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Matt “Do these WreckEm guys even do anything” Russell

Well, you haven’t heard from me in a while, I can only assume you’ve been enjoying your time away from me? Good to hear. Anyway, round 3 of the Tasmanian state drifting series was on a couple of weekends ago, I know I have been slack, but as my girlfriend always says, better late or never.

The usual beginning of the story, a Thursday afternoon, not long knocked off work and I begin my endeavour to the dock’s using every available back road in my abnormally loud 1983 model corolla. Once arriving at my destination I boarded the great vessel, now lets get one thing straight, the “Spirit of Tasmania” is blatant false advertising, that boat has no spirit at all, you want to have an long, restless night out, go and jump on that boat on your own and see just how many spirits you need to drink before anything gets spiritual.

Friday dawned, my first name basis with the quarantine officers at the dock meant I would arrive at my first destination just in time to wake the neighbours. Parking on the lawn of HTS headquarters I was greeted to a shithouse instant coffee, messy kitchen and a kitten with an unholy attraction to one of the more disgusting members of the HTS household. With good reason, I shortly departed and headed for Hobart, the joy’s of driving a fully loaded race car 300km on some of the bumpiest roads in the country. Around 200km into the trip not only was I slightly deaf (got gate, only entertainment) but I was also getting curious as to why I was overtaking so many cars, well luckily for me there is about 4 police members in Tasmania as it turns out I had been sitting on near 140km/h for the majority of the trip, speedo must have been inaccurate, by about 140.

Thinking it was going to rain, Gossy and I departed early Saturday morning to ensure we got one of the few sheds at Baskerville, as usual I had forgotten where I was and we arrived at the track about 3 hours before anyone else. At least this gives you a chance to get your car sorted and have a quick… poo in the toilet. With the scariest part of the day, scrutineering over and done with I was ready for the day ahead.

I felt good in practice, last time I was at Baskerville I was having understeer issues all day due to some 5 year old R1R’s, now with the new Achilles up front and my new suspension set up I felt comfortable and was doing some good runs. Same story with qualifying, nothing out of the ordinary, two runs that were enough to put me into 7th.

In the top 32 I was up against Chris Holloway, this guy is smart, possibly the thing that throws me off the most when im about to do a run is having someone tell me that they “haven’t been doing this very long”. It’s not just that you’re worried they might make a mistake in front of you, your conscience asks you if you should hold off on aggressiveness. Regardless, I think Chris was bluffing as he put down a good chase run as if he had been doing it for years, it was only a slight mistake on his lead run that gave me the upper hand which advanced me to the top 16.

Up against the King of Grin, Disco Dave Dennis in the 16. The first time I have ever seen Dave not grin and look serious was on the line, this soon changed when I threw some very broken Japanese words at him (after travelling to Japan with him earlier in the year) and then proceeded to take my race suit off and flash one, just to see those shining chompers again. Our first two runs were terrible on my behalf, after plenty of wheel spin off the line I struggled to catch back up to Dave throughout the course. Luckily the first re-run of the day was called and I got a second chance. I would hardly say that I redeemed myself, yet the judges deemed it enough to send the Grin home.

There’s a few people who you just don’t want to come up against during a competition, Lloyd Smith is defiantly one of them. The corolla was sporting a new plain white look this weekend, however the speed and sound was defiantly the same old. Clocking somewhere near 160km/h entries during practice I knew this was going to be tough, and sure enough, in the process of trying to bring the heat I launched off the back of turn one like it was a triple jump competition at the Paralympics. Needless to say no matter what I did in my final run, Lloyd pretty much had it in the bag, seeing me sulk in the corner before packing the car up.

The usual names popped their heads up in the top four, but not without controversy (which is the only thing that keeps me in drifting, that and the massive amounts of money you save and the bit*hes you get). Lloyd Smith did a textbook “tyre roll off the rim and fly through the paddock” during his top four run against young Michael Truscott. The five minute rule was implemented, with some discrepancies as to when it actually started and ended, this of course lead to a very polite conversation between some select members of Lloyds friends and crew, and the delightful Clerk of Course on the day. There was tea and scone’s and after a brief discussion it was decided that the time was up and it did in fact turn out that our clerk of course was some sort of “wit”, not hearing the full conversation I can only assume that he was being described as witty. Quite the compliment.

After this Brodie Moore was on the receiving end of Lloyd’s delighted mood in the battle for third. Not often do you get to see someone on the brake at 140km/h however it was clear that Smith had entered the “I don’t care anymore, I just want to see a burnout” stage so he bought a bit of Easternats to Baskerville raceway., the crowd loved it, I was deafened and smoke screened by it, and Brodie was awarded 3rd for it.

Young gun is a relatively cliché term for someone who is obviously younger, yet better than most at something. Now while it’s not usually in my repertoire to use such a term, there really is no other way to describe Matt Harvey at the moment. This 16 year old has been proving himself all year and finally it payed off for him. Knocking team mate and the series leader, Michael Truscott off in the final was a huge and impressive effort, giving Harvey the top spot on the podium, the first time of no doubt many more podium visits for Matt.

Big prop’s go out to Simon Michelmore for making the trip all the way from South Australia and Mitch Felmingham for lending out his car to Simon. I also later heard we had an entrant from New South Wales. Really goes to show the guys and girls in Tasmania know how to put on a great event that draws people in from all over the country.

Now the trip home, basically it’s just the trip down in reverse. Hiding from police, recovering from the after party from the previous night and arriving at HTS headquarters, yet this time being greeted with a delicious BBQ courtesy of every body’s favourite father figure Brizey. Thanks for the food and accommodation again ladies.

Another awesome weekend in Tassie, honestly my favourite place to drift and go hang out. It wouldn’t be possible without the help from the Goss family, the HTS brotherhood, Mozz at Ultimate Subaru spares Hobart, Jake at JDI fabrication, Leigh at Inverse Tyres, Aaron at Import Monster and especially Chris and Brett from Shockworks, the car is feeling completely different now and much easier to drive thanks to them.

Photo credits to Optical Note photography, Tim Holmes productions and Angry man photography.

Stay tuned, next week (by that I mean 5 minutes after I take a toilet break and start this other damn write up) we’re heading to Adelaide for ADGP round 3.

Drink your tyres, skid your beer. Matt.

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