FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup 2018 in Odaiba

The highlight of my photo life for 2018 was the FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup. I didn’t know much about this type of motorsport before going. The only thing I knew was that it started in Japan thirty or forty years ago. Since then, it has steadily grown in popularity. I had a blast with my camera.

From what I understand, the sport isn’t about who is the fastest or crosses the line first. Points decide it. Two drivers slide their cars side-by-side through short courses in the elimination rounds. Judges award points on various criteria, including speed and the distance between vehicles. The winner moves to the next round. It is a very different type of motorcar racing.

To get the most points, drivers need to drive like madmen! I mean that in the best possible way, though! The levels of skill I saw were terrific. They got their cars centimeters from some walls. Once away, they were then busy throwing the steering wheel around to make it through the next corner. It had spectators holding their breaths.

When I visited the Odaiba event, the weather was good on the Saturday morning. But it degraded from that afternoon. For the next two days rained intermittently. That didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm, though.

Everyone looked like they had a great time as there was not only the racing. You could look over the cars in the exhibit area and get signatures from the drivers. Some lucky people even got to sit in the passenger seats and fly around the circuit. There were so many things to see.

The races were exhilarating. Several cars clipped the walls, but I saw only one that required a forklift ride back to the garage. It was good to see that any delay on the track was dealt with decisively. Cleanup crews sprinted to get debris and clean everything up. And while that was going on, a van ran around the circuit. It entertained the crowd by hitting the brakes and flipping the vehicle’s rear up high. That brought huge cheers.

The event was terrific, and I enjoyed it a lot. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I had planned. Due to recurring camera troubles that needed urgent repairs on both days! I was very disappointed, but what I saw was fun and very impressive.

What racing photography tips did I learn there?

  • Use the longest lens you can. That will keep you safe. Stay away from the track, as it can be dangerous.
  • Don’t use single-shot mode. Shoot in burst mode to get as many pictures as possible.
  • Don’t freeze the action with super high shutter speeds. One idea is to have the car sharp but with a slight blur in the wheels. That will give the feeling of speed.
  • Practice panning. Track the car with your camera as you shoot. That should also blur the background giving the illusion of speed.
  • If you find yourself behind a fence, be careful with autofocus. Your camera will probably lock onto the mesh or poles. Using manual focus might be the best idea.

Where was the FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup 2018 held?

Odaiba Aomi Area P Sector was the site. It’s a big multi-purpose area used for events.

Wrapping up

FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup 2018 was a great photography experience. I learned a lot there. Any type of car racing is very exciting.

I haven’t been to another drift racing event since 2018, but it is on my list.  Hopefully, that will happen when I can find time for it.

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