Words and Photos by: Andrew Smith
The final, Final Bout.
Over the last year or so I have really become interested in drifting. While last summer I had been to a few amateur drift events at small circle tracks and skidpads, it wasn’t until I attended Gridlife Midwest at Gingerman this past June that I realized how exciting it could be. Finally having an opportunity to see professional drifters tearing it up was way more enjoyable than I thought. With my interest in drifting growing, I decided to apply for media credentials for Final Bout 3, just 2 hours away from Milwaukee, located in Shawano, WI. I was lucky enough to be granted media coverage, and I made plans with some friends to head on up on Saturday September 2nd.
We left at 6AM for the ride up. Drivers/Media meeting was at 9am and then driving started right after that.
I shot a few photos before I headed down to the pits to check out some cars up close.
I am intrigued by the style that drifting brings. I find it a mixture between the “RICE” style that was so popular in the early 2000’s and the current stance scene. Wild Liveries and tucked wheels, bringing two wild styles into a single scene. What really impressed me were the cars that went just above what you consider over the top, but somehow then perfectly towed the line. A lot of thought goes into making sure a car is as wild as possible while still holding a theme. From a design and style perspective, I can really appreciate it.
The infamous Hert RX7.
One of the more unique team names throughout the weekend.
There were tons of wheels laying around the pits. These caught my eye with their bright paint against the dim light provided by cloud cover.
This was the first event I went to where bumpers and sideskirts lived up to the hype of being strewn about consistently. This became a common sight through out the day.
The style extended to the helmets as well. This little frog made me laugh, although it certainly wasnt as vintage as the blue/green (70’s?) era helmet below it.
Rob Parsons, aka Chair Slayer, was on hand for the event. It is always such an inspiration to see him out there living life to the fullest. For those of you who dont know, Rob is wheelchair bound and controls the car using only hand controls.
After walking around the pits for a while, it was time to head out onto the track to get some closer shots.
This is an example of what I considered one of the most well done cars of the event. At first glance the amount going on almost feels like it overwhelms you, but then you start to realize the subleties of the design. The roof being a different color than the body is a touch that I did not notice at first.
I really liked the vintage Corollas that ShaDynasty brought out.
This was on the complete opposite end from most of the cars. Extremely simply, yet the entire team matched perfectly. A simple windshield banner and white wheels. As far as teams, I think this was one of the most uniform and coolest teams out there.
At that point we headed into town for some lunch. As we were on our way in, it began to absolutely pour. We waited a bit for the rain to die down, and then headed back to the track during the last little bit of falling rain. The team competition was about to start, and the rain was letting up.
Team competitions started with an incredible lineup of all competing cars parked along the grandstands and down around the corner where the judges sat.
A quick last minute bumper install.
The crowd was packed into the stands.
After lining up, some introductions were done and some disappointing news was shared. It was revealed to the crowd that this event was officially the final, Final Bout. While the news was sad, it was time to start team competitions. Each team would get two runs, and the top 4 scored teams would advance to the finals. The only other caveat is that teams must include at least 3 cars to be eligible. There were a few teams that only had two cars competing after team members had to bow out for different reasons.
A big shoutout to Koyo Radiators for being the title sponsor of the event.
It was decided a few warmup laps would be driven to try and dry off the track.
And with that, competition was on!
The broom guy got a standing ovation. Team Garage Moon Power did an awesome job with keeping close proximity through the judging zone.
The first round of the competition ended amid body panels laying around the track.
A quick tour of the track with the trophy, and the final 4 teams were announced. Full Clip, High Fade, Garage Moon Power and Animal Style were the four teams who advanced to the finals.
The finals would be setup split into two sections. Each team would run two runs, one after another. The next two teams would then run. First up was Full Clip and High Fade.
The next two teams up were Garage Moon Power and Animal Style.
After everyone ran two runs, the judges decided that they wanted all of the final four teams to run once more to help decide the winner.
Even after the first set of runs, it was pretty obvious that Garage Moon Power had killed it. But after the final run, it sealed the deal. A quick winning selfie before the trophy presentation.
A champagne shower for the winners.
After the team competition there was a break until the night session of drifting began. But not before got to watch the madness that was watching people trying to leave the field that was used as parking lot. With all of the rain it became a giant mud pit. This poor dude almost bit it right in front of the truck. We headed into town and ended up at a new Sushi place we passed.
We came back from dinner to the very start of the night session. A few quick pics along the track by the parking area, and then I headed into the infield to get some photos.
As night began to wear on, I began experimenting a bit and trying to different types of shots than the typical slow pans that I typically do.
One of my favorite shots of the day. The JDM license plate, a real JDM styled car, high ISO causing slightly degraded image quality, it makes me think of the old photos I used to see of cars over in Japan.
Having a bit of fun with Andy and Andy (yes, there are too many damn Andy’s).
The light colored cars, especially white ones really looked the best with such a minimal amount of light.
At this point it was about 10pm, with only an hour remaining of the night session. I joined my friends out by the bleachers and relaxed a bit to simply enjoy watching the drifting. While shooting is my absolute favorite, sometimes it is nice to be able to sit back and actually watch the events. Even with that being said, I grabbed just a few photos as it was a unique angle I had not shot yet over the day.
Around 10:45 I decided it was time and we headed out. As I was leaving, this was the final shot I took. It was a great recap to the event. A gritty image in low light of bumpers and body panels laying about. An amateur event that wasnt polished, but was still an absolute blast. I cant not thank my good friend Adam for agreeing to be my spotter throughout the day. To Simba and the rest of the Club FR guys for hosting the event. To the sponsors, the track owners, and all of the drivers and spectators. This was my favorite drifting event I have been to short of just Gridlife. Now thats saying something.