Freshly Blogged

FRESHLY WHIPPED @ FORMULA DRIFT ASIA – ROUND 1 MELBOURNE

This is going to be a post and a story. Read it if you’re cool; or just look at the photos – your call.\r\n\r\nWhen I first started Freshly Whipped, I had this plan to travel a little bit, take a few photos, meet some people and just kinda have fun? I had bought a camera only a month prior at a Boxing Day sale and thought i’d do some blogging and use Speedhunters as my main inspiration. I read articles by dudes like Larry Chen and hoped one day that I could get to that level. I hoped that one day I’d get a call saying hey ‘Wanna fly to another country and shoot a drift event?’. When I heard about Formula Drift in Melbourne I decided ‘f*ck it, I’m doing it.’ – no turning back. I told my father I was reinstating my passport and that I’d have flights booked the next day for a trip in three weeks time. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t too impressed but needless to say, I went out and bought the tickets, talked to a few people, got my media passes sorted and made a few calls.  When I hopped on the plane I was that one guy who was last. I was the prick being yelled out over the speakers asking for ‘CHRISTOPHER SMITH TO REPORT IMMEDIATELY TO GATE 15 – WE ARE WAITING TO LEAVE’ – oh sh*t. After running to my gate with my duty free alcohol smashing around I made it onto the plane. By this point I had a near semi panic attack. I’m not one to freak out or lose my shit under pressure, but for some reason knowing I was alone on a plane to another country and a city I’d never visited before, only hoping that everything would fall into place on the other side gave me quite the fright. It’s an oddly euphoric feeling knowing no one’s looking out for you now, you’re on your own. Looking back on little trips around NZ, this made all of them appear hilarious. But lucky for myself, I find comfort in being stressed – there’s something about that feeling that makes me happy.\r\n\r\nIMG_4902-2\r\n\r\nAs I arrived in Melbourne and hopped on a bus to the central city, I realised that ‘shit just got real’.\r\n\r\nIMG_8378\r\n\r\nCutting forward a week and I was off to Calder Park for the media day. Just when you think things can’t get any more odd and awkward, my train was late – go figure. I arrived at my train stop an hour and a half later only to find I’d missed my bus and they only arrived every 2 hours. Waiting at a bus stop alone in the middle of no where for 1 1/2 hours isn’t too fun admittedly, but in the end I made it to my press conference late and interrupted the conference – good job kid.\r\n\r\nIMG_8507\r\n\r\nBut onto the cars right? So Calder Park. Wow. What an amazing location. The only problem is, I can’t help but feel that we’re about 20 years late. The track is a giant oval, much like Irwindale or other Nascar style Speedway tracks – but we were just using a little centre/outer section of it. The sign’s have diminished and the grandstands are cracking to pieces with the rubbish tip beneath it. I was told there was a bunch of snakes on the other side too – being a weak little kiwi, i wasn’t too fond of finding out.\r\n\r\nIMG_4735\r\n\r\nThe pit’s were temporary and allowed for a good little space for the crew to work around and get their cars going.\r\n\r\nIMG_8643\r\n\r\nI loved that with Formula Drift comes proper teams. The teams rock uniforms, and we’re not talking basic little tee shirts. We’re talking full on jackets, coats, chairs, tents, hats, race suits – everything. If you can brand it, R*S*R probably has. By the end of the weekend I really wanted one of these jackets..\r\n\r\nIMG_4779\r\n\r\nFredric Aasbo was a man that showed a lot of prowess. A man that carried a certain level of confidence and appeal with every step. Many were crowing him the ‘King of the Ball’ by the end of the weekend, with masses of crowds gathering around his car and his team in general. Without a doubt this group was one to watch out for.\r\n\r\nIMG_8698-2\r\n\r\nThe 86. A clean cut, well built car with lots of power and a giant bonnet scoop. When I first followed the build of the car, I wasn’t too sure about the bonnet scoop, especially with it not even having a supercharger, usually the reason for the scoop in the first place.\r\n\r\nIMG_8737\r\n\r\nUpon seeing the car in real life though, I can’t help but adore what they’ve done with it. The scoop works perfectly, the car looks incredible, the tone is amazing and the overall look is perfect. I really can’t fault the car what so ever.