Motorsport: Mad Mike sets up drifting festival fun
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Drift action at Hampton Downs
The biggest drifting event in New Zealand's history will be at Hampton Downs in February with Mad Mike's Summer Bash attracting the biggest names in the sport.
Red Bull Formula Drift star Mad Mike Whiddett has selected the top 16 drifters in the country to take part in a new format that will ensure drivers have a lot more seat time than regular events.
Other competition formats will allow every day drivers the chance to go up against professionals on New Zealand's best race track.
"We want to make it the biggest drift festival in New Zealand," Whiddett said. "We have our RADBUL MX5, which we built for the world championship here. It has never been seen in the public eye in New Zealand before.
"We have hand selected a field for a top 16 format battle and we have got the whole top 16 saying they are super keen to get involved.
"We also have some old guns, who used to be New Zealand champions, building cars for this event as well."
Whiddett has designed the event to be attractive to all level of competitors.
"A lot of people get scared away because they think it is Mad Mike and Fanga Dan and there's no track time - even the pros' track time is limited. You have practice in the morning then a couple of laps for qualifying and then you are straight into elimination so you can be on your trailer quite fast.
"I wanted to focus on seat time. All the pros will have a lot of seat time."
As part of the day's format there will be different types of competition from beginner to pro.
"In the morning, the national track will be open and so will the club circuit and that will alternate from guys that have $200 Corollas that just want to come down and bang some doors and have some fun off the street. We have the top 16 format drifting competition with the best drivers in New Zealand competing. We have a unique format called the Triple Threat. That is where drivers will team up in groups of three and it isn't about beating each other but, as a team, putting on the most explosive run throughout the new section of Hampton Downs. We have the Double Bastard Insane Entry which is going to be held on the unique section of Hampton Downs.
"There are lots of opportunities where the public can get on the track and experience the international track. Mum and the kids can hop in their TX9. It doesn't have to have a roll cage or anything. They just need to make sure their seat-belts are on and they have a warrant of fitness and they can drive around the track in a controlled manner.
Mazda are going to have a couple of MX5s that we'll set up on a wet gymkhana course. I will set a time drifting around the course and we'll open it up to the public to drive a brand new MX5 and see if they can beat my time.
"We are putting in some big grandstands, which Hampton Downs has never had, down where all the drift action is going to be happening."
Whiddett and track owner Tony Quinn want to turn it into a major international event over time.
"We have definitely got lots of interest from the international guys but for this year we don't want to over-promise and under-deliver," Whiddett said.