Event: Final Bout 2016 – Special Stage East V.1

This year, the collective minds behind Final Bout set out to unite a country over the sport of drifting; instilling in the nation a certain set of qualities they feel are necessary for the sport to thrive with it’s Japanese roots intact.  Each carefully selected location of the Special Stage events provided their own unique characteristics in both venue and demographics that helped define what drifting is in each corner of the nation.  Uncovering, and highlighting these places allowed others to experience different parts of the country, both first and second hand, that we wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to.  I think this alone is reason enough to undertake a project as massive as Final Bout has been in 2016.  This time the crew headed to Canaan Motor Club in central New Hampshire to host the third, and final stage of the trio of special events.

This trip was rather tiring for me.  I’m sure you know by now I’m no stranger to flying, but having just got back from Japan the weekend before, and flying to Phoenix for a meeting mid-week, I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to get back on an airplane for a transcontinental flight.  I ended up taking an obscure route from Los Angles to JFK, taking a shuttle to La Guardia and flying into Boston.  Once in Boston, I got my rental car (the incredibly nice employee that helped me at Enterprise actually knew what Final Bout was – small world), and proceeded to leave Massachusetts and make my way across New Hampshire to Vermont.  It took me a few passes to find my home for the evening; a rather hidden, 3-story estate that most of the Final Bout staff was staying in for the weekend.  For my tired body, it was a sight for sore eyes.  After dinner, a few beers, and some good conversation, we turned in for the night to try and catch some sleep before the big day in the morning.

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ndf_3095In the morning, we left our house that was tucked behind the Autumn colored hillsides of Quechee, Vermont, and I couldn’t help but be caught off guard by the morning sun filtering through the fall colored leaves.  Last night I had driven through the entire state of New Hampshire and into Vermont in complete darkness, so I wasn’t yet privy to the beauty that this season provides this part of the country.  I hadn’t yet been to the track, but I had seen some posts on Instagram and Snapchat and it looked gorgeous.  I thought to myself if it was anything like where we were staying I was in for a treat.  I starting up my rented SUV and let it idle to get the heater up to temp.  Contrary to the still 80 degree weather in Los Angeles, Vermont mornings were in the low 30’s.  As I followed Ilia across the border into New Hampshire I was compelled to grab my camera and try to capture what I could from outside the window.  Being a Southern California native, I’ve been neglected in terms of seasons for years, so experiencing Fall in this area was pretty special to me.

ndf_3098The deciduous Oak, Maple and Poplar trees, among the scattered evergreens canvased the land with an almost unrealistic palette of color.

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ndf_3118It wasn’t long before we were coasting through the actual town of Canaan, just minutes from the race track.  Looking around my mind wandered to what a life in a small town like this would be like.  I’m sure it was full of unspoken stories that you hear about in country songs.  Kind of hard to believe that there was an accredited motoring club just around the corner.  One could say the remoteness of locale for Special Stage East hindered the event’s ability to draw a massive crowd; undoubtedly, there is some truth to that. However, it’s also this seclusion that gives Cannan Motor Club and its surrounding areas, almost fairly tale like qualities.  It was a tough, but refreshing trade off from the overly busy drifting events that I’m used to.

I started my days work by inspecting the paddock area where all the cars were parked overnight, sizing them up, comparing them to the cars I’m accustomed to seeing out in the West.  There were a lot of good looking cars, but based on the SSW and SSC events, not nearly as many as I thought there would be.  Still, the day looked promising and I was excited for the track to be hot.  BOSSTOWN, Breakshift, Drift Faction, Get Excite!!!, Life Ruiner, Skeezy Labs, Sneak Zero, and Proceed were the teams in attendance this weekend, and this was my first time seeing many of the cars.  Actually, the only cars I think I had seen before were the New Jersey cars from Faction, and Chicago’s Proceed.

I met up with a few friends that were attending from the West, and we talked and walked around for some time as they helped me get acquainted with who was who at the track (one friend being Derek Slyter, who is my unofficial ‘U.S. Drift Consultant’).  Pretty soon it was time for the drivers meeting, so we made our way to the club house.

