Monday, November 16, 2009

Autumn Drift Matsuri!!

Here we go now...This event is the most badass thing I have seen in a long time and was literally drift heaven on earth. It all began at 6am on Saturday Nov. 7th in Yokohama. I had packed my gear the night before including all sorts of things for a full weekend in the mountains. This inculded my borrowed tent, sleeping bag, and therma-rest (thank you Shanti and Soshi), a bunch of snacks, bottle of wine, bottle of whisky, huge bag of disposable chopsticks and TP for building a fire, umbrella, 2 hats and 2 or three pairs of every type of clothing, lighter, CAMERA, keitai (cell phone), and all my cash. The weather forcasted cold and rain pretty much all day and night on Saturday with a possibility of an even colder Sunday with a bit less rain AWESOME! So I went against my better judgement and my slight cold I had picked up friday night and headed out before sunrise. First I caught the train to Shibuya and changed lines to get to Tokyo Station. When I arrived I found out that despite what I had read, there are no busses from that station to Koriyama (near the next destination). So that meant I had to buy a ticket for the Shinkansen (bullet train) for 80 bucks US one way. It took me about 15 minutes of discussion with the ticket salesman to understand that I needed to buy two tickets for 1 ride. One is the train fare and the other was for the seat. That made no sense to me even though I knew what the guy was saying. I was convinced he was trying to pull a fast one on me using his Japanese mind tricks. Dam pricey way to start the trip. The train was comfy and afforded a nice nap during the 1hr 45min ride. When it arrives to pick up the passengers, the seats all turn around to face the other direction so that when the train starts up everyone is facing forwards. That explains the ticket cost! Next stop Koriyama where I had to change to another train to Nihonmatsu station. This train did not leave the station for over an hour but even so it was sitting there with the doors open so people could get on and sleep on it. That makes no sense to me. I had a nice bowl of udon served up hot on the platform while I waited. It was pretty cold and windy but no rain yet. Once the train left the station the rain started. It got more and more gray as the train got closer to Nihonmatsu. Once I got there it was pouring. I had planned to call up a buddy for a ride from the station up the Mountain to the event. When I called him, however, he said "oh ya man sorry. I didnt end up going...I sent you an e-mail just now...but I guess you didnt get it..." Ya thats now Im here but I have no options are a $50 taxi, or walk to to the mountain road and hitch-hike. I asked everyone in town where the circuit was and they gave me vague directions because they didnt know for sure. I wandered that way in the pouring rain wondering what the fuck I was doing. Eventually I asked for some more directions to update my route and the dude asked if I was walking or what. I said I was and he laughed and said "haha no youre not! Go take the bus." I found the bus stop and waited with my bags tucked out of the rain and my umbrella up. I waved down a couple busses, the wrong ones, and eventually one of the drivers hopped off the bus into the rain to check the schedule and show me that the bus for Ebisu Circuit and safari park would be coming in an hour and 45 minutes. More awesomeness! I sat there for another 45 minutes in the rain until at long last the sky started clearing. The sun even showed signs of some late day sun. At this point its 1pm and I have not seen a race car yet. But I did get to talk to some curious old ladies who wanted to know why I was sitting out on the street for so long. They didnt have any idea why I would be going to a Safari Park with a huge hiking bag and winter clothes on. I talked with one lady who would ask me questions and then ignore my answers. She would just start looking away distarctedly while I was telling her things. I was thinking dam my Japanese must really suck. About ten minutes later she told me she was deaf and then happily hopped on to her bus. I waited my time and finally got the $6 bus up the mountain. I finally got to the gate and paid another $15 for entry. After that I started running down the road towards the sounds of screetching tires. Within about 1 minute I saw a little chick driving a pristine 180sx all dressed up in silver oem aero on model 5s cruising by. So this is why I came here! I did my fist pump x 10 and started yelling "oh ya baby!!!! Hell YA" Next I got a lift up the hill in a little bitty workers car. I didnt even need to hitch it. The dude stopped to get me just cause my bag looked heavy and soaked. I got a ride all the way up to the D1/south course/Minami. I had been to this same place in summer 05 on a similar adventure just to watch D1. My memories flooded back and I had officially