2011 has been a year of non-stop motorsport, closely following the local drift scene. I just wanted to share a few of the highlights as I look back on what has been a massive year.
The year got off to a bit of a rough start, with my home town of Brisbane flooding in January. Kayak quickly became the fastest way to get around as streets were blocked by the rising water.
This is a friend’s car in the aftermath, that couldn’t be saved.
As always, we got together and did the best that we could to get things cleaned up and as close to back to normal as possible.
Before long, the start of the V8 supercar season was upon us, so a quick trip to Melbourne to visit Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) was on the cards, as they showed their new team cars for the first time.
Back in my home town, the drifting season was just starting to heat up as the first of many days for the year was spend trackside at Queensland Raceway with a Pro-Am event.
The first round of the Stadium Drift Pro Tour kicked off on the Gold Coast in March, with competitors going door to door at the first event of the year for championship points.
During the year, I also spent plenty of time at the drift practice sessions held at the local short track at Archerfield. Although it doesn’t really allow for high speed, you sure can get close to the action!
The track at Archerfield is also used for go karts, but when drifters get a hold of the karts… only one thing can be expected.
The weekly sessions are the proving ground for local talent. But the best part is that during a busy week, you can take a few hours off to get the camera out and reel off a few shots.
The third round of the Stadium Drift Pro Tour was held at Wakefield Park in May and I joined drifters Rob Whyte and Josh Boettcher for the fourteen hour drive through New South Wales with their teams.
The afternoon before the competition at Wakefield, I got one of those perfect afternoons photographers dream of. A sunset that just kept going and no one else in sight. Just a team of drifters getting used to the new track. It was one of the best afternoons of the year.
As June rolled around, Josh Boettcher had been given the green light to pack up his S15 and head to Singapore for the first round of Formula Drift Asia with the GT Radial Drift Team. I joined Josh as he loaded his Silvia in the container for the journey.
Always taking the opportunity to head back to Archerfield between major events, I look forward to checking out the action in the local scene.
At the same time, Monster Energy drifter Rob Whyte had his new Nissan 350z taking shape at the hands of his Crew Chief, Ken Streeter. This was always going to be an impressive build, with a VQ38 HR sourced from Nismo, to be supercharged and pumped with with race gas.
By July, workshops around Australia were hard at work finishing builds to be debuted at the World Time Attack Challenge. At one of the local Time Attack days run by Paul Ruzic, This R35 GT-R rolled on to the track and jaws dropped as this beast unleashed.
With aero testing being one of the major aims for the day, Dave and Mitch were testing new wing designs on the golf buggy.
Queensland Raceway provides a chance for drivers to work on their high speed entries. Drivers never miss the opportunity to give it a push as we headed back out at the end of July for King of Drift.
One of the highlights of the day was when pro drifter Luke Fink entered the Street Class event to get some track time prior to the first round of the new Australian Drift GP. By far the best part was when on his first entry, Luke came in hard and kicked it backwards for a reverse entry. The commentator following the action didn’t know what was going on, as he tried to make sense of it. “Looks like he’s lost it, no wait, reverse entry, what the hell is this guy doing in street class!” Luke went on to take out all three rounds of the Australian Drift GP.
The paddock is always full of laughs, as we spend hour after hour in the sun, looking for ways to set up to for the perfect shot.
Off track never fails to impress either, as you see some of the finest examples of Australian ingenuity.
World Time Attack in August was one of the highlights of the year and Mad Mike unleashing his flame spitting quad rotor FD was a sight to behold.
Between Mad Mike’s FD and Tarzan’s Sun Cyber Evo, it would be hard to guess which was the most photographed of the event.
The fans from across the ditch certainly wanted to show the locals how it was done. At the night drifting event, team NZ went crazy whenever one of their local drivers screamed past.
As the V8 Supercars came through for the stop at the local round, I took the opportunity to check out the action. The one thing that I always take away from these events is the level of stress in the team garages. Being the premiere series in Australian motorsport, there is always more than just pride on the line. Team Principal of Stone Brother Racing, Ross Stone closely follows telemetry during practice.
Going to my first morning session of the year in August, it is always great to go back to enjoying the relaxed atmosphere.
During August, Rob Whyte’s 350z was launched as they completed the build in time to debut the car at Ken Block’s Gymkhana in Melbourne. I watched on with the team as he got used to the new car, slowly getting a feel for it, then dialing on the power.
Taking the opportunity to get a few shots of another Time Attack build for local workshop Hi Power Racing, I got to go for a spin in the Motul Nismo R34 that is developing over 400HP with a half cage, widebody kit but under the bonnet, still looks like a stock RB25. Complete with plastic engine cover.
Back out at QR in October, Rob and Josh had the track to themselves for the afternoon and got some testing done. But break out a camera in front of them and just look what happens… Strike a pose!
October also saw the second round of the Australian Drift GP come to Queensland, with the series testing for it’s first year, then moving to a full 4 round national format for 2012.
At the end of October, I made my first trip to Lakeside for the year, to check out the BMW Club as many club members took their pride and joy on track. I have quite a soft spot for the old 6 Series.
The Australian Drift GP has brought a number of drivers out of retirement, with the new national series generating plenty of interest. One such driver is Travis Roberts, stunt driver and performance driving instructor giving some love to Drift Works at the Driving Centre at Norwell.
One of the last drift events for the year was held at Archerfield by Jeffrey Anderson, hosted by his workshop NizzPro. One of the drivers that really jumped into the limelight in the local scene in 2011 was Dan Rasell. Being new in the competitive scene, he gained plenty of respect as he made a name for himself with massive entries and plenty of style. He will be one to watch in 2012.
My year of drift ended better than I could have ever imagined, as I traveled to Malaysia with Josh Boettcher and the GT Radial Drift Team for the final round of Formula Drift Asia.
Being trackside and watching top drivers from the region battle on the street circuit was a perfect end to the year. Sadly my trusty old 1D also exploded at the event, but luckily I was able to quickly get my hands on a spare Mk IV to capture the rest of the event.
So I leave you with a shot of Daigo Saito at full noise from my Formula Drift experience. My next challenge is to replace my 1D before 2012 rolls around and another year of motorsport madness begins. See you next year!