Also representing for the American side was Alex Pfeiffer, who, after smashing his AE86 previously, was now piloting the show car worthy BRS RX-7. This pink beauty was designed for time attacks, so Alex was facing an uphill battle to make it cooperate for drifting. Ultimately a throttle problem knocked him out during the first round of the Best 16.
Although young scion Ken Gushi was on hand with his Mustang, he was clearly no match for Toshiki Yoshioka, who took his Corolla all the way to the final win.
In not so glorious news, Dynamic Autosports' Robbie Nishida took off his Quaker State 240's front bumper and failed to make the Best 16.
Also not making it to the Best 16 was Blitz's Nomuken, who smashed the legendary GT-R (and Turbo cover car) into the wall during one of the final qualifying rounds. After head mechanic Abe had stayed up all night perfecting the car, it was quite a sad sight.
Right after Nomuken crashed, two other Japanese drift cars also saw the wall. With the American drivers going next they saw the consequences of 90+mph entry speeds so they took it a little slower in the 80-90mph range. It was difficult for the drivers to find the perfect threshold between going too slow and looking sluggishly uncompetitive and going too fast and totaling their vehicles.
After running the Best 16, and the Best 8, the drifting field was whittled down to four: Tanaka in a Skyline, Yoshioka in his Corolla, Komoro also in a Corolla, and Kumakubo piloting an Impreza. Kumakubo was the odds-on favorite, as he has been drifting competitively for something like 15 years. The man has a lot of experience to say the least. He put the smack-down on Komoro's AE86 in the semi-finals and advanced his Suburu to the finals. In the end the engine-that-could won out and Yoshioka's Corolla took home the glory.
For all the riveting action you'll just have to go out and buy the Option DVD to watch it, as our few pictures here can't do these battles justice. (You can also see our Turbo staff ducking as drivers hit the wall that we were precariously standing next to.)
With the crowd waving orange D1 do-rags in the air, this Grand Prix was a resounding success despite the heatstroke-inducing temperatures. Hopefully all of the partying the D1 drivers did in Sin City eased away their memories of crashing and losing. We hope D1 returns to Las Vegas next year since it's a great destination for out of town fans to fly in, see some spectacular drifting, and hit the sights and sounds of the Vegas Strip. Just bring your hats, sunscreen, ice packs, misters and fans with you.