Published on August 21st, 2017 | by Jos Roder


Frenemies of the Drift States

It may be winter time, but up north in Darwin winter looks pretty appealing. With an average high of 31 and “cold” winter evenings averaging 21, it seems like the perfect getaway for many of the other states.

For the Top End Drift Association(TEDA), the dry season represents prime time for a large drift event, so for the last few years, the Drift Invitational – State of Origin has been the feature drift event for the club and state. Originally aimed to lure drivers from other states to the Northern Territory, it is now a yearly pilgrimage for both Western Australian and South Australian teams, who join the local crew for a weekend of drifting and good times with vibes like no other event in Australia.

Held at the Hidden Valley Raceway August 25th – 26th, it will be two days at Hidden Valley Raceway, laying down rubber, catching up with old friends and come Saturday afternoon, the serious but fun business of competition!

Australia is both blessed and cursed by a huge island continent, which unfortunately plays havoc with sustaining a national drift competition that incorporates the major capitals, logistically it is a huge undertaking to get to Darwin for the interstate teams.

As such, TEDA offers a travel rebate to a capped number of interstate entrants, allowing the huge expense of transportation so far north to be a more viable financial proposition.

Here are some jaw-dropping stats for the S.A and W.A teams heading over.

  • 2 transporters required
  • 14,500km combined travel
  • 142 hours of driving time for the return journey

Photo – Shirl Clarke

As well as subsidizing travel costs for the interstaters, the event itself will have cash prizes, the winner of the 2017 Drift Invitational State of Origin taking home $2,000. Runner up will receive $1,500 and 3rd  place $750.

The Darwin locals and TEDA crew always greet the interstater’s with open arms, going out of their way to provide support and offer everyone a great time!

Without further ado, let’s learn a bit more about some of the contenders from each state.

—Team N.T—

Mitch Doyle

Passionate about the sport and very active in the scene, Mitch Doyle has been practicing in his new toy, another S13. This one runs an LS3 engine and Magnusson 2300 supercharger that loves a few whines. The end result is a huge 690 wheel horsepower thanks to a tight tune on the Haltech ECU. The bullet proof T56 gearbox swaps cogs, the upgraded GTR diff helps reliability, while shock works coil overs help traction and make Mitch’s office a nicer place to drive.

Mitch finished a solid 3rd in the TEDA 2016 Championship Series, and qualified 4th at the D.C.A South Australian State round this year so is honing his driving and will certainly be a serious threat come Saturday evening.

Sponsors: Nightcliff Electrical, Metal Crew Custom Fabrications, Sleeka Spares, Hussln Auto Detailing, Darwin Auto Mobile Care, Direct Clutch, Bling Designs

Ben Gargett

Ben Gargett runs a JZX110 MKII that he calls ‘Nanna’. It’s no slouch, packing 380rwkw’s of force fed tyre frying mumbo. This year Ben decided to step up the game so Nanna has been going through a serious transformation into high level competition car. The problem is that it is nowhere near ready, so Ben asked his girlfriend if he could enter her 145kw ‘pure beast mode’ SR powered machine that is far from ready. Luckily, she said yes! I think that would officially be the lowest powered car in the event, so if you are looking for an underdog to cheer for, Ben is your man.

Sponsors: Advanced Weighing Technology NT for all your scale needs and tunes by Cece.

Shane Davidson

The T.E.D.A founder and President has competed at every one of the 6 State of Origin events, normally in his trusty R31 Skyline, however the dark side has proved too strong to resist, Shane opting for….yep, you guessed it, a S chassis (180SX) with an LS.

Apparently too cheap to pass up, Shane is enjoying a totally different driving experience and getting used to the extra power and additional lock.

“It’s probably about time I experienced modern steering lock. Oh my god it’s amazing! There is so much lock to save you, but it’s mostly a very different driving style. The way it crab walks under power is just amazing and its changing the way I hit the corners that’s for sure!”

Shane feels that now he is bringing a gun to a gun fight, he is has a better opportunity to take it to the big dogs and fight for a podium!

Patrick Barlee

Finishing second at last year’s State of Origin at the ripe old age of 15, Patrick Barlee is ready to go one better in 2017 and finally bring home the State of Origin trophy for Team N.T.

The S13.5 Dimet Tools Silvia has had a trophy truck heart transplant, the LS3 tuned to 550hp and an S1 sequential gearbox for banging gears. Wisefab takes care of steering at the front and geometry at the rear with MCA suspension taking care of the bumps and helping traction.

