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Well, I’m sad to say that the day has finally come. Earlier in the year Arena Essex was sold to London Strategic Land, who have destined the site to become a housing development. After 40 years of racing, we are getting to the last events.
Arena Essex is a special place to a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. In 40 years of racing there have been friendships built, rivalries forged, many laughs had and even the occasional wedding engagement!
Drifting was what first brought me to the site in 2010 at the tender age of 16. After following BDC for about a year I went to my first drift event, which was JDM Allstars at Wimbledon, and I knew it was something I wanted to get involved in.
For the next couple of years drifting was my life outside of college. I was only earning a little money so I couldn’t get a car but I travelled all over the country to BDC events and RC drift events such as those at Driftworks in Birmingham and in 2012 I even crossed the ocean to Formula Drift in Atlanta. I never missed a round of King of the Ring though. As a local event it was something I wanted to support.
I got really ill in late 2012/2013. I wasn’t what you could call bed ridden but I became a total recluse. Walking to my local shops which are maybe 1/4 of a mile from my house became a panic inducing experience.
For those first few months, getting back to Arena to go drifting was my goal. Everyday I would walk further and further, I braved going all the way to Basildon to see my Dad or to go to the town centre there and I concluded that if I could survive that place then I could get myself up the A13 to go drifting.
A few King of the Rings and practise days passed and I began to get more of a feel for things again. I started Garage-R, my little graphics and RC parts company, and started supporting Essex Drifters who were organising the Show and Shine at King of the Ring at the time.
Say what you will about that team but Jay and Nick were always really nice and helpful to me. They pushed me to do things that I thought I had lost the ability to do in the earlier part of 2013.
In 2014 I was still quite heavily involved in RC drifting and made a replica of Ron Rasburn’s King of the Ring E36 ‘AVE IT’. Making replicas of real drift cars was all the rage in that scene then. Most did D1GP cars, Formula D cars or BDC but KOTR had been a big part of my life and, at the time, the Rayleigh Tyres cars were the ones to watch.
Ron became quite an important figure on my life over the next couple of years. He welded up the diff in my first W202; a silver C200 I brought for under £500 to try to learn how to drift with. I crashed it, spectacularly. He was then kind enough to let me keep two cars at his yard for quite a while; a E46 compact which would later become known as Quasimodo and a E36 compact that was a cheap thrash about car.
I was terrible at drifting, like I couldn’t do it at all. Without Ron though I wouldn’t have been able to give it a go. That 16 year old kid’s dream would have never been accomplished. He did it out of the kindness of his heart too which, considering I wasn’t the most likeable person at the time, really shows his strength of character. He knows this, but I won’t forget his kindness. Essex Transit Specialists will always, always have a place on this blog or any other project I decide to undertake, no matter how big or small.
It must have been the first round of 2016 that I started doing write ups of the King of the Ring events. The blog had started the year before with write ups from the RC drift competitions at Rayleigh RC. Adam and Steve who run the events, all the drivers, spectators, car club organisers and track staff have been so helpful and supportive and have really helped me to grow this blog into what it is today. You’ve all provided me with some wonderful access into the inner workings of King of the Ring and I hope that I’ve managed to do the series some credit with these write ups. It’s been brilliant fun!
King of the Ring and Arena Essex have been good to me over the years. Losing it is going to create a void in me that’s going to be hard to fill.
For the last ever round, the weather was not on our side. It was freezing cold and the rain was pouring down. Oddly, this made me smile. Whenever I went with my Dad it was always freeing cold and/or wet. It became a long running joke between us so the fact that the weather was poor just made it a true Arena Essex experience.
I popped my way up to my usual haunt by the gate to take some photos. Team Zefslide had popped up for the last event. They organised a really cool event in aid of charity this year and although I’ve only really seen them at a few rounds, they’ve come across as very professional and I’m sure they will do very well for themselves in the future.
Fliss and Peter Spinks are King of the Ring regulars. Both have made a lot of progress this year and it’s been great to see.
James Emu Emerson was back with his Jaguar. It’s always nice to see a big old luxury barge getting thrown about. These old S-Type Jags do go well.
Plenty made it out to the last event. There were about 60 cars booked in which is great considering how bad the weather was. Lots of faces old and new!
Marc Gilbey was also out in his E46 compact. The Gilbey brothers are really cool! Richie has gone on to RDC which is taking up all of his time. It was nice to see Marc out for the final round and representing.
I got a bit of video footage of him rather than any pictures.
