This year saw the return of Keep it Reet's infamous Friday Night Drifts. A night full of drifting for everyone from pro drifters to those who just wanted to have some fun under the Calder Park lights. The night would be full of smoke, backwards entries and even a Nissan S14 giveaway.
Walking through the pit lane before the drivers briefing, drivers and teams were busily preparing their cars for some drifting action. The Team Wheel Deal, Au Drift Society and Down DC groups made sure that Australian grassroots drift teams were well presented.
This event would also be the debut of the new PGDA layout. A long straight followed by a hairpin and another long straight on the Thunderdome banking.
These long straights would allow drifters to unsettle their cars and try some switchbacks before the hairpin whilst also connecting the hairpin with the commonly used FD layout at the south end of the Thunderdome front straight.
When drifting, cars and drivers are pushed to their limits. Cars a beaten up, engines and gearboxes are worked to their maximum, suspension systems become battered and stressed. Drivers must be quick with their reactions, gentle with their throttle yet forceful with their overall control of the car.
Similarly, when photographing in dark conditions, with bright lights and smoking tires to chase, camera sensors and settings are pushed to their limits. ISO is bumped up to as far as possible, with noise becoming another issue to tackle. Any change of where you point the camera can upset how your camera reads what is in front of it.
At 8:00pm, the track was closed momentarily for the Nissan S14 giveaway. Tickets for the giveaway had been sold for the past month and now it was time to draw the winner.
A name was drawn and Jason Ferron, Keep it Reet founder, called the lucky winner over the phone with a crowd eagerly listening. After a pretty chill chat, Jason let Jack Fisher from NSW know that he had just won a very clean Nissan S14. At that moment, an elated Jack Fisher had to be reminded that there were kids present.
Next on the agenda was the backwards entry competition. Drivers would attempt to rotate their cars as much as possible, almost a full 180 before stepping on the gas and completing the drift.
The cleaner and wider the drift, the better it would be judged.
It was then that Calder Park felt like a stadium, a house of drift, home of smoke, revving engines and backwards entries.
As more and more attempts were made for the best backwards entry, it became clear that drivers struggled to position their car wide enough when exiting the corner, as many drivers would clip the inside grass on the way out.
The red flag would be shown when Tauri Onus in his KE70 would rotate a bit too far, backing into the wall, causing heavy damage to the rear of his car.
With the red flag, the call was made to end the backwards entry competition and declare a winner. The cheers from the crowd for Russell Cunningham made him the victor in his Team Wheel Deal Nissan Sil80. Celebratory burnouts ensued.
With the track cleared of the wrecked KE70, drivers were allowed to drift well into the night.
After an abysmal 2020, these Friday Nights, allow fans and drivers come and drift at the end of their working week. It has sparked a return of the grassroots drift community in Melbourne, and Keep it Reet is at the forefront of growing this community.