If you haven’t read my coverage of Day 1, which ended in getting lost for 90 minutes on a divided highway amidst many confusing ‘straight u-turns’ then head there first.
Anyhow, with some rest under my belt, I left the hotel to meet up with Hosen, who’d camped out at the racetrack. This is pretty common, and the party lasts well into the small hours, with lots of drinking, shenanigans, and good-natured mayhem. I was a bit too tired to bother with all that, and since I knew I’d have to get an early start the next day, I abstained from what I’m sure would have lead to some embarrassing photos on my social media accounts and a blistering headache. I still woke up with a blistering headache. With some of my photos from the day before looked over, I packed up, we checked out of the Studio Six, and drove a dozen miles back to Englishtown for Day 2.
Another driver’s meeting, and some more jokes (Most admonishments from the organizers came in the form of “Don’t do that, or we’ll slash your tires, or the mob will get you”). Some of our compatriots looked more haggard than others, no doubt from a hard day’s night of partying coupled with exhaustion. But drifting would soon be afoot. Today was going to be hot; mid to high eighties; I only ventured out with several bottles of water in tow. One of my good friends heeded our repeated text messages and turned up with one of my favorite cars, a real-deal, imported, Sprinter Trueno GT-APEX AE86 hatchback. Yes, it’s the one from Regular Car Reviews, and not, this is NOT Matt Farah’s Million Mile Lexus. Oh, and the steering wheel has been fixed for several months. It’ll go away soon in a few weeks for a suspension overhaul and silvertop swap with cams and an ITB setup. New paint will be on the books soon enough, so look forward to a full feature on that.
I couldn’t resist the Initial D-perfect photo op in front of the Flipzco vendor booth.
Trust me when I say, everywhere this car goes, it causes a stir. I spent a weekend with it earlier this month and no matter what we did, it draws stares. Hosen’s car does as well, especially when he pops the hood. But it’s crazy how a mostly-stock (aside from some choice bits here and there) zenki GT-APEX gets attention. ECB was no exception.
Enough with the hard parking, Kay, show us the drifting! Well, ask and you shall receive. Let’s keep it topical move to Hosen on track in the early afternoon. I was deeply impressed with how much he improved over the course of just a couple of days on track.
A bank of clouds rolled in and gave us the first relief from the sun’s constant beatdown in the whole weekend.
The crowd looked very pleased. I know I was; I may not have been sunburned yet, but I was only a few missed sips away from some heat stroke even by early in the day. Sunday’s sessions were curtailed to an hour each for each group running, down from 90 minutes for B and C groups (A group always got just an hour, their cars came out much more often and thus needed less track time and track position). Still, shooting two sessions in a row would be physically demanding, and I kept now-lukewarm Poland Spring handy.
No wing? No problem! Ingenuity is the maxim at clubloose events, and this guy knows what’s up. Generally, everyone was a little sharper, a little faster on Sunday despite exhaustion from the day before. The toll on the cars was ignored; entry speeds increased, fronts and rears closed in on clipping points, and the angle got more ridiculous.
There were several minor incidents over the course of the weekend; one of which I didn’t get a shot of was a car that had caught fire on another part of the racetrack. Thankfully, everyone involved was okay. Also, the blue Z33 from Day 1 coverage had a nasty lock-up, sending him careening towards the tire wall, stopping barely three feet before certain front-end doom and a date with the center punch and some zip-ties. Later on Sunday, several cars found the dirt on the high banking.
Only A group was allowed to run the track in reverse, but B-group was allowed to drift the high banking near the front short straight heading back towards the far end of the track. This provided for some nice photo opportunities, and some nearly disastrous spins.
An E46 isn’t something I’m accustomed to seeing on the drift circuit, but this one could have come straight out of the Drift Muscle with its attitude, angle, and appropriate shout-out and sponsorship decals. But the wheelbase helps keep it stable, so what works, works. Given we didn’t get the JZX family of cars, it seems appropriate that drifters in North America will work with what we’ve got. And I do like the sound of a Bavarian straight-six on the boil.
E36s, however, are a perennial favorite. The M50 is next to impossible to blow up, and the chassis is pretty tight, so they’re a fixture around these parts, and would be my go-to choice for a missile car. This one looked almost too nice, if you ignore the bent fenders.