\r\n\r\nIMG_4926\r\n\r\nFrom the rear you can see the giant exhaust pipe that sticks out the back. It’s a rectangle measuring something like 20cm x 7cm. It’s on a new level.\r\n\r\nIMG_4810\r\n\r\nLooking at Daigo’s Altezza is another Toyota carrying a lot of cool styling. I can’t think of another drift Altezza of this shape and prowess.\r\n\r\nIMG_4394\r\n\r\nThe drift section at the track was a huge sweeper into a short ‘s’ bend,\r\n\r\nIMG_8785\r\n\r\nand into a final hairpin as demonstrated by the wondrous Daigo Saito.\r\n\r\nIMG_4683\r\n\r\nThe entry allowed for drivers to experience the heights of the speedway wall, moving down to a smokey exit, to a smokey entry. Fredric showed this in his battle with Daigo.\r\n\r\nIMG_4519-2\r\n\r\nMike showed the smoking potential of the centre point of the corner, really pushing the Nitto tyres around with his PPRE quad rotor 26B. I was happy to hear so many of the media and spectators adoring the sound of his car. It’s a great feeling to see Kiwi’s being appreciated offshore.\r\n\r\nIMG_4529\r\n\r\nI’m always one to stand in stupid sh*t spots. I like being a bit of a dick and lying down in a spot where I could be killed. Anything for the shot right? I took this shot lying down where I shouldn’t have, sitting around trying to get the best shot. But I like this shot so that’s alright, right?\r\n\r\nIMG_4530\r\n\r\nUntil this happens, and the car goes off track, starts to spin and come straight towards you. That’s when you either run or get the shot. I stopped here, then ran. Luckily I’m here to write this post though and the driver was fine. Could’ve ended badly though, so ‘don’t try this at home kiddies’ – or do, just not on a racetrack. Hah.\r\n\r\nIMG_8511\r\n\r\nSeeing many drivers I’d never heard of or seen before was quite the treat. The M150 dudes were over from parts of Southern Asia. Some from Malaysia and others from Indonesia. I personally didn’t know that drifting was a ‘thing’ there, and was very impressed by their skills and talents behind the wheel.\r\n\r\nIMG_4936\r\n\r\nSeeing a Ute drift is probably something quite odd for the non Aussie/Kiwi’s in the crowd. Although we don’t really have any utes back home drifting yet, i’d always thought it seemed like a cool idea. This matte black one driven by a local was pulling a lot of smoke and really showcasing itself to the public. I’m told he qualified first at the previous days ADGP competition. Not bad for an ‘El Camino’.\r\n\r\nIMG_4403\r\n\r\nIt was nice to see Aggess back out competing after his recent competition debut in New Zealand. His red 180sx is a very competitive car, still running an SR20DET which is a nice change from a pack of V8′s.\r\n\r\nIMG_4076\r\n\r\nSadly for our local homeboy Hugo, his clutch wouldn’t stop giving him issues. He ended up borrowing a S15 for competition only to break an axle. A true disappointment as I know many of us were hanging out to see his 20b rotary powered AE85 in competition. Here’s a pic of him on form, entering at the media day.\r\n\r\nIMG_4910-2\r\n\r\nQualifying rules meant that some drivers would be knocked out immediately. If you weren’t good enough you were out – I think it worked quite well.\r\n\r\nIMG_4780\r\n\r\nI was always one of those kids finding every available stream to watch Formula Drift online and to see it in real life was quite the experience. I feel like we as Kiwi’s could really take not of some of the smaller things that the event puts on.\r\n\r\nIMG_4778\r\n\r\nAlthough these dudes have a huge budget, I find that the simple things such as one giant table for getting signatures and posters adds that bit more character to the event and helps to draw it all together a bit more.\r\n\r\nIMG_8600\r\n\r\n\r\nAasbo was chilling with Mike and co down the far end – by the end of the weekend we even got a bit of a rad hand shake going on. Cool cat that Aasbo boy.\r\n\r\nIMG_8579\r\n\r\nAnd the Kiwi’s + Jake seemed to enjoy their end of table experience.\r\n\r\nIMG_8588\r\n\r\nMight I add, the promo girls over here were mighty beautiful. Let’s look over some examples shall we? These girls did pose like this. I swear. A big thanks to X Mini for this wonderful sight.\r\n\r\n\r\nIMG_4787\r\n\r\nThe Achilles girls were also a lovely bunch.\r\n\r\nIMG_8755\r\n\r\nAt the Top 16 line up many of the drivers through some freebies out for the crowd. Mike was throwing out some tee’s.