Midnight Drift at Rocky Mountain Raceway

Salt Lake City, Utah has a decent sized auto enthusiasts community for how small of a city and state it is.  There’s about 2.5 million people in all of Utah.  Utah has 2 racing facilities, Rocky Mountain Raceway (RMR) with its 1/4 mile dragstrip and asphalt oval and Miller Motorsports Park with its 4+ mile road course.

Last night I hit up the 2nd Midnight Drag and Drift event of the year.  RMR has been holding Midnight Drags since about 2001 or so.  It was touted as a way to get the young punks off the streets and have a safe and organized way to race.  I raced my first Civic at a couple Midnight Drags back then.  A couple years ago though, the Drift Enterprise of Utah started holding Midnight Drift events on the oval track. 

RMR, Rocky Mountain Raceway, Midnight Drift, drifting

I thought this sign was kinda cool.  “Section D” for DRIFT!!!

The number of cars entered in the drag portion are probably 150-200.  For the drift boys, there’s only about 8-10 cars.  The number of people watching the drag racing is probably somewhere around 1000+.  The people watching drifting?  1, maybe  2.  Ok, not that bad, but seriously probably less than 10 people.  Why?  Who knows.  To me personally, drifting is 100x more interesting and more fun to watch!

Midnight Drift, tire changer, oval track, RMR, drifting, S13, Cressida

The drifters set up their “pits” on the oval track’s infield.  Check out the white pickup truck, it has a tire changer strapped onto a trailer.  You can spot to Nissan 240SX’s (S13 chassis) hatchbacks on the oval’s banked turn getting ready to run.  Then there’s another S13 hatchback in the “pits” with a Toyota Cressida behind it with its hood up.  Yes, your grandma’s Toyota Cressida.  But, hey!  The Cressy has rwd, an inline 6 and you could find a few with a manual trans (or swap a Toyota Supra manual trans and heck, a turbo motor while you’re at it). 

240sx hatchback, drifting, banked oval, RMR, S13 hatchback, Silvia,

This S13 hatch’ was running what I think was a turbo RB20 (or maybe RB26), which is a Japanese Skyline engine.  It definitely sounded different than the 4’s.  He kept smoking from the front.  Must have been rubbing the front fenders.  He had good speed though.

Small block Chevy, LS swap, FC RX-7, RMR's Midnight Drift

When I arrived, I heard what I thought was a stock car on the oval.  Happened to be this small Chevy (LS series V8) swapped RX-7 (FC Chassis).  This car hauled!  He was by far the fastest and most skilled drifter out there.  The sound of this beast grabbed attention.  When he’d come out for some sideways runs, a few people watching the drag racing would look over.  He also got pretty close to the wall.  As he’d go by, you’d get hit by small rubber bits and smoke.  Ahh yes, what a blast!!!

S13 hatchback, getting sideways, RMR's Midnight Drift, Rota P45R, S13 SE, drifting, Drift Enterprise, Utah Drift

This section is where the cars come off the oval and hit the apex next to the big orange cone where they head back onto the oval.  The black S13 hatchback was SR20 (turbo 2.0L DOHC 4 cylinder Japanese engine) powered and was easily the busiest car out on the track.  He lost his front AND rear bumper during the night.  His lowness was just ride I guess.  Ha Ha.  He had good speed and knew what he was doing.  He was fun to watch.

S13 hatchback, Midnight Drift at RMR, 240SX, drifting, Utah Drift, Drift Enterprise

Here’s the first corner the drifters take and its up on the banked oval.  You can see a hint of sparks from the inside rear tire.  Getting down to the steel belts!  This car certainly looks like your typical amateur drift car.  First of all, its a Nissan 240SX (S13 chassis, 1989-94 production years), has mismatched wheels (usually they’ll have various wheel/tire combos to use through the session to maximize track time I guess), stock body, lowered suspension, and something hanging from the rear towhook.  In this case, it looks like a flash light. 

S13 coupe, drifting, Utah Drift, Drift Enterprise, RMR Raceway, Midnight Drift

This is Marco and his clean S13 Coupe.  Yes, another 240SX.  I met Marco back in the pits and snapped a few pictures.  Look for those in an upcoming blog post.  This was Marco’s first time out drifting.  It’s mostly stock.  It has a mild lowering job, some wheels and that’s about it.  It’s all you need to start learning the slideways of the force. 

Next time I need to figure out how to get closer on the action.  Shooting through the fence was rough and I was too far away.  Plus this was my first time shooting at night with the D90.  I screwed up bigtime.  I had the shutter speed set too fast.  It clicked when I was looking at the pictures on the laptop back at home that they were too fuzzy/blurry/noisy.   Too fast a shutter speed doesn’t let in as much light.  Lesson learned. 

You guys wanna see more drifting?  I’m thinking of hitting up the Las Vegas Formula Drift event in August.  Let me know if you guys would like to see more drifting and drift cars.  I’d love to give drifting a try someday.  How do I unhook my front axles on my WRX?  Ha ha, just kidding honey.  Mostly…


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