UNION RULES? // DRIFTING @ GATEWAY INTERNATIONALI love to watch drifting. There is something so appealing to me about the skill required to control these tire shredding, smoke belching monsters that fascinates me. Every event I attend I learn something new and it just makes me want to learn more. I don’t know if I’ll ever cross the line to do it though.

At first I thought it just took big power and bigger cojones, to slide these cars around inches from the wall at triple digit speeds. Like all forms of motorsport I learned there is a lot more involved then a fast car and hand eye coordination. Power and a slight lack of self preservation doesn’t hurt... [read more]

UNION RULES? // DRIFTING @ GATEWAY INTERNATIONALI recently attended the Midwest Drift Union event held at Gateway International Road Course. This “roval” offers 7 turns of infield corners ranging from ‘esses’ to a big old carousel that the drivers get to slide around on, and slide they did! Some quite majestically, trailing billowing clouds of tire smoke while shrieking engines let out their cries. Others not so elegantly slid off the track, into the tire barriers or off into the grass. Nothing that more zip ties or less body panels couldn’t fix.

UNION RULES? // DRIFTING @ GATEWAY INTERNATIONALThe on track action was as varied as the cars themselves. From the usual drifting staples of 240sx, AE86 and RX7s to the more unique Toyota Chaser, Lexus IS300 and Supercharged 350z. My personal favorites however were a toss up between the matte black, V8 Powered 240 that really has to be heard to be believed (Imagine a Le Mans C7R Corvette motor in a rather beat up shell….awesome), or the Stillen Supercharged 350Z with its distinct blower whine that left dense trails of smoke in its wake.

UNION RULES? // DRIFTING @ GATEWAY INTERNATIONALThere were also some, shall we say, questionable things I saw this weekend. Some simply noteworthy, others in my opinion flat out dangerous.

UNION RULES? // DRIFTING @ GATEWAY INTERNATIONALThe 240sx that was missing a third of its body structure, fenders, hood and bumpers really made the Tech inspector inside me cringe.

UNION RULES? // DRIFTING @ GATEWAY INTERNATIONALWhen I arrived at the track I watched the driver “massage” a bumper beam with a hammer so it could be affixed to the car with 2 bolts. This was supposed to absorb a rear impact? If that was the case what was to protect the gas tank, the rear diff? Noteworthy, but quite amusing to watch as it slid around the track.

UNION RULES? // DRIFTING @ GATEWAY INTERNATIONALMore serious was the total lack of safety exhibited by people in the infield and the lack of corner Marshals with flags & fire-bottles. Maybe this was just the “Union Rules” for this group, but as a driver I would expect manned corner stations with safety equipment.

UNION RULES? // DRIFTING @ GATEWAY INTERNATIONALEmphasizing this point was the yellow 240 that had to stop at corner station with smoke pouring from under his hood. The driver stopped, jumped out and proceeded to rip his hood from the car while looking around for a fire crew. After he had run back to the cabin for his fire extinguisher, the on-track fire truck had started to drive over to him. We’re all told when starting out in motorsports that if you have a situation, try to get to a corner station for help, but what do you do when no one is there?

UNION RULES? // DRIFTING @ GATEWAY INTERNATIONALThe day had started with a very stern, and to me, very unprofessional, safety lecture for for the “media”. Those of us who cover motorsport events accept and assume there is danger in what we do, its part of the gig. What I do not accept is that any Joe who wanted to walk into the infield and setup a camera ON the FIA curbing or lean ONTO the track in front of cars is considered OK. I saw a videographer almost get clipped by a car while standing on the curbing, at the apex, with his camera to his face. He laughed and said it was because he knew the driver…really? I know a lot of people at the events locally, none of them try to hit me. Oddly enough he wasn’t at the “media” meeting.

UNION RULES? // DRIFTING @ GATEWAY INTERNATIONALOf all the events I have been to at tracks across the Midwest, I have never seen a portable gas grill ON the safety wall separating portions of the track! If you want to BBQ go someplace that lacks the chance of a car hitting you, again people not at the “media” meeting. Other antics included spectators track side, on the infield jumping up and down waving their arms at the drivers they knew. Most would consider this distracting, or misleading behavior. Personally if I came around an apex sideways with my foot down and saw that, I would assume something was wrong and hit the binders. Maybe this has to do with the lack of flagmen as well?

