Amidst the season-ending crunch of Formula Drift finals at Irwindale Speedway, the SEMA Show in Vegas, FF Battle and Show Car Shootout, Super Lap Battle (coverage coming soon!), and the unending stream of news, features, and tech we bring you, it's sometimes inevitable that some things get lost in the shuffle. Sometimes, some of our favorite things. Just Drift's annual All Star Bash at Willow Springs Int'l Raceway was unfortunately one of those things this time around.
We had to bring you first-available news and coverage of Irwindale's last stand (along with the conclusion of James Deane's championship-winning season and the successful coup by his European brothers). We also had to show you everything we possibly could from this year's massive SEMA Show in Vegas. Just like that sick K-swapped Porsche feature, tale of two NSXs, and all the best automotive news in between. But All Star Bash is different. For every year so far this millennium, it's served up the West Coast's biggest dose of drift bashing free from concerns of time, competition, structure - even most of the rules, save for those that deal with safety. In a word, it's "timeless."
For those unfamiliar with the All Star Bash format, it's really simple. Just Drift - organizers of grassroots drifting events from "drifting looks fun, can I try?" professional instruction at summer trackdays, to "I'm ready for the pros" Top Drift competition - rent out Willow Springs' Horse Thief Mile and Streets of Willow circuits, invite any and all eligible amateur, pro-am, and professional drifters to come out and party for three days, however they want to, completely at their own pace. Past years have seen some semblance of structure, with competitions like "team drift," or schedules for each respective circuit, but not this year. This year's schedule was simply show up and drift.
The best thing about such an open format is the wide-open array of participants, machinery, and styles it brings to the mat. From some of Top Drift and the Southwest Drift Series's most proficient competitors, to some of the cleanest and most radically modded enthusiast machines, to some good old-fashioned drift missiles, the variety never let up. Conspicuously absent from this year's festivities were many of the pro drifters who've set the pace in years past, with the event falling just before FD Irwindale (srsly Just Drift ... why?). But plenty of others stepped up and handled those duties beautifully.
Chief among them were DJ Lloyd and his 2JZ-powered Subaru WRX past Super Street feature car, mysterious Instagrammer @fiftysmoke and his chameleon Fox-body Ford Mustang, Alex "Captain America" and his likewise-themed Datsun 240Z, Pablo Cabrera and his sweet V8/ITB S13, JDM sleeper agent Sean Adriano and his S13 coupe, and many more.
Highlights? Triple-digit entries into counter-clockwise Streets' big sweeper from the top of what's usually the Turn 1 hill, multi-car drift trains around Streets and Horse Thief Mile, lots of close tandems, tons of gnarly offs, and even the miscellaneous minor collision. All for three straight days.
If FD Irwindale, the Vegas SEMA Show and the like are where you go to find the "in crowd" and see all the latest and greatest of the busy enthusiast automotive world, All Star Bash at Willow Springs is where you go to get away from it all and enjoy the sport and camaraderie of drifting in its purest form. We hope it stays that way. At least for the rest of the millennium.