A high octane weekend – Part 1: Drift Shifters

A special guest writer, Yemo, appears!

Last weekend, myself and the bro Jono, headed up to Auckland to witness the spectacle that was Red Bull Drift Shifters. Back for its second iteration in 2014, I made sure not to miss out on the fun. I was also very grateful for media accreditation that day which allowed me to get a bit closer to the action.
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If you don’t feel like a long-winded spiel about nothing – click here for the albums –
Drift Shifters:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/c0nc0n/sets/72157649297229160/

The weather ominously hovered between summery showers and bursts of clear skies but thankfully weather in Auckland (unlike Wellington) turned for the better and the rain stayed away. I was just grateful that it wasn’t full-tit sunny where I was going to be standing in the sweltering heat getting sunburnt.

I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the action of the day, really. Located in downtown Quay Street, the road was transformed quite literally overnight from a busy arterial road of Auckland into a glorified pinball arena. The media were limited to one end of the course, which allowed general spectators to stand virtually all over the course. However, watching Mad Mike screaming down in his 4-rotor 20B RX7 with his right foot hard on the loud pedal was electrifying and hard to take my eyes off.
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Mike throwing it in

I won’t detail every run that happened that day, as you will inevitably find that plastered all over the internet (here’s a YouTube link from the day in case you missed out on the livestream – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPOa4D3aTYA). Notably, I must comment on how well run the event was and everything being pretty much bang on time. The logistical teams behind it (I believe it was Azhar Bhamji from 4 and Rotary) were amazing.

Anyway back to the photos –
Matt Powers back in his old vehicle looked very comfortable and at home on course to defend his title. He scored very well in the qualifying and knockout rounds only to lose at the last hurdle for top 4.

Matt Powers
Classy showstopper

My favourite car of the day, Tyler McQuarrie’s Chevrolet Camaro, looked damn good and sounded even better. Consider me an American LS-engine convert if that’s how they sound. Sorry, I can’t convey sound through pictures – just listen to it via the livestream link above.

American Muscle
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Daynom Templeman’s 2JZ RX7 looked so badass – out of all the NZ cars, this car was reminded me the most of JDM build style.

Daynom Templeman

My drifting hero, Daigo Saito, sliding an amazing looking Lexus IS coupe, which had a removable hard top. So boss. Unfortunately, like the other Japanese drivers, they failed to find flow during their runs in the tight conditions.

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Local drifter, Darren Kelly, in his R34 sedan looked very menacing coming down the track. I got the inkling that NZ drivers found the tighter course to be better suited to what they are used to.

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Nomuken Nomura, a Japanese drifting legend and funny-man, in his R34 Skyline kitted out in URAS bodywork looked good but struggled to rack up the points. Off the field, he was the funniest man out.

Crop Nomuken
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Local drifter, Fanga Dan (Dan Woolhouse), in his beefy Holden looked and sounded the part.

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Ryan Tuerck, many of which may know him from his online series “Tuerck’d”, came in true American style. A beautifully presented Scion FR-S (Toyota GT-86 or Subaru BR-Z) sitting on some trick suspension and cool wheels. One of my favourite cars for the day. Unfortunately, halted by something breaking on his car (I remember someone saying it was his wheels). Note the “zero-fucks given” approach to the water-filled barriers.

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Tuerck'd
Tuerck'ing

Mike’s RX7 unfortunately took a nasty hit to the front suspension arms and was forced to use his back up RX8. I don’t think anyone was complaining though, as they’re both competitive cars which conveniently looked damn good.

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Andrew Redward, NZ based American drifter, in his FC RX7 looked cool all day tapping barriers with his rear quarters.

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Chris Forsberg driving his VK56DE powered 370Z probably survived the best in terms of not losing parts off the car. Every other driver and their cars all wore some serious damage by the end of the day. This photo was taken at the end of the day after his final run for 2nd place. Later that night, I had a lovely chat with him too. A very well-spoken and down to earth guy who just likes to drive.

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Can’t forget about the Aussie battler, Jake “Drift Squid” (or Calamari…) Jones, and his Sonvia. His car seemed to be a magnet to those barriers. I remember very vividly the barriers rumbling and shaking from his car dragging against them

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The day was filled with smoke, sound and smiles. Whether it was crew, drivers or spectators. It was one of the most fun things I’ve been part of in a long time in terms of cars. Hell, even the after-party was so much fun (sorry no pics from that).

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Taking the win
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Stay tuned for part 2 – the day after, where you get to read about how hungover and disorientated I was from the night before plus seeing so many Euro cars.

Yemo