ROCKINGHAM — Drew Riggins slid from the bottom of the bracket to popping the champagne cork after winning MB Drift’s first competitive round of 2022 Sunday, May 22 on Rockingham Speedway’s infield road course.
Riggins, of Burlington, qualified 16th and knocked out top qualifier Josh Calla in the first elimination run.
“I knew if I could take out the first guy, I would have a good chance,” Riggins said following Sunday’s win. “Had the rain, which everybody was skeptical, but I practiced all day yesterday in the rain and the car felt great, so that worked to my advantage.”
Drivers qualify solo and then make tandem runs in the competition as one car leads and the other follows — then they switch for the second run, with the loser being eliminated and the winner moving forward to the next slot in the basketball-style bracket.
“It was a great battle, the first run, don’t get me wrong,” Riggins continued. “It could have went either way, but luck went my way that time.”
Riggins said he kept working his way up the bracket and realized: “I’m in this.”
The final run came down to Riggins and Joseph Love of Myrtle Beach, who qualified 15th.
Like Riggins, Love knocked out No. 2 qualifier Nick Abbott of Henderson and bested Brandon Goodman, also of Burlington. Goodman won Round 3 in 2021 and placed seventh for the season.
“I wasn’t expecting to be able to keep up with all the power in Love’s car, but (it) held together great,” Riggins said about his stock 2006 Nissan 350Z.
The judges had the two drivers make another pair of runs to determine the winner.
“Luckily for me — bad for him — he spun out … but, I’ll take what I can,” Riggins said.
Not only was this Riggins’ first win, it was also his first competition, as he’s only been drifting for about a year.
He’s been practicing at Piedmont Dragway in Julian through monthly events held by Piedmont Drift. Although his friends weren’t able to make it, Riggins said they were “amping me up, telling me I could do good.”
Riggins started drifting after watching his friend Alex Blalock drift at Piedmont and riding one time.
“I’ve been an adrenaline junkie my whole life,” Riggins said. “Went from riding motorcycles to this and this is a little safer, I think.”
Blalock also has a 350Z and Riggins said he knew he had to get one.
That model is listed by several websites as one of the top drift cars, especially for beginners. Several drivers in the series, including 2021 season winner Joseph Busam, drive a 350z.
“I’ve always loved these cars, never knew they were capable of that,” Riggins said, adding that he bought one and hasn’t looked back since.
For winning the first round, Riggins was awarded $500 and a free oil change. Love, who also worked his way up after qualifying 15th, received $250 for coming in second. Ryan Duncan, who qualified 11th and came in third, gets free entry into a future event.
Riggins said he is ready for Round 2, which is scheduled for July 9 and 10.
Both the second and third rounds, slated for Aug. 13-14 will be on the road course and the fourth and final round on Sept. 10-11 will be on the Little Rock, a half-mile oval behind the main track.
MB Drift moved its grassroots drifting series to Rockingham in 2021 after 15 years at Myrtle Beach Speedway when the latter track was closed due to rezoning.