Australia Day, a day usually reserved for groups of mates to get together and have a few drinks, eat copious amounts of burnt meat and listen to the radio.
What more could anyone want you might ask?
Well 2013 would be the first year I broke this long lived tradition and as it turns out, I couldn’t have been happier!!
Sydney Motorsport Park has just undergone an upgrade and with construction now complete of the brand new south circuit section it was time to celebrate the opening of track! The Australian Drifting Grand Prix team was invited to host a drift festival on Australia Day 2013 to do the honours.
Delighted by the idea of a brand new circuit, 16 of Australia’s best drifters. guest judge Matt Powers (Formula Drift USA) and truck loads of Sydney’s locals coming out to destroy some tyres on the track. So we booked our flights and in the blink of an eye the date was upon us!
*Note how rich we are by our choice of airline… No expense spared!
When you buy GSS merchandise you help pay for our flights and rental cars when we travel to events all over Australia, so next time you’re thinking about grabbing a sticker etc from our store, remember that every bit counts!!
We arrived at Sydney Motorsport Park bright and early at around 8am Saturday. There is never any time to ease into it, so Grant and I began snapping away and filming the moment our feet hit the ground.
Some of the first cars we saw in the pits were the Hit and Run boys of NSW drift club fame and as you can see these cars are always a sight for sore eyes.
With some of the best wheels and kit choices, every car is finished in amazing detail and the boys in true drifter fashion have that unique ‘no care’ attitude with one goal in mind…
Drive hard, drive very hard!
By the end of the day the cars end up looking a little tired but that is all part of the fun and the team get busy making them all shiny before the next event again.
One of the overseas competitors in the top 16 was Andy Gray from Powervehicles.com in Japan. Andy had Australian drifter Christian Pickering oversee the Toyota Chaser’s build while he was still at home in Japan.
The finishing touch to this car was the very same graphics that Andy uses on his Chaser in Japan, confusing many thinking he had just shipped the whole car over…
Check out that lock! Andy has his finger on the pulse in regards to drifting in Japan so we were excited to see what he and the car would have to offer!
Heading team Melbourne was John from the Insane Drifters crew. Agges was M.I.A thanks to being invited to compete in the New Zealand D1NZ next month.
John was applying some new graphics and the car was looking immaculate!!
Coming all the way from South Australia and looking stunning was this Nissan Laurel, hands down the best looking one in the country and it’s a drift car!!!!!!!!!
A sad, sad day for QLD driver Ryan ‘Slide’ Cummings…
On his way to the start line for the very first practice session of the day the timing belt idler bolt sheared and the timing belt skipped.
The team thinks there may be some serious damage and wont know until they pull the engine apart. This is a true shame for someone who has dedicated a lot to the sport and traveled so far to be part of it.
Before the action kicked off the drivers had their morning assembly. Yoshi from Vicdrift helped keep the wild crowd under control so the meeting went smoothly and was very quick in the end!
With all the formalities done and dusted, we setup a whole heap of on-car camera’s thanks to the guys from ION. We had 6 ION Air Pro’s capturing some of the excitement and hope to have a pretty cool video for you guys to enjoy very soon! So keep your eyes out for that!
Without any warning at all, the cars started flying off the starting grid and began punishing those tyres!
Right from the start we could tell this is the course for tight battles here in Australia. The layout ensures that it is very hard for the lead car to race away and we were rewarded with some close door-to-door action even in the early morning practice sessions.
The course is short and looks rather simple at first with only four corners. With the majority set uphill, it meant a lot of smoke, even from underpowered cars as they raced up the incline.
Drivers took a ‘no fear’ approach and went flat out into the second corner knowing that further up the hill a lot of their speed would be washed off. This made for some hairy moments when the lead car would spin and the approaching driver had already committed to the corner and could not brake in time.
Thankfully though there were no major impacts over the day.
If the lead car wasn’t fast enough, the follow car caught up very quickly. I would not want to see that in my rear view mirror!!
At the top of the hill the course had a long sweeping corner and then it dipped back down which made for some dramatic images of the cars disappearing over the hill.
There were so many highlights throughout the day, with every practice session turning into a battle with drivers pairing up and testing each others skills.
Rob Whyte was king of the proximity and emulation card, shown here following Danny Williamson.
One of the most exciting pairs to watch was Christian Pickering and Andy Gray. They appeared like long lost brothers reunited and they clearly had a blast playing together.
The two have spent a lot of time driving together in Japan and it showed on the day. They were the most exciting to watch and I would have been happy if they were the only two drivers competing!!
Andy’s Chaser always made the most exciting exits over the hill!
One of the most photogenic cars on track was Levi Clarke’s fluro Toyota Soarer and he seemed to team up with Beau Yates in his AE86 with countless runs together in the practice sessions.
