On June 16, Gymkhana USA hosted their second American Gymkhana event. It was held on one of the old runways at El Toro Airfield in Irvine, Calif. We were invited to come and watch but instead we decided to compete. That way we could really get a feel for what the event was all about. I grabbed Hasport's Time Attack CRX from its California base at The Progress Group and then met up with Thawley at the event.
The scene that morning was quite different from any autocross we had ever been to. It felt more like a Drift event. There were only a handful of Hondas but the pits were packed. The place was overflowing with old Corollas and 240s. Japanese companies such as 5Zigen, Exedy, Falken and Toyo lined vendor's row. Plenty of hip-hop was pumping through the PA system. The whole paddock just had a really cool JDM feel to it.
We guess that's what should be expected from an organization that also hosts local Drift Day events and officiates at the larger D1 and Formula D drifting competitions.
So, it wasn't really like an autocross, but it wasn't a drifting event either. The whole concept was difficult to grasp for a couple of road racers that are used to dealing with 200 page rulebooks. Here's how Gymkhana USA's website describes it: "Sometimes called 'Car Rodeo,' Gymkhana is quite often compared to Autocross or Pro Solo. Although the two sports share many common similarities the Autocross & Solo course main is time. A Gymkhana track is laid out in a matter that encourages the driver to use flamboyant driving and drifting techniques that's first, second is time." We never figured out what that meant and it showed the finishing results. Still, it was a fun way to spend the day mixing it up with drifters and other car people. More information on the sport and future American Gymkhana events can be found at Gymkhanausa.com.