Paul Allen called up all of his tank friends and asked if they wanted to come over to his museum.
2016 was the year of team tandem. After two years of ogling pictures and videos of Proceed, ShaDynasty and GoldStar soaring in glorious synchronization over the dales of USAIR, word came through that Final Bout would be coming to both coasts. Former missile cars either disappeared beneath new coats of paint and carefully-assembled body kits, or were tossed aside altogether in favor of something fresher and perhaps worthy of Final Bout.
NissanFest, long known in the Pacific NW as the first large event of the car season, eschewed the FD-esque tandem competition they had hosted for so long in favor of a team tandem competition for 2016. Haphazard teams were assembled by re-invigorated locals to join the likes of Villains and some Canadian team named Husky Situations.
For the unawares it is entirely understandable to perceive NissanFest's adoption of team tandem as some sort of band-wagoning. There is nothing wrong with riding the tidal wave of enthusiasm created by the earthquake that was Final Bout, but the given that NissanFest is run by Canadians it is more likely that the decision to adopt Team Tandem was driven more by the readiness of the market.
One should keep in mind that to team tandem has been a part of Canadian drift culture for years, thanks to popular events such as the Drift Union Invitational. So NissanFest's adoption of team tandem was more of a pivot to something familiar. Should one need an example of how embedded team tandem is in Canadian drifting culture, look no further than Husky Situation's dominating performance at NissanFest 2016.
NissanFest 2017 saw the team tandem competition return, and it was a reminder of the hugely positive impact that team tandem has had on drifting culture. For many years now NissanFest has been the proverbial line in the sand, a reason to spend those long winter nights in the garage rather than on the couch. By offering a much more permeable competitive event, one could even argue that NissanFest is better than ever.
Competing in EVD ProAm this season? Get your ProAm friends together and make a team.
Drifting for the fun of it? Get your friends together and make a team.
Looking for a chance to drive as a team somewhere other than your home track? Make the trip to Nissanfest.
Burned out by Formula Drift? Put together a tandem team instead.
Final Bout gave the drifting community something to work towards that wasn't Formula Drift. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with working one's way through ProAm, Pro2, and on to the big leagues. Drifting is, at its very core, fun - and for many people in the drifting community the idea of working up the Formula Drift ladder was not something that appealed to their sense of fun. Final Bout presented the other half of the proverbial coin, and the community held fast to it.
So as bitterly disappointed as I am about Final Bout not returning to Pat's Acres this year, NissanFest does give one hope for the future.
Insta Clip for your viewing pleasure
An article is in the works on team tandem, NissanFest and Canadians. Until it's done, here's a batch of pictures from last weekend's activities:
The current year may still have a month and change left in it, but it is the nature of time to slip away in an instant. As such, the present seems like as good a moment as any to put together a review of the year.
February (above), March and April (below) were spent at Pat's Acres. Off-season drifting is a relaxed exercise - here in the PNW it means dashing through puddles and hurling mud as rain-slick asphalt sends cars beyond the bounds of the track.
Rain can make for interesting pictures, but when the cold seeps into your bones and rain lashes you and your camera it does wear on one's soul. Sometimes the best course of action is to stuff one's camera gear into one's bag and spend an hour or two watching the cars go 'round from someplace dry. As a photographer one does not get to spend much time watching drifting, and there is something special about rain-soaked open drift days.
Rain is the great equalizer - everyone can drift in the rain and everyone spins in the rain. It's all in good fun, and that's what matters.
In February I was given the opportunity to watch Ian Dillon of Factory 83 work his magic on the Villain's. Ian's artistic capacity and vision have produced some of the most well-known liveries in the American drifting scene, and watching him work on the Villains was a genuine privilege. Forgive my rambling, but what I love most about Ian's liveries is that each car is given a design that is entirely unique. Each car 'owns' the livery bestowed upon it, so to speak. Nate, Jason, Scott and all of those who support them have put so much into the Villians, and with a proper livery the Villains became more than just a good idea. They became a team.
With April came the PARC's first open drift in the sun - and NissanFest.
Rather than the traditional FD-style competition, NorthwestNissans decided to run a team tandem event. Collections of local drivers made their drift-team dreams manifest and joined more storied teams such as the Villains on the track. But despite some truly amazing driving from local drivers, all were undone by the peerless Husky Situations. Hailing from Vancouver, B.C., the grey cars drew wild roars and applause from the crowd each time they hit the track. Simply put, Husky Situations were on another level and helped drive home the point originally raised by the organizers of Final Bout - team tandem is the future of drifting.
Up next was the Oregon Trail Rally. Like the prior year, I left the penultimate stage grumbling that it would be more fun to drive in the OTR than to shoot it. The high desert of Oregon is a majestic place, and some day I will figure out how to shoot a stage rally.
PARC in the spring - when all of the cool kids come out.
Stay tuned for a comprehensive look at the second half of the year - Formula Drift, GRC, Final Bout and DUI.