Levi has always had crazy colour schemes and graphics. His previous cars have had Ed Hardy inspired designs… I much prefer this one though personally.
The big wigs at Toyota probably never expected to see their two creations ever meet in such a way. The variety of cars competing is probably one of the biggest attractions to the sport in all honesty.
You can buy the majority of these cars for $20k or less and drive them on the street and enter the odd drift day or two in your local area, making it more accessible to just about anyone.
The only professional female driver in the ADGP series was Kelly Wong from South Australia.
It is always a pleasure to see Kelly roughing it with the boys out on track and we hope Kelly inspires more female drivers to pursue the sport as it’s probably one the most open and friendly forms of motor sport around!
I’ve managed to not mention the weather so far but it was horrible!
The humidity was obscene and had us drinking around 15 bottles of water between the two of us!!
Here we see Brett chucking his new 180SX over the hill. The car had a few teething issues but we expect some big things from Brett and his evil looking S-chassis later this year.
This was the last event the Insane Drifters will be using their current suspension setups at, as the team has been picked up by Shockworks and we are very excited by that here at GSS!!
ION sponsored SA driver Simon Michelmore was putting his S14 through its paces after installing a brand new gearbox and GKtech knuckle setup.
As the day went on, drivers were getting more comfortable with the new track and we saw more and more ‘dirt drops’ as each driver went for bigger and bigger entries into the first corner.
Sometimes with disastrous results…
This entry saw Jabbit from Blaze Unit mount a stack of tyres which meant the only way off was with a tow. Thankfully nothing was damaged and the Blaze Unit boys went on to become the crowd favorite between battles.
Instead of staring at an empty track while drivers changed tyres or waited for scores from the judges, the crowd was treated to an all out smoke show thanks to the boys tearing up the track in a 3 way drift train!
Mitch Bunney had made the trip over from Western Australia with his R32 Skyline and Mitch ended up qualifying 3rd with only one point between him and Andy Gray!
This S13 reminds me of Ender’s white beast back here in Melbourne. It is refreshing to see so many good looking cars in the sport!
Another from team Melbourne!!
Michael Prosenik in the Supreme Caravan’s V8 powered S13.
Michael was having a few fun battles with John and both cars were baking hard up the hill!
Everyone’s favorite V6 powered 86!!
That’s right, this little guy is powered by one of the newer Toyota V6 engines!
Some of the NSW drift crews were loving the new track although it really suited the higher powered cars with the uphill section. However, this S14 was putting out a healthy amount of power with around 400hp so it was lapping it up!
Levi was pushing hard in his Soarer until this happened…
The drivers side rear tyre came off the rim mid corner and sent him off track. Levi missed out on making it into the top 16 by only one spot, so sadly this was the end of the day for him.
Levi and the car will be competing at every round of the ADGP series this year so expect to see a lot more of him and his bright Soarer!
The stand out local car had to be Harry’s DR30 Skyline!
This thing looked, sounded and drove amazingly all day!
The engine is a combination of an RB30 with a 26 head for good measure.
The day was soon coming to an end which meant it was time to kick off the top 16 battles!!
During one of Andy’s ridiculous backwards entries he over shot it and went into the run off section.
The whole time Andy did not take his foot off the power and kept drifting through rest of the track!
Now Simon is known for having some over the top entries so all of the Media guys track side held their breath when they heard the announcement that Simon and Andy would go head to head…
Two of the wildest drivers in regards to top speed entries going against each other!
Hands down this was one of the best battles we have ever witnessed!!
Andy took the win but it was honestly very close and we would have loved to have seen a re-run.
Scott from Blaze Unit was drifting in true Australian spirit with one hand out the window flipping the bird!!
Later we saw him go head to head with Luke Fink who had actually entered his daily driven 180SX!!
Luke is the driver for Holfords Motorsport and since they have sold Luke’s usual competition S14, he is currently without a car.
The team has an exciting 350Z build in the works but we are unsure if it will be ready for any events soon.
The light was soon gone and we had the last few battles to watch.
Nick Coulson took the win against Beau Yates.
Nick then took the win against Andy after a fierce battle, both drivers were not giving up easily!
The final battle was 2012 champion Rob Whyte against Christian Pickering. This was too close to call and required a re-run before the judges were happy to announce a winner.
Christian was beaten by Rob for 1st place but Christian didn’t seem to mind all that much.
The ‘Straya Day’ podium finishers!
Nick Coulson in 3rd.
Christian Pickering in 2nd.
Rob Whyte coming in 1st.
So how can I sum up my Australia day??
The crowd was massive, the amount of cars on track was insane and the vibe was just fantastic!!
We couldn’t possibly fit everything into one post so expect some extras with our coverage of the All Stars car show and of course our video of all the action that unfolded throughout the day.
Thanks for reading,