STL 2 at Driftland

Ten months or so after our last pilgrimage to Driftland in Fife, Scotland, it was time to do it all again for STL 2. In the immediate aftermath of the previous two days of drifting that I had organised at the venue, there was huge demand from everyone involved to do it all again. Before they knew it I’d booked out the track for another two days, albeit in the more summery month of July in the hope of better weather than last year’s September rain.

The ethos remained the same as last time: a small group of friends and friends of friends gathering for two days of relaxed open pitlane fun with no pressure and nothing to worry about other than keeping your car on the black stuff (in hindsight, quite a few people failed at this).

Compared to other large drift events that Driftland host (or have hosted) such as Finalboss, Awesomeboss and the BDC, the purpose of STL isn’t to attract large numbers of spectators through the gates, which is why I refrain from making a fuss about the event dates in the run up to the big day(s). This is purely a driver-focused event and, while anyone is more than welcome to come and watch the action, catering to members of the public is not the overall goal.

It might not seem like it to some but, when you’re trying to focus on improving your driving and keeping your car working, having large numbers of spectators enquiring about your drift car, asking for passenger rides or merely milling around the pits can be quite intimidating at times. This is something I wanted to avoid with STL.

With the drifting taking place on the Thursday and Friday, many of us got the long drive out of the way on the Wednesday and set up camp. Joe Yelland was one of the first to arrive in his S15 that would be both his track car and makeshift tent for the next couple of days.

While he wasn’t going to be drifting, Chris Cady drove his immaculate PS13 up from the Midlands to hang out. I actually drifted this car around Driftland a couple of years ago, a couple of days after it had left the bodyshop having had a full respray. To say Cady was a nervous spectator at the time would be quite an understatement but it was a fantastic car to drive (even with a completely stock steering setup).

Adam Maciejewski (StyleCase/RETROshine) drove his MX5-powered FC up from Manchester in convoy with Dan Joyce (Low Origin) in his S15. While Adam was more than happy to camp in Hotel du RX7, Dan opted for the more civilised option of a Premier Inn.

Dan Prior (Destroy or Die) also made the journey up from the Midlands in his PS13. If you think you might recognise this car but you can’t be sure why, maybe this will jog your memory…

With many more campers having arrived and none of us being particularly keen campsite barbecuers, it was time to head to the local restaurants (in various drift cars, of course).

I always find sleeping in a car oddly comforting, I’ve no idea why. Here’s what the inside of a Y32 Cedric looks like from the passenger seat while lay in a sleeping bag, in case you were wondering.

A few more cars and drivers had arrived overnight. Andy Dyer had driven his C33 Laurel all the way from Devon to spectate, while Freddie Sharvell had towed his S15 up from the deep South throughout the night.

Danny Whyman‘s Sileighty was one car I hadn’t in the flesh before but it looked to be very well executed, the T7Rs up front being a personal highlight.

Harry Hudson and his S13 could well be the new king of bad luck. After making the long journey up to Driftland his car caught fire later on during Thursday’s drifting as a result of him killing his fourth SR20 in as many events. Not one to be deterred, Harry and his pals managed to quickly remove his dead engine while sourcing a local donor car from which to pinch a replacement from.

As we were sat drinking and hanging out in the pits at around midnight that night, a recovery truck with Harry’s replacement engine (having been quickly removed from the donor car) appeared before us. Within just a few hours, the guys had it fitted to the S13, ready to be fired up in the morning after a few hours of sleep. By the time I’d woken up, Harry’s S13 was being washed, ready to hit the track for another day of drifting. The whole effort from the guys was absolutely incredible and, while it sounds so incredible cliched to say it, represented the true spirit of drifting.

Saule Del-Rio‘s (v8illuminati) S14 was in attendance for two days of drifting. At the time of this photo being taken we were taking bets on how long the relatively new Works9 bumpers and side skirts were going to last.

Alex Law‘s (Low Origin) S14 was also going to be drifting for both the Thursday and Friday, having been driven up from Manchester very early on Thursday morning.

Charlie Hulme (blue S13) and Chris Brace (black S14) also drove both of their cars up for the event before driving them extremely aggressively on track.

