Australia Day Drift Festival – Sydney Motorsport Park

Posted: February 3, 2013 by stinkypoo31 in Uncategorized

Last weekend was the first public drifting event at the new Eastern Creek/Sydney Motorspot Park South circuit. I was fortunate to gain a spot to drift the day. Overall it was a fun experience and gained some insight about ADGP.

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The Track:
The course was kind of fun. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it if I had much less power than I did. The drift section reminded me a lot of Ebisu North/Kita Course. The difference of the course was the length of radius of the first corner and, the radius & increased elevation of the esses. The track was wide, you could probably drift four cars side, which was good and bad as there were a large number of lines you could take. The surface didn’t feel very even in grip level. There were sections were I felt grip washed off, while other parts felt much like other tracks. Although I never came off into the sand trap, other cars were easily bogged. Visibility was good, but I never really noticed the flag marshals. Apparently I passed a few yellow flags without even noticing.

For this particular event the start line was 150 meters from the first corner. There is a crest from the start line to the corner. I had to push to get enough speed to drift the first corner and the only downhill part of the course. The remainder of the drift course was decent uphill. You should not crash at all in this course, unless you were being really silly. The combination of the short run up, decent run off, deep sand traps and overall uphill makes it a forgiving course.

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The judged drift section was from the 100 meter marker (I think) on the straight, through a left turn, then a right onto the new section, through the left, right, left esses where a set of cones at the crest would end the judged section. Drifting was not allowed through the rest of the course. Barriers had been setup to prevent drifting. The clipping points were the first tyre barrier on the right of the straight, the inside of the right hand corner and the two cones on the outside of the left hand corner.

The entire course, including the “No drift zone” would be great to drift. South Circuit has some decent sections where you could link several corners. There is even a shallow down hill section near pit entrance, with corners that would probably be great for drifting. I hope they allow drifting the entire course in the future.

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The Pits/Admin Facilities:
The new area is brand new and is very nice. There is a large scrutineering area and a reasonable sized control tower for the South Circuit. The toilets are unisex, which startled some people. The pit is new asphlet, flat and marked out. However it was cramped for an Australian track. I think they fit 75+ cars in an area where around 30 cars would normally fit. We were allocated a space around 3 meters by 4.5 meters. A number of cars needed to do a three point turn to get in and out of their space.

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Luckily for me, the person assigned next to me did not show and three cars were able to stretch out in a space of four. There were a few other people with the same good fortune.

The Event and Coordinators:

This was probably the worst part of the event. My guess was there were a mixture of several groups and organisations involved in running this day. TrackBattle/ADGP was given point by ARDC, who set rules for Drifting at Sydney Motorsport Park. Three drift clubs of NSW had given places to select representatives to drift at the event. I think VicDrift were the responsibility to run the day (scutineering and marshalling), as I few of the people I had spoken to were from Melbourne.

The event was run pretty close to the schedule. The event organisors did change some of the sessions by either swapping or mixing and extending. I also think that the DriftNSW might have not been judged for the competition (apparently the group wasn’t very good anyway).

A positive point was that a track official would advise drivers to prepare and marshal to the dummy grid, but this was only happening in the morning.

Before the day, there wasn’t much communication from the Event Organisors. It was only 2 weeks prior to the event, that we received an email with any specific details except for the date. There was a little communication on Facebook, however I did not see this until the days leading up to it. I was not surprised by how it was run.

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Another big problem was the inability to drive to the spectators area with either a ‘pit car pass’ or a ‘support car pass’. I was told by security I had to buy a ‘VIP parking pass’ or park in the pits and walk. It was a long walk when I had to be back in time for marshalling. It took around 20 minutes to walk to the spectators area, a 40 minute return trip. With practise sessions running 20mins, I could only see two groups before I had to return to the pits. I could not see how other people were driving the track.

The event was run by a company running a National Drift Competition and it is their expectation for spectators and competitors to spend lots of money. Unfortunately I don’t have lots of money so I am not suited for this type of event.

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Scrutineers

The scrutineers were reasonable when scrutinneering the cars. I don’t think the event was run under CAMS so the rules were different to the days I normally attend.

I found it difficult to know what exactly was required for the event. I did receive an email but more thought out communication could have improved the experience.

Turns out I needed a fire extinguisher for the event, which I didn’t have. I also required a 4 point harness to tandem, and I’m not entirely sure why. After confirming what I need to “fix” and where I should report to when it was completed, I went off in search of a Fire Extinguisher. Just a quick trip to Supercheap, I returned 30 minutes later with a Fire Extinguisher fitted, then was told scrutineering had finished and no scrutineer was around.

Track Officials

The starter was inconsistent, this annoyed me. He would use different signals to send you off. There was one occasion that he sent the chase car first. Sometimes he would send four cars out at once, then told me off for going in a group of three. I also asked him a question about the session time, he had no idea (I guess he didn’t need to know).

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I did speak to another offical about trying to receive some feed back after the ‘Judged’ session. This was mainly to see if our group was actually judged. Their response was to send an email later (which I haven’t done and probably won’t bother). I don’t think they would even remember so long after, especially with the large amount of cars that had run.

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Recovery Crew

I think these guy were pretty good. It did feel they were more responsive than recovery at Wakefield. This might be due to the time it took to travel from the drift section to the start line. While cars were returning to the start line, the recovery team would be digging a car out.

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Other participants

Most of the clubs seemed to stick to their own groups. I did speak to a few people that I recognised from other drift events but only a couple of new faces. Due to the layout and timetable, the involved clubs kept to themselves. Also, it was only the very last session where we were able to drift with other clubs, something I wish had been done earlier in the day.

For this event, there was an emphasis of a requirement for a reasonable amount of skill. Most club entered cars were of reasonable skill but there was still an issue with pairing in tandems. When another person was willing to tandem, it was great fun. Tandems are my favorite thing to do drifting. However a number of cars would just run solo. This was disappointing to see, especially with some of the “Professionals”.

It was also unfortunate that a few of the ADGP competition seeded cars were a little lacking in skill. It was good to see it was reflected in the qualifying results, where unseeded drivers were at the top of the list.

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The Spectators area:

This is from my very short time in the spectator’s area. The view from the spectator’s area was good. You could see the judged section clearly from most sections. There was a ‘VIP’ spectator’s area for people that could pay extra. From the other side of the fence, it looked like a frequently flyers club area.

There were speakers setup along the fence line, and the volume of the commentators was overwhelming. The crowds looked thin, I’m not sure if this was due to the negative hype from the drift community or the rain that was forecast.

I was still unhappy about having to walk to the spectator’s area. Even for general admission it was a long walk between viewing area and pits. I did not see a shuttle service either.

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