With all the coverage drifting enjoys in hubs like Southern California, Englishtown, Fuji, and Gatebil, it might be easy to think it seldom exists to any impressive extent outside those regions. Well, as Street Driven Tour's annual drift-bashing celebration at St. Louis's Gateway Motorsports Park has proven for a third year in a row, nothing could be farther from the truth.
St. Louis might not seem a likely hotbed of drifting enthusiasm, located just about as far from any of the aforementioned locations as you can get, but when you consider its close(ish) and equidistant proximity to the Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, and maybe even Denver metro areas, a clearer picture of this enthusiast enigma begins to emerge.
Take the SoCal region, for example. There's no shortage of talent from pro-am competitors and enthusiast drifters, but go to a Top Drift event or the annual All Star Bash and you're likely to see mostly the local crowd, with a few transplants from nearby series. That's far from the case with the Midwest.
Taking to the banked, decreasing radius sweeper and blind switchbacks of Gateway Motorsports Park's 1.6-mile infield for Street Driven Tour festivities this year was a diverse and far-reaching representation of drifters from the Midwest Drift Union and Lone Star Drift pro-am series, #driftchitown, Turismo Drift, and even the Mid-Atlantic's U.S. Drift, not to mention talented and budding enthusiasts repping crews like Team Infamous, Rival House, Dream Style, and more.
And every bit as diverse and impressive were the cars they battled in, everything from Nissan S-chassis and Mazda FC3S RX-7s powered by Toyota 1JZ/2JZ, KA24DE, VQ35DE, and GM LSX swaps, to a V8-swapped Z32 Nissan 300ZX, V8/turbo Lexus SC300, big-turbo E46 BMW M3 running its stock engine, to a converted Mazda RX-8 World Challenge race machine with a potent 13B-REW underhood.
As for the drifters who seemed to make those combinations work the best, Formula D Pro 2's Hooman Rahini, and noteable wheelmen from the Midwest Drift Union (MDU) and Turismo Drift, held their own in terms of smoke, angle, speed and style in perfect form against the only two pros this time around (this year's event fell just one week before Formula D Seattle), Geoff Stoneback and Steve Angerman.
The show crowd was also invited to attend, and picked up the gauntlet with an impressive array of new and vintage tuned rides of JDM, Euro, and domestic flavor. Our picks were the R32 Nissan Skylines in attendance, a dropped and sleek-looking SKYACTIV Mazda6, and one absolutely crushed Subaru WRX.
But the single most resounding quality we find in Midwest drift enthusiasts, year after year, is their eagerness to have a good time. Street Driven Tour's signature Drift Mini Games are nothing if not harbingers of a good time, and this time over a dozen enthusiasts tried their hand at two rounds each of Drift Soccer and the Hard Park Challenge (won by Hooman Rahimi and Geoff Stoneback, respectively).
And then there was the Tire Massacre, the traditional climax of chaos that signs off each and every Street Driven event at 9,000rpm. After a full day of tire slaying, it seemed that Midwest drifters wanted nothing to do but slay more tires. The table was set for outright carnage after VIR's rather explosive edition, but this one ended up rather tame. Brake rotors glowed red and pads shed embers of friction material, tires burned to their cords, and although the occasional clutch slipped and radiator cap popped, everyone went home largely with egos and engines intact.
So in recap, they might not be the best-known drifters on the landscape, or those who enjoy event after event of coverage, or the ones who get the girls, Internet fame, and free energy drinks, but Midwest Drifters are some of the most talented and - even more importantly - some of the most genuine to be found anywhere.
Street Driven Tour next heads out West to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for what's expected to be their biggest event to date, with the most complete roster of pro drivers ever. And after that, it's onto the South's Lanier Raceway in Atlanta to close out another successful year of bringing the best drift bashing to the masses. Click through our gallery here for more from St. Louis, and to get involved, head over to: www.streetdriventour.com