‘Grass roots’ is one of those terms that has arguably been lost in the greater picture. As communities become more divided in their definition, there’s one group holding it all down. Welcome to the sixth edition of Street Meat’s annual: Glory Daze — jackets and warm hats recommended
Touching down on the tarmac at Christchurch Airport marks the beginning of an adventure in hooning, if you’re so inclined — especially if it’s Queen’s Birthday weekend. It’s a weekend that’s become synonymous with absolute humdingin’, limiter-bashin’, slug-growin’ good times for a group of drift-mad humans from the south. For a North Islander of a similar disposition, Street Meat’s Glory Daze is a breath of air — so fresh that the marketing team behind the “100% Pure New Zealand” campaign should probably pop over to Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Ruapuna and have a wee nosy. The positive vibes diffusing through pit lane; the distinctive style of drift machinery; hell, even the facial-hair preferences stand out as markers distinguishing the southern drift dialect from its North Island cuzzies.
If this all sounds a bit gushy, some background is probably required. It really needs to be understood that opportunities to strap yourself behind the wheel, crank Dr Dre’s 2001 album up to 11, kick the clutch, and fling it sideways alongside your best mates just don’t come along that often for Mainlanders. The fact that Glory Daze continues to exist, some six years after the first event hit the track, owes much to the energy and passion of the man in charge, Jonny Martin. Of course, there’s always a band of dedicated drift-fiends backing up a fearless leader, not least Chris Protheroe of Canterbury Car Club. For the most part, Jonny’s infectious enthusiasm, drive, and selfless modus operandi ensure that things get done, and the South Island drift community backs him.
In the scheme of things, Street Meat is by and large something of an exclusive affair. The roster of drivers is mainly a tight-knit group of sliders, drawn together by the old ‘keep drifting fun’ cliché. Like all good things in the 21st century, before the pit garages are infiltrated by the cackle of SR20s and guffaws of good-natured ribbing, Street Meat really begins on the Internet. Banter, car build vlogs, and moustache progress reports kick off the build-up to Street Meat, or so we’re told, and really get things fizzing leading up to the event. There’s tales of victory juxtaposed with tales of heartbreak when engines and boxes explode only a solitary week before D-Day. Even through a screen, the excitement of these guys is palpable.
This year though, it rained — holy shit, did the skies ever open! Another crucial component of Glory Daze prep is the constant monitoring of weather forecasts. Of course, it doesn’t seem to matter; at some point in the weekend, a spot of moisture is a given, but, in 2019, Mother Nature did a proper number on the occasion. Heavy rain during the Friday night continued into Saturday morning — not that it dissuaded anyone. But the weather did look like it was going to win, with half of Saturday lost to standing rain on the circuit. Tow vehicles whizzed around in vain, creating bow waves in an attempt to shove at least some of the water off the circuit, until around lunchtime, when about a dozen brave souls took to the circuit, kicking off day one.
Yeah, it wasn’t exactly dry; just a shade less wet. But day one at Street Meat Glory Daze is all about just getting out and going for a skid on track, catering specifically for those guys who don’t have a cage. The initial dozen soon turned into a packed pit lane of cars waiting to head out on track. Spurred on by a good old pit-lane rev-up, expressions of trepidation turned into manic grins. Then the grins squeezed into helmets and hit the track for an afternoon of what would be better termed an ‘expression session’.
Somehow, the Sunday managed to be even colder, although maybe not as wet. While the distant mountains may have been chilled by a dusting of snow, the driving was anything but. A good whack of attendees were there specifically for the Sunday, for a very good reason: tandem drifting, and, perhaps more particularly, the opportunity to run multi-car trains.
Entering as ‘teams’ is encouraged. With the likes of Team Produced 732, the larrikins of Team Gusto, and the Street Meat Collective, among others, all embracing the concept and running with it, the Sunday of Glory Daze has a vibe unlike any other drift meeting in the country. There’s inter-team banter flowing, fuelling grins and omnipresent laughter throughout the pit.
Then there’re the moustaches. If anything, the moustache game is taken more seriously than the drifting, but have you ever seen an angry bloke with a luscious slug coating his upper lip? Didn’t think so. Just another tick for bloody good fun in Street Meat’s favour.
Keeping the cars looking on point is paramount; if there’s one thing to take away from the event, it’s that drifts look ultra cool with headlights ablaze. Bumpers generally remain attached at all costs, creating a wonderful spectacle as a train of five cars hits an apex, power out, and flick into the next entry with synchronized precision.
Sometime around 4pm on the Sunday it all drew to a close. It’s really not totally clear whether the worsening weather conditions made this a relief this year or not, but the cold beers dispensed from a waiting chiller were definitely deserved by drivers, volunteers, and maybe even media stalwarts alike. A small prize-giving: Best Presented Car; Best Team; Best Driving; the Shitter of a Weekend Award (you win an actual toilet full of Lion Brown for this) the Spirit of Glory Daze; and, of course, Best Moustache.
It may have been bloody grim weather, but the Glory Daze attitudes slice through the cold, creating warm, fuzzy good times. Take a bow, South Island. You guys are keeping drifting so ridiculously fun — and that’s even without the after party bit, which we haven’t got to here …
With so many stylish machines present, standing out at Glory Daze is no mean feat. Showing up with a freshly built FD3S RX7 in retina-searing yellow is one way to do it. Select aero, low ride height, Advan RG III’s and a barking 13B drew plenty of attention, whether at speed or static in the pits
Graeme Coard took out the best presented gong for his immaculate stealth-black 180SX. Scraping the deck with a pair of aggressively sized Work Emotion XT7 up front paired to authentic aero
Chucking the short wheelbase platform into some big entries during Saturday’s damp conditions. The sound of Callum’s KP61 16-valve banging off the limiter is something no drift day should be without!
Ex-NZPC feature cars hit the track. Russell’s super clean S13 didn’t miss a beat all day, lights ablaze and running alongside his Streetmeat team-mates
Marcus Stott spent the weekend in his big body JZX100 bullying the smaller cars. A product of a refreshed car setup focused around driving improvement with more and more seat time
Another story testament to the lengths these guys go to to make it on track, is Guy Graham-Bagrie’s mission from Perth a couple of days before the event, to reassemble and repair his busted FC RX7 once back on Kiwi soil, only to suffer mechanical issues and have his weekend cut short. By virtue of his trials, he took out the ‘shitter’ award, taking over the porcelain from incumbent Vinny Todd.