The DUB media empire has a fairly large booth for SEMA this year in front of the Las Vegas Convention Center's South Hall, and parked in it is a perfectly abominable example of what happens when Japanese performance heritage and American excess collide. We speak of the R35 GT-R that sits on just the most blingy 23s ever, like a track star getting ready to run the 100-meter dash wearing a pair of sequin-studded pumps. It made our hearts cry.
Speaking of the supercar, we figured out who's buying them all up - every aftermarket business that operates in the sport compact industry! To be sure, it is one of the most popular platforms at the show, and prompted us to closely reevaluate our own personal saturation point for the beloved Nissan (Jackie, that means you).
GT-Rs notwithstanding, drifting was sort of the theme of Wednesday at the SEMA Show, culminating with a mid-afternoon press conference staged by Formula D founders and chiefs Jim Liaw and Ryan Sage. They briefly looked back at the season that just ended, which remarkably continued to see growth in attendances in spite of the steadily worsening economy, and spent the bulk of the time mapping out the organization's plans for the immediate future.
While there won't be any more stops than this year, 2009 will look noticeably different. As much as possible, events will be a two-day format, with folks encouraged to come out the day before competition to check out practice and qualifying. FD's Pro-Am licensing efforts will also continue to grow, and they look to further cultivate their international presence, namely through their global exhibition stops in Singapore and Mexico and by also working with other up-and-coming drift sanctioning bodies abroad.
And speaking of going global, FD announced a special international tournament that EA Games - producers of Need for Speed - are backing. Called Need for Speed Live, it looks to be a combination drift contest and time attack, and is in the works for Brands Hatch Circuit in the UK some time next year.
FD closed up the conference with more on the upcoming Red Bull Drifting World Championship, which is set to go off in less than two weeks. They revealed the course, broke down the $50,000 purse (it's 25G for the winner, 15 for 2nd, and 10 for 3rd), and also let fly that they plan on having multiple helicopter cams recording the event for their various media partners, an unprecedented viewpoint for an American drifting contest.
We meekly sauntered over to the Mopar area of the show to check out two-time FD Champ Sam Hubinette's new ride for the upcoming season, the 2009 Mopar Drift Dodge Challenger. The car will represent Chrysler in the series and was built by the Crazy Swede's long-time partners Shaun Carlson and NuFormz Racing.
Specs include a Mopar A8 aluminum engine built by Gary Stanton Racing Engines, with Mopar W9 raised port heads, pumping out an estimated 850 hp and 849 lb-ft of torque to BFGoodrich tires; Mopar front and rear anti-sway bars; front carbon-fiber splitter and rear carbon-fiber wing; and weight savings off the Dodge Challenger SRT8 chassis by utilizing a custom carbon-fiber body by NuFormz.
Oh yeah, best thing about the car: the driver's side rear fender has a built-in line of roller blade wheels to keep it skimming along walls rather than tearing the quarter panels away on contact. Everyone we asked said the design, while enterprising, probably wouldn't last through a direct impact, but it sure looks spiffy!
Finally, while this next bit about the Solstice GXP Coupe Concept isn't necessarily about drifting, the roadster iteration has been used for sliding by the likes of Rhys Millen and Darren McNamara (who pilots the Saturn Sky version). The concept on display in the GM section of the Center Hall rocked GM Performance Parts' Stage 2 performance kit, intake kit, and cat-back exhaust system that reportedly boosts horsepower from 260 to 290. The car also features a sportier suspension system, exterior graphics kit, customized leather-trimmed seats, race-style pedal covers, and an iPod interface. It's just a shame GM's factory backing has been pulled from pro drift (and who can blame them - they've got bigger problems right now), but had it been otherwise one senses this car would've been a marginally better platform.
Come on back tomorrow for SEMA Day 3.