By Ryan Benoit, DODOlogic
“We’re from Canada and it’s our Thanksgiving long weekend.” This is something I repeated to Uber drivers and anyone else who would listen last weekend. That’s right – our Thanksgiving happened on October 10, while the Super D Matsuri happened at California’s Grange Motor Circuit on October 9. Was Super D a Thanksgiving wish come true (not a real thing)? As I crossed back into Canada, the border guard asked me where I had been, to which I responded “a drift event, outside of LA.” Her follow-up question wasn’t one of protocol, but “Was it worth it, with the Canadian dollar being so low?”
Was Super D worth the price of admission? It would be nice if I could say that I’d waited my entire life for an event like Super D. I wish I could tell you that it was a dream come true to see Nakamura drift. The truth is I can’t, because that’s not me. I don’t have a long-lasting affinity for D1 drivers. Now, before you “X” out of this window and leave a nasty comment, allow me to explain.
What I’m trying to say is that I wasn’t in on the ground floor of Team Burst, I didn’t read Option magazine or watch the videos growing up. My interactions with D1 were brief and shallow. I may have been late to the party, but that’s not to say it isn’t still a great party.
You see, I grew up in the middle of Canada, in the prairies, reading Super Street and later graduated to automotive blogs. The people I look up to and the ones that truly shaped my perception of drifting are mostly my friends and peers. Some of them are the people behind the camera and others are the people behind the wheel. Many of these people are the reason I took an interest in the backlog of Japanese drifting content over the past few years.
I’m not completely in the dark on this subject matter. I understand the importance and influence the likes of Nakamura bring to the global drift community. I’ve done my homework. He is a cultural touchpoint for many in the drifting community and a hero to others, but like I mentioned, I learned about this long after the fact. I was already well into the media world before I could truly appreciate this.
Why bring this all up? Because you are mostly going to hear about how great this event was from people who were in on the ground level – the Nakamura fans who were shaped by his influence. Nostalgia and excitement will creep into their explanation of Super D and ultimately muddy the waters and create an enormous bias. To an outsider, this type of fandom can make it easy to dismiss this event and write it off as a “fanboi” experience. So, take it from a guy who has no real ties to what transpired when I say that everything you’ve been hearing about the event is true. All of it.
Super D was an amazing event, but part of me could have probably enjoyed it even without Nakamura. There’s no denying the level of excitement he brought to the track. There’s plenty of positive things that could be said, but nothing is perfect. If I dug down deep, I could probably find something petty to complain about. But the truth is any petty squabbles burned up in that desert sun as soon as Nakamura took to the track, especially in the later part of the day.
It isn’t hard to see why and how he’s impacted so many drivers over the years. There was nothing magical about Nakamura’s S-Chassis – just an SR20DET with a couple of bolt-ons and an amazing vinyl collaboration between Ryo Japan and D-Magic. The car probably only makes about 350WHP. However, with him behind the wheel, it became a weapon able to keep pace with – and some might even say outperform – fully built, high horsepower drift machines.
But the event was so much more than a guy who could barely speak English reminding us that we still have a thing or two to learn about drifting. The organizers, the volunteers, the drivers and spectators were what truly made this event what it was. Nakamura may have been the catalyst, but the success of the event was the sum of all its moving parts.
Drivers came from all over North America to partake in the event. To me, that really added to the character and quality of what happened. As inaccessible as the track itself was, the event was accessible to many. If you wanted to be there bad enough, you could make it happen; there were no real guest lists or hoops to jump through. Super D didn’t cater to one specific group of die-hard fans or seasoned vets – it just welcomed like-minded people. It was sort of like Burning Man, but instead of all the weird shit, it was just a bunch of nice cars drifting on a kart track, burning tires instead of an effigy. Actually, I’m probably only making that comparison because the track was in the middle of nowhere and people camped in the desert.
But I digress. Like I said, it was Thanksgiving in Canada – a holiday that is usually spent with friends and family. So if I couldn’t be at home, at least I spent it with my wider enthusiast “family” in the desert at a grassroots drift event. And “Was it worth it, with the Canadian dollar being so low?” I’ll tell you what I told the Canadian border guard: “You can’t put a price on memories.” This was a Thanksgiving I’ll probably remember forever.