This event is a daunting undertaking to cover. Final Bout is the premier drift event and a culmination of the Special Stage tour across the country. Every car in attendance is picture worthy and the driving is equally as impressive. The result is 4,000 pictures and a lot to say…which is a lot to process into a cohesiv post.
Inclusion and accessibility are important for anything and drifting is one of the most open and accessible motor sports there is. That said, what’s the point of growth without sustainability? If we play demolition derby with each other, dump money into fly-by-night companies looking to make a quick buck and bounce, and tear up the few tracks that even allow us to drive, how will we be able to enjoy this passion for years to come? Curated events like Final Bout serve as an example of how to be sustainable. The best way to teach is to lead by example and be something to aspire to rather than argue and lecture…yes I see the irony of this spiel. Celebrating skilled driving is the core of any top level event but placing emphasis on taking pride in your car and supporting brands that push style and technology or built the foundation of the cars and motorsports we love is what makes this event special and solidifies the future of our passion.
It’s easy to take Final Bout for granted. After eight years of events and expansion it’s hard not to become jaded to just how cool of an event this is. The internet inundates us with cool looking cars and heroic videos of driving and numbs us to what’s objectively special and unique. No other grassroots event can draw people from all over the country and internationally to the middle of nowhere Wisconsin. Every car is dream worthy and every driver drives their heart out. It truly is worth the trip every year!
Lately it feels like there’s been a huge influx of IS300s in drifting and they were well represented at FB5. AJ Gillette from Risky Devil has become closely associated with the chassis after many years of campaigning his IS300 and pushing IS300 styling. This car has hosted a wide variety of aero and styles but it’s current look is a mix of brands to create a unique style. A Rando Sport front bumper and a C West hood style the front, Vertex makes the skirts, and the rear is a JDM bumper with a Wald half bumper, Cerulo Sports trunk spoiler, and Minty Fresh roof spoiler. The wheel setup is a classic set of Advan RGs for the perfect period choice. A bolt-in dash dodger cage and Buddy Club P1 fixed back seats keep the passengers safe. Toyota’s 1JZGTE motivates the relatively light sedan perfectly.
AJ isn’t the only IS owner in Risky Devil! Alex Cook and AJ have been driving IS300s together for over a decade. Both cars were even a matching red at a time when the whole team ran matching colors but he’s recently reverted back to the original black. A full set of HKS aero looks killer, especially in the tuxedo look of black over white Work XD9s. This IS is also 1JZ powered.
I‘m genuinely obsessed with this BN Sports kitted GS repping Mydlo! I could never decide on a favorite car of the event, but this was definitely one of the cars I was most excited about. SSR Gartmaiers up front are matched with a variety of other pairs throughout the day. A full interior and reclinable Buddy Club seats make for an enviably comfortable drift car.
Another favorite was this S14, also repping Mydlo. Works9 aero for the kouki S14 is such a tough look, especially in a bright silver letting the body lines do the talking.
This Silvia front coupe was crushed over deep Weds Kranze Bazreia and SSR Gartmaier spares. The Car Modify Wonder Glare aero is dope, but the TV and Playstation in the trunk is probably the coolest part of this car.
The ZN/ZC chassis is the future of drifting! Today you can either get a complete shitbox S-chassis for $8k or spend a few grand more on a modern car with modern amenities and comfort. 200hp, a large tuning industry supporting it, and excellent factory driving dynamics make it a hard choice to pass up. In my opinion, with such a modern car, it doesn't look good trying to replicate the past, by imitating early 2000s styling. Instead, adopt Quinn Mei's technique - an evolution of drift car style. An HRS front lip/splitter, Arise side skirts, and Trial TRYFORCE rear bumper comprise the aero package partnered with an Origin wing and Origin’s newly released over fender set.
D-Realm was a rad team concept. All three had JZX90s but each 90 chassis was represented. Stylistically, all three matched with similar aero styles over monoblocks.
A Midwest staple in the drifting community is the Burstspeed HCR32 sedan of team Gleam. Like his 13b swapped NA Miata, this R32 also runs an unconventional swap - although becoming more common - in the form of an SR20DET. Dropping 2 cylinders isn't a downgrade given the immense tuning industry backing the SR has, better weight distribution, and lighter weight. A Uras kit, Blitz 03s, and the only time a heavy-flake pink has ever worked outside Team Magician make a look that's impossible to cut from your thoughts.
