Your gallery of tyre destruction from the Mad Mike Summer Bash
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The ‘Mad Mike’ Summer Bash drift event may well be the best attended event that Hampton Downs Motorsport Park will host in 2017.
That’s correct. In the midst of the glamourous 101 enduro, the V8s, the Toyota Racing Series, and many other championship events scheduled to take place on the recently revamped facility, it’s a drift celebration that looks likely to out rank them all.
Last Saturday’s Summer Bash crowd was exceptional. No numbers have been bandied about yet, but it appeared a great sign denser than the head-count at January’s Festival of Motor Racing, as well as the New Zealand Motor Cup.
A conservative person would suggest that it had more people in attendance than those two meetings combined.
Not to drag those meetings through the mud of course. Heck, Festival and Summer Bash were run by the same group of people. I think.
This is what happens when a brand harnesses its powers, though in this case said brand is actually a person.
He might not have a D1NZ title trophy on his mantle, but Whiddett makes up for any lack of silverware with the way that he engages with his fans both on social media and in person.
Two million likers on Facebook and a whole heap more on Instagram and Twitter helps too.
My solitary mission for my few hours at the Summer Bash was to interview Whiddett. But that proved harder than first thought.
Much in the same vein of a Lowndes or a Brock from the V8 set, Whiddett simply cannot stop signing autographs for people. He’ll sign posters, body parts, merchandise, clothes, and everything else under the sun until the latest possible moment he can before vanishing into thin air.
Needless to say, attempts to catch an interview with Whiddett proved fruitless. Not to say that the day wasn’t entirely without merit.
On track, despite the event being more fun run than Olympic finals, plenty of drivers were pushing themselves and their cars to the limits. Morning practice was dotted with incidents, whether it was cars spearing off into the gravel traps on the outside of the new club circuit, or drivers making contact during tandem practice.
Even Whiddett wasn’t immune from error. He managed to fly off the road at the old turn two twice in succession early in the morning while driving his RADBUL MX-5, though you can guarantee that he nailed it on the third pass.
Ironically the day didn’t end well for its namesake when the sleeves were pulled up for the competitive afternoon running, as technical gremlins ended his run at the first hurdle of the top 16.
In some ways it was poetic that his former rival, Gaz Whiter, took the overall victory after sweeping through his four battles. Whiter was the main driver that denied Whiddett D1NZ supremacy prior to his American shift.
He himself is no longer a regular in D1NZ, having sat out the last two seasons. But, in a car cobbled together with bits in the shed and off the shelf parts, he showed that he’s lost none of that ability to drive.
There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll see the Summer Bash return next year. May the smoke be thick, the body panels be attached with zip ties, and the noise be loud.