Drift Indy Street League Volume 8 was a real poster child for the sentiment that details matter. When everyone, including staff and drivers, buys into the idea that the little things can make a big difference, you end up with one hell of a show.
From the lined course with marked outer zones and inner clips to drivers taking just that extra little bit of spit to shine their wheels, about a million little details came together to produce what was a great spectacle of grassroots driving. The latest iteration of DISL produced on all fronts, and it's only gonna get better from here.
I think part of what makes DISL such a great event for both spectators and drivers is that it's a distillation of what drifting has long been about. There's fewer distractions than in pro drifting or big money comps. The barrier to entry is lower, but still high enough to make sure everyone is held to a high standard of skill and style. You don't have to worry about if your 1,000 horsepower JZ-swapped Ferrari is gonna pop its clogs after top 32, forcing you to swap in another one in an hour just to get eliminated by yet another dude in an LS 240 that's sponsored by a weed-infused popcorn company. And there's no gazillion dollar check drawing in cars and drivers toeing, and sometimes crossing, the line between pro cars and street cars.
You make your car look pretty, you make your driving look pretty, and you shred with your buddies. That's it, and it's glorious.
Pretty cool to see two build styles of the same chassis throwing down together. Ben Rooney's in the white leading eventual Vol. 8 winner Vance Kearns in the chase.
As is tradition, Friday and Saturday gave all our drivers the opportunity to get in more practice laps than they knew what to do with, all in the name of putting on a good show.
Volume 8 did, of course, introduce the new competition organization. Now that we've had a few years of DISL to allow dudes to get their cars and driving up to scratch, we've done away with the Lite competition. Nowadays a preliminary comp with solo, judged runs determines who makes up the second 16 of our top 32. We had something like 56 drivers gunning for one of those spots.
Prelims took a little bit longer than anticipated, but the payoff of having an absolutely stellar top 32 was worth a little bit of a slow period in an otherwise pedal-to-the-metal weekend.
Once we did finally get to the beginning of our top 32 battles, we started off with an exciting battle between first-place-seeded King of Style Colty Terrell and Kenny Kearns. Colty had an uncharacteristic bit of sloppiness and Kenny very narrowly avoided putting his G into the wall, the result of which was a OMT that Colty came out on top of.
These two cars look tight together. Something about the juxtaposition of the newer G with the older s-chassis, I reckon.
We also saw an exciting battle between Cameron Stone and Brian Waggoner that set the tone for Cameron's balls-to-the-wall driving that would eventually earn him the Derek King driver's award for the event. It's very cool to see that little white turbo Miata filling zones on what's not a super easy layout for lower-powered cars.
David Whelen and Roy Outcalt had what was easily one of my favorite battles from the whole event. I don't think anyone was sad to see a OMT from these two.
Now kith <3
Moving on to our top 16 we saw some really, really competitive matchups. Nobody was there that didn't deserve to be, and it showed.
The first battle of the second level of the bracket was an exciting matchup between Colty Terrell and Cameron Stone. Both drivers made a couple small mistakes, including a bump on Cameron by Colty that Cameron drove right through like it never happened. Colty eventually came out on top and advanced to the final 8.
Dylan Lobbestael and his fresh new livery came up against Kyle Antonovich, this time not behind the wheel of his usual Vich'n visuals LS 240 but instead whipping a 350Z. Both drivers came dangerously close to the tie-rod munching drain hole at the edge of the infield and had some trouble filling all the zones, but it was an exciting matchup between two super fun-to-watch drivers nonetheless. Antonovich managed to get the nod and advance.
Lobstertail's new livery turned out super sick!
Alek Morelock and Vance Kearns made for a super tight matchup that led to a OMT call. Vance managed to open up a little distance on Alek heading into the bank on his lead run that gave him just enough of an edge to advance, even with Alek sucking back up to his door on the final turn.
On the other side of the bracket, Team Shade shredders David Whelen and Joey Ritter found themselves paired up. It should come as no surprise to anyone that two dudes who have turned countless laps together put on a great show. David had a couple small bobbles and corrections that, despite what would've been very solid runs against anyone but one of DISL's most consistent drivers, led to his elimination and Joey's advancing to the final eight.