UNION RULES? // DRIFTING @ GATEWAY INTERNATIONALI don’t know where the blame falls for the lack of safety. Either way we are fortunate nothing serious happened, at the end of the day everyone drove home. Next time this circus comes to town, I’m staying home and playing with old dynamite… its just as safe.

Click here for additional images.

Photo/Editorial: Shawn Manny


  1. What a surprise! I didn't expect someone from my favourite ColdTrackDays.com to get lost in the middle of nowhere, but i am quite happy to see some pictures here! Good job, Mr. Manny! And sorry for the not-so-lovely experience that you had to have at the event! The state of the track and the way it has been managed is...well, let just point out that the track will probably close doors before the end of the year.

  2. The last meeting I had in the control tower stated Gateway would be closing next year unless a new buyer surfaces.

    Safety as far as corner workers as concerned I couldn't agree with more. But as the "careless videographer" let me be the first to welcome you to drifting in St. Louis. http://vimeo.com/13472872
    I made the choice to get close to drivers I felt comfortable with much as I have on the streets. As a videographer I also made the choice to take advantage of getting great shots at what would be the last drifting event on gateways road course.

    I had email confirmation of them allowing me on the track via the MDU Media application process. As I was running late to the track that day due to the I-55 closing, I talked with Mark Lenardon before heading out onto the track.

    On a side note the tiny portable BBQ pit was behind the concrete wall on the inside of turn 7 NASCAR side of the track that was the cool down area. I guess you missed the Pizza we delivered to the starting line.

    You're also welcome for the water.

    Thanks for coming out and great pictures.

  3. You went through a lot of work to get track side. I just brought Pizza.

  4. If the guys jumping up and down waving their arms were out there with a truck and trailer, then there was good reason for it. Trying to get the drivers to stop drifting because during the drivers meeting, they were told to shut down on the straight away before the oval. It was dangerous for the people in the truck to be there with cars drifting. This is the reason why it did not stay there, cause that was supposed to be the judges stand for qualifying and competition.

  5. Shawn it really seems like you have never been to a drift event before. First off thank you for coming out and shooting pictures. The main thing we do and look at is the safety of everyone and trust me we had enough staff on stand by if anything were to go crazy in which didn't and never has at any of our events.

    The truck was moved because of obvious reasons, and I we did have a word with the people that were in areas were they were not suppose to be. This was our first time at this facility and everything ran perfectly, and it sadnends me that you are the only person from this weekend looking at it in a negative way. Midwest Drift Unions view on safety is our main concern for any and every event that we are at. Now, if you are trying to get popular because of this negative press then I feel sorry you ever even contacted us. Awesome pictures, but maybe you should stick to AutoX stuff. Drifting is awesome and we keep it fun and safe for everyone.

    I respect the fact you brought this to our attention and we are looking into all of this for future events.

    Again thank you to everyone that came out and is reading this, but the event spoke for itself and everyone had a great time.

    You should go out to figure 8 tracks, destruction derbys, and stuff like that. Welcome to the world of drifting.

    Thank You
    Edgar Sarmiento
    Midwest Drift Union


  6. I was one of the "spectators" or a judge/co founder of Driftindy that was out in the in field with the truck. But lets not get caught up in semantics. No spectators were allowed on the track, fact. Along with that, drifting / judging was supposed to end at the start of the straight, per our drivers meeting. The track was cold when we went out there. This "waving and jumping up and down" was to get the drivers attention. Believe me, I don't care if you're a Formula D driver, I don't want anyone drifting at me while I'm not behind a barrier.

    I wish you luck with your blog, maybe we can make you famous too.

