A couple weeks before Midwest Drift Union (MDU) held Round 2 of its 2016 championship at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Ind., the series announced it was canceling the round it’s run in Detroit for the last three years in front of the deserted but iconic Michigan Central Station. As the press release indicates, the cancellation comes as a result of a mutual agreement between MDU and the City of Detroit, and what was once Round 4 at Kil-Kare Raceway in Xenia, Ohio, will now be Round 3, with a new Round 4 happening in conjunction with USDrift this October at Dominion Raceway in Thornburg, Va.
We sent a shooter out to cover the Detroit event last year and seriously thought it was one of the coolest settings ever, so we were understandably a bit bummed when the news came down the pike. The season now gets stretched out another month, and with Round 1 held all the way back at the beginning of May, competitors have had some serious downtime in between events. Round 2 was at the end of June, and Round 3 won’t happen until mid-September.
Luckily for fans, MDU’s driver field didn’t collect too many cobwebs in the interim and came out guns blazing at Lucas Oil Raceway. Like a lot of drift events at ovals with infield road courses, the series used both, employing a “roval” configuration for Round 2 competitors. It seems the toughest part of the course is the awkward transition from the bank of the oval through a 90-degree right turn into the infield. Botch that and you ended up either in swamplands, as a handful of drivers did, or in a K-rail, which also happened.
Formula DRIFT Pro 2 pilot Dirk Stratton and his “Drift ‘Vette” was Round 2’s top qualifier and kicked off his eliminations run by dispatching Chance Crooks’ lime-green 350Z. Stratton only got as deep as the quarterfinals, however, the 2015 MDU champ falling to the original MDU champ, Mike Feiock, in his Mazda RX-8.
Number-two qualifier Steven Fishel in his S-chassis drew newcomer Noah Michaels and his S13 in Top 16, with Michaels taking the win on the merits of some aggressive driving. Qualifying third, Alec Robbins in his distinctive Hardbody pickup truck faced Dan Perlenfein’s Lexus SC300, Robbins acing the victory to advance to the round of eight.
Both Michaels and Robbins mounted runs all the way to the podium. Robbins achieved his third-place finish by taking out Shane Whalley’s Pontiac GTO after a One More Time and then losing in the semis to Michaels. For his part, Michaels defeated the BMW E46 of Dan Nikov in Top 8 before ending Robbins’ day.
And then there was the grand finale, which pitted Michaels against Hooman Rahimi in his red 350Z. Rahimi began eliminations by getting past Jason Turner’s Cressida in the opening round and then besting Geoff Donati’s S14 in Top 8. Rahimi punched his ticket to the ultimate round unopposed after the alternator in Feiock’s Mazda gave up the ghost.
Michaels and Rahimi battled mightily but in the end it was Michaels who came out on top for the overall event win. Michaels hails from Medina, Ohio, and has been drifting for about three years. Reportedly his Nissan uses an LS1 swap with just a cam and exhaust, putting down around 400 horsepower to the wheels we hear. It’s backed by a Z32 transmission, which he admits is probably his weakest link.
After two rounds, Feiock keeps a slim six-point lead over rookie Robbins in the point standings, with Donati not far behind. With two rounds still to go, there are a lot of points that can be shifted. The next event for MDU is set for September 17 at Kil-Kare Raceway in Xenia, Ohio.