It's been years since I've had the chance to see D1 drivers from Japan here, so I wasn't about to miss this opportunity. Although I didn't really care for the stunt bike show, or the Gumball 3000 cars, I still thought the drifting alone was worth it. And as much as I like Donks and Dubs, they could have chosen more appropriate show cars for this venue. I'm glad D1 is here and I'm sure their events will get better and better as the new US management gets more situated.
I'm the kind of guy that enjoys being in drift cars more than watching them. The same goes for me when it comes to baseball and some other sports. But this time around things were different; I really enjoyed watching this event.
Politics, late notice, or for whatever reason, the typical US drivers that we've limelighted for years past weren't here. The Japanese D1 drivers who came faced a band of non-typical US drivers. I only recognized two drivers that made an effort to compete in both major drift events, Quoc Ly and Ross Petty. Maybe this is why D1 changed the track and reconfigured it for slower speeds, making it fair to underpowered cars and less skilled drivers. Not to say the lesser known US drivers weren't good. Forrest Wang was simply killing it. Every time he got on track, it was like textbook drifting. I only wished his car was a bit faster because his black S13.4 240SX was consistently more sideways than anything else all day. For a guy who doesn't have any major sponsors and isn't driving an 800hp car, Wang really pushed the competition to the limit. After taking out Takahiro Ueno and his Vertex Toyota Soarer, Wang was up against Nobushige Kumakubo and Team Orange's GC8 Subaru. The driving between Wang and Kumakubo was so close that they had to battle not just once or twice, but three times. `Drift Forest drift' the hecklers were chanting behind me. Kumakubo ended up with the win, and came in second after losing to the awesome power of Daigo Saito and his Toyota Chaser. I don't know what that Chaser and that 2JZ had but Saito was the clear winner from the get-go. Every drift just looked powerful, controlled and very fast. I came strictly to see some D1 driving from Japan. One letdown for me though, was the fact that D1 said that certain well-known judges were going to be brought in from Japan, but were not. Even worse, the Drift Box was brought in. The device is installed on each car, and using GPS it gives the G-force, speed and angle readings to help to determine a more precise score. Understandably, the Japanese themselves brought this over hoping to avoid any favoritism towards from their own judges to their drivers and ironically it caused Nomura Ken to not qualify. Unfortunately the audience hated the Drift Box and it made up too much of the scoring.
For me this was still a true drift event. No huge corporate sponsored cars and 800 hp V8 swaps. With the Japanese drivers on the track, tandem drift was sick-with-it. Tandem wasn't bumper-to-bumper it was door-to-door action. Anytime a US driver was tailed by a Japanese D1 driver, they didn't have to look in their rear- view mirrors, they just had to look to their side. It's tandem and more importantly, D1 at it's best.