I spent most of Gleam's AE86's runs wondering why it looked so fast. Despite the traditional hachi roku styling, a modern S2000 F20C hid behind familiar high revving 4 cylinder sounds.
Gleam's S14 is one I've held in high regards as something to aspire to with my own. Uras Type 2 aero, early Work CR Kais, and a crisp SR20 swap make for a quintessential S-chassis. Red guts are a choice I wouldn't have thought to use with the exterior color but it works perfectly!
A very eclectic mix of styles for a team.
Josh Maghirang has been honing this S13 for forever! Throughout all these years, he’s experimented with - and been at the forefront of - S-chassis styling for longer than some readers may have been alive. Every look has been a timeless example of how to build an S13 with the current look consisting of Hotroad aero, a Koguchi Power hood, and a Type X wing. A 17/18 staggered set of CE28s make up the current wheel setup to lock in a more sporty style. Years of drifting have proven all you need is strength and simplicity so an S15 SR20DET with simple bolt ons is all that motivates Josh’s car. I‘ve been watching videos of Josh driving for almost as long as I was conscious of what drifting was so it’s always surreal to see the car and him driving in real life.
Zach Triggs came up from H-Town with his gangster SC300 to represent and drive with Crochouse.
Kevin Martinez of Essence came up from Texas in his BN Sports Type III S13 over 17/18 stagger TE37s and 57DRs.
Essence had a cool take on team continuity - all members ran BN Sports (or BN style in the case of the team's E46 vert) for a cohesive look despite very different chassis. Harris's AE86 is a rare usage of BN Sports on an AE86 in the modern age. The old "golden era" cars like Ryota Yuasa's Bride Levin look incredible but it's not as common today. This one invoked a mini version of the typical BN style with "big" chrome three piece wheels. Speaking of which, I had no idea Garson Ryugis came in sizes smaller than 17" but apparently they came as small as a 15 inch! In true Ryota Yuasa fashion, he drove the shit out of this car hanging with the bigger power boys while chucking aero all over.
Yellow and blue is not a combo I would have imagined but the blue seats and trim are a hot contrast against the bright yellow exterior. Essential BN Sports Type II aero draped overt deep dish Garsons.
Mark's S14 was one car I couldn't stop thinking about after leaving. Works9 is not an easy aero style to pull off with a zenki S14. The softer lines of the zenki don't always lend themselves well to the sharper shaped vents but this one looked incredible. A D.Speed hood and what I believe are Be Free mirrors push the style further along with a big GT wing.
Garage Abstract was the winning team of Final Bout 5. How this event is judged is based primarily on driving in addition to car styling and this team's win was well deserved. The group pic was taken later on Saturday after some bumps and bruises but the incredible driving and collection of rare parts between them was more than enough to earn a victory!
Thomas of Garage Abstract was ripping his SR powered, Hotroad kitted RPS13 like a pro!
Of all the driving that weekend, the driver I was left buzzing about the most was Zach Gillespie in his S13. After the team comp on Saturday, Sunday hosted a tandem battle involving one elected member from each team and Zach placed second in a stock KA! All weekend he was hunting down much more powerful cars and driving much more potently than you could ever imagine an NA KA24 could.
Final Bout was for the horsepower underdogs. This year’s winner of the tandem competition was Leigh Roto from Team Proceed. After years of campaigning the A70 Supra he was known for, he sold it and transitioned to a completely different chassis in the form of a BRZ. It’s still kind of a Toyota and it’s FR so it’s more or less an evolution. Despite less than a season under his belt in it, he was a weapon in this bolt-on HKS turbo machine. After winning the tandem comp, he moved onto a “Final Boss“ battle against Hert in his 500hp K24 monster and stuck to him in what was one of the most exciting tandem battles I’ve seen.
A’PEXi has been killing it in marketing within the American tuning world the past couple years. They revived their old D1 FD3S and have followed it’s campaign with this S13 coupe that felt straight out of early D1 competition. A functional but stylish height over Volk GTVs just looks nice. G-Corp was chosen for the aero and along with an SR20 is, obviously, A’PEXi’s line of parts. Even on older cars, most tuning companies build demo cars with more modern or evolutionary styles. A’PEXi, one of the companies that developed the cars we look to for nostalgia, has created something of the golden era that’s brand new!
A’PEXi‘s FD3S needs little introduction. It’s rad seeing them campaign thear ex-D1 competitor doing what it was built to do!
I’ve been dragging this coverage out for too long and there’s too much to cover in one post so enjoy part one and look out for part 2 in the coming days!