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The Banjo Music Was Drowned Out By Drifting, Drift Nirvana Summit, Point West Virginia

    By Doug Moseley

    Nirvana by one dictionary term is a freedom from pain, worry and the external world. At 5am today I began my trek in that external world known as Apex, NC in search of Drift Nirvana at Summit Point, West Virginia. My journey took me through the cities of Raleigh and Richmond then out in to the sticks of Northern Virginia. As I continued... these sticks turned to beautiful scenery reminiscent of my time in Germany only it was corn and not grapes covering the hillside. My transportation was a Dodge Ram with me at the wheel instead of a Volvo with me in a child seat. The RUF Porsches were replaced by grandma in her Chevy Celebrity doing 5 mph UNDER the posted speed limit.

    The last 10-15 minutes of the voyage reminded me of going through Milton on my way to VIR. It's a speed trap with plenty of chances for your "spirited" driving to have an effect on your driver's license for the next three years. Fortunately, there were no cops, I remembered to brake in a straight line, and lift off the brake before cresting a jump... I mean rise in the pavement. Alas, I arrived at the gates to Nirvana, truck in tact and the sleep finally gone from my eyes. It was now 11am.

    It was a rather strange feeling showing up to an event 5 hours late, not having an assigned task or stress. Missed it actually. But there was plenty to things to keep my mind occupied between the sport bikes racing, kart track, skid pad and three different courses open for drifting. I crest a hill and sneak a peak through the fence:

    The course design was provided by my new friend Yoshi from Slidewaysonline.com:

    Behind me the non-competition drivers are lined up to take to the orange loop:

    During the competition practice, non-comp drivers are restricted to this course and the three courses are reduced to a two-course configuration. While some drivers weren't thrilled with this particular track it does provide new challenges that they wouldn't have to face on the blue and green courses.

    The competition course consisted of the light blue and the dark blue courses being combined and run in a "backwards" configuration which flowed clockwise. The difficulty in this layout for many drivers was that the starting line was the tail end of the green course feeding the light blue. The speed needed for a good initiation and show for the crowd was there but at the tail end you would begin to climb a hill. Think ZMax entry speed and course lay out but add a hill climb after you've scrubbed off most of your speed.

    There's a pavilion that is to be used as the judging station right at the "photo op suggestion" point furthest to the right. From where I was walking around that seemed to be a good spot to see the first initiation as well as the subsequent clipping point(s) further up the course. There's some nice twisty action happening on the back half of the course coupled with some elevation changes that really has me thinking no program should go without a road course in it's schedule. In order to really prove your worth behind the wheel you've got to do road course events.

    The last half of the competition course is running in front of the judges and then the manageable hairpin leading back down a hill. A comfortable coast to get air through the radiator and let the engine relax before it's next flogging.

    From the bridge, you can see probably 75% of the action of all that Drift Nirvana has to offer which is pretty spectacular a feat to accomplish. Most road courses you'll only be able to see maybe 10-15% of ONE course from one spot. Looking towards the main paddock area you can see the skid pad which stayed busy until the time I left for the night.

    Apparently, previous events saw a stop-watch being put to use for the skip pad action but here lately it's like Showtime at the Apollo. The more boo'ing you hear, the quicker you should make your exit for the next driver to try their luck. It was a nice skid pad utilizing automatic sprayers which had a mix of water and corn oil I hear to help induce the skid. It was like many youtube videos I had seen of people driving on ice. Yup, that's a wall (off course) you're heading for and there's nothing you can do about it.

    With competition practice finished up all three courses went hot again. Here you can see a driver taking to the Orange Course (center, top right) where he will finish safely coming at the tail end of drivers staging for blue course. In the top of the screen is the green course. From my understanding, there were roughly 60 drivers who each paid $150 for the two-day event. Skid pad action was 10 or 20 bucks with the option to buy up to the big boy courses if they had the necessary equipment.

    I was able to grab a nap mid-day which was enough to get me through to the point I'm at now... bedtime. More tomorrow if I make it home in time. Otherwise, stay tuned for Drift Nirvana: Day Two some time the beginning part of the week.