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Front Row Seat at Final Bout: Special Stage Central

Front Row Seat at Final Bout: Special Stage Central

By now, everyone has heard of Final Bout. My DODOlogic colleague Dylan Evans did a great job breaking down this year’s competition schedule in his article “Dylan Does Final Bout: Special Stage West.” Special Stage Central was held at USA International Raceway in Shawano, Wisconsin, on July 30. This track has become a second home to a majority of the guys who drive it regularly. I mean, it’s not referred to as the Rollercoaster of Love for no reason! The sweeping rollers and numerous amounts of different layouts the track can take on make it everything that we’ve come to love and then some. But, discussing the layout of the track is not why I am here.

SSC - 10Final Bout is all about moving back to the tradition of the grassroots style of drifting – the original style that everyone fell in love with. It can be compared to the early days of drifting. It’s truly a friendly competition that’s about having a great time, building a beautiful reflection of your own style and personality, and pushing each other to the limits. As Leigh Roto said last year, “It’s much more interesting and exciting to watch cars that you don’t want to hit, getting as close as possible without actually making contact.”

SSC - 11This isn’t just any other drift shindig; Final Bout has a couple requirements that hopeful participants sometimes overlook. First off, you must have a team of three or more cars. Nobody enjoys watching a single car go out on a track and run hot laps – not for any extended period of time, that is. Secondly, your car can’t look like a rolling dumpster. It may be a well-polished turd, but no rolling dumpster. And as these events progress, the cars just keep getting cooler and cooler, and that even applies to those that don’t participate.

SSC - 14This revitalization of good taste was a much-needed shot to the drift scene. Over the last few years, people thought it was cool to have unpainted body panels or aero kits because it was the hip “drifter style.” Now, a good portion of people want to have bitchin’ cars like the drivers that they look up to. I know that holds true for me and a large group of my friends. Just as Jake Rio said, “Drifting should just be a rolling car show.” The more attractive the cars are, the more exciting it is for the spectators to watch them tear up the track!

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We’ve tried to follow Japanese car stylings since they found their way overseas to North America. We’re like an overly obsessed, scorned lover stalking their ex at 2:00 a.m. on Facebook. We observe and obsess over every little detail. We borrow, copy or downright steal our favorite part of every iconic Japanese car and hope that we end up with an amalgamation of styles that’s been put together just right. The idea is that each person’s interpretation of Japan breeds their own personal style, but also serves as a reflection of all those who did it right before you!

SSC - 2By now, everyone is probably sick of hearing what Final Bout is all about, so let’s get to the event. After the four hour drive to Shawano, my friend Austin and I parked, stretched our legs, and then worked our way to the pits. Out of habit, I first found Chob and the rest of Team Proceed to say “Hello!”

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SSC - 4Just past Team Proceed were the Villains. Even though the track had just opened, I learned of a little mishap that had occurred. Jason Cowles with the FC had a brake rotor snap in half that sent him into the wall. This would put his car out of commission for a majority of the day, making him miss the competition.

SSC - 5Once we made our way to the track, we watched Ben Mitch of Team Tracker and his teammate in the S13.5 make some passes. Ben’s coupe is an excellent example of a well-styled drift car. Stateside, in comparison to Japan, it’s not too common to see Regas on a drift car; paired with the subtle aero and the neutral colored livery, this car is just brilliant.

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SSC - 7It was exciting to see that Garage Moon Power made it from the east coast. Despite their mechanical vehicle problems throughout the day – and almost being taken out by a broken axle while I was on the track taking pictures – their cars stunted pretty hard!

SSC - 8After morning practice, Ilia and Simba held the drivers meeting for the qualifying round that was about to take place.

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SSC - 9Some teams cycled through before going to put a new set of tires on, make further adjustments and ready their cars for another run.

SSC - 12This fairly stock S2000 was doing a hell of a job linking the track. I was thoroughly impressed!

SSC - 13It was nice to get out on the track and get some better shots. Another fine example of a car with exquisite styling is Josh’s 180sx, sporting the full KOGUCHI look, as well as the front bumper!

SSC - 15After another FC blew its motor, the owner allowed Jason to borrow his parts to get back out on the track. While doing so, he discovered that his rear bumper support had bent from the accident and was rubbing on the tire, so the staff offered an on-track frame pulling service!

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SSC - 17In the midst of all the fun, there was a little incident involving a couple of the cars…

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But not to worry, Chob (a former S14 owner himself) was there to save the day with his trusty fender roller/puller!

SSC - 20Mike Hahnen’s R32 is another one of those cars that is styled just right. I know everyone has seen a lot of it from me by now, but it’s not for no reason. Heavy flake, metallic pink on Blitz Tyrpe-03s, the car seems like something from the early 2000’s – again, pulled straight from Japan. This is sort of funny because Mike actually picked this car out and brought it back with him while he was working in Japan for GTR Garage.

SSC - 24This Toyota Verossa showed up from Canada. I’ve been wanting to see one for a very long time, so it was so satisfying.

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SSC - 26The long day was coming to an end, but the fun PROCEEDed… (ha, get it?!).

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SSC - 29As the sun began to set, the golden hour set in…

SSC - 30Cars were loaded, goodbyes were said, and I set off on the four-hour trip home, hoping to see all these friends soon again.

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In building a car, starting with simplicity and letting your emotions pour into the vehicle is typically the best route to take. Every little detail should flow together. In some ways it’s like feng shui; it should almost create a state of harmony. Building an aesthetically pleasing car that performs is a lot like Goldilocks and those Three Bears – it takes a decent amount of trial and error to get it just right. All in all, I must say Special Stage Central was an enjoyable event.

They say “a ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships were built for.” This could, of course, be a hilarious “Final Boat” joke or a great analogy for all these Final Bout cars. Yeah, these cars look cool on the internet or just sitting in the pits, but that’s not what they were built for. They’re meant to be driven. The DODOlogic mantra of “Create – Destroy – Repeat” comes to mind. No one should actively go looking to wreck their car, but it happens. And Final Bout is as much about the prep and follow through as it about the event. For that reason alone, I’m very excited for Final Bout III in 2017!

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