Keeve‘s S13 being prepared to hit the track after his drive down from the most Northern part of Scotland imaginable.

Keeve’s S13, still being prepared to hit the track but this time alongside Josh Munday‘s similarly-pig nosed S13.

Driftland can only run the track for six hours a day with a cut off time of 6pm so I opted to to start both days at 11am with a one hour lunch break in between. This allowed everyone plenty of time to wake up at a leisurely pace, head out for breakfast and supplies at the local shops and then set about preparing their cars for the day ahead. I much prefer this to the usual 9am start of most drift days that also don’t offer anywhere near as much seat time.

I chose to run a slightly more technical track layout for the first three hours of both days, while the full outermost track layout was opened up for the afternoon sessions. I felt this gave everyone enough time to get comfortable with their cars and practice big flick initiations into rapid deceleration for a hairpin; an invaluable technique and one that separates the best Japanese drifters from those elsewhere in the world. After this, they could enjoy going as fast as possible on the large outer layout.

I would also be keeping an eye out for the most improved drifters on both days who would be recognised for their efforts. Alongside this, David from Garage 21 would be judging the most aggressive/Japan style entries in the final hour of the morning sessions and the fastest entries in the final hour of the afternoon sessions. The winner of each accolade would be awarded a £100 cash prize; a nice incentive for everyone to push that little bit harder (should they wish!).

Steveboiboi had driven his JZX90 Mark II all the way from Kent the day before and was raring to go right from the off.

I’ll never tire of both this car’s style and Steve’s hugely aggressive driving. Check out the video below for some on-board footage of him in action that I filmed during one of the morning sessions.

Joss‘ ER34 Skyline is such a cool car and it’s made all the more impressive considering it’s his first drifter.

Throwing these large four doors around is nothing like drifting an S-body (despite the ER34’s similar underpinnings) so I have huge respect for these guys for drifting so hard on what is quite a small and technical track. I was so impressed with Joss’ driving on the second day that I awarded him the STL Most Improved title for the Friday.

Toby’s (Monky London) day unfortunately came to end prematurely when his turbo oil feed hose decided to leak and spray hot oil all over his engine bay, causing the lot to go up in really large flames. Thankfully, everyone within the vicinity was on hand extremely quickly with extinguishers and the S15 will live to drift again.

I’m not particularly sure what this session had been red flagged for but…

…it wasn’t long before it was red flagged again.

Keeve limped his S13 back to the pits where it would be straightened out and prepared to hit the track once again; the joy of plastic OEM bumpers!

On the other hand, James Tooley‘s Rocket Bunny S15 was sporting a lot of fibreglass and wouldn’t have fared so well after an excursion into the bank.

It was a good thing that Tooley managed to keep the S15 on the black stuff as, no sooner had the event finished than the car was carted off to the Fitted UK show in Manchester where it would be parked on a plinth for thousands to admire.

If you’ve got a thing for black JZXs on SSR Agle Minervas…

…then Driftland was the place to be.

Pignose S13s love the bank (as I know from personal experience!). Josh was another of the Finalboss Corner’s victims.

After having his bent and broken WORK Meister M1R miraculously repaired by Huxley, Dan only went and bent it again while crashing into his team mate Alex. Unfortunately, there was no saving it this time.

Two new guys that I met at the event were the father and son combo of Kane (the younger of the two, red S13) and Mel (black S13) in their respective Kouki-kitted 180SXs.

Both endured their fair share of breakages over the two days (with Kane in particular managing to break pretty much everything imaginable due to pure bad luck) but it was so cool to see them both out on track and having fun.

Daniel Ferrie popped up to say hi in his Dori Labs S14, although unfortunately he wasn’t drifting it.

Saule’s manifold had cracked quite badly during one of his first sessions which quickly put an end to his drifting. Thankfully, the resident Driftland fabricator was able to get it welded back up before Saule chucked everything back on the car so he could make it out for the last few sessions.

With Thursday’s drifting over it was time to grab some food before heading back to the track with nothing but some camping chairs, a ropey gazebo, a small bluetooth speaker and whatever booze people had brought along. It may sound strange and might be some people’s idea of hell but I feel you get so much more out of a drift event by chilling out with your friends at the track and sleeping rough than you do when staying at a hotel.

