The Midwest Drift Union returned once again to Roosevelt Park in Detroit for the fourth stop on its 2014 schedule. Unique in that it is the only event of its type in the country to take place on public roads, and after a highly successful inaugural showing in 2013, there were high expectations for an even better showing the second time around, and I believe it’s safe to say there wasn’t anyone in attendance who went home disappointed.
Historic Michigan Central Station once again served as the mesmerizing backdrop to the event. While it didn’t appear much had changed on the outside since the inaugural Detroit round last year, some workers I spoke to said progress is being made on cleaning up the inside, as well as heightening the security.
As the burned out crack house which hosted the qualification announcement meeting last year has since been demolished, said meeting was moved to the streets. The top qualifying spot went to Wade Odrey, made all more impressive by his incident with a curb earlier in the day.
“I was going for a backwards entry, and when I got 180 degrees, I was still locked and thought I had it, but when I was pulling forward I was looking out my window and my car was going straight forward,” Odrey said. “When I came forward, that’s when I went straight at it. I hit the front, creamed the back, blew the wheel out and bent my inner tie rod into a U-shape and dented the gas tank.”
With competition underway, Odrey first put away a wounded Chris Gonzalez to advance, which brought out a re-match of Steve Topping and David Meskers’ silver E36s from round three in Topeka. Topping was able to repeat his victory in Detroit to advance on.
Adam Daniels’ aqua E36 convertible soldiered on past “Danger” Dan Sommer to see the open-air car progress to the next round.
In the battle of the rotaries, it was 2013′s MDU “most improved driver”, Stu Kelly, piloting the grandfather to the RX-8, who knocked out former Formula D driver Mike Feiock to head to the great eight.
It was a very close battle all the way through, as evidenced by the damage to Feiock’s car after the two came around the final turn.
Paul Beiswenger, in his for-once-not-flat-black S14, took up every part of the course and more in his battle with Rolando Alfaro. Ultimately, it was Alfaro and his 350Z who advanced on.
Andrew Lewis defeated Dirk Stratton, who had one of the best sounding cars of the event, to secure a spot in top eight.
Odrey had another strong showing in his top eight match against Daniels, pushing him onward and into the final four.
Brian Peter had knocked out Riley Sexsmith’s WRX (via a jumped start on Sexsmith’s part) to find himself in another match against Topping, much as happened in Topeka. Peter got the win after Topping spun out in front of him.
“That was one of the funniest things to have happen and a little scary,” Peter said. “Chase run, I stayed close to him, I gave him a little bit of room because I’d been messing up all day on that turn three transition. I thought he was going to spin and it was confirmed when he stuck his hands out the drivers window in my face and was like ‘STOP.’ I’m staring him in the eyes and he’s staring me in the eyes and I’m like, brakes locked up with the wheels turned and and dragging the e-brake and was all puckered up and came within an inch of going into his driver’s door.”
After an easy win in top 16 over the E30 of Jakob Breeser, Whalley found himself paired against Kelley, and the Goat would go on to see another round.
That mean Lewis and Alfaro were up next, with Lewis getting the nod.
“I went against Rolando and I knew he was going to be a pain in the ass,” Lewis said with a laugh. “I can’t see him when he’s behind me and I thought it would be a one more time. We were at the line waiting like it might have been a one more time, but they gave it to me.”
Odrey took the win over Peter to move to the finals after a one more time was called.
“I don’t have good tires, so I’m always slow through the second turn,” Odrey said. “I drift as early as I can into the first turn, hit the clipping points, and just hold that line. When following, I try to be as aggressive as I can. I wish we would have had more speed at first.”
“My car has more power and grip so lead run I can run away from him,” Peter said. “The chase run is very very difficult because he drives at full lock with a Wisefab kit. It’s hard to chase and I need to get better at that. I got a little too aggressive and didn’t leave myself room and went one more time.”
Odrey’s opponent in the finals would be determined by the next match, with Lewis ultimately eliminating Whalley’s GTO to meet Odrey.
And because we here at MDU aren’t Formula D, Brian Peter’s third place finish was determined by winning his bout against Whalley.
“(Whalley) spun on his first run and I had a good second run and stayed with him and got third,” Peter said. “I’m really stoked to get to come back here.”
Peter’s third place finish came after some early morning woes.
“My drive belt tensioner was slipping a lot and my crew tried everything possible to get that fixed,” he said. “It was slipping to the point that my alternator wasn’t working good enough to make my fuel pump work and my car was cutting out. A lot of struggle in the morning practice session, the afternoon was a little better.”
Lewis emerged from his final battle with Odrey as the 2014 Streets of Detroit champion.
“It was a good day,” Lewis said. “Everybody was on their game for sure. I think most people stepped it up from what I saw earlier this year.”
Speaking of earlier this year, Lewis’ victory came after being plagued with issues at every other MDU round this year.
“Round one, blew out a clutch,” Lewis said. “Round two, blew out a clutch. Went to put a twin disc in it from SPEC, went to a St. Louis event and blew out fourth gear. Sent the transmission off to Drift Motion, they hooked me up and got if fixed. Just drivetrain problems over and over. I’ve pulled the motor our five or six times this year. The motor was great. Forrest Luster tuned it.”
Lewis said he’s got more plans for 2014, including calling out last year’s MDU champion and 2014 Formula D rookie, Geoff Stoneback, for a match at Street Life Tour next month.
“I’m going to try to make some money at this,” Lewis said. “I’m going to Street Life Tour and try to win it and put the five grand in my pocket. If Stoneback shows up that will be an even better reason; yeah I’m calling him out. I wanted to jump into the U.S. Drift series but I’m just going to play it by ear and have a little fun this year.”
Despite Lewis being the winner, Odrey seemed to have the best post-race reaction: rodeo-ing his car for some donuts.
“This is my favorite event to come to,” Odrey said. “I predominately street drift, so when I heard there was street drifting and a competition, I’m there. Uneven pavement, pot holes, sidewalks…nothing phases me. It’s my first podium so I’m psyched. And I can’t think of a better place to do it than streets of Detroit.”