Head honcho of the Irish Drift Series Graham McNamara had arranged for Ken Nomura to bring his R34 Skyline and fly over Kunny Takahashi to drive the supercharged Sumo Power 350z. Did I mention the Top Secret S15 and Signal Auto S13 brought over for them to drift in as well! As if it couldn’t get any better, round 3 of the Irish Drift Series, time attack and a huge car show on top – it was just too much to take in! Most definitely an AutoFest.
Mondello was brought to life early on Sunday morning with the sound of screeching tyres and howling exhausts as the qualifying got underway for the drift competition. Not only were the usual Irish drivers in the lineup, but several European competitors were also in the procession. Brett Castle, 2004 UK Drift Champion was present in his S14a and entrants from the Dutch and English drift series and really gave the feeling that this was an international drift event.
Back by the paddock things were just as impressive with the Irish modified and performance car trade out in force. The websites and car clubs finished off the display with rows of the finest modified metal from throughout Ireland.
After the qualifying there was a time attack event featuring some very fast skylines and Cossies, and then stunt bikes took to the track doing crazy daredevil jumps over burnouts supplied by the drift cars. The crowd was going wild and the grandstands were packed, but the best was still to come.
Ken Nomura exploded onto the track in his Blitz Skyline with Kunny inches away in the Top Secret Sylvia. The drift speed of these cars was awesome and car control second to none – it was clear to see why these guys are the world’s best! After filling the entire track with tyre smoke, Kunny returned in the pink 350z and showed even more control and aggression behind the wheel.
The twin drifting (or Tsuiso as its known) then started with the top 16 drivers being seeded from the qualifiers. Competition was fierce with veterans Mark Luney (GTR Skyline), Julian Smith (R32 Skyline) and Damien Mulvey (2004 Irish Champ) were all head to head, and (most proudly) our project AE86 driven by Eric O’Sullivan. The crowds cheered and roared as a fierce drift battle commenced with Mulvey coming first, Eric second, Julian third and Mark in fourth position. Everyone including the Japanese drivers were stunned by these final runs.
We witnessed one of Ireland’s great shows – there has quite simply never been anything like it before, and I can only hope they run it again.