Japan's Best Drifters Invade The California Desert

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Far from the sights and sounds of LA and about 15 wrong turns down dirt roads, you’ll spot a sliver of a karting track paved into the California desert. It was here that drivers from around the world converged to demonstrate a style of driving rarely seen on American shores. Well, that and shotgun beers.

Super D Matsuri is a 32-hour, nonstop drift party featuring drivers from Japan’s Team Burst. This is the second time Team Animal Style has hosted Super D Matsuri at Grange Motor Circuit in Apple Valley, California. Perfectly suited to Team Burst’s synchronized backwards entries, Grange boasts a fast entry and and tight technical sections.

Naoki Nakamura, Mitsuyoshi Nishio, and Miki Takagi wasted no time throwing their cars around inches apart on this desert course. Even during a private session on Friday, you could hear their SR20s screaming down the straight, all three cars following bumper to bumper into the first turn.

This style of driving is like a drug in the American grassroots scene, and drifters fight to recreate it as best they can. Ultra low, ultra close, ultra aggressive. Some make the pilgrimage to Japan to see it in person. SuperD imported it wholesale: cars, drivers and all. Running with Naoki and Team Burst, for American drivers addicted to the internet, is like meeting a life goal.

NorCal’s Animal Style and multiple other drivers were regularly in the mix, doing their best to stay on the doors of each Burst car. Pro Formula Drift drivers such as Chelsea Denofa and Geoff Stoneback, as well as YouTube stars Adam LZ and Offbeat Garage, crossed the country to make it. Even they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to drive this now world famous event.

Other teams from around the country shipped, drove and trailered their cars, too. Front Street Drift Club made the journey all the way from Staten Island to take second place in Saturday’s Team Triple Tandem competition. (If you were in attendance, you know they won on style points alone. After the results were announced the rowdy East Coasters jumped back in their cars and ripped burnouts all the way around the track.)

Final results for the competition were Broken Aero, Front Street Drift Club, and Take Luck. But to be clear this event was barely about the competition at all.

This event is about bringing together drivers and friends from different ends of the world purely in the name of fun. It’s about week-long drives and 20-hour plane rides to witness history. Super D Matsuri is the epitome of grassroots drifting. Friends, stylish cars, and a two-day party in the desert. All in the name of killing tires.

The event officially ended at before sundown on Sunday, but excitement still lingered. The pits were filled with burnouts and tire smoke well after the drifting had stopped. Members of teams and clubs gathered around to say one last goodbye. Nobody really wanted to leave. Life just had to catch up to them all eventually.

The next Super D Matsuri will take place in Japan as the events now alternate between there and the U.S. Most likely to take place at the internet’s favorite track, Meihan Sportsland, Super D Japan can be trusted to feature the same wild driving and battered cars of Super D USA. Until then enjoy a few more images from Super D Matsuri 2018.