I vividly remember being overwhelmed with emotions and almost a tid bit of surreal disbelief as I sat inside Shawano’s dumpy little dive bar on Friday night surrounded by arguably 85% of the US’s drift scene. As I sat at my table with Roy Cordoso of BOSSTOWN, Isidro from FR Sedan (and going even further back, BettasMarvelous), Josh, Chob, Damon and Cody Fowler, I sipped on my cold beer thinking, “this can’t possibly be happening right now.” Here I was just babbling away with some of the people I look up to most and although we’d literally just met for the first time just an hour prior, I’d spoken and have felt surrounded by everyone for years now. There was zero awkwardness because it all felt like we were all old friends. For anyone who wasn’t present it may be a bit hard to understand.
Saturday was essentially entirely rained out which brought up a few concerns as the main competition was intended for later that afternoon. Sunday was meant to be a type of open track “drifting with friends” type of laid back day which many were excited for. A meeting in the drivers building called for vote to move the competition to Sunday morning or to just drive it in constantly altering conditions. Under powered teams such as GoldStar were highly in favor of competing in the rain as it posed quite a large advantage for them as other higher power teams were very much opposed to due to raised difficulty of car control. With video production in mind, the competition was postponed to Sunday with a chance for extra practice on Saturday.
I’m sure some people dreaded the rainfall, because well, standing in the rain kinda sucks, but personally I thought it was awesome because it really made me feel like I was walking around a typical rained out Japanese event. In fact, the lush grass around the track almost gave me a Nikko Circuit kinda vibe. It was fun watching some of these cars pull long slides and hop back on the gas bouncing off limiter in a slow sort of suave ballet.
We were hit with one last big storm towards the end of day on Saturday which resulted in many of us sharing stories and war stories huddled underneath the GoldStar rig. I sat there pretty bummed out staring at Josh’s broken 180SX as he’d just blew the SR in it as was pretty much done for the weekend. He reassured me that it was a long time coming and he was prepared for it, but it still leaves a sour taste in your mouth knowing that your main broham won’t be driving in the competition.
Another break that made me quite sad was poor old Roy, who suffered headache after headache with transmission failures over the weekend. I felt so bad.
Keeping on the topic of mechanical breaks, Liam Kirby of Opposite Line was suffering a ton of axle breaks throughout the weekend. That’s what happens when your cool-guy Cefiro makes about a billion horsepower. But when you’ve got a massive single turbo 1.5J, could you blame him??
On the flip side of the pits sat all the cars of the most good looking boys in Canada, the HotBoyz. Fuck them, by the way.
It’s easy to call any of the people I met at Final Bout family, but it’s different with HotBoyz. Some people you just click differently with. I remember one night Chob was doing an overnight stay in LA and called me last minute asking if he could stay at my place. Of course, it was a pleasure to say yes and he was almost bothered to ask if Eric and Shaylee could stay over as well. I’m so glad they all came as it immediately created this great friendship and I can easily say I miss them all very very much.
Jack’s car was another that made me bummed I didn’t have the Skyline running and present at Final Bout. I’m also quite sad I didn’t really get a good shot of Jordan’s car before he ever-so-gracefully slammed it into the wall. Sorry, dude.
I got to go for a quick spin with Eric, as a matter of fact, as practice opened up to ride alongs and I was dying to see USAIR from a first person point of view.
Animal Style was on point the whole weekend it was just so incredible to watch them.
Talk about incredible to watch; Simba is ridiculously crazy. One of my favorite people to watch on track, every single one of his runs demonstrated a zero-hesitation petal-to-the-metal attitude that made for real excitement for onlookers trackside. Not to mention, this car looks god damn phenomenal; I mean, come on.
Nearby, Ilia was making some quick repairs to his limited edition DMAX engine.
The hard body trucks at Dirty Love were both JZ powered which was wicked. They were super fun to watch.
Another absolutely fantastic car was Fred’s FC3S. Such a clean car with excellent taste and an ultimate vibe of Japan… achieved easily enough because Fred is Japanese.
The fan is a great addition.
Saturday evening ended with a bang as I randomly came across Jimmy Yates from Texas’ Essence Garage. We ended up nearly closing out the place as the banter between Damon, Jimmy and myself went on a crazy catch up course of like 10 years worth of drift related stuff. Was great to finally meet Jimmy in person and I’m actually still in awe about the whole thing.
The next day was competition day and Damon and I decided it would be wise to sleep in and play Mario Kart the next morning on the N64 he brought with him on the trip. We didn’t even get to finish a race before I received a phone call from THE Benson SileightyMania-D1GP-driving-multi-talented-extraordinaire Hsu, asking what I was up to. After being impressed that we had an N64 in our hotel room, he just casually asked if I wanted to be the hype-man for Final Bout.
I pretty much had a heart attack at that moment and was super skeptical to accept, telling him I’d make up my mind at the track but would head over immediately.
As soon as I got there I’d pretty much made up my mind that I’d do it at the cost of me looking like a total retard to the rest of the internet, which on second thought, is nothing new for me.
As the event came to and end and my voice was entirely gone from yelling, “Abunai!!!” at just about every run, the crowd cheerfully awaited a final verdict from the judges.
Teams who made it into the top 4 were, High Fade, ShaDynasty, Risky Devil and HotBoyz, who were driving with a wild card driver after Jordan had to retire from competition.
Tyler Barnick, who’s S13 is pictured here on the far right, actually drove his car all the way out to Chicago and then Wisconsin from Los Angeles! After it was clear that Jordan’s car had suffered too much damage to compete the next day, Jack and Eric asked Tyler if he’d drive with them so they could still have a team for competition day. Coincidentally, his car was already the right color! What were the odds?
A much deserved victory came for High Fade as they had executed a flawless and synced up run on their first try. Laughs were had; cheers and ovations followed as the champagne was brought to the podium for the ultimate celebration. Not just a celebration for winning, but a general celebration for an amazing event like this even taking place thanks to the hard work and dedication of Club FR.
I had to leave the venue soon after as Damon and I had a 10 hour drive ahead of us back to Detroit, Michigan, but luckily, Cody Fowler, generously donated some of his amazing work for this mega delayed blog post. Thanks Cody!
The rest of the event was simply just a time for fun and relaxation from the stressful competition and practice. The track was now open for everyone to just drive together and have a great time.
Final Bout was simply put, a perfect and pretty much un-beatable weekend to date. Meeting everyone was overwhelming to say the least but now that we’ve all gone back to our comparatively boring lives of internet chat, it’s badass to think that we all know each other in person and the conversations have increased in value tremendously. As a team, obviously we’re super bummed that we weren’t able to drive but with talks of a another Final Bout in the works, you better believe we’ll do everything we can to make it. We won’t miss another!!!!