This event found its way onto my radar when Akifumi from Yama-Channel uploaded coverage from the 2016 event. It brings two things together that are usually separate. Separate they’re not so unique, but together, in the same car, it’s a different story indeed. It’s a one-day event with two main entertainment aspects: drifting, and super rad cars. Oh, and did I mention those super rad cars are the ones drifting? That’s it. That’s the attention pulling point of difference with this event that made me not just mark it in my calendar, but vivid the sh*t out of it.
It was a long and lonely drive to get to this event. About 7 hours on the very mundane toll roads of Japan. I’d already made this trip once for Formula Drift, so I knew what to expect. The cost though hits me hard every time. Tolls are not cheap! We arrive not so early due to Golden Week traffic in Mie Prefecture, which is home to two rather famous racing circuits. The world-renowned Suzuka Circuit and the not so renowned Suzuka Twin Circuit.
Today would see us pulling into the gates of the latter. Even though it’s not the main track in Suzuka City, it’s still as impressive. The entrance takes you through a short touge course which leads you to a huge clearing in the Japanese forest. Showing up late always brings the overwhelming shock of the sheer amount of modified cars that turn up, even just to watch.
The event was organised by Doridore, with the main goal of having cars that look like they shouldn’t be able to drift doing just that. It’s a spectacle, to say the least. Multiple teams and duos turned up for the event as well as single drivers. Everyone was at least at an intermediate level with some spilling over into the professional level of driving. These rad cars, mixed with a field of competent drivers, were most certainly a good way to spend the day.
The usual culprits were present. An abundance of Silvias as per usual, Skylines, JZXs, Laurels, Fairladies etc. To be brutally honest with you, the drifting side was overrun with Silvias. It’s not as boring as it sounds though, each and every car was totally different. If you were trying to find your identical twin at this event, well then, you came to the wrong place.
I think Doridore achieved what they wanted to with the level of cars present. Every car drifting was above and beyond what I would consider as a nice drift car. The Japanese sure like to make a statement when modifying their metal shells. It’s really just an extension of themselves, isn’t it?
The pits were a sight to behold. From the left side of the race tower all the way to the right. From memory, there were easily over 50 cars lying on the hot tarmac that day. You’ve probably seen this S13 before on the interwebs or at car shows parking hard, but did you know that it can drift? That’s right, these massive wheels with only the slightest contact patch can push this car around Suzuka Twin Circuit without a problem.
It’s usually a bit of an overload to the sensories when you turn up to an event like this. Usually, I like to walk around without my cameras for about half an hour to take everything in with as little distractions as possible. Scout what cars I like, who’s drifting, feel the vibe of the event and so on. If I go in cameras blazing, I tend to miss a lot more interesting things.
The most common place for this to happen is not on the track but in the pits. There are so many different things to look at, so it’s beneficial to the experience if I do it with my own eyes first, before pointing my camera everywhere. After that, what’s next? Do I go to grab my cameras? No! It’s now time to check out the track for a little bit.
From what I saw in the pits, I could easily predict that there were going to be some experienced drivers here. Either that or under experienced drivers with over-engineered drift cars. Thankfully the latter was not true in this case. It was now time to grab the cameras and start capturing memories from this yearly event.
The MCR team most likely had the least well-presented cars of the day. However, what they lacked in looks, they sure had enough of in skill. The guys from MCR were on each other’s doors nearly every single lap they took.
I’d been to Suzuka Twin Circuit before for FD Japan Round 1, so I knew the layout. As I had been accepted to shoot at Doridore, I was expecting that the shooting areas would be the same. Sadly, I was mistaken. There was a two level media system going on.
Where ‘official’ personnel from Doridore had the inside area to themselves and an extra metre or two of room around the sides of the track. Everyone that was shooting for someone that wasn’t Doridore had to make do with the scraps. I didn’t let that stop me though.
I wanted to shoot action, and that’s just what I did. Remember that red S13 from before with the unbelievably massive wheels? Here it is again. Drifting. Doing the one thing that most people would assume that it couldn’t do. Doesn’t it look good doing it too?
For the majority of this event, the track was run in the opposite direction from FD Japan. This meant no reverse entries, but it also meant that cars were able to get closer to each other. The track consists of a long left turn entry. Followed by a sharp(ish) switch to a ride-hand side turn.
Next, comes a small straightaway that is driftable if you are able to put enough speed into your entry. This is followed by the last right-hand corner going onto the main straight and having the clipping point as an outer concrete wall. This is the wall that the Japanese will tap with their hands and wave towels around to egg you on. The spectators want you to get as close to the wall as humanly possible.
Looking at all of the cars is great fun. They are super low with cambered wheels, but how do they drive? What happens when they run over a cone or go slightly off the track? It’s all well and good to have a car like this, but how well can it perform like a drift car.