As we awoke on Friday morning (I felt less than fantastic, thanks for the Hennessy, Keeve) we were greeted by the sight of a group of AE86s that had been brought over by their respective owners from Ireland.

Tadhg Clogher and Stevie Harte are both well known for their mental Corolla antics and I was really excited to watch them head out on track as a group numerous times throughout the day. Stevie ended up securing the Fastest Entry award for the Friday with a seriously brave effort just before the rain began to fall and dampen the track for the final hour of drifting.

Sukhy had driven his C35 up from the midlands to take part on Friday.

Once again, while it may have S-body underpinnings, chucking one of these things around a tight and narrow track takes a lot more skill and concentration and Sukhy excelled himself at what was his first time driving his Laurel at Driftland.

Speaking of C35s, Fraser hung out at the track for the Thursday and Friday and brought his daily driver Laurel along.

Andrew Strang off of Finalboss would be drifting one of his AE86s for the first time, something he was very excited to do having last tackled Driftland in his R32 Skyline.

Taxi?

John Fallon‘s JZX100 started the day as one of the cleanest cars in the pits but, not long into Friday, he collected the back end of Freddie’s S15 that had just spun on the first corner. John’s reshaped Mark II was left needing a pair of passenger doors and a pillar pull…

…while Freddie’s S15 (made from Nissan’s finest metal) was left looking a lot shorter than before.

It was a huge shame to see this happen but, thankfully, both cars will live to see another day. In fact, at the time of writing, the rear end of Freddie’s car has already been straightened out and is ready to go again.

Dan’s S15, running a pair of John’s CR Kais up front to replace his broken Meisters.

The mishaps didn’t stop there though! Saule got a bit carried away with one of his entries later on in the afternoon and found himself heading towards the pit lane bank. He kept his foot in though and hit it with his rear left wheel, sending the car temporarily airborne and into the weeds.

Thankfully, everyone else behind managed to take avoiding action and no other cars would be hurt in the making of this incident that was quite hilarious to watch. It’s worth noting that this happened the first lap after the track had just been red flagged, so it’s quite possible that cold tyres may have had a little bit to do with the grip levels not being as Saule had expected.

While it was gutting to see Saule’s day end like this and, while I’m sure there are quite a few broken parts to replace, I’m sure the sight of this fantastic photo from ASR Photography helps to make him see the bright side of the crash.

Not to be outdone, Stevie then made a last minute effort up the bank backwards, as the first rainfall of the entire event decided to fall for the last 50 minutes of drifting and make the conditions extremely difficult.

And with that, STL was done for another year! I’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who drifted, spectated, helped to fix cars, took photos, filmed videos, absolutely anything; you all made the event what it was and seeing everyone’s overwhelmingly positive words afterwards made it all worthwhile. A massive thanks must also be given to the Driftland staff who were incredibly professional yet friendly with their approach once again and were extremely understanding and accommodating of our needs. I’m sure we’ll be back soon!

Day 1 Morning Session – Most Japan Balls Out Entry: winner Adam Maciejewski
Day 1 Afternoon Session – Fastest Entry: winner Alex Law

Day 2 Morning Session – Most Japan Balls Out Entry: winner Tom Gidden
Day 2 Afternoon Session – Fastest Entry: winner Stevie Harte

Day 1 Most Improved Driver: Adam Ivell
Day 2 Most Improved Driver: Joss Duggan

On a final note, some of you might be wondering why I wasn’t drifting my own drift car at the event (I drove up in my Y32 Cedric daily driver barge instead). There are a number of reasons really, with one being that I wanted to spend my time capturing as many photos and as much video footage as possible to be able to provide good content in the aftermath of the excitement without having to worry about fixing my own car in between.

I also didn’t have a moment to prepare my Laurel in time for the drive up to the Driftland, which is primarily due to Street Track Life and 326POWER UK now being a full-time operation for me. My own drifting has had to take a back seat for now while I devote my time and energy into pushing both of these ventures further and, while I’m sure I’ll be back out there soon, I could do with a few months of not fixing a broken Nissan in order to keep things on track (literally and metaphorically!).

Thanks again for all of your support and I’m sure I’ll see you all around soon.

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