Sponsors: Dimet Tools, BPO Bohlin Performance and Off-Road, Castrol and special thanks to my parents.

Adobe Homes Racing Team

The local Adobe Homes team consists of a passionate family who love their motorsport. Justin Gill drives the Supercharged 430kw L98 Holden VE Ute (not stickered in Adobe yet), Kial Hanson drives the black 180 with a trusty old RB20 with 230kw’s and Jacob Martin drives the Cefiro with a new L98 making 450kw’s. The other team car is the new S14.  Cody Hanson is also in the team at age 16 and excited to join the other guys in the comps moving forward.

Sponsors: Abode Homes, Transfurb, Bholin Performance and Oils, Shorelands.

Tristan Lack

One of the most recognisable cars at local competitions, Tristan Lack’s well sorted Territory Door Services Toyota JZX100 is ready to rock this weekend.

Michael ‘Maikool’ Johnson

Five years out the game, Michael Johnson is back and keen to compete in the Drift Invitational to get the competitive spirit back. After purchasing the yellow Skyline in 2016, he has been getting it ready for competition.

The RB20 powered R32 may be relatively standard by today’s standards with 185kw’s, rack spacers, Extended LCAs,  GKTech rear arms, Cusco coilovers and a surge tank with dual Bosch 044, but after a successful couple of test sessions recently, he is all set to step up and see how he goes on Saturday and he couldn’t have done it without his sponsors who have helped him greatly over the years.

Sponsors: Rob Parslow at Armed Fabrications, for the fabrication work and Danny Probert at Darwin Auto Mobile Care,

Jeff Dunkel

TEDA co-founder Jeff Dunkel is another Darwin local who is hoping to have a strong result this year. He is going to be pulling a few all nighters to see if he can sort some issues on his SR20 powered Hobby World ‘Panda Drift’  180sx so he can compete against the challengers from interstate and the other hard charging locals.

Describing the power Jeff perhaps sarcastically remarked “Enough to scare the pants off me” so we assume it is quite low power!

—Team S.A—

Adam (Woody) Wood

As is the case with many drifters, Adam Wood cut his preparations for the Drift Invitational a little fine, not leaving much space if things went wrong, only finishing the full engine rebuild two days before loading the cars on the truck.

The rebuilt RB2530 running a GTX3071 on E85 came up a treat however, now making 390kw on 18psi.

“I’ve been drifting for 6 years now I’ve come third a couple times and won some extreme entry comps but I wouldn’t have made this event without the support from my sponsors.”

Sponsors: Sleeka Spares and GKTech.

Nathan Greenhill     

With 9 years’ of drifting, and an invitation from Mitch Doyle plus some persuasion from Dale Campaign Nathan Greenhill decided it was time to take the opportunity to travel to Darwin for the Drift Invitational.

The R32 Skyline has a built RB25 Neo, Garrett 3076/.63r turbo, HELPS steam pipe manifold, 1000cc injectors plus a Haltech with Racepac dash, Z33 6 speed gearbox, R32 gtr rear end and Driftworks knuckles all round. The Neo puts out around 320kw on 20psi with e85.

After previously only competing in local and state comps, Nathan wanted to step up this year and has been competing across Australia in the DCA series and thanks to his sponsors, Darwin also became achievable.“After hearing all the stories of how good Darwin is how could I possibly say no!”

Sponsors: Custom Importz for the bulletproof motor, Artini Crash for the sweet body kit, wide guards and a fresh coat of paint. Falken Tyres for the rubber for every event.

Daniel Prior

Daniel Prior is an experienced drifter, having competed around Australia in his trust S13. Powered by a 340kw Toyota 1.5J. Since his last trip to Darwin, Daniel has freshened things up, installing a T56 gearbox with an Extreme clutch plus an Origin wide body kit and the car is looking great.

In 2015 at the Drift State of Origin, Daniel manged to qualify 2nd and finish 3rd, so he knows the track well and is looking forward to mixing it up with the locals for a fun weekend.

“I’m just keen to get out of this cold Adelaide weather and ripping some skids!”

Sponsors: NT Energy, Accord Property, Grand Auto Wreckers, Corporal Industries, ISC Performance and Maxxis Tyres.

Anthony Cece

Another OG drifter, Anthony Cece is your current Drift State of Origin Champion, taking out the 2016 event ahead of NT local Patrick Barlee.