From a spectator point of view, because the drivers were not amateurs but more experienced than most, they made easy work of their stance drift cars. If you were to compare the MCR cars to any other car there that day, you would notice that they were the hardest drivers of them all. Even a blind person could see that ‘hella slammed’ is not a great way to set up your drift car.
In saying that, it still does look absolutely boss. Here you can see the Japanese on the wall, waving their hats and what not, as well as banging on the barrier to try and get the drivers to come closer and closer to that dangerous immovable concrete block of a wall. It didn’t see too much contact over the weekend, until the very end where one person had a rather heavy hit, which would come to be the last bit of action for the day.
My own personal opinion about drifting is that car presentation should come last. Buy a standard rear wheel drive, front mounted engine, manual transmission, non-turbo car like a Silvia. Weld the diff shut, buy a decent set of coilovers, and then go drifting. That’s literally all you need to start your new hobby of drifting. Too often I see people going for one drift day and then thinking that they need more power. That’s not the case.
Sure these cars look exceptionally exquisite, but mastering the basics first is key. I think the main point here is to become so good you out-drive your own car. That’s when you should start making upgrades. That’s when you should start thinking about what your car looks like. When you’re as good as these guys, it’s completely fine to have a nice looking car, and it’s also part of drifting. Although I can also say with almost 100% certainty that they didn’t start out with show room spec cars.
They started with cars looking a little more like this. Used and abused. I think this look is the way to go anyway. With a show room spec car, I feel like you’d never commit 100% due to that lingering fear in the back of your head. The ‘what if’ situation. What if I crash, what if I hit someone’s door, that what if mentality will hold you back. Thus, it’s much better, obviously in my opinion, to have a slightly abused car.
This concept doesn’t float everyone’s boat, as you can see. Especially at the Doridore event. This is an event for the exceptionally well dressed to show everyone what someone can do in a suit and tie. I actually saw this blue S15 at a recent ‘Itasha’ event in Tokyo. Itasha a massive thing in Japan, even in my little city I’ve seen R35 GT-Rs wrapped with popular anime characters.
You think you need traction to drift? Tell this S15 that. It’s ridiculous amount of camber and the lowness was one of the craziest at the event. It was also not running a turbo. So along with the super crazy look, the noise it made was also just as insane. As the engine seemed to be running a straight pipe or a very short exhaust the noise was ear screeching loud.
This black kouki S14 became my favourite drifting car from the day. It was put together so nicely. I might be a bit biased because I also have a kouki S14, but nevertheless, this one was outstanding. The exterior was rather stock actually, apart from the very apparent extended guards. Look closely at the back wheel, it’s practically touching the fender. Excellent.
It was getting close to the end of the day. Everyone had had a great time out on the track as well as all of the spectators. There were little accidents with no one getting injured. So, with 30 minutes left what was there to do? I hadn’t taken much notice of the schedule, but the last little slot of time was reserved for team drifting! How exciting. It would be the multicoloured cars of ‘The Breast’ vs the well know purple cars of ‘MCR Factory’. Who would pull off the best trains? Only time would tell.
You don’t really see stuff like this too often in New Zealand. Last time something this epic happened in NZ with drivers that could keep a tight train was at D1NZ a few years ago with 4-5 car drift trains. This though, this was something else completely. I wasn’t expecting something this great at the end of the day, how extraordinary!
It looked to be a straight 7 vs 7 affair. As I said before, the MCR cars seemed to be either more skilled or to care less about their cars because their trains were totally on point. Not one man too far ahead, or too far behind for that matter. It was like a well-oiled steam train on a mission to drop off their cargo on time.
Could they keep this up? 30 minutes was a rather long time to perform perfectly in sync drift trains before someone fell under the pressure. Was it going to be MCR or The Breast to make that first mistake and end the day for everyone? The time was nearly over so it wouldn’t be too much of a burden on the rest if the seemingly inevitable did happen.
The Breast were also looking good. Not as tight as MCR but still exceptional for 7 car drift trains. With only a few minutes left it was push or be pushed to take out the award for the best drift team at Doridore. I don’t think The Breast did just quite enough to say that they outperformed against MCR however.
The men at MCR did it time and time again. Until the very end, where one of the Silvias went a tad too close to another Silvia, pushing him out wide and inevitably hitting the wall. This would see the action ending for the day as well as a mangled MCR car. Those concrete walls do not forgive easily.
With an event this size, you’d think that the spectators would bring some cool cars along, wouldn’t you? Well, you’re right! I have saved a whole nother article just for the parking area, as it was too good to squeeze it into this one. Also, it looks like I may be heading back to Suzuka Twin Circuit soon for another spectacular event soon, so stay tuned.
Photos: Shaun Constable | Words: Shaun Constable | Proofer: Olivia Obrecht
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