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ndf_3179Ilia and Simba gave the lowdown on the track rules and regulations.  There’s no sense in holding a motor sport event if safety and organization aren’t put first, and these guys are on top of both.

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ndf_3159Back out in the paddock area, this S14 caught my eye right away; unfortunately I never saw it on track.  I later learned that the owner was going to drive during the practice day, and ended up leaving the car for his friend in BOSSTOWN to drive.  BOSSTOWN, the East Coast, 2.5ish man team from Northern Massachusetts had some of the best looking cars in the paddock…

ndf_3155…Shane Lach’s hatchback being one of them.  The authentic GP Sports aero with the bronze three-piece SSR’s is an original look that works very well.

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ndf_3745Kevin, the other team member from BOSSTOWN in attendance was having some issues with his freshly painted purple hatch.  The KA and massively wide 18×11 rears weren’t really cutting it on Cannan’s large corners.

ndf_3167If ever you needed proof of the Autumn cold, you’d only have to look at the frost that accumulated on the cars overnight.  By mid-day the sun had worn off the cold and we were rewarded by a nice, cool cloudy Autumn day.

Get Excite!!! had some really cool cars as well.  All the cars gave off a very grassroots Japan feel to me.

ndf_3168I liked the wheel combo on this blue hatch.

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ndf_3171This red S14 was a good mix of what I’d imagine to be the standard for a good looking drift car in the US, with a touch of attributes I’ve seen in Japan at tracks like Nikko and Mobara.  The red tint was pretty cool.

ndf_3172The third car in the team was this yellow hatch, also styled very similarly to the other three.  This car actually had a really cool engine bay that I never got a chance to shoot.  Overall a good look for the team.

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They looked good out on track as well.

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ndf_3299Getting Excited for wide angles in the woods.

ndf_3189As far as team coordination goes, the only group at the event that was comparable to the PARC event was Front Street; the predominantly 180 team from Staten Island, New York team.  They all had black-ish cars and a chrome Signal ‘splash’ decal – looked good when they were all on course together.

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ndf_3192They were some of the first cars out on track, and some of the only ones that drifted almost the entire time I was out there.

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ndf_3184Was great to see the Faction guys again after watching them kill it at 2015’s event in Wisconsin.

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ndf_3397This picture of Chett’s S14 is from a pretty shitty angle as far as drifting pictures goes, but I liked the transparent flames that were shooting out of his exhaust.

ndf_3128The three man team, also from New York, Life Ruiner was on hand with their 2 180’s and R32.  Good coordination from these guys as well with matching paint and decal scheme.  The gold and purple looked good.

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ndf_3326Extra sparkly in the sun.

ndf_3139The Drift Faction cars were thoroughly frozen in the morning, and set out to track early to warm up.

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ndf_3460Smile.

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ndf_3404Mr. Martino’s S15 looked great all day, although I’m not sure what team he was driving on or if he was just there for the chance to drive Cannan.

ndf_3133The flagship team of Final Bout had a small presence as well.  Simba and Leigh brought their cars from Chicago to drive the New England track.  I’m a huge fan of Simba’s coupe (fanboy moment).

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ndf_3348They both looked good against the backdrop of the circuit.

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Speaking of the circuit; it didn’t disappoint.  Since it’s used for a variety of motor sport, the track is actually wider and longer than most would assume a drift even to be held at.  The locals spoke highly of it, it was managed very well, and those who traveled from far away were all excited to get to drive it.  That being said though, there were times I was standing infield, or on the apex of a turn for 15-20 minutes without anyone on track.  I even asked Brandon and Scott a few times if they knew if something happened on the backside because I figured if no one was on track it must have been red flagged or something; but nothing, people just weren’t driving.

ndf_3321It was almost like the drifting was at the pace of Cannan the town itself; slow, deliberately leisure in nature.  I rather enjoyed it; a stark contrast to the high paced events I’m used to.  It also gave me a chance to explore the grounds a bit.  On the backside of the complex ran this nice little creek.  A great place to reflect and wind down a bit after my travels that prior week.  That was, until I heard the screech of tires, and pinned rev-limiters headed my direction.