Words & Photography: Jonny Smith
When the days are slowly getting shorter, the clocks have jumped forward, the leaves are changing colour and the cold wet days have swept in, we know and find ourselves getting closer to the end of the year and the winter hibernation.
On a very early, very wet and very cold Sunday morning, I headed back to Rockingham, which for me would be the last ever time. Unfortunately, at the end of this year Rockingham Drift Days will close, with the sale of the circuit, all motorsport will cease to exist. No more race weekends, tracks days, drag days, drift days and so on. This is surely a sad event but increasingly common issue for British Motorsport.
This was actually the second to last drift day at Rockingham, but upon writing and you reading this, we have had the final Outta Paddock day.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom, the turnout was a busy one, with seat time tickets selling out in seconds. Like normal, there were a huge amount of cars crowded into the pits. Three main layouts gave the drivers a great choice of courses and the ability to limit their queuing time. I think this will be one thing people will greatly miss from this venue.
It was the last chance to attack Lakeside and the near-perfect recreation of Meihan’s C-Course layout. The outta paddock was set-up and there was a good playpen area with a few cones for people ready to master the basics before hitting the tracks.
Style, speed and angle are always a spectacle.
Fire also made an appearance.
Meihan has always been an attractive layout, not only for the drivers, heck, it’s fun and exciting to watch. I can only imagine what it’s like to watch Team Burst irl.
Some people liked to throw it into the first corner with 100% commitment.
Others like to get as close/into the wall as possible.
And others like to tandem close together.
It was a slight bittersweet day, only a few weeks prior Mikey had his Silva repainted in the most period correct sparkle pink, sat on 15’s, his car has always been one I’ve loved to see out on the track or even just parked up in the paddock. Unfortunately after a few laps on Meihan, a spunout and moving S13 and him collided. It was a heartbreaking accident to watch. But with good spirits, great friends, an X5 and some hammers, Mikey was back out not to long later and with some slight modifications and a borrowed headlight he was able to legally make it home.
p.s I stole this picture, and caption off his IG - @fuckin.mikey
Being the 11th of November, upon the clock striking 11am, a two minute silence whet on throughout the grounds. I was pretty much standing in the middle of the circuit when this happened. For me it felt like quite a fitting day to spend my last one here. Not only were we all thinking about all the brave men and women who sacrificed everything so we can live the way we do today, but also got to take few moments to look around the circuit, not a single exhaust note, screeching tyre, just an eary silence, a silence that will always be there from now on.
As the day drew to a close a beautiful sunset set behind the main grand stand giving a fitting end to the day. But more importantly, amazing light us photographers love. Purples in the sky? Yes please.
I have really enjoyed the past two years travelling a few hours to Rockingham for these days. It’s been a wonderful experience, I've met some brilliant people along the way and taken home some great memories. I’d say in my relativity short time of attending, Rockingham definitely puts itself down as the home for UK drifting. Obviously there are many other places around the UK that hold drift days and events but for other southerners like me, they're not as easy to access and as close as Rockingham has been.
A huge shout out goes to Sweeps and the team, whose hard work and dedication have made these days what they are, the greatest! Not only for the drivers, but us spectators too. Maybe they have a surprise for us next year and a new venue, maybe not, let's see what happens.
Thank you for having us Rockingham!