Club Loose has been hosting events for over a decade now, but I’ve never been to a Club Loose event until this last Saturday for Opening Moves held in Englishtown Raceway Park in New Jersey.
I received a text message about the event earlier last week. It was very brief, more like “I’m meeting up with him [a mutual friend] this weekend”. “Oh yeah where?”. “In Jersey for Opening Moves”. Wait, why wasn’t I invited? So naturally, I invited myself.
The plan was to drive from New Hampshire to New Jersey at 1:45am Saturday to be in Englishtown Raceway Park first thing in the morning. Sounds disgustingly early? It was. I prepared my gear and everything that I wanted to bring the Friday before. I met up with Casey [said mutual friend] and the gang at a gas station nearby at 2. I asked his sister to ride with me, ’cause five hours is pretty boring and it’s pretty hard to browse Instagram and/or porn for that long… She complied and off we went.
The drive was pretty uneventful and my wingman/navigator was snuggled against her pillow for about 3 hours of the drive, dreaming of whatever people dream when they sleep, which I know by now, I’m severely lacking. The sun started to come up and I noticed that there was a distinct smell. It wasn’t pleasant, I then noticed that we have entered New Jersey.
We finally arrived and from what I can tell, Englishtown Raceway Park has a lot to offer. They have various tracks for different events: drag racing, circuit, dirt bike, parking lot. The event started off with a driver’s meeting to tell them about the rules and how the flow of the day will go. I had to attend and listen in, it was mandatory for people covering the event. It was very brief on what they had to tell the participants… To sum it up, “Don’t be stupid, listen when we tell you something.” Basic.
The day started and I went out to the middle of the track to shoot Class B participants. Thanks to the rain the night before, I was stuck on a mud pit in the shape of a triangle. A triangle that is bordered by jersey barriers and tires. Thank goodness I wore my canvas sneakers (sarcastic). Then, the sound of a monstrous V8 started lingering around the track: they’ve started. I looked down my viewfinder to get ready for the first few shots to baseline my setting. It was like riding a bike. However, the bike I was riding was very squeaky. It’s not the newest nor the shiniest. But it felt good to be shooting again nonetheless.
“I have to pee!” I thought to myself. “How long are these runs?” I asked another media guy next to me. “45 minutes.” WHAT?
The way Club Loose is doing it is very different from what I experienced in Japan back in the day. Here, they let cars go one at a time on the track and let them drift for a lap. Back in Japan, it was a free for all, everyone out on the track at once. I remember my track runs were around 15-20 minutes long, and there were 4 of those heats. So even though it says that you get 45 minutes here you’re basically getting a lot less depending on how many people are in front of you, because only one person is allowed on the track at a time. This is different from what I was accustomed to.
I got to watch the Class B and Class A do their runs. It brings me back to the days when we would drift for the fun of it. I do have a couple of issues about the way America has a very different perspective on what drifting is, but that calls for another post. Club Loose stays in the era where they want to keep grass roots drifting alive. Even though the price for driving is pretty high, they are continually improving the accomodations that their tracks have to offer.
Sorry if it’s TMI, but one example is me going to the bathroom (remember how I had to pee? It needed to happen.) You can imagine the stories of totally horrendous port-a-johns at public places like this– and people would rather go septic than go number two. This year, Club Loose has installed a new trailer like bathroom that is way better, from what I heard, from what was available at past events. They’re building up, taking care of their drivers and spectators.
I haven’t met any of the Club Loose staff, I know of them and had somewhat of a conversation on a forum that we all frequent, Ziptied, but other than that nothing. I have been living under a rock and was not really sure what to expect. I will say that I do like what they are trying to promote, to come out and drift. Newbies understand that they are going to make mistakes and the staff are there to help them out. They made sure to say that numerous times during the driver’s meeting. Looking back now, I wish I would have shot the Class C group because that’s the base of what drifting will become. I remember the first time I went on a track, my smile was from one ear to the other. I wish I had captured that in the participants faces. I was just running on E from lack of sleep, I didn’t have the sense to think of it in the moment. I will keep that in mind next time.
Also, the parking lot was filled with some good looking cars, the kind that are not missing bumpers and still somewhat ding free, those are something that I would check out next time. This has been a good experience for me on two counts, seeing how Club Loose throw events and me getting back to my roots of shooting photos.
I had to retire early and start making the drive back home. This time it was by myself. Five hours by my lonesome. I ended up driving to Jersey City for a quick bite. Why Jersey City? Um, because Jollibee. The Filipino in me had came out and craved for some ethnic fast food. Fried Chicken, Spaghetti, and some Halo-Halo (Filipino dessert). It was a perfect way to end my day and to start the drive home.
For the five hours that I was driving, I started thinking. After being to a Club Loose event to cover it, I fully regret for not driving. I wish I had prepared for this to be a part of it rather than a glorified spectator amongst the crowd. Drifting is fun and that is what these guys are promoting. I’m all for it. This was a good wake up call for me to get off my ass and drive once more. It was a good experience for me as well to start shooting car events as well. I have to get back to shooting more. I feel very rusty and my ideas and techniques are out of date.
Being up for nearly 40 hours, I had become delusional and all common sense had been lost. Although, I’m still happy that I did take the time to come out and check out the amateurs that keep this sport alive. Without people participating and watching, drifting would’ve died early in this country. Thanks to the people that hosts events like this, Club Loose being one of them, drifting has nowhere to go but up.
I would like to thank Club Loose for giving me this opportunity and also to my friends that let me tag along. It’s been fun!