D-Max recently hosted a drift competition at Tokushima Kart Land (TKL), undoubtedly one of Japan's best drift tracks. D-Max head honcho and D1GP driver Akira Hirajima invited my pal Eric Van Damme out to take part in the competition.
If you haven't been keeping up with the blog Eric is the organizing force behind Kunigan, a team of service members stationed in Iwakuni who have brought Americans back out to the drift track. His teammate Bryce Tibbits joined him on his journey.
Eric recently retired his S15 Silvia and is now behind the wheel of this insanely fast (400+ HP) S13 Silvia, which he'll be able to bring back to the US with him when he retires from the Navy.
I always loved the drive from Japan's main island (Honshu) to Shikoku island. Tons of long bridges extending over the Seto Inland Sea. It's gorgeous.
Once they made it to Shikoku they ran into MCR (Mind Control Racing) when they pulled off the Expressway for a break. That's Doug Green at the bottom who attended the competition as well and has contributed to the blog. In fact, some of the pictures in this post are from him.
TKL may just be the most picturesque track in Japan.
The course itself is plenty of fun with elevation changes and sweeping turns. This is a shot facing the judged corners.
D-Max has a strong following in Japan so plenty of drivers came out for the competition. If you look in the back you can see two lines of carriers parked and one in the process of unloading a car.
Another shot of the paddock. As you can see, S-chassis still dominate the grassroots drifting scene in Japan.
Eric chatting with Hirajima and D-Max sponsored drifting legend Masashi Yokoi. They were both judges for the event as well as organizers. In addition to being a professional driver (D1GP, D1SL, Formula D, etc..) he is also the owner of MCR Factory in Nagoya. His shop is named after his team Mind Control Racing, who had three cars entered in the competition.
It's always great to meet one of your heroes and find out he's a really nice guy!
A great shot of the MCR cars by Doug. These were all built and painted at MCR Factory.
Yokoi is pretty well known for the wild jobs he does on engine rooms and valve covers.
D-Max D1 Street Legal S13 Silvia. This car has been around for a long-ass time and looking exactly like this. Considering how it's driven its always in amazingly good shape.
Very purple S15. Forgive me if I can't name the aero kit. There are so many options for the S15 I can't keep track. Bright trim colors are definitely in at the moment.
Well this is certainly a gang-bang of aero parts. Origin hood, bumper and skirts along with some sort of Rocket Bunny style flares and Supermade fender canards. It's getting harder to stand apart from the crowd in an S-Chassis so people are taking things to the extreme.
Big thumbs up to this. I am such an R31 fan-boy. If the prices were more reasonable I'd definitely look to pick one up, but GTS-Rs are insanely expensive and decent GTS-Xs are getting up there too.
I love the boxy lines and how long the rear end seems. The flares and Meisters are definitely icing on the cake.
One of the MCR S15 Silvias. Drive hard much? Really wide track on this one. Even with the giant flares, the tires are poking out. All a symptom of setting suspension up for those crazy reverse entries.
Kunigan stickers found their way onto the Mind Control cars...
Nice Chaser in attendance. It's all about the flares these days. I wonder if the trend is ever going to rubberband and see everyone running on stock metal fenders with no pull? I'm guessing with the ever-increasing angle and crazy suspension geometry those days are long gone...
Formula D Japan S15 Silvia. I should probably get more information on this one. It looks more a GT car than drift.
4-door R33s are not something you see often and there were actually two of them at this event. This was definitely the wilder one.
The MCR cars had some mechanical issues and I think two of them were forced to retire. You can see just how much angle this S15 has. No Wisefab underneath, just cut/weld knuckles, tie rods and extended lower arms.
The Mist Racing 180SX was one of the wilder cars in attendance.
The owner put a great deal of effort in keeping the interior cool.
Enough fans there guy?
Nifty carbon dash covering the typical JDM wiring mess.
This little Nissan March has been making the internet rounds lately and for good reason.
It has a tuned SR20DET shoehorned into the engine room, converted to RWD and set up for drifting.
While the short wheel base isn't ideal for drifting it can still get rowdy.
Nice shot of some of the cars exiting the track after an early session. You can really see how much the elevation changes.
Eric getting ready for action... What a dork, but he can drive his ass off.
He's competed at TKL before so he knows the track pretty well.
The level of competition was really high, but he managed to stay competitive and he's taking to the S13 chassis quite well.
Great shot of Meguro in his JZX100 Mark II. He is one of the top drivers out of Yamaguchi and has been driving this Mark II for more than a decade. The only difference I can see between now and 2005 when I first saw it is a lack of vinyl graphics. He ended up placing second in the competition, unsurprisingly.
Some more action from Mind Control.
Meguro on the podium. Overall a great event for everyone. A Yamaguchi veteran made the podium and Eric got to compete and meet one of his drifting heroes.