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Knuckle Up New Year's Drift Event

Prior to this event, I had never been to Texas and never saw a full layout of Houston's Speedsportz track or the layouts Knuckle Up runs, but car culture in Texas is strong, and the drifting community specifically has been nursing some crazy stylish cars from the looks of it online. Flights ended up being cheap as the event closed in so I said "fuck it" and booked the cheapest seats I could find and flew out to see for myself!


Knuckle Up has been holding it down for cool, style driven events in the Houston area for a little while now and the coverage I've seen coming from it seemed awesome. Jimmy Yates of drift team Essence spearheads this event organization and has done a fantastic job of cultivating a community of cool cars and great driving. This was a two day event hosted Friday and New Year's Eve on Saturday with driving going well into the night both days.


This was the first event outside my home track that I've been approved for media too so I was able to hit a lot more spots within and around the track! Thanks to this, I have even more usable pics from this event than I did from Final Bout (I'll get to part 2 of that some day...) so make sure to check out the Flickr link at the bottom as well as the cutting room floor section for the complete collection.



It poured rain in a biblical fashion all Thursday which felt like a bad omen but, other than some muddy grass and wet shoes, the event was all dry.



Friday the track was run clockwise which began with a fast, exciting entry from the long straight into a tighter hairpin turn. Saturday switched direction which lent itself to tighter tandems in the second half of the track. The gradually tightening corners made it easier to stack up heavy after a wide, fast entry corner. Coming out of the final hairpin onto the straight, drivers were encouraged to blow the tires off for an exciting finish.






Reece Mikkelson made his Need For Speed final boss debut at this event. He and some other Minnesota area locals shipped their cars down to Texas for the weekend on a big car hauler to bring in the new year right. I've been internet friends with him for a little while and it was exciting to finally meet in person! Maybe next time we can drive together.






His car runs a simple SR20 setup keeping reliability and function in check. Sexy Style aero adorns the car with a set of super rare WedsSport TC005s in a 17/18 stagger. The wrap is a Sorcerer Graphics creation completed just in time for the car to be shipped south for the complete 2004 vibe. Underneath the wrap the car is painted a pale pink.



The Nelsons of Drift Team BLiSS - what might be the largest team in Final Bout competition with 12 drivers - and their complementary white S13s. Catch all of them driving Special Stage South!






The homie Neslon of AdultVacation is currently the only person to ever have a Kotodama sticker which he ran with his previous look (featured here). Back then it was a Silvia front with a KA24 but he's since switched to a USDM coupe (or Onevia if you're nerdy) look with a popup front end, a Blitz Technospeed Z1/SSR Minerva combo, and an RB20DET powertrain.






The other Nelson of Night Drive was running his S13 hatch with an ever evolving aero package, an SR20DET, and a new livery done by Sorcerer.









The car I was most excited to see was this ZN6. The outside sports a Futago Line body kit, Ganador mirrors, and a double staggered set of TE37s for a pretty standard ZN/ZC drift setup.





Under the hood is where things get spicy! The FA20 was replaced with an S13 SR20DET! After years of drifting an S14, he needed to bring a bit of that energy into the future. Hearing that classic SR shout from a boxer powered vehicle is an inexplicable feeling. It was unnatural how natural it looked out on track and in drift.









Collin from Oblivion’s S13 was one of my favorite cars of the event! It’s an OEM looking Silvia with an NA SR20DE sat over R33 GTR wheels looking fresh off a 2002 issue of Battle Magazine. Everything from the completely intact interior with the classic Bride seat to the driving style and tuning felt perfectly period.







Oblivion's Silvia had the perfect period companion with this S14 from the same team. A complete Navan kit, R33 reps, and an SR20DET looked fairly period itself. I thought I got pictures of them tandeming but I guess none of them came out and I'm super disappointed. It exuded a very nostalgic feeling watching them together.









This is a car I was hoping to see and one I've been following for a little while now. I have an obsession with Subaru drift cars and always get excited to see more cool ones pop up. Seeing a brand known for AWD out drifting is unnatural but Ryan's GDA WRX looked very at home out there. Although 1JZ swaps and stuff are cool, I liked seeing a relatively stock EJ205 powering it. Subaru's boxer motors - especially the eternal EJ line of motors - are part of what makes these cars special. I'd imagine the lower center of gravity feels pretty interesting drifting.





