First of all, apologies for the delay with this blog post! I’ve spent the last couple of weeks releasing videos from this event before posting any words, which leads me onto my second point. If you haven’t watched my video from Rockingham’s Meihan layout the other week, check it out before reading any further. It should help to give you some insight into the type of drift day that this ended up being.
In short, I believe this Rockingham drift day was one of the best that the UK has seen in recent years. There were three tracks to choose from, including one on the faster outer bank and one on the infield of the circuit but, on the day, only the Meihan replica layout mattered.
On paper, this seems like such a bizarre statement to make. There we were at a world class motorsport facility, with two of the layouts comprising of a wide range of high and low speed corners that were both challenging and rewarding, yet all we (well, the majority of people) cared about was this little space of tarmac that comprised of some painted lines on the floor, a wall and a handful of cones.
Why was that so? Well, from a driver’s perspective, the opportunity to put in lap after lap relentlessly with no queuing was not to be ignored. From a spectator’s view on the wall, it was glaringly obvious how well this system worked when watching the remarkably quick improvements drivers showed within just a handful of laps. I’ve shared my opinion on here many times with regards to the pitfalls of the “do a lap, queue for twenty minutes” system and how it prevents rapid driver improvement and the Rockingham Meihan layout was proof of this.
Due to the layout essentially consisting of two transitions and two corners, the drivers could easily pinpoint where they needed to improve on the next lap. And, considering that it was possible to put in two laps per minute if you weren’t hanging around, it was very easy to try something a little different each lap until you found what worked for you.
For the rows of spectators that lined the wall (two or three people deep by the middle of the afternoon) the action was utterly addictive and hugely involving. Standing on the wall allows you to physically feel the cars as they fly past, along with tyre dust and other associated drift car-related particles flying through the air. For those that have only ever watched drifting from a distance, this was a huge eye opener and the action felt so much more intense as a result.
So, what can we learn from this event? I think the overwhelming reaction was a realisation by many that you don’t need a huge race circuit to have fun. You don’t need ten corners, rumble strips and room for 80+mph drifts. You just need a space, a challenge and the determination to push yourself to pull off what you deem to be your perfect run, mixing style and accuracy.
I saw numerous BDC drivers and past BDC winners in suitably specced competition cars who couldn’t match the lines, aggression or consistency of guys in basic E36s and low powered S-bodies. There was no room to hide behind horsepower; if you sucked, everybody on the wall knew it. I’ve been yapping on for years (see the STL! podcasts) about people going completely over the top with their builds at the sacrifice of seat time and this little space showed what mattered most. If all we had in the UK was drift events with tracks similar to this, I feel the drift scene in this country would be massively different.
With that out the way, let’s begin! I rocked up into the Rockingham pits while the majority of drivers were still in the drivers briefing, so I quickly ran round trying to grab a few photos before frantic car prep began.
Up until this particular day I’d not seen the above S14 before which made stumbling into it a pleasant surprise. Platforms such as Instagram often ruin the surprise of a fresh build but I’d never come across this one before, hence me hastily reaching for my camera. On top of the Uras aero and great colour choice it also had a wild skull pattern painted in purple on the roof, how cool is that.
Rory‘s Sileighty always has me reaching for a camera of sorts, it just has that sort of appeal about it that so many other cars simply lack. Call it character, charm or cool, it’s got something (to me, at least!).
The trusty CA18 is still soldiering on and Rory put together some great runs on the Meihan layout once he’d got to grips with it.
Mikey‘s small wheeled S14 seemed to be suffering from some issues during the day but he always seemed to be grinning. Swings and roundabouts.
Jamie‘s S14 was back from the dead, having had some major repair work done to the rear end by Huxley after someone drove into it while it was parked at the side of the road. Once upon a time this car was white and running a set of XXRs but it looks fantastic now with its root beer-inspired paint and fresh HM-Sports aero.
I didn’t know anything about this R34 but it looked pretty cool to me.
Tom Van Beek and his trusty boosted MX5 could be found hammering the Meihan layout all day long; I think it was a little bit shorter by the end of the day (the car, that is).
Joss’ very first lap out in his ER34 resulted in a slightly reshaped rear left corner, before he promptly reshaped it a little bit more on the next lap! He kept soldiering on though, despite smashing his CD changer in the melee.
As you’d expect, Huxley in his HM-Sports kitted S14 street car was one of the most aggressive and consistent drivers on the Meihan layout, putting in hugely entertaining entries while also showing no qualms about twinning with absolutely anyone or anything, regardless of how fast or slow they were.
And last but not least, Rich Starkey‘s S15 that absolutely, 100% definitely did not see any action on track.
Long may Rockingham’s Meihan events continue and you can be certain that I’ll be at the next one, ready to film all the action and get a face full of rubber, fibreglass and tail light covers.
While I’m here, I’d just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has ordered from the shop recently! Merch has been flying out the door thanks to the various combo packs that I’ve put up (that save you a great deal of money!) but stock is now very thin on the ground when it comes to some t-shirt sizes, so please don’t hang about if you were planning on treating someone for Christmas!