In case you haven't noticed, ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett is kind of a big deal in the world of drifting. Not only on our national stage, but on an international one. Part of his success boils down to the fact that Mike's a dreamer. But what sets him apart from all the other dreamers is the fact that he and partner Toni move mountains to turn those dreams into reality. Most of which are outside the scope of what's considered the status quo, so when he announced Mad Mike's Summer Bash at Hampton Downs on February 18, we knew it would be more than your normal drift competition.
For starters, it was the first time any drifter would get to hit the international circuit's 1.2km drift section, including the corner dubbed the ‘Double Bastard’. A long and flowing section, it promoted lots of wide open throttle, excess smoke, and proved to be a challenge from behind the wheel. But from a fan's point of view, the most exciting aspect was the line-up of drivers that Mike was able to pull together. With every past New Zealand champion dusting off the old skid lid for a crack at ‘The Bash’.
Justin ‘The Godfather’ Rood — the 2004 DK — put together a 1JZ-powered Cefiro especially for The Bash. He wanted to build something different — something wild.
We think he definitely pulled that off.
Another past champion, 2005 DK Adam Richards, jumped out in the morning sessions in his RB26-powered 180SX. Each time we see this car it just gets better and better.
We love the nostalgic feel of the engine bay — if you were a fan of his Cefiro back in the day, this engine bay will surely be giving you some flashbacks.
The 2007 DK, Carl Ruiterman, also couldn't turn down the opportunity to throw his WRX sideways. Carl has been busy developing a new engine package for the hatch. Now a 2.1-litre, it makes 650Nm, which explains why it has no issues frying all four tyres. Carl, Justin, and Adam all took up judges' positions for the top-16 battles, but made full use of the morning jam sessions on both tracks.
Current NZ 1 Curt Whittaker was another who we haven't seen at the track this year, returning in the R34, although it was down on two cylinders having made the return to the 2JZ.
The 2JZ didn't want to play ball though, and the team were plagued with a missfire during the day.
Gaz Whiter was also another ex champ (four times to be exact), who had just completed a new car to drift at events like this. Dubbed the ‘barn build’, the S14 runs a basic engine package in the form of a stroked LS3 with stock heads, intake, and throttle body. What isn't so stock is the 8–1 header set-up and the rear-mounted radiator.
The suspension was whatever was lying around the workshop, and Gaz tells us it doesn't match side to side, but there are a few new components to be found under there, including the Wisefab front end, something Gaz was still coming to grips with. Not that you could tell watching from the outside.
These past champions joined with the likes of ‘Fanga Dan’ Woolhouse, Darren Kelly, Cole Armstrong, Nico Reid, Drew Dononvan, Jodie Verhulst, and Sky Zhao to form the most stacked drift field ever assembled on New Zealand soil — I mean when was the last time every DK was on track together?
But despite the fact that the talent pool ran deep — and I mean real deep — the event was about having fun. The top 16 was more about bragging rights than anything else. The triple-threat challenge was certainly about bragging rights, and would see Gaz join forces with Fanga Dan and Cole Armstrong, who showed the rest of the field how door banging is done.
But the event wasn't just for the drifters — the Time Attack Outlaws also took to the international circuit, and despite the greasy early morning conditions, some very fast times were laid down — the fastest of which was Hans Ruiterman in his SR-powered S14.
But for many, there was one driver in particular who they came to see, and you'll get no points for guessing who.
We'll give you a hint he doesn't own an RX-3.
Yes, of course I'm talking about Mad Mike. It was the first time we would see the complete stable all together and ready for action. But in true Mike form, he quickly broke each and every BUL until he was left with the old faithful flame-thrower, MADBUL.
Sadly for his fans, Mike would take an early exit during the top 16 but it would be an old battle rival who would step up and steal the show with some of the best chases we have seen in a long time. He is hiding in that smoke cloud left by Fanga's VF.
It was this battle in the top four, between Gaz Whiter and Fanga Dan, that had the crowd on their feet! This is what drifting should be! After scoring a near-perfect 98 in qualifying, Gaz looked unstoppable ...
Only to turn back around and repeat the performance with Nico Reid in the final to take the win! Speaking to Gaz later, he spoke of the lack of vision in the chase position and the fact you needed to be right on their door to have any chance of seeing them, catching only slight glimpses as they switch mere metres in front.
But just when the crowds thought the chaos was over, the final jam session to find the most insane entry threw a cloud of tyre smoke across the entire venue — it was pure insanity. Andrew Hawkeswood was throwing it down in his Force Motorsport Mazda 2, and also his older first-gen RX-7.
But there was still one smoke show left — victory skids!
We will have more from Mad Mike's Summer Bash dropping later in the week, so keep ya eyes peeled people.