March 10, 2019

HOW WE RUINED

QLD MATSURI

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Queensland Matsuri used to be the event you could go for a weekend of pure drifting, drinking, partying and camping. But over recent years, that's all fallen apart. And we really only have ourselves to blame.

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The first Matsuri event of the year is often quiet. But we’re not just talking about the numbers. Despite the baron empty car park and no driving cues. Which, hey, if you're there to drive then you finally got your wish granted. For as everyone always jokes, you pay for the privilege to sit in a line of boiling hot cars. But this year, NO LINES!!!

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Alas, I find myself watching Scott Mitchell’s old, Hit & Run videos from 2012-2014 and just remember how relaxed and wild things were. Memories of over crowded carparks outside from spectators, the pits and shed area filled with tents intertwined with trailers, cars, car parts, people doing gearbox and engine swaps with the business stalls and sheds within tight vicinity. The outside of the racetrack was always cluttered with people who have their spot for the weekend setup on portable couches mounted in the back of utes with some poorly weighed down gazebo, accompanied with an esky full of food and drinks. There was never a reason for them to leave their spot during the day. But when the sun set, the partying would begin. The drifting would settle down and everyone would hang out, drink, fix cars and dance stupidly to loud music. It was one BIG event and everyone was a part of it.

But over time, things changed. I've heard multiple reasons for disliking Matsuri nowadays.
'It's an Efame wank fest.'
'It's got too many rules now.'
'Too much drama in the scene.'
'It hasn't got the same vibe.'
'The fences ruin everything.'
'I don't want to pay to sit in a line.'


A lot of the original drifters have left the scene now, the new kids don’t know who Secret Drift, Team Smooth Dick, Wreck Em, Upside, the list could go on and on. But Matsuri prep used to be such a hype. The sheds didn't have dividers and there would be near 30 cars in one room with music, drinking and heaps of teams pulling gearboxes, rebuilding each others stuff and helping out. Where as now, no one really cares about each other. It's more 'this day is for me,' kind of time. In the end, riding in the back of cars was banned after people were injured, glass bottles banned because people couldn’t dispose of them correctly, there were numerous fights at night because of alcohol and so once they banned drinking, spectator stopped coming. There were also a string of incidences where belongings were being stolen which led to a multitude of negative impacts on matsuri culture, including the enforcement of stricter rules, naturally resulting in a less enjoyable time. Not forgetting that, drifting wasn't really centred around social media at the time. It wasn't a, ‘hey look at me thing.’ It was done for the love of the sport. Not the fame. Or so it feels nowadays with the direction social media has taken.

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Here's to wondering if the new kids to the scene will keep the numbers up or if it will die out. Whether we could ever get the vibe back from those golden days of Matsuri. Or will it forever be a watered down version of itself in an attempt of keeping the notional label of safety attached?

It's not the tracks fault. It's not the event organisers fault. The current scene is sabotaging itself. Whether usual’s have said no/lost interest or whether multiple consecutive events have exhausted general interest is the cause of 'poor event attendance' isn't the point of this article. The future of Matsuri remains worryingly uncertain, will it become nothing more than a hollow reminiscence of fond memories past, or is there hope for it yet? I fear we may never get the golden days back.

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PHOTOS & ARTICLE BY MACCA GREENE