The Irwindale (CA) Speedway "House of Drift" recently played host to a historic meeting of two seemingly disparate worlds of motorsport. On the one side was the D1GP and the other NASCAR, yet as it turned out this was not really a battle. The D1GP is a series born of the streets and winding mountain roads of Japan. Crazed youngsters had taken to driving modified street cars up and down these winding roads. A farm system of events latched onto the trend and today these same drivers are the heavies of the Japanese drifters. NASCAR, for those who forget, grew out of crazed youngsters driving heavily modified street cars with trunks full of moonshine up and down narrow twisting mountain roads. NASCAR has since grown into the motorsports titan that it is today. Drifting is now wildly popular in America yet still maintains its roots with drivers like Vaughn Gittin Jr. taking home the US vs. Japan title while still keeping his day job as an IT professional.
D1GP and stunt driver Rhys Millen and Robby Gordon immediately after a practice run
Bringing eight drift drivers and eight NASCAR wheelmen together in drift-prepared rides was the concept behind the Mopar D1GP Drift vs. Grip Battle. While some of the drivers had been coached in the ways of drifting by ShiftIntoGear's Professor Chris Cook, none of them had any seat time in the actual cars previous to the event. Mere hours before the gates opened NASCAR drivers were running practice in machines designed to essentially do the opposite of the racecars they were used to driving.
When the gates opened the question was were the NASCAR drivers ready? A sly "maybe" was the first answer seasoned veteran Bill Elliot gave in response after a mere four practice laps."It's something different. It's hard to explain. It's just different,” said Elliot, pausing as he enjoyed some nachos.