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Busam wins Little Rock shootout, Stoneburner slides to top speed at MB Drift Spring Matsuri

Joe Busam leads a tandem lap with Austin Smith during the Battle of Little Rock 235 Shootout at MB Drift's Spring Matsuri on March 19. Photos by William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — If the Battle of Little Rock 235 Shootout is a harbinger of the 2023 season, Joe Busam is on track up to have another stellar year.

The Ohio native, who now lives in Fuquay Varina, slid his way to win the competition — organized by Driftaholics Anonymous and held in conjunction with MB Drift’s Spring Matusri — at Rockingham Speedway’s half-mile track.

Sixteen drivers started the comp, with two drivers taking turns leading during tandem runs around the quarter-mile loop.

The final face-off came down to Busam and Austin Smith from Johnson City, Tennessee. Smith made it to the last round besting Joe Love — with a cone under the front end of his Corvette through half of the final lap.

Although Busam won, judges said Smith was the most consistent driver during the comp.

Andy Wright, who finished ninth overall in MB Drift’s 2022 competitive season, placed third.

Organizers say drivers had the option to compete for a split-prize option or winner-take-all scenario and chose the latter — so Busam drove away with $800 plus a rear driveline kit from On Point Parts in Reidsville and a dyno session from CruzIn Auto Performance in Fayetteville.

Busam is no stranger to winning drift events: he placed second overall in 2022, winning Round 2 and coming in second in both rounds 3 and 4. The previous year, he placed third in Round 1 and got the win for Round 4 and the season.

Click here to read about Busam’s 2021 season win.

Dan Stoneburner slides into the first turn of the infield road course at 74 mph.

The Spring Matsuri is MB Drift’s first event of the season and gave new and seasoned drivers plenty of seat time with several skill-testing layouts on the main track’s infield road course.

Before packing up on Sunday, drivers competed in a high-speed entry contest, zooming down the front stretch of the road course and sliding around the first turn. Dan Stoneburner took the bragging rights at 74 mph.

MB Drift moved to the Rock in 2021 after 15 years at Myrtle Beach Speedway when that track was shut down.

This year, the grassroots drifting series has five more two-day events scheduled at Rockingham Speedway: four competitive events — April 29-30, June 17-18, July 29-30 and Sept. 9-10; and its annual Halloween Havoc Oct. 21-22.

Competitions will be on Saturdays with the track open for fun runs on Sundays. During open drift times, free ride-alongs are available for spectators 18 and older.

See more photos from the shootout and high-speed entry contest below. The RO will have more photos later in the week.

NOTE: This story was updated to make a correction on competition times. 8:38 p.m. 3-22-23

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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.