the big drifting event leagues around the world.
Anglesey Circuit’s staff and management commented to me on how polite and engaged the drivers were throughout the weekend, while the drivers voiced how surreal it is to engage in their sport on a silky race track with such a picturesque backdrop.
Going from small drifting events to a huge weekender like Drift Matsuri has given me an optimistic outlook on the future of this sport in the UK.
With social media playing a huge part in inviting people into the world of drifting, the quality of cars people want to drive is only increasing. The influences of bigger, more style-focused American and Japanese drifting events is definitely rubbing off on the youth that look up to the sport. Drift Matsuri allows us to channel what we love and plays an integral part in guiding the sport in the right direction here in the UK.
It’s safe to say that while this Drift Matsuri was my first, it most definitely won’t be my last.