Anthony Cece is bringing up his heavily modified, competition spec S14 to defend his title and retain S.A’s claim as the undisputed State of Origin champions.

The S14 runs a Greddy intake manifold, 6boost exhaust manifold, Garrett GT30/76 .63, ID1000cc injectors tuned on E85, custom V mount intercooler, Koyo radiator + custom header tank set up, RB25 PPG dog box with 1st to 5th billet selectors and input shaft, OS Giken competition triple plate clutch, DG5 coilovers, Drift works knuckles front and rear, Cusco arms, GTR 4.11 diff shafts and hubs, full weld in cage, Velo seats, Autronic SM4 ECU, Motec Dash, Motec PDM, R33 GTR Brembo’s, full Origin body kit and carbon parts, Enkei RPF01 wheels oh and NOS.

Anthony Cece also looks after the tune on many of the SA machines heading north on this trip and is a great supporter of the scene in general.

Bill (Pana) Panagiotopoulos

Bill Pana took a leap of faith by entering his first Drift State of Origin last year and he was certainly rewarded for his efforts, taking home a 3rd place on the day,  topping off one of the best drift weekends of his life. Bill owns a clean 4 Door R34 and has freshened everything up for another crack at the 2017 event.

 Matty (Slaya) Bennetts

After taking the win in the Extreme Entry comp at the Drift Invitational in 2016, but sadly missing out on competition due to a bent rear knuckle Matty Bennetts is keen for another crack up north in his wild S13.

The usually reliable 2JZ has been anything but for Matty over the last 18 months, having blown two of them up! I think unlucky is an understatement. When the 2JZ isn’t blowing up, a HGT 5speed sequential box and R32-GTR diff get the 385kw’s of power to the ground. Wisefab steering and GK-Tech rear knuckles help take care of lock and traction.

Fingers crossed for a trouble free weekend and some fun times ripping it up around Hidden Valley this year for Matty.

Tom (Party) Hemmings

Despite spending less than a year drifting, Tom Hemmings has caught the bug hard and is excited to join the other S.A lads for an adventure up north and improve on his best result of 14th in Qualifying during an event in Tasmania at the start of the year.

Tom owns a mint A31 Cefiro running a built RB20, boosted by a TD06 and controlled by a Link Fury ECU. The car is wired and tuned by Garage 7 and makes a nice 285kw. Shockworks coilovers and an Acostal lock kit sort the handling and lock.

Sponsors: AH Transport. UlX110 Oils. Cockys Autopro Mount Gambier and Spark Automotive Mount Gambier.

Paul (Aussie) Austin

A true OG of the sport, Aussie has a long list of achievements to his name and is undoubtedly in the top group of drifters in the country. He also told Drift Life it was pretty much the last track in Australia to kick off his ‘to-do’ skid list! Among his many accolades, Aussie won the 2016 Tasmanian Drift Championship with two round wins and 3 podiums.

Aussie will be taking his Nissan SIL80, a well setup beast with a built RB25 running an Autronic ECU, A HKS 3037 Turbo, Garage 7 tune that puts out 340rwkw. On the lock side, Aussie runs an Acostal MS Dev “Blatant” steering kit.

Aussie is sponsored by Origin Labo Aus/Savannah Motorsport, and Acostal MS Dev.

Dale Campaign

Experienced campaigner (pardon the pun) Dale Campaign is sending his weapon of a S13 Onevia up to Darwin for his third Invitational.  As the winner of the 2014 State of Origin, Dale will be on the shortlist for another podium in 2017.

Dale runs a BR25/30 with a Garrett 3582 and all the supporting mods, translating to 400kw’s ATW’s.

Sponsors: GH Haulage, DM Civil, Savanna Motorsport, Einsign, Jaustech, Sleeka Spares, Office Bar, Fox N Firkin, Rosstoy Real Estate.

—Team W.A—

Brendon Greaves

Drifting since 2009, Brendon only started competing nationally in 2015. When he is not running his own electrical company, the rest of his time spent in the shed building or working on his drift machinery with the help of his best mate and pit crew Brock Collins. Winning the Asian Drifting Grand Prix in Jakarta in December 2015 has been Brendon’s career highlight so far and wet the appetite to compete in more overseas events in the future.

Brendon’s rig for the Drift Invitational will be his Nitrous S15. A Scotts Performance Engines built L98 6L currently runs a 150 shot of Nitrous for some extra baking in the sun. With Wisefab front and rear, a 4 speed TTI sequential and full winters quick change rear end, the S15 is a serious bit of kit.