    T.R. Scrivner

  7. This so called lack of safety is ridiculous on your part Shawn. I was on the infield during the Top 8, and without me noticing, somehow you managed to run across track and stand on the K-rail. If a car went off course there, it would be headed straight for you. And I do recall you telling me at the meeting that you've shot at Gateway hundreds of times. If you honestly had a problem, you'd be a man and mention something to one of the staff during the morning of practice.
    And when did you become a tech official? We let cars drive, but not tandem. The driver (let alone a drifter) signs a waiver for a good reason, and wouldnt come to track without knowing that their goal is to get as close to walls/clipping points as possible.
    And guess what? There were fire crews and safety standing by. Legally I am a SCCA corner marshall, and take pride in knowing when someone can handle things themselves or not. This is drifting. Parts break a lot, and sometimes its on purpose.
    Next time you have a problem, please say something DURING the event, and not online like a child.

  8. Wow, first of all Im not editing anything and this is NOT my blog, I am a contributor.
    Secondly, not my first drift event.
    Thirdly, Im not trying to get famous. I report it as I see it.
    Fourth, there were people coming and going all day into and out of the infield, people who were not present at the media meeting. I dont know who they were nor is it my responsibility to police them.
    Fifth point, as a member of the media I am not responsible to police the safety of YOUR event, I was keeping myself and a few other photographers out of harms way all day. Not my responsibility but I did it.
    Sixth: The person waving up and down while jumping was not a trailer/staff/judge. This was in corner 5, I knew what the people at the truck were doing.
    Last point: If safety were your utmost concern we wouldn't be having this discussion.
    As I said, the event was fun to watch yet to me also very dangerous.

  9. dude if you're actually concerned about the safety of others, it makes a lot more sense to say something at the event than to wait to get home to talk shit.

    anyways, the pics are rad. sorry you felt unsafe or whatever.

  10. Im not talking ****. I wrote it as I saw it.

    Glad you enjoyed the pics.

  11. The pictures are great from your flickr account you can see where you are at 20mm focal length standing right at the track side NOT BEHIND A WALL BARRIER!! Your lack of safety for your self was just as bad as anyone else. I very much enjoyed the pictures but being a hypocrite is horrible and something we do not need at our events.

  12. Nice pictures!

    But you say you were privy to a stern safety lecture, specifically for the media, and you didn't take it seriously?

  13. @Edgar - No comments have been deleted thus far.

  14. welcome to drifting. don't like it? STFU
    don't complain about safety if you're not the one "in danger".

  15. 2 busy talking shit, or actually writing a story bout the awesome driving,great times an good people,in a safely run an coordinated event.im sick of people hating on drifting...or the midwest in general.its best not 2 burn bridges or make yourself look like an asshole.maby a quick comment of your personal beliefs would have been enough,,but paragraph after paragraph of knocking us down an shit talking online behind a safe little computer when u seemed 2 have a blast an nothing but good things 2 say IN PERSON ,jus isnt right. there are unwritten codes that some people live by an some choose 2 disregard.live by the sword,die by the sword.i try 2 stay nice an chill 2 any1 an every1...unless they mess with me or my friends.my family in midwest drift union are close enough that this one sided,2faced write up made me wanna rip this screen off the fucking wall. ..next time if u dont got anything nice 2 say,especially towards my friends an family,jus keep it 2 yourself,or do yourself a favor an stay the fuck away from drifting .u are a talented photographer.stick with that an let your pics do the talking..i am a driver an not part of the event staff or gateway workers.jus realize when u talk shit like that u have relieved yourself of our community an family like bond. dont fuck with my family,we r everywhere.

    kris hackenson

  16. Shawn M.

    you started off well, but finished off the write up all wrong..

    sounds like you're just a cry baby..

  17. Jorge pretty much summed you up in his post. Dont cry about anything if you do not follow your own advice. Everyone involved in any sort of motorsports understands there is an element of danger in any part of it. Media guys at events in England sit right next to the clipping points to get insane shots.

  18. Seems like a lot of you whingers out there missed the point about respect for each other and the sport. Great photos taken from a position of knowledge and respect for the sport.The rest of you cowboys can go ahead and emasculate yourselves.......

  19. You were as close as most of the media people at times, I have to agree with Edgar in saying you must NOT have ever been to a drifting event...

  20. BESIDES!... whose the jackass that went to shoot on the OUTSIDE! of the sweeper... DUH physics.. learn about it! talk about safety!

    stick to sissy autocross...

  21. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha