Drifting is supposed to be fun. Isn’t it?
As a relatively young form of motorsport (in North America), drifting isn’t immune to the growing pains of rapid growth. Opening Instagram after a professional event is an easy way to catch up on the latest drama surrounding one event or another, but there’s still a large segment of drivers and fans who prefer events built around having a good time. From my experience, these events represent the community the best.
I once had someone describe drifting to me as ‘a rolling car show with smoke and style’. It’s a great description, but also one that falls a bit short.
Drifting is a community, as all motorsports are, but it’s a community full of personality. At what other form of motorsport can you find the drivers rocking out on the grid together before finals? In cars with functioning stereos no less? The more cringe-worthy the hype song the better.
There’s a high level of competitiveness, sure, but it’s super-exciting because everyone wants to see and give a great performance. No one on the grid wants to win because their competitor broke, or put down a bad lap.
The drivers would rather bang doors to move on than get through to the next round on a bye run.
I’ve made this parallel before, but most events where competition is secondary to enjoyment feel like a jam at your local skatepark more than anything a serious contest.
Adam LZ, who should really need no introduction at this point thanks to YouTube, decided to wrap up all the fun parts of drifting events into one event and take that event all around the world.
Just over two weeks ago, the LZ World Tour stopped in Canada.
The minute it was announced, it was touted as one of the largest drift events to ever take place here. I’m not privy to the exact numbers, but I don’t believe that claim to be hyperbole.
I’ve never seen Toronto Motorsports Park busier, and I’ve been to the track more times than I can count.An Early Start
The festivities started on Thursday evening, with locally-based fabrication supplier and presenting sponsor Vibrant Performance holding a VIP-only gathering at their headquarters.
This helped set the tone for the weekend by providing an opportunity for fans to meet the drivers and, more importantly, for the drivers to get an idea of just how enthusiastic the local community is.
Following up Vibrants event was what some called ‘Day 0′ where the drivers had an opportunity to practice the technical Cayuga road course somewhat privately.
The course was set up with three judged zones. Zones 1 to 3 were fairly close together, Zone 4 to 5 had some distance, then 6, and 7 tightened up making the last zone particularly tricky to get the right speed for.
Combine a challenging layout with a sport that is hard on equipment at the best of times, and practice sessions on both Friday and Saturday were quite eventful.
Learning the course was made even more difficult for some drivers as they used locally-hired cars rather than their own.Root For The Home Team
The format of LZ events is a little bit different from many competitive drift events. Twenty-nine drivers started the competition on Saturday, and after solo qualifying runs those ranked 1 through to 13 automatically transfered into Sunday’s main event.
The drivers who qualified 14 through 29 entered into a ‘last chance’ competition for the final three spots in the Top 16. This unique format, along with the open jams that take place beforehand, provided drivers with plenty of seat time.
A set number of drivers travel with the LZ tour, but the rest are locals which makes it more exciting for fans. Here in Ontario, we were lucky to have FD Pro 2 driver Riley Sexmith compete in NV Auto’s 2JZ-powered Subaru BRZ.
NV had a second car in the event too – a Subaru Impreza that also has a 2JZ up front.
Roel Mallari didn’t compete, but his Subaru Forrester ‘Drift Taxi’ was a crowd favourite in all of the jam sessions.
Kevin Morin of the KSK Drift Team had a little bit of bad luck on the weekend, breaking two cars and having to do his best in a borrowed 370Z.
Dave Briggs, another FD Pro 2 driver, put his beautiful VQ-motivated S14 through its paces.
Briggs was joined by teammate Kevin Darwish, who is now driving Briggs former LS-powered Nissan.
TSH Auto Competition debuted their VR6-motivated Audi A5.
Josiah Fallaise, the owner of FDF Raceshop was not only in the competition, but several of the cars in the field were running his angle kits. Josiah also somehow managed to drift on three-and-a-quarter tires without much of an issue. Magician or madman, you make the call.
Andrew Shrokey added to the large number of Corvettes in the field with his Misfits Drift C5.
At just 15 years of age, DMCC and Formula D competitor Jayden Martorana rounded out the Canadian trio of Corvettes in his C6.
Mike Martino did double duty for this event. He printed a lot of the show’s promotional material and drove the wheels off his S15. Some of you might remember that I featured this car back 2018.
Finally, the last Canadian of the bunch, Tommy Lemaire, laid down an insane amount of smoke every time he was out on the track.Competition
With the locals in place and the jam sessions complete, it was time to get down to action. While I took the fantasy battles as an opportunity to shoot the massive car show (look out for a post on that), I made sure to get my spot in the infield for all the competition rounds.
Remember what I said about style in the intro?
The grid for the final rounds of competition looked super stylish thanks to the Front Street Drift Team (Josh Deliz, Tom Nazzaro, Jimmy Oakes), Grant Anderson, Lee Yarwood, Jason Ferron, Nate Hamilton, Rich Whiteman and of course Adam LZ himself.
The entire competition was live-streamed on YouTube – which is available here – so I don’t think it’s necessary to do a play-by-play of the events.
Round after round each driver was going door-to-door in the hopes of moving on. Paint was traded and a couple of body parts were lost, but thankfully there were no major incidents.
With no two drivers doing the course quite the same, it was interesting to see who could both chase and follow well.
Selfishly, it was great to see the locals hold their own, especially the drivers from Ontario.
I’ve yet to have an opportunity to really post any drifting from my backyard, so I got a little trigger-happy. The community in Ontario is so strong and it was great to see it on this massive stage.
We are fortunate enough to have this community represented by TOPP Drift and the Canadian Drift series to name a few.
I have no doubt that the LZ World Tour will only help further grow the sport here.Winners’ Circle
With a spot in the Vibrant Titanium Throne up for grabs, along with a paid trip to the next event, three drivers battled for the top seat – Luke Fink, Tommy Lemaire, and event host Adam LZ.
Luke goes all-in all of the time, and every one of his battles was exciting to watch. He managed to get the edge on Adam and move on thanks to some of the wildest entries of the weekend.
Luke carried those backward entries into his battle with Tommy Lemaire. Photos hardly do them justice; it was absolute controlled chaos.
Just one driver was standing between him and the podium. Tommy Lemaire.
Tommy ended up putting down a stellar lead and chase lap to earn a seat on the throne, with Luke taking second place and Adam the third.
After all was said and done the fans had one last chance to meet their favorite drivers before tear-down began to do it all again in Australia.
I really hope the event returns to Ontario again next year. Adam’s done a lot with his platform, and the LZ World Tour just might be the best thing yet.