made it back to the place I really fell in love with drift. I ran up the stands and watched a few runs. It was no D1 but something totally out of control and unimaginable...This event was basically a 48 hour nonstop demolition drifto. Every kind of car showed up and went balls out till death. There were no saftery inspections, no regulations I could see, no observation restrictions, no written rules, nothing to possibly stop you from having an amazing time. Nearly every car in sight had already had a taste of the wall or someone elses car. They looked dead savage and abused. People were blowing tires and still running laps on one rear wheel till they spun and had to come off for a change. Seriously out of control excellence all around me. And the sun was out! I went to meet some people and check out the other tracks. After talking to some Japanese drivers, I found my was over to a group of Aussies who had some severly gangstered up cars. These guys were super nice and friendly and one dude even swung me a ride over to another track to watch. I left my bags at their pit because fortunately in Japan and especially up on the mountain theft is not an issue. People there had a serious respect for eath other in a live and let live sort of way. As things progressed I ended up meeting more of the guys from OZ and their friends/friends of friends from all parts of the world. Turns out they were some legit drivers who came over to buy cars and drive the shit out of them for a few weeks then chop the cars in half and send the front clips back home. Now thats a vacation! These guys were easily among the best drivers at the event and they were all new to their cars which is most impressive. Drifting madness went on all around for hours till it got dark then we had a dinner break. A little bbq action and some drinks. I set up my tent on the wheelchair platform overlooking the south course. I was warned that the driving would go on all night and I would not be able to sleep. This assured me that I chose the right location for my new home. I finished my wine and we headed up to another course for some night time action. The whole time the sounds of drift continued to thunder through the darkness from all over the mountain. We went up and watched one of my OZ friends swing the ass of his car along the wall in the dim lights. We put 4 inch plastic bottles sticking out of the wall and watched him slap them into the air with the crumpled rear of this s14 without touching the wall. Thats some kick ass driving in a stock sr s14. When we went back down to the south course, I continued watching people driving the course till the early hours of the morning before I zipped up the tent. I would only wake up when it got quiet for 5 min at a time of when I heard some extra nice sounding driving. I peeked out all night and came out of the tent at 4am to watch some driving under the moon. All I couls see over the tent was a sky full of bright stars and wispers of tire smoke rising off the track. I slept in a bit more dreaming about driving and woke up for real at 7am. I watched sunrise drift and was as happy as anyone can be...especially someone who slept 4 hrs next to a race track. The day kicked off with some breakfast and drift viewing in my pajamas. I changed up and got a ride with a cool photographer who brought me around to the different tracks. We took a break in the car when it started raining and then headed back to the south course. At this point things really kicked off. People started killing it down the wet course and loving the high speed entries in the rain. The sun started coming back out and pretty soon more rainbows stretched across the track. Two of them actually right over all the action one on top of the other. It was time to go for a ride. I was lucky to get to ride along with one of the aussies in his rb powered nissan Laurel. He absolutely ravaged the track kissing the wall along the main downhill. Super impressive drivin again and I was silently crapping my pants finally being in a car on Ebisu. What a day, what a life. We got tagged in the back by a flying dutchman in his red 180 with the pretty lashes and kept sliding like nothing happened. This was too much fun. I got pics and fottage all day and things finished up with an icy cold Gaijin (foreigners) drift comp. These were some skillful drivers overall and it was a blast to watch even though everyone was freezing in all the wind. My frined in his leaky powersteering Laurel won the comp and did and amazing job beating out some of the savy competition. I tried and failed to hitch a ride back to Tokyo and enede up back on the Shinkansen. Made it home by 930pm and had some much needed dinner and a shower. Today I can believe it was was only a weekend because it felt like a full week of activity. I am still in a sureal mindset wondering if that all really happened. But oh did...heres the footage enjoy: