Summer Bash 18 wrap
The Biggest & Best Yet
If the tyre smoke cloud that hung over Hampton Downs Motorsport Park in northern Waikato on Saturday December 8 didn't give it away, the sounds of high-revving rotary race engine and screaming wastegates that reverberated through the valley surely would have – Mad Mike's Summer Bash went off in a very big way.
The event's third running was the biggest thus far, both in competitor numbers and spectator turnout, and those that took part or simply showed up to witness the spectacle could not have left disappointed – Summer Bash had something for everyone.
“When we started throwing around ideas for an event, I knew it had to be for the fans,” say Whiddett. “December is the one month of the year that I have all my cars back in New Zealand, and what better thing to do for my supporters than to get the whole fleet shredding out on the track and create a big event around it”
On top of some very special guest cars, including an ex-Le Mans Mazda 767B 13J four-rotor prototype race car and RE Amemiya's former JGTC GT300-class Mazda RX-7 powered by a three-rotor 20B engine, Whiddett himself used Summer Bash 2018 to unveil the fourth generation overhaul of his Formula Drift Pro-spec Mazda MX-5.
“To celebrate my 10th anniversary with Red Bull I decided to rebuild RADBUL, and when it came to the engine setup we put it out to the fans and asked what they wanted to see replace the 1,200hp twin-turbo four-rotor 26B motor that we've been running in the car since we built it. A naturally aspirated, peripheral-port 20B, similar to the setup we ran in FURSTY [Whiddett's FD3S Mazda RX-7 before it became MADBUL] received the most votes by a long shot, so that's what we built. The car now only has about the quarter of the power it had before and absolutely no torque, but it's actually a really good match for the short wheelbase of the car and is so fun to drive. I think we also proved the point that you can have a car that's slammed with stretched tyres with super-tight fitment, and still be competitive.”
Despite finishing a solid third in Summer Bash's headline drift event, the Top 16 Drift Superclass, Whiddett's favourite aspect of the day was experienced at much slower speeds. The two, hour-long cruise sessions that ran on the day allowed anyone who had signed up for it to head out onto Hampton Downs' International Circuit in their vehicle – road registered or not – and complete laps at a controlled speed.
“We were cruising around in my RUMBUL stadium truck, my son Linc was in his Mod Kart in front of me, the 767B goes past, a Peterbuilt truck goes past, and then we pass a ‘64 Chevy Impala lowrider that's up on three wheels. I've been to a lot of events all over the world, but I never thought anything like this would even be possible. This couldn't happen anywhere else the world. It's absolutely crazy, but this is Summer Bash.”
The variety extended to other aspects of the event, too. Drifting is where Whiddett has made his name – and this was reflected in the open drift sessions, the Top 16 Shootout, and Triple Threat Team Drift – but the Summer Bash is a celebration of so much more. For 2018 that included unrestricted time attack racing, simulators and R/C cars, a gymkhana course hosted by Mazda, a burnout competition, and a Meguiar's hard park car show among other things.
“It's a massive amount of work to pull an event of this size together. We came back to New Zealand after winning the Formula Drift Japan championship and went straight into Summer Bash prep. Whether it was working on the cars or sorting out the event logistics, I don't think Toni or I had one early night in the last two months. There are lots of people we need to thank, though. Hoshino-san for making one of my dreams come true by giving me a ride in his 767B, and also Mazda New Zealand for all their help in getting the car down here in the first place; Hampton Downs' owner Tony Quinn who's really got behind everything I've wanted to do and played a huge part in my recent successes; Mickey Andrade, Jake Jones and Takashi Teruya, who bought some real credibility to the judging booth; and our commentators Jarod DeAnda and Warren Sare, who together gave Summer Bash an awesome vibe. I can't wait to do it all over again.”