With the progression of drifting as a worldwide phenomenon, the D1 Grand Prix Series Finals and the first ever D1GP World All Star event headed to the ‘House of Drift,’ Irwindale Speedway, this past weekend in Irwindale, CA. Introducing drivers from a myriad of countries including the UK (England, Ireland), Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, this would be the first ever World All Star event to hit the half-mile super speedway, marking a milestone for both drifting in the US and worldwide.
Drivers and fans alike braved dropping temperatures and a cold rain that never really let up throughout Saturday’s course of events. Many of the vendors who had cars on display and spent hours in the early morning polishing and cleaning their rides soon faced a steady drizzle that sent most spectators into an umbrella buying frenzy. Not to be discouraged, however, most D1 drivers still managed to put together an automotive ballet that only the best drifters in the world could provide.
One of the most notable newcomers to the event, Darren McNamara of Ireland clearly made his impression on both the Japanese judges and the crowd as his SR20DET powered Toyota Corolla managed to secure a position all the way up to the top eight where he was then eliminated by Ken Noruma. With Nomuken edging out the victory, he flew the Irish flag for the rest of the competition to honor his 22-year-old opponent. Unfortunately for Nomuken, fellow series veterans Kazama, Kumakubo, and Kazuhiro Tanaka were unrelenting in their tsuiso battles and edged out the crowd favorite Nomuken, leaving an intense battle for first place in the points series still ahead. In the end it was Kazuhiro Tanaka of Team Orange finishing the 2006 D1 Series with the single victory at Irwindale, while his team orange teammate Nobushige Kumakubo took the all important 2006 Series points win.
Sunday saw sunny skies and a temporary return to pleasant mid-afternoon temperatures as drivers lined up for early practice runs that were filled with the traditional billowing smoke. Saturday’s wet track conditions slowed drivers down just a bit but also greatly reduced the chance for any kind of decent smoke as the cars were simply sliding around in the wet. Sunday was definitely a different story from the moment you saw Sam Hubinette pouring out plumes of smoke from his 3,350lb Dodge Charger during the opening ceremonies.
The top 16 tsuiso battle on Sunday once again saw Darren McNamara of Ireland putting on a strong showing in his SR powered AE86. Unfortunately he would still not advance past the top 8 as he and many of the other international and American drivers including favorites Rhys Millen, Vaughn Gittin, and Samuel Hubinette were all knocked out in the top 16 tsuiso battle. Tenkgu Djan of Malaysia was also doing well until he was knocked out in round of 8 after having eliminated Vaughn Gittin in the top 16 battle. In the end it was Ken Nomura in the Blitz R34 winning over Masao Suenaga in the RE Amemiya FD3S to secure 1st place in the first ever D1GP World All Star battle.