Drifting is common place among motorsport today. The demos at various car shows throughout the year always attract huge crowds & they are simply a teaser of what you can expect at a dedicated race day! The excitement, the competition and the unforeseen events all come together to make it a day out that will truly excite you. But what’s better than a demo? To experience and feel the intensity of a drift championship such as Drift Allstars.
Here in Europe, we get a chance to see some of the best driver talent across Europe battling it out in 6 rounds for the title of European Drift champion. As the competition gets fierce, the battles will eventually culminate towards the Nations Cup at Ceascesu’s Palace in Bucharest, Romania. Countries in this year’s season include the UK, Ireland, Romania, Hungary & Malta. It will be a truly international contest promising some incredible action throughout the year.
Saturday the 19th of May saw the first round of the 2012 European Series of the Drift Allstars at Birmingham Wheels Race Circuit. What a kick off for the Drift Allstars series! The start of the new season was an exciting sight with new drivers joining the fray & new cars being put to use by many existing veterans of the series. Round 1 of the Drift Allstars 2012 race calendar proved promising and entertained us with excitement.
Birmingham Wheels Race Circuit is an unforgiving and intimidating track with no run off, meaning no room for error. High armco barriers line the outside of this tarmac figure of 8. When you first set eyes on it, it does make you wonder how many cars have ended their days here. Many times has these thick barriers surrounding the tight knitted figure of 8 deflected any off course problems; laughing off cars one after the other. If a race track could be considered evil and malicious, then this would be the school bully!
The level of skill the drivers displayed was nothing short of miraculous. In order to work your way around this layout of evil intent on your own requires great skill, but if you are following in a tandem heat you’ve now got an impenetrable cloud of smoke to deal with as well. For these reasons the sheer speeds and angles that the drivers display throughout their heats amaze me more and more, and show without a doubt that these participants are worthy of fighting for the title “Top European Drift driver!”
I arrived at the track just before the end of qualifying rounds. I missed the earlier rain that had plagued practice and early qualifying sessions, which made a nice change for me, as I usually bring the bad weather with me to events.
After signing on as media photographer, I set about exploring the paddock area and checking out the various cars taking part. After covering some of the rounds last year it was fantastic to see some new faces and old friends. Everything felt bigger and better than last year and the event has truly taken on a style of its own and is a force to be reckoned with.
The paddock area was extremely active and the drivers and their teams were getting the cars ready and fired up for the last part of the qualifying rounds. Once the drivers had qualified they were allowed to take part in a “Superlap” which is a new addition to this year’s challenges. Each driver gets to show their skills navigating round the track by themselves, with no pressure, apart from the crowd peering on critically and relentless in their judgement.
Once the displays were finished, the cars went back to the paddock before the “top 16 battles”. At this point in the day, the paddock becomes open to the public and this was as popular as ever. People poured in to closely check out the cars and meet the teams and drivers.
During this time it was also great to see a drivers signing session taking place. This was immensely popular with the fans, as it’s always great for them to chat to the drivers and for the drivers to get the recognition they deserve from their fans.
It’s important to mention that some big steps were taken as far as media was concerned. There was a “live stream” during the day, something that has been extremely popular in the States with Formula D and it’s great to see it happen over here with an event that is just as worthy to be broadcast across the world. There was also a “live stream” from an onboard camera during the drift battles. It was incredible and a first for me to witness in the UK.
One of the criteria that makes the Birmingham Wheels round so exciting is that it’s dubbed the “Night Fight” and thanks to the floodlights of the track, the battles indeed went on late into the night.
The tension grew and grew, as set backs including mechanical problems, some collisions, and the loss of a wheel led to an end with the final battle so close that the judges had to ask for them to run again in a sudden death round to decide a winner.
Drift Allstars Professional Drift Championship Round 1 2012 Results
1st Alan Sinnott – Nexen Tire Toyota AE86
2nd Luke Fink- Gasoline For Humans Nissan Nexen Tire S15
3rd Juha Rintanen- LBD/ Achilles Tire Nissan S14a
As mentioned, Alan Sinnott took first place in Round 1. He proudly announced that he was excited at the prospect of challenging the best drivers Europe has to offer. It was the perfect start for the Nexen Tire Europe Team in their 2012 campaign.
At the end of the day I was covered in the remnants of the tires of the competing cars, my head was buzzing for more, and I cannot wait to see what happens at round 2.
Head on over to www.drift-allstars.com to keep up to date with all that is happening during the 2012 season.
If you missed the action on the night, then not a problem as you are still able to see it via the Live-Stream that ran throughout the event at www.drift-allstars.com/livestream.
Round 2 takes place at the O2 Arena in London. Tickets for this are available online via www.driftallstars.com. See you there!