We don’t want to say we knew NRG Innovation’s Drift Matsuri and Big Entry competition was going to blow up, but we had our suspicions. After last year’s killer event at Grange Motor Circuit in Apple Valley, Calif., it seemed inevitable word would get out and more people would want to get involved – which is exactly what happened. In spite of the threat of rain, more drivers signed up, more spectators turned out, and the on-track action, again at Grange, was hotter and heavier than the first time.
Roughly 10 more drivers registered for the track day versus last year, pushing the count into the 30s, which included the “pro-am” hot shoes that came out to slide. Formula Drift Pro2 ace Ryan Litteral in his RB25-powered S14 240SX, DriftKnuckles.com’s and 2015’s Big Entry comp winner Bryan Rogers in his VH45 S13, and Animal Auto’s Andrew Molina in his FD3S RX-7 made up the elite group of wheelmen on hand and took to the circuit intermittently throughout the day, showing the underclassmen a thing or two about tandem, linking turns, and staying pitted. Others in the mix included Alex Rodriguez in his time attack RX-7, Fili Manriquez in his unique widebody S13 truck conversion, Michael Wright and his attractive IS300, and many, many others.
And speaking of Rogers, he again killed it in the entry competition, throwing the ass-end of his Nissan into the outside of Turn 1’s decreasing radius with nothing but commitment. It was a thing of beauty. He walked away with first-place spoils, namely a trophy, NRG steering wheel, and 100 bucks.
We must thank event organizer Chris Miller and the entire NRG Innovations team for showing us a good time. While he was clearly very busy, we managed to get a moment with Miller, who revealed to us they might do another Drift Matsuri this year, although it may not happen at Grange. It seems they’ve outgrown the karting track, which is a good problem to have, and so they’re taking a look at other local Southern California facilities like Willow Springs. Wherever the next one is, you can bet we’ll be there.