Battling inclement weather of all extremes, popularity of rival shows, and the close eye of the law, Florida tuners rolled into Miami's Dolphin's Stadium for this weekend's NOPI Drift event, proving that this, the first all-drift event for NOPI, was more than capable of holding enthusiasts' attention over the course of an entire weekend. Inspired by the successes of their drift/drag events past, with the Miami event, NOPI focused exclusively on drifting, allowing for an atmosphere where fans could thoroughly enjoy not only the racing, but the show, bikini contest, vendors, DJ's, foam party, and every other facet typical of a NOPI event, but at a more relaxed pace. While the drifting took center stage throughout the weekend, builders from south Florida and across the country exhibited their latest automotive projects for judging, and the NOPI crew handled everything else to ensure there was always something new to be seen.
Saturday morning and afternoon saw practice sessions by all drifters registered to compete, with qualifying finishing up in the late afternoon. Drivers weren't given a chance to set tire on the course prior to Saturday, and the first few practice sessions were approached with caution by many. Due to the slightly "unusual" layout of the course, mid-day practice proved to be ripe with loss on control, leading to meetings between car and cone, car and wall, and car and car. But as the day moved on, drivers became more confident, speeds increased, and the crowd got a great preview of what was to come in the finals. Saturday's field of 27 drivers was narrowed to the top 16 at the day's end, with Blake Fuller sliding into the third place spot inhis Brailleauto.com 350Z, Enjuku Racing's Bill Sherman claiming second in their S13 240SX, and Chelsea Denofa clinching the lead spot from behind the wheel of the Drift Brigade Miata.
Possibly due to the differences of a colder track, Sunday morning started off with a "bang", as Dennis George charged the course as he did the day before, smashing the Wanli Performance Tire / S3 Mag S14 240SZ against the first spot of wall it could find in the process. As a testament to the safety a properly-buit drift car can offer its driver, George emerged from the wreckage uninjured, but left unable to continue. Obligatory of any Viper driver, Nick Hogan thoroughly pleased the crowd with tire-roasting performances all day, but despite an impressive first run in the Top 16, was taken out by Erin Sanford's LS1-powered S13. The Top 16 also saw a rare BMW vs. Miata faceoff. Chelsea Denofa burned out an impressive first run to take the lead, but over-estimated just a bit in the second, slamming into a wall and breaking a rim, though still finishing the lap in style, before eventually being bested by the Bimmer in the third, allowing Dado the advance. Team Enjuku looked strong all day, and while Bill Sherman was knocked out in the 16, Bobby Unser advanced to Top 8, then Top 4, where he was eventually given the boot of Rob Fleming in the Xat Racing S13, who would go on for the come-from-behind win.
If you aren't having Modified Magazine delivered to your home or work, make sure to pick up a copy on the newsstands for more in-depth coverage of this weekend's NOPI event, and what NOPI events are all about. We'll have all the details of the weekend’s other events, including car show results, celebrity appearances, and live entertainment on hand for the event. NOPI travels up north to continue their tour; we suggest you stop by if possible, and as always – count on Modified to be there and bring you all the coverage.