Englishtown Raceway Park has gone by some fairly drastic adjustments through the years. Nevertheless, the newest change – making a drift stadium out of the historic drag strip – could show to be essentially the most drastic but.
The dragstrip which has held the NHRA Summernationals for nicely over 50 years underneath numerous sponsors, has been reinvented into one in every of, if not the perfect viewing drift stadium monitor in the USA. I imply it – there’s not a foul seat anyplace in the home; you’ve the motion entrance and heart, irrespective of the place you sit.
While you construct a brand new monitor you want an occasion to showcase it. With Components Drift leaving Wall Stadium, a brief 20-minute drive from Englishtown, the pitch was made and landed. FD was coming to E-City in 2020.
Nevertheless, a merciless accident lay in wait. With the COVID-19 pandemic setting in, plans needed to be modified. Components Drift must wait one other yr earlier than coming to the stadium. However that didn’t cease Mike and Chris Napoliello from considering up an occasion that might characteristic the stadium monitor. Cue doves and singing angels – the E-City Gambler was born.
Much like the Klutch Kickers $100,000 occasion, this is able to be a money prize occasion with some sponsor prizes for the winners. Run over three days, the Gambler showcased expertise from up and down the East Coast and throughout the nation in a aggressive drifting occasion, the primary of many on the brand new stadium monitor. I say ‘aggressive’, as a result of the Membership Unfastened boys have some fairly enjoyable occasions right here too, however extra on that later…
First issues first, the monitor structure lends itself to tight tandems, and that’s precisely what we bought. I keep in mind again to the autumn of final yr; Chris and myself had been using across the drag strip when the course hadn’t even been paved but, speaking concerning the inspiration for the monitor setup and what the corners could be like. Again then, I used to be one in every of a really lucky few that knew what was occurring to the historic drag strip. It was a really laborious secret to maintain.
The boys over at Membership Unfastened held a session on the brand new stadium monitor just a few weeks earlier than the Gambler, and ran a few ‘celebration’ monitor layouts. Launching from the car parking zone was one in every of my favourite configurations throughout this time.
You possibly can anticipate there to be extra periods within the stadium from the Membership Unfastened boys all through the rest of the yr, together with one thing referred to as The BloodMasters’ Invitational in October. I hear that workforce invitations have already been despatched out.
Again to The Gambler… Thursday was an non-compulsory follow day for the rivals, and one thing caught out proper from the get go. Partitions damage. They damage unhealthy. Numerous drivers discovered themselves tangled with the partitions that line the outer sections of the course, one thing that in the end performed a key function within the ending of this competitors.
All in all, Thursday was fairly mundane in comparison with Friday and Saturday. Friday was the qualifying day, and Nils Guttormsen took the highest qualifying spot in his 2JZ-powered drift truck.
Nevertheless, the second prime qualifier was sudden; Wealthy Whiteman secured this place in a comparatively inventory Nissan 350Z. This actually reveals the varied mixture of vehicles getting used to compete within the E-City Gambler. You had a mixture of grassroots vehicles combined in with fully-prepped professional vehicles and all the things in between.
On Saturday drama rapidly unfolded. It began with Galen Nazareno tapping the wall and destroying his rear subframe roughly an hour earlier than the High 32 began. Miraculously, Galen was capable of borrow a full subframe from one other competitor and get it swapped into his S14 earlier than being referred to as to the road.
Ricky Hoffman had an identical miraculous story. After stuffing his S13 into the wall throughout follow earlier within the day, mangling the entrance finish fairly critically and bending a body rail or two, Ricky and his workforce had been additionally capable of get the body straightened and make it to their High 32 battle.
However nothing in comparison with how this occasion ended. The High four battle between two Components D Professional 2 drivers, Kenric Meyer and Dimitri Brutskiy, was epic and quiet actually led to a flash. And a crunch. Within the second half of their ‘another time’ battle, Kenric prolonged too deep into the final outer zone and carried an excessive amount of velocity into the nook. This compelled the again finish of his BMW E36 to clip the wall, sucking the entrance finish in too.
As you may inform from the pictures, Dimitri was proper within the pocket following and slammed straight into the again of Kenric. The affect echoed all through the stadium. Each drivers walked away from the accident unhurt due to the standard of their security tools and roll cages. However that quiet actually ended the inaugural E-City Gambler with a bang.
The ending order had Jonathen Nerren taking first, Dimitri Brutskiy taking second, Steve Misko taking third, and Kenric taking fourth.
Personally, I feel this new drift stadium at Englishtown is completely wonderful. Through the Gambler, it genuinely felt just like the stands had been stuffed, and there was a stage of pleasure akin to when James ‘Jungle Jim’ Liberman used to go down the strip.
It’s protected to say, the best place on Earth simply retains getting higher.
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