Sponsors: Penrite, Hi Performance Drift Garage, Scotts Performance Engines, Hi Performance Electrical,

Trevor Durham

After seeing the cars built by Dave and Brent Gordon at Precise Suspension Automotive, Trevor decided he wanted to join in the fun. Despite having only been drifting for 9 months, Trevor is stoked every time he gets out on track. Finishing higher than Dave Gordon in Pro Class over the course of the season was a highlight.

Trevor built a SIL80 to modern spec, running an LS, Nitrous, Wisefab and a host more goodies to be competitive.

It will be Trevor’s first Invitational and he can’t wait to soak up the atmosphere at Hidden Valley and enjoy some good times.

Brent Peters

Brent Peters, owner at Luxe Performance sums up why he got involved in drift in a unique way that is best served as a quote

“Not sure why I got into drift I guess sound financial stability and easy living wasn’t on the table at the time and it’s more addictive than crack”

Brent is a State of Origin regular and will be bringing up his “super rare RB powered” R32 Nissan Skyline 4 door. As the only non LS powered car heading over from WA he has installed a new Holset turbo for some extra ponies, plus a few other goodies to keep up! Brent managed to finish inside the Top 10 in Pro Class in the W.A state championship, a feat he is proud of considering the power of the V8 brigade he competes against.

Sponsors: Penrite Oil, Luxe Performance, DC Auto Centre, Hyperdrive MS.

Dave Gordon

After spending bulk time at drift events supporting his son Brent Gordon, Dave decided to get into the action himself and see what all the fuss was about. “I loved the look of the sport. I enjoy building cars, and to be able to build a car with no class restrictions was exciting to me,” said Dave.

Starting in a Nissan S14 with a nitrous equipped LS2 engine Dave has now stepped up to a supercharged S15.

After gaining some experience competing in some local competitions and the ADGP Driftkhana in WA, plus an ADGP round in Victoria at Calder Park, (Dave’s favourite track so far) he is ready to get his first taste of Hidden Valley Raceway.

Sponsors: Precise Suspensions & Automotive, PSA Skiboats, MCE Motorsport, Penrite Oils

Adam Monck

Listing “every time I get behind the wheel” as a career highlight, you can tell drift is a passion for W.A local Adam Monck.

Loving the control of something that is on the edge of being out of control, Adam chose a subtle twin-turbo LS powered S14 aptly named ‘Tyre BBQ’ to make sure he can easily stay on that edge. Packing more punch ‘”than a middle eastern war lord” plus Wisefab and a host more goodies, Adam is gunning for a podium come August 25th at Hidden Valley Raceway.

Sponsors: Nulon, Westlake tyres, Luxe performance, Scotts performance engines

Jason Bywaters

Bashing a Toyota Corolla around an autocross track started Jason’s passion for driving back in 2010. Four years later, the Corolla was converted to drift spec, running the veritable SR20DET. As Jason’s drift career progressed and the competition level continued to raise, the LS drug became too hard to resist. The new equation is Corolla + LS = BAKE.

After qualifying 1st in the 1st competition he ever entered plus a 2nd place qualifier in a D1WA round this year and sitting 5th in this year’s D1WA championship, Jason is displaying the skills that will put him on the short list for contenders to reach the podium.

“I am really looking forward to drifting on a different track and going up against some of the best from around the country at the Invitational!”


An event like this takes a great effort from many people, so thanks to the TEDA committee for their efforts, all of the drivers, volunteers who will assist, sponsors that support the event and the drivers and everyone else that has lent a hand to make the event possible!

The S.A Team also wishes to thank GH Haulage for their continued support in getting the cars up to Darwin.

Bring on Friday!

Drift Life would like to thanks Brentton Deane, Brent Peters and Shirl Clarke for their assistance with information for the article and all the drivers who supplied content.

Thanks also to the photographers who allowed use of their photos, it couldn’t happen without their help.

Oh and one last note, editor of Drift Life, Jos Roder will finally make it up to the event as a guest judge and is looking forward to the experience!


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About the Author

Jos Roder

is the owner of Drift Life and delves deeper into drifting culture. Jos started drifting more than 10 years ago after discovering a sport existed that captured his favourite motoring endeavour, going sideways! Jos works full-time in the automotive/motorsport field as a PR Manager and Advanced Driving Instructor and currently owns a JDM S15 Nissan Silvia for drift/track/hillclimb duties.

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