When it comes to diversity in motorsports, for nearly two decades Hyperfest has yet to be beat. Pretty much every imaginable segment of the aftermarket tuning scene invades the 17-turn 3.8-mile country club course for a wild weekend in May each year. From about half a dozen Formula D Pro and Pro 2 drift machines, to NASA Pro rally Subarus and DSMs, to off-road Jeeps and buggies, to hundreds of race cars in dozens of classes—and even some hot-rod lawnmowers (yes, you read that right)—it's pretty crazy.
As in past years, kicking off the race weekend this time was the Ultimate Track Car Challenge: the annual one-day, no-holds-barred track competition open to all racers and builders who think their machine is the best of the best. The event had a record-breaking field of 54 cars this time, and the event organizers asked the contestants to focus simply on "speed, not excuses."
UTCC classing is refreshingly simple: Fastest overall; Fastest Production Car; Fastest FWD, RWD, and AWD on open tire and 200-treadwear tire; and UTCC Knockout Champion (sort of a second-chance bracket, held the day after main competition). There are no limits to modification, so the impressive, oddball mix of what turns out each year never disappoints.
A tube-framed Dodge Challenger (driven by Adam Romito) clocked the fastest overall time of 1:51.537 around the VIR Full Course this year, beating his next closest rival by over 10 seconds! But some of our favorites were Michael Holenstein's twin-turbo V8 '83 Datsun 240Z, United Speed Racing's FK8 Honda Civic Type R (which you might recall from our Super Lap Battle finals), and Team Honda Manufacturing Alabama's Honda Odyssey—because K-series, and anyone who brings a minivan to a race-car fight is a badass.
On top of all this UTCC action were three fully packed days of NASA road racing with over 500 cars entered to compete in different events such as spec Miata, spec E30, Honda Challenge, Performance Touring, Factory Five Challenge, and an insane Super Unlimited Class.
Another interesting vehicle found in the paddock was an Alfa Romeo GTV in a vintage Marlboro livery. The car includes a factory rear-mounted transmission and clutch (with two flywheels) to help give the car a 50/50 weight distribution.
The car also came equipped inboard brakes mounted to the transmission, similar to vintage style Formula 1 cars. And the owner actually converted his torsion front suspension into a coilover suspension to help the car handle around the course. We can't help but wonder what this crazy recipe might be worth with more than its 140hp under the hood.
Aside from that, NASA driving from HPDE and Time Trials to wheel-to-wheel club racing brought out an eclectic ton of awesome oddities—Turbocharged Civics and CRXs, ITB CRXs, a TC-R VW Golf, vintage Toyotas and Mazdas, Exos, a grip of S2000s, lots of domestic muscle, and plenty of capable street cars.
Nestled within VIR's massive Full Course is the 1.1-mile Patriot Course, and on Hyperfest weekend this is completely overthrown by drifters. Formula DRIFT Pro and Pro 2 drivers, along with a mix of local and regional pro-ams, can break speeds of 100mph flying through the terrain-laden course, and top drivers like Vaughn Gittin, Jr., Chelsea DeNofa, Dirk Stratton, Austin Meeks, and others strapped fans in and showed them firsthand what it's like to do just that.
Mixed in with the pro drivers was a very strong field of aspirational Pro 2 drivers looking for some seat and tuning time with their cars before the next round of the Formula D Pro 2 series near St. Louis at Gateway Motorsports Park. Standouts included The Sorensens (brother and sister team), AJ Muss, Brandon McDowell, Kenric Meyer, Dustin Miles, YouTuber Adam LZ, and Donovan Brockway and his newly debuted twin-turbo V8 BMW M2.
Other notable participation was seen from Mike Perez and his Cadillac V8-powered "Death Kart" and JZA80 Toyota Supra, "The Drifting Dad" and his FB Mazda RX-7, and so much other crazy, clean creativity from East Coast and Mid Atlantic drifters.
The Patriot Course was also where Hyperfest's "Hyperdrive" lead-follow sessions took place between drift run groups, allowing any interested show-goer the opportunity to drive their car on track with professional instructors.
One unique drifting highlight of the weekend took place Friday evening when Chelsea DeNofa attempted a 150-mph drift on the VIR Full Course front straight, in RTR's re-wrapped European demo car previously drifted by JR at Godwood and the Nurburgring.
