ROCKINGHAM — Joe Busam slid his way to his second win — first of the 2022 season — in Hot Summer Nights, Round 2 of MB Drift’s competitive grassroots series, Sunday at Rockingham Speedway.
Busam, an Ohio native now living in Fuquay-Varina, was the winner of the fourth round and the season in 2021.
One of the most challenging things for Busam and the other drivers was the weather.
However, unlike most other motosports, drifters don’t stop for rain.
“The changing track conditions … give them different variations to adapt to,” said MB Drift co-founder Marshall Eggerling. “All the cars are not the same. They’re all different. They have different suspensions, transmissions, engines … and things get swapped out, so it’s kinda like anything goes as far as the cars are concerned.”
Eggerling said drivers will adapt by lowering tire pressure for extra grip on a wet track.
“But it also works the other way — when the track starts drying out, they have to start adding it back, otherwise their car will grip up too much and mess them up,” Eggerling continued. “It just takes a lot more finessing in the rain, so it’s a good skill set for drivers to have and be able to add in their repertoire of experience in case they experience that in a different competition.”
The rain fell moderately for the first few competitive runs.
“The track didn’t change a whole lot during comp,” Busam said. “It dried up, but it didn’t feel much different.”
Busam did, however, have an issue with his defrost — until changing a fuse.
“All in all, the car felt great. I did OK.”
Drivers qualify on solo runs and compete against each other in tandem runs — each taking turns leading and following — in an elimination bracket.
With the two-day format, organizers started qualifying on Saturday evening following hours of “fun runs.”
“I qualified last night and … I felt kinda nervous about today because I didn’t feel great,” Busam said. “Then practicing this morning I figured out how to get the entry down — once you get the entry set, the rest of it’s good.”
Qualifying 10th in his Nissan 350Z with a stock motor, Busam’s final showdown was with Justin Bauer, who qualified fourth in a Ford Mustang GT.
“I’ve never tandemed with him, even just messing around, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Busam said. “I’ve seen his runs and I thought he was fast, so in between the battle before him and that one I dropped 4 pounds of pressure in my rear tires so I could keep up.
“He came up to me, he goes, ‘Dude, you’re fast!’ And I was like, ‘No, you’re fast! I just dropped pressure!”
Bauer has been driving with MB Drift for about a decade, but mostly for “fun days.” He said this was his fifth event since building the Mustang.
The battle for third place at the podium came down to OK Drift teammates Vanderpool and Corey “Shake” Mendenhall, with Vanderpool pulling out the win.
During his rip through the bracket, Vanderpool knocked out top qualifier Joshua Buster and Nick Abbot.
Prior to Bauer knocking out Vanderpool to face Busam, he had a literal run-in with Brandon Goodman, another OK Drift driver.
Goodman, who won round three last year, said his rear differential blew, causing him to crash into Bauer’s driver-side door. Goodman said his car should be ready to roll again by the next event.
Goodman wasn’t the only one to have car trouble.
Drivers Wade Smith, Drake Carter and Tony Martin all had issues after qualifying which kept them from being able to compete. Andreas Messner had a radiator leak, but was able to borrow another driver’s car. Josh Calla had a bye run due to Carter’s misfortune, but had to bow out due to his own.
Coming into the competition, Busam was 30th in the points standings. His win on Sunday propelled him to third. Bauer, who was 10th, has moved into first place.
Dustin Walker, who was topped by Mendenhall in the top 16 is second in points.
Last month’s first- and third-place winners, Drew Riggins and Ryan Duncan, didn’t compete in Round 2 and second-place winner Joe Love was disqualified.
Rounding out the top 10 in points are Goodman (4), Abbot (5), Smith (6), Andy Wright (7), Vanderpool (8), Derick Gaskins (9) and Calla (10).
There are still two more rounds in this year’s competitive season. The next event will be Aug. 13-14 at the Little Rock oval course behind the main track and the final round will be Sept. 17-18 on the infield road course.
“Everybody loves Little Rock,” Eggerling said. “Originally underestimated, they thought it wasn’t going to be fun, but now everybody loves it and requests it a lot.”
This year’s final event, Halloween Havoc, is scheduled for Oct. 22-23 at both tracks.
Saturdays and Halloween Havoc are “open drift” days where drivers are able to get seat time and build their driving skills. Free ride-alongs are available for anyone 18 or older.
Click here for more photos from Round 2 – Hot Summer Nights.
CORRECTION: The name of one of the drivers has been corrected. 11:52 p.m. 7-12-22.