You’ll notice that there isn’t any photos of the MAPT Motorsports cars today. I’m not exactly sure how that came to be. MAPT have really pushed the envelope at King of the Ring over the past couple of years in terms of both driving and professionalism. They always turn up in well presented, matching cars. They are also super approachable both at the track and on social media and I’ve seen them first hand helping out the competition and trying to get everyone to their level. Drifters tend to help each other out a lot more than people in other forms of motorsport, the MAPT guys really go above and beyond though.
They’ve gained some good sponsors over the years and I know that Drift Cup awaits some of them. I think that they’re going to go on to do big things at the national level. I’m not quite sure where our nearest Drift Cup event will be now that Rockingham is also being knocked down, but if I can, I’ll try to get out to support you all next year.
Over the years, numerous clubs have organised the show and shine at King of the Ring. Dirtee South have really exceeded expectations though and every round they’ve brought out a really varied and well built/presented group of cars and this round was no exception.
I’m a big fan of modifying vans. I don’t know why, but they always look good. Especially the Astra G which, as a car, I can’t really say I rate that highly. The Bertone coupes and convertibles are nice but the rest of the range are just sort of non-entities to me. I don’t pay them muck heed. The vans, especially when modified though. Look really really good!
Mk5 Fiesta van with the Zetec-S kit looks good!
There were a few classics for me to nerd out over:
Here we have Kris Morris’ Dad’s Mk1 Escort. Kris is a judge at King of the Ring and he also has a Mk1 Escort. His one isn’t done yet though.
I’ve always thought a bone stock Honda Prelude would make a good daily classic car. I really like them! The earlier cars with pop up headlights are cool too.
Mk3 Supras are still one of my favourite Japanese cars.
S13s, as both a PS13 and RPS13 can be considered classics now in my opinion.
BTCC replica Mk1 Mondeo was really cool! Don’t see many Mk1s these days.
This car belongs to Ginger Mafro. His YouTube channel can be found here: Ginger Mafro
I nearly forgot to upload my pic of this Nova. I like Novas. They were always a bit of a chav’s car when I was a younger chap but they’ve become classics. It’s quite rare to see a Nova now, especially as well preserved as this one.
There were more modern cars too. Fiestas remaining a popular choice.
These wheels are unusual but the more I looked at them the more I liked them.
This Mk7 was really nicely done. It’s the front bumper that does it for me. I like the front badge delete and the way the black of the grill has been extended down which changes the appearance of the whole front of the car. The fog light recesses being finished in white is unusual too. I would never have thought of that.
It’s just a really nicely done car with a nice use of colours.
the Fiesta’s bigger brother, the Focus is also a popular car in the tuning world, the RS and ST variants specifically.
Airtec are a company based locally to me, in Grays. They make lots of cool stuff! Check them out by following this link: Airtec
Liberty Walk Mustang is really cool. I know people on the internet say this style has been done to death but I really like it. It looks a lot more aggressive in person than it does in pictures.
The Dodge Avenger. Not a car you see too often out and about and certainly not a car you ever really see modified. I like it!
Of course, being a drifting event there were quite a few BMWs on the show and shine too.
Charlie McCready. I’ve been following her on Instagram for a while, it’s nice to see the car in person.
There were some more Japanese drift cars too.
I do like this generation Civic. The wheels are cool too.
This Evo was a bit of an animal! There was a lot of carbon fibre on this car!
The Subaru Forester is a brilliant car! There’s a blue STI variant, like this one, that lives near me and it looks and sounds really nice.
Finally we come to Warren’s Lexus and Luke Paul’s Estima. The gents from Final Form. Both are top lads with a cool brand and I hope to see more of them in the future.
The cars were behind the show and shine area today as Luke set his DJ equipment up on the balcony to stop it from getting wet. Always nice to see them!
In the end it was Jon Hudd who took the victory both on the night and in terms of points for the overall championship. Jon’s a top bloke. Great driver and a great ambassador for the sport. I wish him the best of luck in Drift Cup!
All in all, despite the weather, it was a fantastic send off to a great series. Once again I’d like to thank Steve, Adam, Ron and the rest of the track staff for everything they do. Team MAPT and Team Zefslide, The Gilbey brothers, Warren and Luke from Final Form, Dan Harle from Dirtee South and everyone else, friends old and new, for making me feel like a part of the family and putting on a wonderful series of events over the years.
You’re all great and I wish you all every success in everything you do, though with any luck I’ll be behind you all with my camera and pen haha!
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By Richard Francis