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Battle Of The Imports Las Vegas

Burning Rubber On The Strip

Scott Kanemura
Dec 11, 2008
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On July 15 Las Vegas Speed-way brought out the best of the best in drag racing and drifting. On the drag racing side of the event, the experienced crew from Battle of the Imports was enlisted. The Formula D crew was assigned to drifting duties. On Friday night it rained on the normally dry desert summer season to continue the weather jinx for this year's sport compact drag racing season. And just like the rest of the season, the show went on.

The standout race of the event had to have been the grudge matches between drag racing Pro FWD cars against the 10.5-inch tire PSCA cars. This has always been the unwritten rivalry between import heads and domestic muscle cars. It was a matchup of front-wheel machines against the tubbed rear-wheel-drive, inline-four cars against the powerful V-8s, and the little sport compacts against the monstrous domestics. With Chris Rado experiencing mechanical difficulties that left only Ed Bergenholtz to represent for the sport compacts.

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First up was a crazy-looking Ford Mustang against the little Mazda. It was the tubbed rear-wheel-drive Mustang that took the early advantage, but it was Bergenholtz who snuck by on the top end to take the win. Next was the PSCA 2007 series champion in his beautifully crafted Pontiac Grand Am. This time the holeshot went to the front-wheel-drive Mazdaspeed Mazda6 from Bergenholtz Racing and the hard-charging V-8 couldn't keep up. The third and final grudge match was between the nitrous-injected Mustang and the good ol' Mazda6. Again, Bergenholtz took the holeshot to claim the win. Bergenholtz won every event he entered; he took the go-kart challenge between the drifters and drag racers, the Pro FWD, and all three grudge matches. I should've asked him to buy me a lotto ticket.

For the majority of the other drag racing Pro classes, it was standing room only. All of the competitors were jocking for a position to race in the show. Another notable change in the Pro Stock and Pro Import classes was the allowance of air-cooled VWs. This addition to the classes made for some great racing and brought in a whole new market to a traditional sport compact event. In the Pro Stock Finals, Bryan Jimenez in his Your Mortgage Chevy Cobalt was against Idaho-native Jake Montgomery and his Mitsubishi Eclipse. Bryan claimed the victory over Jake's limping drivetrain Eclipse. In the Pro Stock Final, Jeremy Lookofsky had a bye run, because of Michelson not even being able to start his Honda.

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On the drifting side of things, it looked like a world-class event. Teams came from as far as Australia, New Zealand, and Japan to compete in the heat at the strip. One of the most notable contestants was legendary Manabu Orido. Orido is credited as being one of the pioneers of drifting in the mountains of Japan. The Las Vegas event was his American debut. Unfortunately, Orido was eliminated in one of the elimination rounds and didn't make it to the finals. It was an all Japan final. Daijiro Yoshihara in his Bridgestone/RMR Pontiac Solstice GXP was pitted against Toshiki Yoshioka in his A Spec/Works Bell Toyota Sprinter. After the dust settled, it was Yoshioka with his "little engine that could" AE86 who claimed the victory. Besides all of the on-track action, a number of things took place throughout the show. Scion put on one of its legendary VIP events, and this brought out hundreds of cool-looking enthusiasts from all over the Southwest. DJ Roldan and DJ Colin kept the stage popping with numerous contests, go-go dancers, and most of all, the midnight bikini contest. This show had to be one of the most notable events for 2008. We're looking forward to seeing what's in store for next year.

By Scott Kanemura
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