In the last of the round of 16 battles we saw two heavy hitters square off with one another. Volume 7 winner Josh Estey and big-power 350Z driver Kegan Leep absolutely threw down. Those two can absolutely wheel. Both dudes put down super high quality runs in both positions, but Kegan got the nod from the judges.
As the bracket narrowed down to the final eight drivers, it wasn't much of a surprise to see who had made the cut. Two Team Shade drivers, two Bobby's Crew drivers, Colty, Kyle Antonovich, Kyle Robertson and Kegan Leep rounded out the group.
In a sad end to what was an otherwise exciting matchup between Colty and Kyle Antonovich, Kyle's clutch went out on him in the infield and his car had to be pushed off track. This deep in the competition mechanical issues oftentimes end up being a deciding factor, as unfortunate as it is.
Bobby's Crew drivers Steve Scherzer and Vance Kearns were pitted against one another. Despite having to work to overcome a difference in power, Vance managed to keep on Steve's door in the chase. That, paired with his excellent lead run, gave Vance the edge over his teammate and sent him through to the final four.
Who the hell is Bobby and how'd he teach all these guys to drive so well?
On the opposite side of the bracket, a matchup between Joey Ritter and Kyle Robertson and one between Chad Stoelting and Kegan Leep resulted in Joey and Chad, the two Team Shade boys, advancing and facing off in the final four.
Kyle and Joey's battle was a ton of fun to watch. Seeing Kyle put that little silver miata right up on Joey's door was a ton of fun, but some rough understeer on the bank in his chase run put Kyle at a disadvantage that he wasn't able to make up for in his lead run.
Chad and Kegan had a similarly exciting battle that was decided by a slight mistake from Kegan. On their first run Chad threw in a really impressive wide entry in the lead that left Kegan slightly out of position and trying to dig out of a stall in momentum that a lower-powered car wouldn't have been able to manage. Chad was tight and consistent in the chase and advanced to throw down with Joey.
In an unfortunate twist of fate that robbed us of what promised to be one of the best battles of the competition, Colty had to bow out of his battle with Vance thanks to a steering rack issue. Vance completed his bye run without issue, sending him on to the finals.
It then came down to a battle between Joey and Chad to decide who would be going head to head with Vance. The two Shade teammates went all out in both runs. In the chase, Joey went deep in the final outer zone, punting a cone and a barrel and knocking his bumper a little loose, all while staying in drift and keeping up with Chad's E46. Some shallowness in Chad's chase run combined with Joey's slight mistake led to a OMT. By what I can only imagine was the absolute slightest of margins, Joey edged Chad out after the conclusion of their second set of runs.
A sunset showdown between two of our best drivers. What more could you ask for?
Vance was in the chase position first and was absolutely glued to Joey's door most of the way through the track. There were a couple small spots where he had to sacrifice some depth to keep proximity, but it was an excellent chase run nonetheless. That proximity may have been what pushed Joey to initiate just a little bit too aggressively in his chase in the next run. He slightly bumped Vance, who managed to stay in drift, but Joey more or less parked it to avoid going into the blue BMW any harder. That was all Vance needed to seal the deal and earn himself the gold.
The trophy ceremony was one of the most touching I can remember in DISL history. Kenny Kearns, Vance's father and fellow Street League driver, was incredibly proud of his son and was determined to make sure everyone knew. It was very, very wholesome.
Just a proud dad and his shredder of a son.
With Vance Kearns on the top step with the gold, Joey Ritter taking the silver and Chad Stoelting the bronze, the boys popped their champagne and hoisted their Coilover Depot checks. There were hugs, congratulations and photos with teammates, family and friends.
I've spoken to enough drivers and media folks, overheard enough spectators and listened to enough OGs to know that Drift Indy Street League is something really special. I, for one, can't wait to see what the rest of this year has in store for the series.
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The entire Drift Indy community was incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of a fellow car enthusiast, drag racer Ed McConnell, following a medical emergency at Kil-kare's drag strip during an event being held at the same time as DISL Volume 8. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.