\r\n\r\nIMG_8770\r\n\r\nDaynom posed with his designated promo girl.\r\n\r\nIMG_4854\r\n\r\nAs did Aasbo with his lovely X-Mini girl.\r\n\r\nIMG_8623\r\n\r\nGo time.\r\n\r\nIMG_4701\r\n\r\nMoving to the battles, we as media set ourselves around at some odd positions. Many of us clambering over the concrete barriers to try get that little bit more lower angle as we fought for ‘the shot’.\r\n\r\nIMG_5061\r\n\r\nJust to skip ahead a little bit for the sake of rules, the drivers would wait and watch the big screen to find out their fate in their battle. Kinda looks like a drive in movie theatre don’t you think?\r\n\r\nIMG_4664\r\n\r\nIn the top 16 battles we saw the demise of Kiwi 2JZ RX7 drifter Daynom Templeman after coming up against Daigo Saito in his first battle.\r\n\r\nIMG_4972 copy\r\n\r\nAnother Kiwi favourite Mad Mike Whiddett came up against Oat one of the M150 drifters, with many expecting favourite Mad Mike to win, he sadly grazed the wall a bit too hard, then spun on his second run. Oat went through.\r\n\r\nIMG_4990\r\n\r\nAnother upset was that of Robbie Nishida against Tom Monkhouse. In a surprising turn of events, Tom went through in his borrowed Nissan Laurel.\r\n\r\nIMG_5001\r\n\r\nBy this point we were experiencing some rather odd outcomes. Into top 8 we say young gun Jake Jones come up against Daigo Saito with crowd favourite Saito going through.\r\n\r\nIMG_5017\r\n\r\nFredric Aasbo came up against the local hero Rob Whyte, with the V8 86 proving its worth, putting Aasbo through.\r\n\r\nIMG_5026\r\n\r\nWe then saw Oat vs Tom. After beating Mad Mike, many were expecting him to beat the young Aussie in a borrowed car. However he could only make second best with Tom going through.\r\n\r\nIMG_5038\r\n\r\n’Dude on the poster’ Josh Boettcher came up against Asian drifter Mico Wibowo in their top 8 battle with the S15 of Josh allowing him to progress through.\r\n\r\nIMG_8867-2\r\n\r\nAh top 4. The battles everyone longs for. We couldn’t have hoped for a better matching in this section really – Aasbo vs Saito. Both played their roles well and pushed for an amazing display of drifting but Japanese god Daigo Saito was too much for Aasbo, putting him through to the first/second battle.\r\n\r\nIMG_8898\r\n\r\nThe two Aussies were now fighting to see who would come up against Saito in the final battle. With Tom in a borrowed car and JB seeking comfort in his own S15 it was still anybodies game by this point. With a hard battle fought and JB spinning on his own, Tom went through to face Saito.\r\n\r\nNot bad for a dude who’s borrowed a car and only qualified for his FD licence the day prior..\r\n\r\nIMG_8937\r\n\r\nBy this point it was pretty dark. Shooting at F2 – 1/60th – ISO 4000 isn’t ideal for really any camera, let’s be honest. Fredric and JB were up.\r\n\r\nIMG_8955\r\n\r\nDaigo and Tom were also out to play, with both being surprisingly tight together. Both battles were very impressive and no doubt Tom will be one to watch out for.\r\n\r\nIMG_8965\r\n\r\nVoice of Formula Drift, Jarod DeAnda spoke on behalf of the championship thanking the crowd and the community for their support.\r\n\r\nIMG_5136\r\n\r\nThe judges had crowned a new winner though – Daigo Saito. Tom came second with fellow Aussie JB beating Aasbo for third position.\r\n\r\nIMG_5143\r\n\r\nChampagne showers.\r\n\r\nIMG_8984\r\n\r\nJB seemed to be very stoked on the outcome. Following this we went back to the VIP/Media room for our final press conference – the drivers lined up and spoke on behalf to thank their teams and their sponsors.\r\n\r\nIMG_8990\r\n\r\nAasbo had a slight strain of annoyance in his eyes,\r\n\r\nIMG_9029\r\n\r\nbut at the same time seemed to be looking forward to the next round in Malaysia.\r\n\r\nIMG_4978\r\n\r\nLater that night we media/drivers had a few beers and took some dumb photos on film. That can wait for the ‘film edition’ of this post though.\r\n\r\nWhat can I say? Best weekend of my career/life? No doubt. Will be looking to try fund the next round over in Malaysia too. If you’d like to come on board and collaborate to make this happen, please do get in touch.\r\n\r\nWriting this in a food court, a Starbucks, in student accommodation and now finally in the second floor of a Telstra building has lead me to look at this event in many different ways.\r\n\r\nBut most of all, good job Formula Drift Asia. I’ll be seeing you again.\r\n\r\n-Chris\r\n\r\n