Everyone was trying to please the crowd with some big skids at the high banking in B-group, with most everyone pulling it off, and a couple of stalls here and there. I was lone-wolfing it in the photographer’s bunker by the corner apex, so I had a lot of freedom of movement.
This 240SX was everywhere, trying to make the most of his hour on track sessions, and with varying degrees of success. “Nothing risked, nothing gained” must be their watchwords, because the driver wasn’t afraid of screwing it up, and at one point, planted the nose of the car barely a meter or two from my bunker. Whew. Just something to laugh off, and keep sliding.
I really wish the other groups were allowed to run the reverse layout...
Drop-top drift-car? Drop top drift car! I think they have the right idea: why bake in a metal box when you can feel the wind in your...helmet? I think I need to pester this guy for a ride along and capture some top-down video footage.
I love seeing cars grabbing a full serving of oppo thanks to steering angle spacers. And the exposed front-end with a massive front-mount does it for me too.
There were several Mustangs present, most of them whining along to the wail of a supercharger for extra gobs of rubber-evaporating torque. Big V8s (many in the form of LS-swaps in the Silvias) and live axles are a match made for turning processed dinosaur into plumes of acrid, blue-white smoke. And while there were Stangs from the last ten years, for some reason, I dug the look of this one the most.
By mid-afternoon, everyone was having fun, including passengers.
In his pursuit of speed and the perfect braking drift, the little hachiroku’s specialty, Hosen had a couple of off-track excursions, or was this a famous, Takumi-style ‘gutter run?’
Maybe he should have taken Tom’s car!
This beauty turned up later, along with an imported, RHD FD3S in yellow, which wasn’t there long enough for me to go and snag photos of, but I did catch the contact info of the owner, so who knows, that might come at a later date...
I’m a sucker for the 99-spec front. And unlike the RHD car, and a good friend’s FD, this one opted for a big FMIC instead of the V-mount.
The only person missing might have been this guy, who wasn’t parked up by the grandstands that day and opted for a more secluded spot in the pit area. There were two other AE86s, but for better or worse, Hosen’s was the only one sighted on track. Just from a quick glance, you know something special is going on under those hoodpins. It’s also refreshing to see the Levin Red color on a Trueno-front car.
It seems Sunday was when the Bimmers came out of the woodwork to play. It was satisfying to see this one improve with each run. Unlike Formula Drift, this is a relatively amateur event, and everyone is there to have fun and hone their skills, and mistakes—as well as successes—are part of the process.
My buddy continued to give it some stick and some wellie in order to get the car slipping along. The tires he switched onto the day before were coming into their own, and in his own words, from the first session’s end he knew he could now assault the corners with more speed.
More Z-car fun. Trust me, nothing else sounds quite like a VQ-series engine near redline screaming around a corner, turning those wide rears into into a curtain of billowing smoke in a late spring breeze.
There was of course, Tandem action on the reverse runs.
The day drew to a close for me—I could have stayed in my little corner of the track, alone with a few bottles of water, but I was at this point baked by the sun, and dead on memory cards. So I trekked back to the pit area to make some food and get packing. Over the course of the two days I’d made some new friends, met some very talented people, and come away with renewed enthusiasm for the sport of drifting. Already, before I could even start filling my hatchback up with gear for the three hour trip home, I was trying to plan out Freedom Moves in September.
Out of most of the people there in classic Japanese cars, Tom might have been the most lucky; his A/C is still in the car, and blows frigid.
Something about the rough and ready attitude of drift calls to me, the wild variation of tastes and clashing aesthetics, the differing attitudes about what’s cool and what isn’t, all mingling and creating. The action itself is center stage, of course, but the atmosphere of drift events has its own allure that differs very much from trackside at an HPDE or autocross. This isn’t about being the fastest, it’s about being the most amusing, the most carefree. At East Coast Bash, he or she who has the most fun, wins.
As we set off to get gas and ready ourselves for our sojourn home, I lamented that I wasn’t running a car this weekend, but I promised myself that next year, I’d have something or other lined up to run. A big thank you goes out to the Club Loose folks, all the event staff and organizers, venue personnel, EMT/emergency service professionals, drivers, vendors, and sponsors for putting on such a great event. I did take a little bit of video, so here it is:
(I’m Kay Inoue, a freelance photographer from the New England area focusing on the import car tuning, drifting, and motorsports scene. Follow me on Instagram @inoue.kay and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kayinouephoto).