The grass is always greener on the other side

Living in Holland has it’s advantages when you’re into cars and motor sports. The famous Nürburgring is just a couple of hours away, Spa Francorchamps is practically around the corner, Le Mans is just a 6 hour drive and if you want you can hop on a plane and you’re in England in just 45 minutes. Seeing as we, Wangan Warriors,  are car guys at heart, we opted for the only right way to visit the latter: By car!

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I’ve been to England a couple of times but never for a car related event. Well, one time but then the weather decided that England needed some more snow and we got stuck in London. Anyway, when my good friend and fellow Warrior Freek asked me to join him for a road trip I thought it would be a good idea to share our shenanigans with you guys. Because Freek wasn’t planning on spectating for the weekend, he was a man on a drifting mission!

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Freek thought it would be a good idea to head out for Calais very, very early Friday morning so we would avoid any traffic jams and had some extra time in England where our friend Kieren was waiting for us…

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… and we weren’t the only ones that got up early to go to an event or meeting! We stumbled upon this gorgeous looking and even better sounding Ford GT40 just outside of Antwerpen (Antwerp). The owner was more than happy to treat us to a V8 concerto to make sure we where awake! We got a thumbs up a couple of times and it shows that sometimes it doesn’t matter what you drive – a real automotive enthusiast will always recognise another automotive enthusiast!

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The rest of our trip went smoothly and before we knew it we had arrived at Calais where we would enter…

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… the belly of this beast…

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… and these beasts would enter our belly! Fish and chips, the only right meal when on route to England…

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… and once arrived it was time to fill the belly of Freeks blue beast as well! She didn’t skip a beat the whole trip so far but when we nearly arrived at Kieren’s place she started running on three cylinders but didn’t overheat, which indicated an electrical issue of some sort. Freek and Kieren found out later on that one of the coilpacks had started to melt slightly, probably due to the hot weather, and with a little fiddling and removing the spark plug cover the issue was resolved! Game on!

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We met up with Kieren at his house but seeing as there was still a lot of stuff to figure out before we would head out to the Norfolk Arena on Saturday morning we wasted no time. So after a quick refreshment we decided to drive to his shed…

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… where his freshly painted S12 was waiting for us in the paint booth. Kieren literally spray painted the car the day before and didn’t even have time to get the car a fresh MOT so we would have to trailer the car to Norfolk Arena.

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We decided to load up the car straight away to save some time because BDC driver and all-round nice guy…

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… Ross Gregory still needed to load up his S14.3 Saturday morning. Ross actually shares his garage with Kieren and there’s a lot of love for anything automotive between the two of them.

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The big booty S14.3 quickly found his way on the trailer and finally we were off for two days of sideways mayhem! To say we were all pretty excited to get going is an understatement.

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Three generations S-chassis on their way to do what they do best. Sliding sideways around a twisty track and annihilate some rubber while doing so! I can tell you, there are worse things to look at while road tripping trough beautiful South East England.

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And when I say beautiful, I mean beautiful! I’m talking about the scenery of course.
The car isn’t bad looking either! ;-)

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We made a quick stop at Car Media Racing to get some fresh tires for Ross to destroy and Dan Nichols from CMR had already informed his little helpers to help us load up the black gold.

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Christopher “Monkey” Dalton is someone who always tags along to drift/car events with Ross and Kieren. I’d never seen a MX-5 with a tow bar before but Chris his little green Miata is equipped with one to trailer his mini camper to events. In this case the camper came in handy so Ross could bring some extra tires!

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We were on our way again in a jiffy…

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… and after another hour or so we finally arrived at Norfolk Arena! Every year the guys from the Norfolk Arena Drift Team organize a drift weekender for charity and every year they select a different organization which will benefit from the weekends proceeds. More on that later on in this post.

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While the guys quickly started unloading their cars…

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… I wasted no time and got straight into the action!

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There were two classes, class B for beginners and class A for advanced/pro drivers.
There were some great entries in both classes but of course the A class took the cake when it came to entry speed, angle and smoke!

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The guys from the Norfolk Arena Drift Team had something rather special as a demo / passenger car. It’s not every day that you see a classic Ford 100E being chucked sideways around a track but Malcolm “Fozzy” / “Malx” Foskett did it in a way that you would think the little Ford was made for drifting!

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After Freek and Kieren solved the earlier mentioned problem of the S13 running on three cilinders it was time to do what he came for: …

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… Doooooooriftooooooo!!
Freek got the hang of it again after some practice laps and Ross was kind enough to give him some pointers. Ross actually drove drifted the car and Freek was over the moon when he told him it was one of the most balanced cars he had ever driven!

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Kieren made sure to jump in as well but seeing as the car was just finished he needed a little more time to adjust to the cars handling. He’d never driven the car before with the freshly swapped V6 but the car was rather tail happy.

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Maybe a little to tail happy but in the end Kieren got the hang of it again. He hadn’t drifted a car in over a year but I guess it’s like cycling. Once you get the hang of it it’s in your blood!

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The Saturday evening was reserved for the BDC drivers to do their thing. A “competition” was organized but it was more in the name of good fun than anything else really.

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Something BDC driver and nice lady extraordinaire, Kirsty “Kerbs” Widdrington seems to have all the time.

