THE FIRST ANNUAL MAD MIKE’S SUMMER BASH WAS ALL ABOUT ONE THING — HAVING FUN!
‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett isn’t known for doing things the regular way, which may explain why he gathered the country’s best drifters and circuit car drivers and let them loose on the International and Club Circuits at Hampton Downs for one full-on day of pedalling — but it wasn’t all competition and placings; the most important vibe was enjoying yourself.
As you’re probably well aware, ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett likes to do things a bit different. So, when he announced a new summer gig, we knew it wouldn’t be your usual drift comp, and, sure enough, this was the case. The event made use of the new and old tracks at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, giving drifters their first look at the International Circuit’s super long and very technical 1.2-kilometre drift section. This aside, it was the driver line-up that had us excited, with 16 of New Zealand’s top drifters called on and many others putting their hand up to attend, including a swag of drivers not seen behind the wheel in competition for some time. Ex-D1NZ champions like Justin Rood, JT Wharerau, Carl Ruiterman, Adam Richards, Curt Whittaker, and Gaz Whiter all dusted off their helmets for a crack at the two-corner stretch affectionately known as the ‘Double Bastard’, and joined the likes of ‘Fanga Dan’ Woolhouse, Darren Kelly, and the man himself, Mad Mike, to form the most stacked drift line-up we have ever seen in New Zealand.
But, despite the level of driver talent on track, Mike was clear in his vision for the event to be less about competition and all about fun, hence the name ‘Summer Bash’. It was touted as an opportunity for upand-comers to rub doors with the likes of Mike, and it took place in front of a crowd bigger than anything we have seen in recent times, even with the less than ideal start to the day. The weather might have put off some punters, and it also made for sketchy-at-best track conditions during the morning Time Attack ‘Unlimited Outlaws’ session. It wasn’t really wet enough to run wets and not dry enough for endless grip — you could have been forgiven for thinking it was a drift session, especially on the very greasy turn two at the end of the longer straight. But there was no surprise as to which cars were the ones to look out for — the ST Hi-tec GT-R with Iain Clegg at the wheel, the E&H Motors S14 piloted by Hans Ruiterman, and the LSM and Royal Purple Evos. As with the drifters, it was the first time these guys had run the full International Circuit, setting benchmarks for future events.
For the drifters, it was an open-jam format all morning, with both tracks running simultaneously for tyre killing. For some, like JT, it was a nine-year hiatus that needed shaking, while, for the likes of four-time Drift King (DK) Gaz Whiter, it was about coming to grips with a new car nicknamed the ‘Barn Build’ — when you’ve been drifting as long as Gaz has, you amass a lot of parts, so this car is the sum of those pieces. Add a serious bout of meningitis on top of that, and you’ll start to understand that the TAB odds would have not been in his favour.
However, any doubts that anyone may have had that the four-time DK had lost it were soon washed away when he teamed up with Fanga Dan and Cole Armstrong to simply outclass the rest of the field in the Nitto Tire Triple Threat Team Drift event — a freestyle team drifting comp. This would also be his first taste of the Double Bastard track link. Gaz would then go on to post a near-perfect score in qualifying, with a 98-point run nabbing him top seed on the battle tree. Little did the crowd know that he, along with the other drivers, were just getting warmed up. The 1.2-kilometre-long section is one of the longest in the world of
competitive drifting, thus offers plenty of opportunity to close the gap and get up on the door through the multiple switches. On the other side of the coin, though, the long fast-flowing section also made it near-on impossible to follow if you weren’t right on that door; “You can’t really see unless you’re right on them, and it’s only when they switch that you get a small glimpse. Using that and any markers on track is all you have to go by,” explained Gaz. So, if the driver in front wasn’t running a good line, it became all that much harder to stay on track.
If we were to pick a battle of the day, it would have to be the topfour battle of Fanga and Gaz — and, judging by the loud eruptions coming from the crowd, the spectators tended to agree. Gaz would go on to battle and defeat an on-form Nico Reid, who was laying down as much smoke as a James Bond getaway car. But the fourtime DK would prevail, even with a slightly bent car, to take the first ever Mad Mike’s Summer Bash Top 16.
However, as we said at the start, the event was more about having fun than competing, so things finished up with an insane entry jam, which was more about bragging rights and putting on a show than anything else. Unsurprisingly, it was dominated by the four-wheel drives of mad bastards Sloan Cox and Carl Ruiterman. The angle of both these cars certainly put many of the rear-wheel drives to shame and simply proved too wild not to take out two spots on the podium. But it was the rotang Datsun of Ian ‘the Machine’ that took out the top position. The jam session was a wild and fun way to round off the event for 2017, and Mad Mike himself threw in a huge set of entries in ‘MADBUL’ to finish things off.
So, summer now has a new event to add to your calendar. Mark this one in Vivid, as it’s only going to go one way, and that’s madder!
Gaz Whiter proved why he is four-time national champion by showing up with a car that had been pieced together from spare parts, hadn’t see an alignment machine, and hadn’t really been tested apart from a few passes at Leadfoot. The LS-powered S14 with eight-into-one headers would rule the weekend, taking out P1 with a nearperfect 98-point qualifying score and the Triple Threat Team Drift with Fanga and Cole Armstrong, and go on to win the top-16 battles with some epic battles in the top four — it’s fair to say that Gaz ain’t lost it
Ian the Machine in his Datsun 1200 wagon was certainly a crowd favourite, throwing out as much smoke as any of the ‘pro’ cars. Ian blew a gearbox during the day and swapped it out in the car park to keep the fun happening. How this car puts down over 400kW to the ground is beyond us — but, man, does it do it well
For the first time, Mad Mike had all of his machinery at one event — which was lucky for him, as he proceeded to break both his MX-5 and his RX-8 during the day
Darren Kelly’s weekend did not end the way he wanted it to after he literally blew his engine in half. A slipping clutch is thought to have heated up the crank until it failed, sending pieces of engine flying
Easily the most interesting car out on track was this European-built E30, which runs a supercharged LS9, Corvette transaxle, billet front suspension, and rear cantilever set-up, all enclosed in a fibreglass E30 ute with a tube frame. Owned and built by Slovakian expat Majo, the car has certainly injected a bit of European drift into New Zealand
It was hard to go past the rebirthed ‘Fursty’ 808, rebuilt to Mad Mike’s ’04 spec — built and owned by Stefan. Of course, Mike picked it as one of his favourites at the show