A whole lot of polishing going on
It'll take more than just a nice ride to come out on top at this weekend's 4 and Rotary Nationals.
Thousands of colourful cars will converge on Waikato and Auckland for the 16th running of the annual two-day event, with Waikato car enthusiast Jacob Hakaraia spending the lead-up polishing, fixing and tightening "every little nut and bolt" on his car to ensure perfection on the day.
The 23-year-old drifter will be entering the Show and Shine competition and said although there were drifting demonstrations at the event, it was more of a chance for them to display their pride and joy.
"For us it's about showing our cars off when we're not on the track."
Mr Hakaraia said that when he bought his Nissan Silvia about 2 years ago it was a $1500 shell, with mismatched panels, and in need of some tender loving care - about $20,000 and six months of hard work worth of tender loving care.
On top of that cost, Mr Hakaraia said drifters were likely to go through anywhere between 10 and 24 tyres at about $100 each per drift event, but luckily he had a tyre sponsor to foot that bill.
So why the big cost?
"It is fun. It keeps you off the streets, I mean we all started off on the streets," he said.
Drifting in New Zealand was "real up there" internationally, with international drivers starting to venture over for competitions.
Last weekend's event in Tauranga sold out, with organisers shutting the gates after 7000 enthusiasts flowed through them.
For those who don't understand the sport, there is more to it than just ripping up tyres. There is skill involved. Drivers are judged on speed, angle and style. If they don't have one of those, the others won't come either.
But more than the skill and thrill of it, Mr Hakaraia said it was about community.
"It's a wicked atmosphere," he said. "There definitely is a community, everyone just helps each other out."
Event director Azhar Bhamji said they were expecting about 15,000 people to turn up for the event which runs both today at the ASB showgrounds and Sunday at Meremere this weekend.
"Basically this event is the pinnacle. It's really worked in conjunction with all of the car clubs," he said. "It's the pre-eminent event for car culture."
Mr Bhamji said the event was entertainment galore, consisting of everything from drifting to drag races, model searches to product launches and, of course, a collection of cool cars to look over.
The car enthusiast, who has been involved with the event for 12 years and managing it for the past seven, said the event appealed to a massive community and was not what everyone expected.
"It's not just a whole lot of hooligans, it's car enthusiasts," he said.
"If people perceive this sort of culture as hooligans, then I say give them a chance and come to the event . . . Check it out themselves before they judge."
Mr Bhamji said the event was alcohol-free and they had strong contact with police to ensure a safe environment.