DD Heroes 3: Drifting the High Ground

10/10 is how I would rate this day that was. It was by far my favourite drift day that I have participated in since I have been living here in Japan. The event was called ‘DD Heroes 3’ or ‘DDH’ for short, and as you can guess, was the 3rd year running. It was held by a group named ‘I Love Heroes’ with the main sponsor being Orvis (High-Performance Lubricating Oils).

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It was another early morning, about a 4-am start. We were heading to a place in the next prefecture over, a ski field actually. Mizuho Highland Skiing Park is located a short 1-hour drive north from Hiroshima City. Since there is no snow in summer, it is common in Japan to turn the large car parks into event arenas. That’s exactly the case at DDH, the gigantic car park was turned into a temporary drift circuit.

DDH was actually a two-part event. The drifting, which is what I entered my car into, and the dress-up. This is what most of you know as ‘drift and dress-up’, a popular phrase used frequently in Japan to describe these types of events. With 80 drift cars and 40 dress-up cars (approximately), it looked like it was going to be a day that wouldn’t be forgotten quickly.

The show cars all had a common theme, that of being ‘slammed’. Now, usually I’m not a big fan of Nissan Fugas, I think that the Skyline V35 looks a whole lot better. This one, I think, is going to be an exception. The widened factory guards that flow so smoothly to the subtle boot lip gives the car an exceptionally clean look. It’s refreshing to see a car that doesn’t have bolt on flares or guards every once in a while.

The next car that caught my eye was a not so overly modified Mazda. These wheels were what drew me in. So clean, so gold, and such a contrast to the blackness of the car. They’re not something I’d run on a daily basis, but looking at them most certainly put a smirk on my face.

This shot sums up the dress-up part of the show the best in my opinion. Some car shows that you attend, all the cars are put into model-specific groups. Here, I don’t think there were even two of the same models of cars on display, that’s how varied the styles were.

I was extremely excited. Before the event, I saw a few foreign names on the entry list, so I found them on the interwebs and had a chat to them. I thought, only two foreigners would be coming, but it turns out there were five of them. All Americans from Yamaguchi Prefecture. The black S13 and R32 were in the intermediate level with me, two other cars (red 180sx and blue S15) were in the advanced level, with the last car in the beginner level.

It would be the first time being able to drift with other people. Usually, I drive at Bihoku with only a few others cars present, also it would show to be a valuable day of learning from the drivers in the expert class. Sadly I wouldn’t be chasing any of these 86s as they were in a class of their own. About 10 or so showed up to tackle the custom-made drifting circuit.

326 power had brought along their personal cars to dip their feet in a bit of drifting. I had actually just purchased a set of coilovers from Haruguchi-san, so decided to meet him and thank him for the coilovers. He had problems with his S15 during the first few laps, unfortunately, those problems ended his day of drifting rather quickly.

A Nissan Maxima! I’ve never, ever, seen one of these drifting before. If you think it looks wrong, I’d agree with you there. It was a strange sight to watch as this whale of a car dragged itself around the circuit. Maybe it was the fact that the driver was still learning and couldn’t control it 100%, or maybe it was just a car that shouldn’t be drifted.

It was such a pleasant sound to the ears when the usual Toyotas and Nissans left the track, and the 86s took their place. The underpowered, high-revving sound that comes out of the rear end on an 86s is to die for. They also look the part when chasing one another lap after lap.

My day went rather well. Apart from the rain that always came just before I would head out, I think it was a successful day. I stayed in 2nd gear for the most part, as the track wasn’t fast enough or long enough to be able to grab 3rd. The only thing I managed to hit was a cone on my last outing, which I have to say, didn’t feel bad at all, it felt great!

The expert level drivers were in a whole different field from me. I suspected a few even top-tier drivers were piloting the cars, they were just that good. It also provided exceptional photo opportunities as the Beginner and Intermediate drivers weren’t skilled enough to get this close to each other.

As you can tell by looking at this picture, the Nissans dominated the battlefield. R32s, R33s, S13s, S14s, and S15s were the main choices. With a few Toyotas here and there, and the odd car from another manufacturer. I’m not sure why Nissan doesn’t come back with the next Silvia to combat the popular 86. I bet they could easily challenge the 86 for popularity.

The two people who I started talking to before the event were the drivers of these two cars. Eric and Jayson who live in Yamaguchi and regularly attack their local track called Hadashi Tengoku. It’s a short and demanding track with an intense downhill jump. Eric took me for a few laps so I could get an idea of how a better driver than me controls the car. It helped a lot.

The main thing I took from it is: don’t rely on the handbrake for your entry. You’ll lose too much speed. Pick up your man balls and flick the rear end from side to side. This way you don’t lose the majority of your speed and you look like a total badass in the process.

If you live in the Chugoku area, or are visiting around this time next year, come along. It’s a great event that certainly kept me entertained throughout the day. The next event I’ll be drifting at is called DDS, Drift Dress-up Sanin at Bihoku. It’s the same style with show cars and drifting. After that, I’ll be heading to Okayama International Circuit for the final round of FD Japan, and then Meihan for Super D! Stay tuned for more Japanese content coming soon…

Eric’s Team: Drift Team Kunigan
Jayson’s Team: Project Taino

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Photos: Shaun Constable | Words: Shaun Constable

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