Like some of you no doubt, I surround myself with all things drifting. Naturally, because of my drifting obsession, I have always been fascinated by Japanese car culture. I would say it started with Initial D. I absorbed every part of it; from the anime to the arcade video games, and even the little action figures. That evolved to me doing nothing but drifting in video games. Once I was old enough to drive, the car I aspired for and bought was an S14 and I still daily drive to this day. Drifting quite literally became an addiction for me. I would go to as many drift events as I could. Living 10 minutes away from the canyons wasn’t helping me either. Because of my enthusiasm for drifting, I was also passionate about Japanese drifting culture. I always looked forward to recap videos and blog articles about Spring Matsuri as events like those always grabbed my attention. Watching the guys from Team Burst just sent shivers down my spine.
When I found out about Super D Matsuri and Naoki Nakamura’s presence, I knew I had to attend. This year, it conflicted with the Long Beach Grand Prix but, as the drifting otaku that I am, I chose to ditch the GP on Sunday in favor of Super D.
Super D is a drift festival full of amateurs and pros alike, showcasing their “explosive driving.” Miki Takagi and Mitsuyoshi Nishio from Team Pink Style were also making appearances along with Naoki.
My friends and I gathered up Sunday morning to make the drive up to Grange Motor Circuit in Apple Valley, CA.
Upon entering Grange, I could hear the loud screaming sounds of 4 cylinders banging through rev limiters as smoke covered more than half of the track.
The track was already filled with spectators lined up alongside the fence to check out the action. I struggled to find a parking spot and, with my car being as low as it is, I got my car stuck on a little dirt mound.
As I roamed around the paddock, I immediately felt like I was in my natural environment. It was full of drift cars with heavy Japanese influence. A lot of teams were lined up in the paddock together as they were repairing and cooling off their cars.
I immediately went to find Naoki’s, Miki’s, and Mitsuyoshi’s cars. The two S13’s and S14.3 looked like they just came back from a really intense day at Ebisu.
There’s so much damage on the cars yet they keep getting pushed so hard and that really amazed me.
Even though they weren’t in their pristine condition like they were on the Saturday, I loved seeing how they were after being beat up. It just added a sense of character to all of the cars.
I approached the Daring Partners, a Tacoma, Washington based team with bright yellow cars.
This specific 180SX caught my attention because the fender was bandaged up with matching yellow duct tape. Having used zip ties for pretty much anything, I was surprised with how well and subtle the duct tape looked on the fender.
As I continued to roam around, I started to notice another car using duct tape to hold panels together. This Animal Style drift car utilized it to hold a broken overfender onto the car. It looked like it was about to fall off but surprisingly held up the entire day. Looks like I know what I’ll be buying on my next trip to the hardware store.
Formula D Pro1 driver Chelsea DeNofa made an appearance with his E36 beater. He tackled every corner with extreme precision especially alongside the Japanese guest drivers.
Adam LZ had also made his way to Grange to get in on this Matsuri. Having never seen his 180SX in person, I thought it looked majestic with the screaming sound of the SR under the hood. It attracted the whole crowd every time he went on the track. Makes sense.
There were plenty of cars I had seen that I’ve never seen anywhere before. Check out this S13, for example, it has an S15 326power 3D Star Kit trimmed and fitted onto the S13 body.
The style of grassroots drifting is very drastically different than that of professional drifting. The whole laid back approach to the whole thing, in my opinion, is what really separates the two.
As Professional drifting grows, it’s becoming more and more competitive. Rivalries are born, and drivers are definitely more serious about winning. Taking a look at grassroots events like Super D, it’s nothing but smiles.
You still get your fair share of extreme driving with equally extreme proximity though. Nakamura and Pink Style were within a few feet of each other the whole time from the first turn to the last turn.
Occasionally, they’ll bump into each other, but they could care less as the contact just puts a bigger smile on their faces. It’s a really aggressive style of drifting that also flows so well along the turns.
It’s also refreshing to see people having a great time drifting for fun rather than for the win. The grassroots scene just feels so relaxed without any crazy tension flying in the air in a pro paddock.
Grange is a pretty menacing track. The dirt drop at the first turn is definitely one to watch out for as it has broken a lot of drivers’ tie rods and lower control arms.
Sadly, for this S12, that’s exactly what happened. I’m pretty sure on a car, both wheels are supposed to turn simultaneously, not just one.
Since I came to Super D on the second day instead of the first, I noticed a lot of the walls around the track are destroyed from all the cars it attracted. Miki Takagi from Pink Style actually snap oversteered into the dirt drop from the first turn at such a high initiation speed that she flung the car straight into the wall.
As people rushed to Miki to help her out, she just smiled, laughed, and drove away as if nothing happened.
Naoki also rushed to help only to be laughing on the way back to the paddock.
That’s what I like about the grassroots culture. They see the car as just a car and don’t really get bummed out if they wreck it. Sadly, the S14.3 was retired for the rest of the day.
I’m glad I got to come to this Matsuri, even if it was only for one day. I met so many new faces and rejoiced from the familiar faces as well.
The positive vibes and super stylish cars made this Grange event intensely fun and I’ll definitely have it marked on my calendar next year.