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I’ve struggled to start this blog post today. I must have written and deleted a dozen different opening paragraphs over the course of the past half an hour but none have managed to express my feelings for this event which are: “Wow! What a way to start the drift season!”
Matsuri us the Japanese word for festival so, as one would expect, Drift Matsuri is a festival of drifting! Since 2012 this event, which has been to various venues around the UK, has enabled people to get together, shred with their friends and have a blast! This year the festival was joined by Drift Cup who had set up a track in the outer paddock, so there was plenty of drifting to be seen along with much more including RC drifting from Get Your Drift On RC and a BMX demonstration from Team Extreme.
Let’s start with the venue: Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire was completed in 2001 and is the first banked oval track since my favourite track, Brooklands, closed for good in 1939. Rockingham dwarfs the Brooklands site though! The oval track is just shy of 1.5 miles long with a technical infield sort of like Daytona in the States. The track can be observed from 5 huge grandstands, the largest of which overlooks the start finish straight and houses hospitality suites and a restaurant. You can’t really tell the scale from a photograph but it was huge!
I went to the very top to eat my lunch and you can see for yourself the view the grandstand gives of the track:
I must get myself a better lens for long distances.
Drift Cup was being held in the outer paddock on a course set up for the event. The “street” style temporary courses like those which Drift Allstars used to make are the hands down the best for spectating! It allows the crowd to literally be within a few feet of passing cars which really gives you a full experience: visually having the cars pass so close gives you a proper sense of speed, the cars are really loud and guttural at that sort of distance too and the crowd is constantly being shrouded in tyre smoke which smells a lot better than it sounds haha!
Although the actual competition was on the Sunday and I went on the Saturday all of the drivers were making good use of the track to get some practise in. Local to me driver Aidan Clarence was saving his tyres for the Sunday though and used the Saturday to show off his car which looked amazing! It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, Aidan and EMP Performance have certainly done a good job!
Next to Aidan’s car is Martyn Giles, another Essex based drifter who was competing in his Zestino liveried S14a.
There were plenty of other interesting cars in the Drift Cup pit area:
I’ve never seen a Porsche 944 drift car before!
Team Japspeed had brought a couple of cars out to play, one of which was the IS200 which would be piloted by Anthony Thompson in Drift Cup.
Check out the plexiglass room on this Mk2 MX5. Keeps the car looking like a convertible but keeps the occupants nice and dry in our lovely British weather!
Matt Hurford’s Mk1 MX5 was in the Drift Cup pits. He wasn’t competing in Drift Cup though. I’m curious to see where he is going with the look of this car, it’s got a nice red leather interior!
This obviously wasn’t drifting. It looked fantastic though! I have a big soft spot for American cars, I’ll own one some day for sure!
I remember when the SkidRisk R33 was first built back in 2012/2013 it still looks fantastic!
The best cars in the Drift Cup field for me though had to be the Low Origin cars! I’d seen them online a couple of times and hadn’t really paid much attention but they are stunning in person!
They look just as good standing still…
…as they do on the move…
As I mentioned earlier the way the circuit was laid out meant that the fans were really close to the action. This meant that I could get some half decent photos!
I love this last one! That BMW was absolutely savage!
The Drift Cup area was also where the day’s trade stalls were. Drift Her clothing were present as were Hel Performance who make braided brake lines and Super Pro who make Polyurethane suspension bushes. Super Pro had Kirsty Widdrington’s car Syril on display.
To get from the Drift Cup area to the main Matsuri area you had to pass through a tunnel to get to the inner pits. The cylindrical shape gave the tunnel a sort of cold war missile silo vibe. The silos themselves were obviously cylindrical but staff access tunnels were as well. Which reminds me, I must get a life!
To cover the Drift Matsuri I’m going to start in the pit buildings and work backwards through the main pit and then towards the infield so we can get some more track action.
I’m going to start with a bit of a speculation. Steve ‘Baggsy’ Biagioni was driving this Revo liveried new Mustang. Now, Baggsy is sponsored by Monster Energy as is Vaughn Gittin Jr who is sponsored by Ford to drive the new Mustang in Formula Drift. With Ford releasing the Mustang to a European market, is it possible that Baggsy may be in talks with Ford to have a manufacturer backed machine in 2019/2020 and was using the Revo car to show Ford he’s can drive the platform?
It’s speculation entirely of course but you never know who else is in the crowd!
From new Fords to old ones! This little 100e was great!
Paul Smith’s GT86 was there. Sadly I didn’t get a chance to catch up with Paul but it’s always nice to see his car.
BMW 1 Series. You don’t see many of these done as drift cars yet:
This S15 looked rather serious:
Finally we have Mr Paul Beechey’s S14a which is looking rather smart in it’s new livery!
Where would we be without Facebook drama? Haha!
One of the pit garages also housed a little RC drift track built by Get Your Drift On RC. It was nice to catch up with Rory, Andy from the RC Kingstar YouTube channel and Bryan. Sliding on the wet concrete looked pretty cool! Hopefully the cars aren’t too grimy now!
There were a couple of cars that I think did have garage space but were outside for one reason or another. One is this S13:
Along with Buttsy’s Toyota Soarer
Finally there was this incredible 1JZ powered Jaguar E-Type! This has to be the coolest drift build to come out of Britain yet!
There was a wide range of cars parked up in the pits from Volvos to Chasers.
Paul Beechey looked pleased to see me!
KE70 Corolla! Cool retro skid car!
I liked the stock car style light covers on this S14.
This little E46 Compact looked really aggressive with the Rocket Bunny style kit. I like the Minilite style wheels on the back too!
It was really nice to meet the YouTuber Monkey London. Very humble and approachable for someone with such a large following!
MAPT Motorsport’s Tom Frewin-Clarke and Alex Chapman were out testing Tom’s new compact. Looking forward to seeing much more of this this year.
It might not be pretty but this sounded absolutely savage and seemed to go rather well too!
“Mil-Spec” stuff is great! This BMW was really nicely done! I’d love something like this but I think the people of Billericay would crucify me.
Now finally onto my shots from the infield. When you come out of the pits there’s an elevated spot with some recovery vehicles that you could chill and watch the cars from.
This is the only shot of Matthew Hurford’s MX5 I got on track unfortunately.
All in all Drift Matsuri was a fantastic day out and well worth the drive! Massive congratulations to Martyn Cowley for winning Drift Cup today!Next time I’ll hopefully be able to stay for the whole weekend!
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By Richard Francis