DRIFT PARTY

THE FIRST AN­NUAL MAD MIKE’S SUM­MER BASH WAS ALL ABOUT ONE THING — HAV­ING FUN!

NZ Performance Car - - News - WORDS: MAR­CUS GIB­SON PHO­TOS: ADAM CROY

‘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!

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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

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