If you want to see the cutting edge of drifting technology, aftermarket developments, power, and competition, professional drifting is where it's at. Hands down. But if you want to experience the true soul of drifting—see the beating heart of grassroots drifters that fuel the movement at the base of it all, including that top-tier professional competition, the growing crop of drift bashes and matsuri (loosely Japanese for "festival") is where you need to be.
Enter drift apparel brand Jimmy Up and their now second-annual Jimmy Up Matsuri. Crafted in the tradition of drift matsuri held at Japan's Ebisu Circuit, or the UK's Rockingham Speedway and Angelsey Circuit, the goal here is to provide just about any drifter with a tech-passing vehicle the opportunity to shred tires for a full day alongside several dozen likeminded buds.
No judging (at least, officially), no complicated classes, no car show or DJ distractions, and no ancillary schedule of events—just lots and lots of drifting.
"But wait!" You might say. "What about Super D and their Matsuri??" True, they are still the latter-day reigning champs of JDM-inspired drift bashes in California, but rather than hold those parties all the way at Thunderhill (practically Oregon), or Grange (practically Vegas), Jimmy Up found the good sense to hold theirs at a familiar hometown track to us SoCal boys and girls: Willow Springs International Raceway.
Their inaugural event last year, held at the facility's Balcony "track" was unfortunately met with rain, near-freezing temps, and incurred a resultant turnout much lower—and slower—than expected. But rather than let that get him down, Jimmy Up founder Mikey Mancuso thought even bigger this time around. And we're glad he did.
Over 75 cars came out throughout the day, held at the much-loved Horse Thief Mile circuit and on a day with sun, few clouds, and relative warmth for the high desert in March. Drivers were divided into two run groups and basically given free reign, so long as they heed all flags and stayed vigilant for other cars.
Evenly spaced solo runs were the norm, especially early on, which seemed to give way to tandems among experienced drivers as everyone grew more comfortable.
But at times—in true matsuri spirit—that expanded into three- and four-car tandems, team drifts, and the occasional 6-plus car drift train.
Formula D vet Matt Powers drove up from San Diego to lay down possibly the smokiest solo runs of the day in his Nitto Tire-clad V8 S14, and also held down some close tandems with other pro-am and grassroots drivers.
Top Drift champ and FD Pro 2 contender Adam Knapik also trekked out to shake down his own V8 S14 competition machine, sans fenders, rear bumper, and occasionally hood.
Aside from a few other LS-swapped FC and S-chassis cars, that's pretty much where the domestic V8 action began and ended. This is grassroots, recreational drifting, and building a unique and stylish machine is equally important as how much smoke it can kick up around the track.
We saw an impressively diverse mix of KA24, SR20, 13B, JZ, 4AGE, and BMW S54-powered cars shredding next to each other, many all day long.
The field of drivers was similarly as diverse, with hot-shoes trekking up down from NorCal, and from as far away as Arizona and Las Vegas to take part in the festivities.
Probably the most unexpected—and welcomed—turn of events of the day was when Fredric Aasbo rolled in, just to hang out. He brought his helmet, of course, and before long was coaxed into taking the wheel of the odd drift missile or two for a few runs.
Standout performances were seen from Top Drift's Meliton Villamor, Kenneth Vuong, Luke Pakula, Zach MacGillivray ...
... along with John Chow (orange FC3S Mazda RX-7 convertible), Kevin Skene (burnt amber Z33 Nissan 350Z), Brady Willenbrink (purple E30 BMW), David Westfall (white Lexus SC300), and so many more.
Team presence wasn't the theme at this one, but nonetheless Realize Auto Factory, team Nuisance, and Hammer Time held things down with multiple full-team tandems and each team's drivers looking strong all day.
And winning the car-show portion of the event was ... just kidding. There was no car show. No DJ, no drift mini-games, no couples drift or any other silly thing—just lots and lots of drifting.
At the end of it all those in attendance got as much track time as they could possibly want from a single day (all for just $99, too!), got some hangtime with local shredders, top pro-ams, and even an FD champion, and were left severely looking forward to next year.
Until then Jimmy Up will be hosting its similar Sunday Funday bash in September, and of course, FD starts in about two weeks, so we can all look forward to the best of drifting yet to come. Keep tabs with Jimmy Up and cop a feel of their custom Ts, Hoodies, slaps, and everything else at: www.JimmyUp.com or by searching for #JimmyUp on social.