If 2016 was a year of stress and excitement for Street Track Life, 2017 was a year of frustration. I’m still here soldiering on but there have been some serious bumps along the way behind the scenes.
With STL/326POWER UK becoming a full-time mail order business this year, dealing with circumstances such as the hacking of TNT (my main choice of courier for larger domestic and international shipments) caused major consequences for me. Spending many hours packing thousands of pounds worth of customer orders only for them to simultaneously disappear into thin air for a handful of weeks was a pretty dark period but I can only thank everyone involved for their patience and understanding during that time period.
If there is anything that I’ve learnt throughout this year it’s that, no matter how hard you try to provide the best possible customer experience, there is always a link in the chain (suppliers, couriers, customs officials etc.) that is all too happy to throw a spanner in the works and result in a loss of face for yourself. Learning to take this on the chin and not fly off the handle every time something hasn’t gone to plan has been difficult to say the least but it’s all been part of the learning process that has been the continual growth of the shop.
Anyway, the important stuff: drifting! To summarise, I think 2017 has been a revelatory year for drifting here in the UK. At one end of the scale the British Drift Championship has flourished, with the new management finally getting the chance to show what they are capable of with the series. The first rounds at Rockingham and the Birmingham NEC proved to be the metaphorical kick up the arse that the championship had needed in order to be held in the same light as the not-so-distant Irish Drift Championship, while the focus on presentation, spectator involvement and “the show” made every round a must-see event (whether it was from the spectator stands or from the comfort of your home via the livestream).
At the other end of the spectrum, grassroots drifting in this country has found the next gear that it needed to find a good while ago and it’s been refreshing to see a number of drivers not pin all of their hopes of drifting satisfaction on trying to reach the upper leagues of DriftCup/BDC right from the off any more. The Rockingham practice days in particular are of such a high calibre nowadays that many drifters are happy to just to focus their efforts on these, with the Meihan-layout days in particular being a total revelation.
I can’t tell you how pleasing it’s been to see so many people come to the realisation that you don’t need 600bhp, super sticky tyres and 80mph drifts in order to have fun. In fact, challenging yourself lap after lap to drive better in a small space is far more rewarding and sets the good drivers in bad cars (relatively speaking) apart from the bad/uncommitted drivers in good cars. My prediction for 2018 is that gap between competition and grassroots drifting in the UK will grow even further, with the vast majority of drivers choosing their desired discipline and sticking with it.
On the subject of drifting, I’ve got to say a huge thanks to everyone who came and supported the STL 2 event at Driftland. Once again, two days of drifting with friends at one of the best venues in the UK was the highlight of the year for many people and I find it hard to portray my gratitude for everyone’s kind words since the event. I have every intention to run STL 3 in 2018 but I’m still brainstorming potential changes and additions to spice things up so watch this space.
Personally speaking, my own car-related fun has somewhat fallen by the wayside in 2017 as the business has taken priority. As such, I only managed to get in the driver’s seat at one drift event and I’m thankful that it was as fun as it was, getting involved in numerous trains at Rockingham with Phil from Driftworks and Toby from Monky London (who kindly captured a lot of footage for us to look back on).
My C33 Laurel has spent the majority of the latter half of the year sitting idle while I focused what little time I did have on bringing my Y32 Cedric back to life (thanks again Norfy!) and enjoying my newly acquired P10 Primera. At this point, my goals for 2018 are to get Cedric looking like the 326POWER UK demo car that he deserves to be, while the P10 needs to be taken to Oulton Park as soon as I have the suspension and brakes taken car of. I’m sure I’ll come back to Laurel at some point in the near future but, at the moment, trying to keep on top of two old Nissans is hard enough. Who knows though, maybe all three will see some good use in the coming twelve months.
As for Street Track Life, I hope to completely overhaul the merch line-up in the coming months. It seems that another drifting-related brand appears out of nowhere every other week with stickers and clothing nowadays while providing very little in the way of content or substance, so I’m keen to distance STL further from that where possible. I will also be adding product ranges from various other companies to the shop in the very near future, with both huge brands and lesser-known companies coming on board as of late. As always the focus is on quality, creativity and individuality, so you won’t be finding any Alibaba specials dressed up with some paint and fancy branding anytime soon.
I feel this is of the upmost importance considering the state of the used car market at the moment and, in particular, the soaring prices of Japanese classics from the 80s and 90s. I am continually bemused by people who will gladly spend thousands upon thousands of pounds buying the most immaculate old Nissan/Toyota/etc. they can barely afford, only to fit the cheapest suspension, wheels and replica fibreglass parts they can get their hands on. I guess the whole “Instagram fame” thing is partly responsible for this, as nobody can judge the quality of your £50 eBay camber arms, badly fitted replica over fenders or intercooler kit that provides next to no performance gains from a pixelated photo on an iPhone screen.
On the other hand though, I have nothing for respect for those that continue to take absolute pride in everything they do and only settle for the best when it comes to building their car(s). These people tend to do things this way for their own satisfaction more than anything else and I have so much admiration for that. On that note, I’ve been proud to continue to work with the likes of 326POWER and Huxley Motorsport for another year and I’m looking forward to another twelve months of pushing both brand’s products to customers around the globe. Both companies have lots of new and exciting items on the way and you can be sure to find them in the STL shop as soon as possible.
I’ve never posted any photos of the inside of STL HQ but I guess there isn’t too much to look at right now as the majority of it is office/storage/packing space (although the above photo was taken when things were a lot sparser!). However, I’m hoping that I can turn the front room into a much better showroom and hangout area ASAP. It’d be cool to see more people come through the door during the week and check out products with their own eyes, while I feel it’d also be pretty cool to host BDC/Formula Drift livestream sessions with food and beers. We’ll see!
On that note, I’d like to finish by thanking every single person who has supported the website in one way or another this year and I hope that I can continue to keep you entertained over the coming twelve months. If there’s anything you’d like to suggest in terms of changes or recommendations for 2018, please let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do!
Oh, and one last thing. Yes, I will absolutely be doing something with the hundreds of 35mm photos that I shot throughout 2017. I can’t wait to create something physical using these pictures rather than just dumping them on the blog but I’m still in many minds as to what the best way of doing this might be. Stay tuned!