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Everybody seemed to have a great time and pretty smiles were to be seen all around! Either as a driver or as a passenger, there was much fun to be had.

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Speaking of fun, what do you get when you put a bunch of BDC/Pro drivers into one room?

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A lot of dirty jokes and puns! But again, all in the name of good fun because in the end, that was what this weekend was all about! The drivers had to draw a name out of a box to decide who they’d be up against…

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… and the drivers wasted no time getting on track as soon as the battles were drawn!

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There were some great battles to be fought despite the fact is was a “friendly” competition. Some brilliant “Wheel to wheel, door to door!” action as Jarod DeAnda from Formula D likes to say shout.

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Ross himself got into some great battles as well but unfortunately his weekend was cut short by a broken drive shaft! Nonetheless there was some great driving to be seen…

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… and Ross made sure to treat the crowd to some proper fireworks before the car broke down!

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After the battles the drivers where all awarded with a bottle of bubbles and a nice award but the most important thing was to bring the spotlight on the charity part of the weekend: The guide dogs for the blind. The goal was to raise at least 2500 pounds over the weekend but that goal was already achieved on Saturday evening!

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After that it was time for some more hooning by all the drivers and there was the crowd had the possibility for a passenger ride or two after donating a small amount of money…

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… which lead to some more pretty smiles…

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… and made for some more epic sideways action dirt dropping.
All in all it was a brilliant day with some great action on and some new friendships of the track! With that in mind it was time for some well deserved sleep!

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I woke up early on Sunday morning and found out it had rained quite heavily that night. I decided it would be a great opportunity to have a look around the track while everybody was still asleep. I soon discovered I wasn’t the only one that woke up early!

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Wondering around the abandoned course in a light drizzle made me feel a little sad and allow me to explain why because while a road trip is a good thing 99% of the time, it’s also a necessity when living in the Netherlands.

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I mentioned in the beginning of this article there are some great benefits living in Holland like living relatively close to some of the worlds greatest motoring venues.
But the downside to this is that, at least for me it is, we always have to look abroad for some great events! To be clear, I’m talking about (grassroots) drifting.

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Sure, we have great tracks like Zandvoort and Assen but when it comes to affordable racing, it seems like Holland isn’t the place for me. A complete weekend of drifting for only ten(!!!) pounds? Only in England.

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Of course there are track days and what not on Zandvoort or Assen but these can actually be quite expensive. You can go racing in something like the MAX5 cup (mx-5 cup) which is a great entry level, pro organized and somewhat affordable competition. But still, this would mean the need of sponsors and you would be away, from your family perhaps, for quite some time for quite some weekends and workdays as well and that’s track racing. Not drifting.

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Keep in mind, that this is not an attack on Dutch motorsports or organizations. There’s a lot to do when it comes to race events but when it comes to affordable grassroots racing and drifting in particular, the options are (very) limited!

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Of course there’s a significant difference between the Netherlands and the UK.
The biggest one being that the UK has a completely different car culture compared to the Netherlands. People live for their cars and love to go to events such as the Norfolk weekender. There’s something to do every, single, weekend!

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And yes, I realize that England is a much bigger country compared to Holland. But that isn’t to say that, to me, it seems that the car culture in the Netherlands just can’t compare to the one in England! Luckily for us Dutchies, there are organizations out there, like our friends from DMPD, that try to organize affordable, low entry grassroots events.

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Is it because drifting in Holland is stuck at a level which can’t compare to the countries around us? I’m not pointing fingers at anyone but  is there a reason many Dutch drivers look abroad for their events, rather than staying for the national competition? My friend and colleague Alex already wrote a story on Dutch drifting in November 2012. The sad thing is, I don’t think much has changed since then.

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It looks as though people like Freek are “condemned” to road trips like this. If you want your grassroots drifting fix, you will probably have to look abroad.
The grass is always greener on the other side…

*Editors note: I realise people in Holland might think of Weeze airport when it comes to grassroots drifting. But this is in Germany as well.

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But then again, You won’t hear me complain about the road trips! It something we love to do as well, even when it’s a necessity! Not just because of the events or driving itself, but maybe even more so because of the people who made a lasting impression!

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People like Malcolm “Fuzzy” / “Malx” / “The Boss” and his Norfolk Arena Drift Team family make trips like these all the better. We were welcomed with open arms and we left with a hug. Telling us we better make sure that we come back next year!

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Friends like Kieren who will always make sure there’s a bed, beer and a burger ready at any given time! Despite what’s written on his door (sorry mate, couldn’t resist) he kept smiling the whole weekend, even though he didn’t get much sleep the week prior to the event.

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Guys like Ross who made sure we had an outright laugh, who gave Freek some well needed advice…

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… and who was more than pleased to put on the very first Wangan Warriors stickers on an official BDC car!
Also a big thanks to everybody I forgot! The English people have nothing short of amazing and I’ve never felt so welcomed anywhere before.

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So all in all we left England with two happy blokes! Richer for the experience and with a feeling that we would be back rather sooner than later. Thanks for allowing me to join you Freek. It was a weekend I’ll surely never forget!

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The grass is greener on the other side! But in this case, I’m quite happy it is!

– Allard van Grafhorst

Bonus images

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