The State of Drift series made its third and easternmost stop last weekend on East10 Drift’s turf at Smokies Stadium in Kodak, TN. When the smoke had cleared, a single point separated first and second place in the championship standings, setting up a close fight for the final round at the end of October.
Louie Garza of East10 Drift, one of the three organizations putting on the series, got things kicked off with the roll call, which led right into…
…what was possibly the longest drivers meeting in the history of motorsports.
This was all for good reason though, as this event featured Formula Drift Pro 2 driver Alex Youe as one of the judges. He went over in great detail the course layout and what he expected to see of those competing.
At the conclusion of the meeting, some drivers immediately set about running over the cones.
Others put their cars out of commission on the first run out.
The event marked the first time I’ve seen Richard Matthews and his V8 Miata. The ’97 NB features a 5.3L LSX powerplant tuned by Greg Abbot mated to an NV3500 transmission. The car also features Mazdaspeed struts, eBay springs, a custom rear sway bar, torsen diff in an FC diff housing.
“The motor mounts, engine harness, rollcage, e-brake, steering knuckles and rear control arms were done by me with a lot of help from my friends,” Matthews said. “My dad, Clyde Matthews at Matthews Garage made a custom drive shaft. The superman seat cover was done by my wife, Ashley.”
Steven Fishel was dominant in qualifying, scoring a 101 out of a possible 120 to grab the top spot.
Competition was underway as Fishel and Abe Heath took to the track in the first match of top 16, with Heath taking the win over the series points leader when Fishel broke an axle.
Hooman Rahimi took the win over Eric So when the latter straightened on his lead run.
Matthews took the V8 Miata to a win over Tron Reeder.
In a battle of S14s, the teal S14 of DJ Thornton would defeat Barry Clapp to advance.
Despite his patriotism, Abe Heath fell to Ricky Adams in the first round of top eight.
Proving that looks aren’t everything, Rahimi’s 350Z got the win over Clouser’s nearly immaculate S14 after having already knocked out Eric So’s S14 in top sixteen.
“I’m not sure how his chase was against me but on my chase against him he made a mistake and straightened,” Rahimi said. “I tried to stay behind him and we ended up finishing the run with a good tandem anyway which was fun.”
Matthews’ Miata took out round one runner up Austin Sorah to take his place in top eight.
Thornton gave a valiant effort, but was knocked out by Adams as the gold S13 continued its rise to the top.
More V8s battled in the other top four match, with Matthews’ Miata taking the win over Rahimi’s 350Z.
This set the battle for third between Thornton and Rahimi, with the battered 350Z taking the bronze prize.
“I ended up swapping tires for my battle for third with DJ,” Rahimi said. “I tried to keep as much angle and smoke as possible on my lead run which I think when he was chasing me he got a little too close on the back stretch and actually hit me and spun out. I was able to keep my line and kept drifting. I knew I had the advantage and just needed a clean run to take the win, but tandem is too fun to play it safe and I just went in as hard as I could and went for a good show.”
Rahimi’s 350Z debuted its new V8 powerplant in 2015 after many years of keeping a nearly stock engine setup.
“Overall I had a great time, and am glad I was able to finally come back out to one of these State of Drift events and I am enjoying my new power plant,” he said. “I am still testing tires out to see what works best and also doesn’t kill my limited budget. I played around with some tires that worked great at Street Life Tour but they were expensive and don’t last long.”
Thornton’s fourth place finish came during the second time he’s really had the car out this year.
“I got back from LS Fest about two weekends ago, and that was the first event I’ve been able to run the car without issues, and this was the second,” Thornton said. “That in itself is a good thing. There’s a lot of things I want to change setup wise for next year. As far as this event, what hurt me the most was running a cheaper tire. After a couple laps they get greasey, and that’s something I either have to deal with price wise or keep driving on those. As far as the car, it’s running good now, and I’m more pumped about that than anything.”
The finals came down to a battle of V8 transplants, with Adams’ gold S13 taking the win.
“That thing is light and has a lot of power,” Adams said of the Miata. “I looked back and he was right back there. He said he was trying to get through the smoke and he got through it all. I think he had some mechanical issues and I hate to see that and I hate to win that way, but it is what it is. Hopefully we get to run against him again soon.”
Those mechanical issues were actually quite significant.
“In my second run against Hooman I noticed a slight drop in oil pressure,” Matthews said. “I advanced on to the finals and when we lined up the oil pressure had
bottomed out and it developed a knock. Half way though my chase run as
we were headed into the transition, a rod or wristpin let go and sent two
connecting rods through the block.”
Adams said the climb to the top went off without much of a hitch.
“I went against some amazing drivers who were throwing down consistent runs all day,” Adams said. “I’d like to thank my team, Michael Kelley and Jared Bickley. They were changing out tires like mad men. I’m running used pull offs and they have just a little bit of tread each, so after one or two runs the car was going through them. My shifter was leaking trans fluid, so we filled that up and go it plugged. The PCV valve was blowing oil through the top and burning it, so we’ll have to go through that system and see why it’s now flowing right.”
Despite the top sixteen knockout, Fishel retains the points lead by a single point over now-second place Adams going into the final round at the end of October.