His initial attempt clocked in at 146.38mph, with the car pegging redline in sixth gear prior to initiation. After the RTR Mustang team moved the RPM redline all the way up to 8,200 rpm and swapped rear-end gears to a taller set, Chelsea barreled down the front straight yet again and entered at an astounding, GPS-verified 154.66 mph.
One often overlooked area of NASA racing is their Pro Rally and Rally Sport. Drivers who took part in Sunday's competition could have their entry fees waived if they gave "Rally Rides" to Hyperfest fans in attendance on Saturday. Subaru RWX/STIs took on the bulk of duties here, joined by a sweet Subaru wagon, Eagle Talon, and some Rage buggies.
Rally is rad. Take racing, combine it with drifting, and add in a bunch of rocks, dirt, trees, small woodland creatures, and lots of danger, and you get rally. Even just the tiny taste of it we get each year at Hyperfest is enough to keep us coming back to get even dirtier.
Are you a gearhead with a dual appreciation for off-roading? It's hard not to be. On top of all the on- and off-track racing that goes on at Hyperfest, fans can ride along in, or bring out their own vehicles to three of the most crowd-favorite aspects of the event: the Proving Grounds, Mud Bogs, and Upper and Lower Trails.
Whether navigating low-speed obstacles or coasting over jumps at speeds high enough to take flight, Hyperfest has you covered.
And if all that wasn't enough, there were several heats of lawnmower racing which, if you've never seen it in person, can be brutally competitive in its own right. Sorry, would-be participants: this event is best left up to the "professionals."
Let's face it: cars and speed are fun. They're serious business ... but they're also fun, which is why we love them.
As the sun starts to set on the countryside of Virginia, one of the most looked-forward-to races of Hyperfest each year begins to heat up: The Koni Shocks Power Wheels Downhill Attack! Entrants bring any plastic-wheeled, engine-less car they can, don optional dress, and race downhill through several turns of the VIR Full Course "rollercoaster" section. The first session was split into five heats and all the top drivers took place in an intense finals battle down the hill.
The contest included some people who even dressed in costume to match their Power Wheels vehicle. The contest brought out trucks, Hummers, a Harley Davidson, plenty of Barbie Jeeps, and even a Stars Wars Landspeeder. After winners were declared in several heat races, the real wild shootout race began.
Drivers had to do a Le Mans style sprint to their "cars" and huck them down the hill, dodging water balloons thrown by fans and roadblocks set on course by NASA officials. Collisions and off-course jaunts were the norm, but all in good fun thanks to mandatory safety precautions.
After that was the X-Force Exhaust sound-off contest, where it was proven that not even two-step limiters and the famed "Death Kart" could hold a candle to your dad on an uncorked lawnmower racing machine. And then it was onto the much-anticipated Tire Massacre burnout contest.
Where in past years show-stealing performances were usually the result of poor planning and catastrophic mechanical failure, this year's contestants proved to be ruthless tacticians.
An S13 driver took his low-horsepower car and did one of the longest burnouts in the group by pegging his rev limiter in second gear for minutes, complete with neon lights flashing. A guy in his buddy's Ford F-Series pickup truck with a ladder rack sat on a smokey until blowing both tires during his burnout. A few drifters even got into the mix with donut-spinning, wall-tapping skids (including Adam LZ in his immaculate SR20-powered S13 240SX).
But the finale of the burnout contest and the hands-down winners were a pair of old domestic jalopies crudely painted in American flag liveries, serving up dual bumper-to-bumper roasts with red and blue smoke, and even a champagne toast to close out the contest.
After and around all that, there was plenty of time to kick back, and just take 'er easy. Hyperfest kept the tunes flowing from three stages throughout the event, but each night on the mainstage the party really hit full tilt. Grilling, drinking, and debauchery ensued in the surrounding camping areas, where hometown party sports like flip-cup, beer pong and Stump took on crazier twists than you'd likely find anywhere else. Equationally put: race tracks > frat houses.
If you're always looking for a good time on (and off) four wheels, don't sleep on Hyperfest. There simply is no better place to experience all the craziness and fun all corners of the automotive world can bring when their forces combine. Check out our gallery below for even more, and to get involved, visit: