2010 Summer Drift Matsuri

31 Aug, 2010

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On August 21st we were going to do something that I have been wanting to do for a long time. Going to Ebisu Circuit to attend the Drift Matsuri. We were going to do this trip together with Martin Selva who is also interested in cars and photography. Armed with his trusty Canon 5D mark II and no experience of shooting these kind of car events we went to pick up our rental car early in the morning, to be exact 8am.

But finding the rental place was not as easy as we anticipated. After wandering around where we thought it would be we finally ended up calling mazda-rent-a-car and shortly after we finally found it! It was much closer to the station than we thought, boohoo.

But a few minutes later we were in possession of the keys and ready to roll!

But not before we check out the state of our soon to be mobile home. The shear amount of scars (scratches and dents) show that this baby had a rough life, but she’s in good hands now.

And of we go in our Mazda Demio Rental! But who is driving? yes with the steering wheel on the other side of the car, Pui-Yuk is the first to drive and with it her first RHD (right hand drive) driving experience. We were however send of with an automatic so it was easier to get used to driving on the wrong side :P

Soon we found our way on the expressway with still a very long trip ahead of us. Japan is a very big country compared to Holland.

Still on the Tokyo Expressway we spotted this very nicely tuned FC RX-7, is this one going to the drift matsuri too?

After a quick pit stop at one of eating/resting/gas stations, it was my time for my first hands-on RHD driving experience. Except for cofusing the wiper and the turn signal there was nothing to it.

After driving for 5 and half hours we finally made it to the Ebisu Circuit in Fukushima, and damn it was so beautiful. The track is situated in the mountains making the view astonishing. This combined with all the drift cars it felt like heaven :P

This orange car was looking really good and in great condition and at the same time really drifting like a pro.

Some guys drifting at the Nishi Short Course.

Here we moved up the hill to the driftland. You can see the pit area on the left and on the right is Kita Course. The 2 white 180sx’s are being driven by Team Orange.

Here you can see them entering the corner at the Kita Course at high speed.

The gang of foreigners looking at Daigo Saito unloading his car.

This is the Higashi course this is more a grip course than a drift course, but during the Drift Matsuri all courses are open for drifting. On the right it’s me making video’s.

An overview of the Highashi Course.

This is the famous Minami Course where all the hardcore drifting action happens. This is not a course for the beginners, this is actually also the course where they host a D1 Race.

Anything for that nice video or shot, it’s possible to get so close to the track here it’s amazing. When standing there and a car is rocketing towards you your instinct is to dive away! And that’s what you do in the beginning but at some point you get kinda used to it.

On the right you can see Daigo Saito with his missle flying by sometime not even an inch from the wall. Standing behind the wall and cars really come so close, you feel so alive.

More Minami Madness, while the sun is setting.

Here is the same orange car but now at the Minami Course. This is my favorite course by far.

After the sun completely set they set up a free all you can eat barbecue with only meat though. But who cares, it’s free and doesn’t taste bad at all. It’s also fun cooking your own meat with a lot of other car and drift enthusiasts.

According to our meat expert Martin (he’s from Argentina) this is not the way to barbecue your meat. Ok you don’t have to be an expert to know that.

After they grilled the meat (as on the picture above this one) they sliced it up for people to let them individually barbecue it.

With a filled stomach we went again to the Kita course as that’s where the action was supposed to be. At this point people were getting more used to their cars and their limits. Driving so called “missles” (cars that people buy for a small price so it doesn’t matter it gets wrecked) they were starting to get closer and closer to the walls and at some point really aiming to hit the wall. This was really spectacular to see.

But it was already getting late and we decided it was time to call it a night. We drove to a quieter part of the track and spent the night in our trusty Mazda Demio Mobile Home.

Being woken up by the bright sun at 6 o’clock and drifting sounds, which continued all night long, we were treated with a very nice view of the mountains. Soon after that we went into town to go to the 7 Eleven to grab a quick bite and return to the track.

This shot was taken on the Minami Course right after this car slammed into the walls a few centimeters away from where Martin was standing. He must have seen his live flashing right in front of him. It’s good to know that these walls are really strong, both Martin and the driver were perfectly fine. But the car was not so. It was no longer able to move as the front wheels were completely locked up.

Here is friend came to the rescue and they managed to eventually get the car of the track where after the drifting madness could continue again.

Some juice we brought from the 7 Eleven while in the background there was a competition going on on the Nishi Full Course. Although I didn’t really understand what the competition was about, there were a lot of cars drifting.

Shortly after that it was time to head home again. We had to return the car at 8 o’clock. Driving back to Tokyo on a Sunday could take a long time with all the traffic jams, so we wanted to make sure we were back in time.

After dropping of Martin somewhere in Saitama, a prefecture located next to Tokyo, we went on to return the car. But just as we were driving past the Iidabashi station we got pulled over by a policemen. Being totally unaware of his reasoning, he calmy explained me, in Japanese, that I ignored a stop sign. As I was unable to read the sign (止める) I was not aware of this. In the end he made me sign a contract that I will never ever do it again or I will get a fine. Although silly I was of course happy with this.

In the end it was a great event and we had a lot of fun. The Matsuri was not as busy as previous editions but that didn’t make it less fun. I will go to the next Drift Matsuri for sure, so see you guys in November.

Also check out the 2010 Summer Drift Matsuri Video I made.

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