A Tried & Tested Formula: Drift Matsuri 2018

Since its inception in 2013, the event itinerary for the UK’s answer to the worldwide matsuri drifting phenomenon has remained largely unchanged. In short, it means two days of drifting with a night time demo and a whole lot of socialising. But, while the schedule was the same as always, I definitely felt a change in the vibe this time round.

Drift Matsuri 2018 Rory S13
Rory‘s decked Sileighty was a firm favourite in the pits, with countless admirers prodding their fingers at the arches to inspect the fitment.

In its first few years, the Anglesey circuit would be jam packed with everyone from eager amateurs to those who competed internationally, all jostling for track space to send off the year’s season in style. While the end-of-season spirit was definitely still in full effect at this year’s Matsuri (held last weekend), the shift in drivers has definitely become noticeable.

Drift Matsuri 2018 Tom S14
Tom Gidden‘s S14 Zenki has to be one of my favourite around; the AVS Model 6 isn’t usually a wheel choice associated with large aero but it works great here.

Previous years have seen some of the UK and Ireland’s very best go head to head during the night time drifting, with James Deane’s appearance in the Low Brain Drifters S13 back in 2014 as part of the UK vs Ireland Top 32 battle being a stand out highlight for many (and one that still remains a talking point today). In contrast, I found myself hard pressed to recognise a large number of the drivers or teams taking part during this year’s night time drift demo and, while the lack of a competitive element (no matter how relaxed) made for less crowd involvement, it was still a good laugh to watch as various drivers span off onto the grass with flashing LED strips in tow. Huxley even managed to get his E46 practice car up on two wheels, ripping the exhaust off and smashing the fuel tank in the process.

Drift Matsuri 2018 Helen R32
Helen‘s R32 survived the drive up from the South Coast of England all the way to Anglesey and then clocked up a full day of drifting. No turbo, no worries.
Drift Matsuri 2018
A familiar Sunday morning scene at Matsuri; empty bottles and spent tyres

The night time drifting was followed, as always, by the garage party. In all honesty, I’m sure I’m far from being alone in saying that this is almost always the highlight of the event in my eyes. With the huge distances that some have covered to attend the picturesque Anglesey circuit, everyone is always down to get loose, sink a few bevs and talk shit with fellow drifters. Imagine a small scale music festival but replace the pop-up tents with drift cars and you’d be halfway there. Of course, there was also a hot tub and, if my spluttering cold today is anything to go by, it’s a reminder that jumping into said hot tub on a sub zero night at the end of October will always have repercussions.

Drift Matsuri 2018 Mikey S14
Mikey‘s S14 was another favourite in the pits all weekend, with its fresh sparkly paint and new WORK Equips winning it plenty of fans.
Drift Matsuri 2018 Mikey S14
I don’t think I will ever tire of the small wheel/big tyre look when done properly.
Drift Matsuri 2018 Retro Speed Shop S14
Retro Speed Shop‘s immaculate S14 seen wearing HM-Sports S14 aero.
Drift Matsuri 2018 Paz KE70 Wagon
Retro Speed Shop also managed to finish UK drifting legend Paz‘s new KE70 wagon just in time for the event. The old Toyota not only features a Mazda MX5 lump but also the complete subframe and turret setups from said roadster. More on this car soon.

As Sunday morning came, so did the collective hangovers and back pain from sleeping in cars with varying degrees of comfort overnight. Thankfully, the Anglesey cafe is one of the best around for a pick-me-up breakfast; there was certainly no rush to get back out on track for a lot of the bleary eyed drivers .

Drift Matsuri 2018 AE86

Drift Matsuri 2018 AE86
AE86’s on axle stands were a running theme it seemed.

As mid-afternoon came around, the pits began to empty as many embarked on their respective treks home, while others chose to throw in the towel due to car problems. If you wanted seat time, Sunday afternoon at Anglesey was definitely the place to be as the action began to thin out as cars and drivers fell by the wayside.

Drift Matsuri 2018 S13
326POWER wing, URAS-style kit and deep 7Twenty wheels made for a great look on this S13.

Drift Matsuri 2018 R32

I was at the Anglesey circuit from around 4pm on Saturday until 3pm on Sunday and, in complete honesty, I probably chose to watch around 45 minutes of drifting in total. Come to think of it, I didn’t even venture up to the touge track to take a look at the action. Does this mean I didn’t have fun though? Of course it doesn’t; as a social occasion, Drift Matsuri is still an unmissable event and I’m sure I’ll be back next year without fail. I just hope nobody calls time on the party.

Drift Matsuri 2018 Rory S13

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