In the world of drifting, there are amateur events (pro-am competition, drift-bashes, impromptu parking lot sessions) and there's professional competition—and rarely do the two mix. Professional drifting involves many interested parties—drivers, their sponsors, shops, teams, OEMs—and everything has to be managed carefully to protect all interests. We get it. But that also means there are fewer events where the pros get to cut loose without the pressure of competition and few, if any, chances for die-hard amateurs to surround themselves with the professional talent that will inspire them and help them grow. It was to help close this divide in a low-stress, pure, grassroot-style event that Street Driven Tour was established.
Having just wrapped its second season, Street Driven Tour hosted four events bringing its unique recipe of open-to-all, bash drifting 'n' assorted automotive amusement to popular and also overlooked regions of the American drifting landscape. Let's take a look at some of our favorite moments, and discover more of what Street Driven Tour is all about.
Round 1: Virginia International Raceway (VIR) | Alton, VA
If you've never attended a Hyperfest weekend, you should really consider going. Today one of the more underrated season-opening events (compared to its popularity more than a decade ago), Hyperfest is one of the best ways for just about any gearhead to welcome the year's coming festivities. NASA road racing and ride-alongs take place throughout a three-day weekend on the 3.27-mile VIR full course (also where plenty of professional IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge race teams shake down their machines), NASA Rally Sport competition and ride-alongs are held on the ground's own rally stage for two days, U.S. Drift pro-am testing occurs on the central Patriot Course, a huge show and vendor alley fill the infield, camping is allowed (encouraged!), there's live music, plenty of food and refreshments, and in past years even some oddball events like a car-flipping challenge, which is exactly what you think it is.
Street Driven Tour added a host of events last year, headlined by open-to-all, bash-style drifting on the Patriot course, with tandem runs and ride-alongs with FD champ Chris Forsberg (in his VK56 V-8-powered Infiniti M35 sedan), Vaughn Gittin Jr. (Ford Mustang FD competition car), Ryan Tuerck (2JZ-powered Toyota FR-S "street car"), and Geoff Stoneback (previous FD competition V8-swapped Nissan S14). Street Driven's "Drift Mini Games," provided some comic relief in the form of Drift Soccer, the Hard Park Challenge, 360-Degree Drift, Tire Massacre, and—a first at VIR—even a downhill Power Wheels challenge. Which is exactly what you think it is.
Round 2: Gateway Motorsports Park | St. Louis, MO
There's something unique and impressive about St. Louis and the Midwest. It's far enough from the East Coast's hype and West Coast trends to be overlooked by the mainstream, and yet it's home to a huge population of auto enthusiasts, especially with regard to drifting. Midwest Drift Union's (MDU) pro-am competitors and affiliates were faster and more precise on their home turf, and came as close in tandem runs to pros Geoff Stoneback and Chris Forsberg as we saw from locals anywhere—and that's especially impressive considering that the Gateway infield is a rare treat to all, since it's open to drifters only during Street Driven stops and one or two MDU rounds.
The pits at Gateway were laden with clean LSx, 1/2JZ, VK, 1UZ and even J30-swapped drift machines, many with upgraded turbo and superchargers. Shout-outs were earned by Andrew Lewis (white S13.5), Steven Fishel ("666" black S13), Alec Robbins (Nissan Hardbody pickup), Matt Soppa (two-tone Fox-body Ford Mustang), and lots more. A novice-friendly drift paddock and quarter-mile drag racing added some variety to the event this time around, but one thing remained constant: Midwest drifters' friendly, inviting attitudes and potent drifting skill.
Round 3: Atlanta Motor Speedway | Atlanta, GA
Street Driven co-founder Joey Redmond (wreckedmagazine.com, Slide America) hails from Atlanta, and with the region boasting one of the biggest and most dedicated drifting fan bases of anywhere in the States, Atlanta is always an awesome time. This year was no exception. Local drifting talent from Wild Running, Top Garage, Kuroworks and more joined FD pros Geoff Stoneback, Matt Powers (pinch drifting for Chris Forsberg, in Chris' M sedan), Kelsey Rowlings, and Dirk Stratton on the Atlanta Motor Speedway drift course. Show partner SouthrnFresh brought out some of the area's cleanest stanced rides of nearly every make/model/vintage imaginable, and the infield pit garages joined vendors and display vehicles with beginner- to advanced-level drifters fielding a wide variety of machines.
A tense moment came when Wild Running's Jordan Painter suffered a catastrophic failure of a rear-wheel spacer in his blue Nissan 350Z (thankfully it wasn't catastrophic for Justin or the Z), and a not-as-tense, actually-pretty-rad moment followed when Chris Ward threw a tire in his Top Garage FD RX-7 after the first turn and continued to ravage his rim throughout the course, never skipping a beat. Looming storm clouds may have kept some fair-weather fans at bay, but those who came out got the best of a full day of Southern, bash-style drifting and automotive debauchery.
Round 4: Las Vegas Motor Speedway | Las Vegas, NV
Outside California, Las Vegas has one of the most advanced and competitive pro-am drift communities in the country. From Vegas drift to the Southwest Drift series, home of Get Nuts Lab and Forrest Wang continues to produce world-class drifting at an impressive pace. And situated near the Vegas Strip, Round 4 of Street Driven Tour always seems a fitting close to a season of good times getting sideways. This year's event saw the participation Forrest and his S15 and newly repaired S14 240SXs, "Rad Dan" Burkett and his crowd-favorite Supra, Matt Powers in his venerable S14, past Super Street feature car owner Sean Abellana and his Get Nuts-built 2JZ-powered S14, and lots of solid sliders from SoCal, Vegas and the Southwest.
Held on a slightly re-worked course in the LVMS parking area, drifting was both inviting to novice and intermediate drivers, and challenging to advanced drivers who had the option of connecting three of the course's four K-rail walls—something pulled off nicely by Forrest, Matt and Dan, but which also proved elusive and damaging to some throughout the day. Stance Wars fulfilled show obligations, combined with Supras Invade Las Vegas' own show and drag racing efforts, which coincided with the event on the grounds.
As drifting, showing, music, partying, burnouts, and racing continued into the night at its final stop of the year and most widely attended to date, the magic of Street Driven became clear. Without the complication of judges, points, standings, and rules (aside from what's needed to keep the event safe for fans and participants), Street Driven Tour provides one of the best opportunities for pro and amateur drifters alike to enjoy their sport in one of its purest forms, in some of the most popular and most overlooked regions of the U.S. It's a simple recipe, in response to a simple demand from drifters and fans: "Keep drifting fun!" And it's one we're hoping continues to gain steam for a long time to come.