The style mods are just as interesting as the car itself. The car sits over a mismatched set of AVS Model 6 rears and 5Zigen Pro Racer GN+ fronts, a forgotten and cool looking wheel. The aero is comprised of Burn Up rear spats, what I believe are Chargespeed skirts, and a custom front bumper. Ryan's documented the process on his Instagram which I definitely suggest checking out. He started with a stock bumper, a rep Chargespeed lip, and custom side vents and made a mold so he could make the whole thing as a complete, custom piece and replace it if needed.









Mike from Fat Cats has a killer style with his S14. BN Sports Type 4 makes up the main kit accessorized by an M Sport hood, Ganador mirrors, and Behrman DMD front fenders to create a familiar but stand out look. The loud orange paint and bright white TE37s are an exciting combo you don't see a ton.








The 90's are still alive with Aaron Powers' S13 coupe! This NA KA24 ripper was so much fun to watch drive! Despite radiating a similar aura to the old B Wave cars, none of the aero (that I know of) is B Wave. TBO is responsible for the wing while East Bear makes the lip and GP Sports makes the skirts. Work makes the mismatch of Equip 03s in the front and Equip 01s in the rear in a mighty 15 inches.






The brothers comprising English Tune, Damon and Dustin, were incredibly exciting to watch drive and were probably the most aggressive tandems of the weekend. Their matching high angle and healthy 1JZGTE powered JZX100 Chasers were being driven to their maximum, even suffering a few bumps into each other...and a rear-ending. In my opinion, this is the only way to make that raised Meihan style work by keeping the parts cool and the driving insane enough to justify the height.







Both Chasers ran Origin Labo Racing Line aero with the differences between the two (other than Damon's being silver and Dustin's being black) is Dustin's also sports what I think is a BN Sports hood and some aero mirrors while Damon sported a vented driver's headlight.








The English brothers weren't the only pair of brothers out...or even the only pair in JZX100s. D Realm's a three member team with two brothers in complementary JZX100s. At Final Bout, the two of them ran matching red 90s, but have swapped to 100s for this event. These two felt very Japanese being full interior cars with conservative, crisp fitment with clean and simple aero. I loved these two cars!




The third member of D Realm is this JZX90 Mark II with a classic JZX drift car look.







I love this style of drift car and this one knocked it out of the park! That GT style/racing style or whatever you want to call it is a wild look to see out on track being tossed around. It's a lot to digest at a time and very exciting. This S13 achieved this style using a Uras GT kit with a bit of a different look having color matched the whole kit rather than painting the splitter/diffuser portions black. I think for an aggression factor, the black emphasizes the drama of the aero but, especially in a color like this, it's a more beautiful look having it all color matched.












Drift Team Bloom's S13 was gorgeous! Bloom's team color is accented perfectly with contrasting yellow interior accessories. The Origin Labo aero is classic with the addition of Ganador mirrors and a kouki S14 wing. Gram Lights 57DRs and ABC Exclusives comprise the wheel setup.







Bloom's Z33 was a lot more stylish than most Z drift cars. After this event, the car was painted Bloom's team color but at the event it was this cool raspberry color. The Garsons it sits on make the car for me.



Lurking around the pits produced some cool stuff too like this BN Sports kitted IS300 wagon.




Garage Vary's Type-N aero looked killer on this NB!










The white HCR32 from Fiasco was out ripping all day both days. One of my biggest regrets of the day was not getting a better picture of the raw trunk lid.









Fiasco's other R32 sedan also looked killer! The Great Company Grenade GX01s are such a perfect wheel.







What I believe was a 1JZ was screaming from this SC300!








Another favorite of mine was this S14. I can't quite put my finger on what it was that did it for me, but I was quite drawn to it. Origin Labo's Aggressive Line aero with sizable overs and Gram Lights comprising the bulk of the look. Maybe it was the exciting driving, and maybe it was the classic-ness of the styling...







The man who made this event happen - Jimmy Yates! Between keeping everyone in line he was able to grab a few laps himself in his R32 sedan. BN Sports aero and a collection of TE37s and some LMGT4s keep things looking good while an SR20 swap keeps it ripping!










Thje ZN/ZC chassis were fairly popular with a variety of styles and forms of aspiration represented.









AE86 numbers at events are dwindling compared other "classic" chassis so it's always exciting to see multiple people out running them.







I love this ER34. Dude drives with his whole heart and then drives home towing a little trailer full of spares and parts. An absolute legend!