This time 2 weeks ago, I was driving home to Rockhampton from Brisbane in my underpowered, under-air conditioned, and seriously under-suspension’d daily. I was tired, sunburnt and being fed a constant supply of hardstyle and V by my passenger. It was the final scene in a weekend-long epic of mechanical debauchery, tire-smoke and questionable food.
Having previously only been to short-track events in Proserpine (a small town about 450km north of Rockhampton), QR Matsuri was a drift event the scale of which I have never seen. The feeling of finally being physically present at the kind of event that usually only fills my news feeds and favourite blogs was pretty surreal for the first hour or so.
The first morning was filled with anticipation. Engines were revved, wheels attached, last-minute repairs were made and the trackside office bustled with the ebb and flow of drivers, eagerly sitting through the briefing to get their wristbands.
Despite the oppressive heat and humidity of the previous afternoon (coming off the motorway into Ipswich was like descending into a sauna), the atmosphere was amazing. No promo girls, no show ‘n’ shine event, no dj’s, no food vendors and a minimal “official” presence. All this added up to give the impression of a grass-roots event organised by drifters, for drifters, with the sole purpose of giving everyone as much track time as possible.
As the track opened up, I was greeted with the sight of some pretty unique vehicles firing up and making their first runs.
The sense of camaraderie was palpable throughout the weekend, everyone was just walking around smiling and soaking it up. Friends and strangers alike could be seen helping each other out both physically and mentally through the emotional roller coaster of mechanical failures, which are inevitable when cars are driven as hard as possible, for as long as possible, often on the tightest budget possible.
I got to go for a few passenger runs with a couple of mates. Again, this highlighted the difference between short-track and more open track drifting. After I realised my death was not imminent, I began to thoroughly enjoy myself. Cling on to whatever you can hold onto in the cabin and just keep telling yourself that even though you’re coming into a hairpin corner sideways at 140km/h, everything is going to be okay.