This past weekend was spent at the Gridlife South motorsport festival which hosted, among other wonderful things, dozens of drifters both professional and amateur. It was the first time I had ever seen [intentional] drifting in person and I got to witness it as a credentialed media “professional” stationed closer to the track than I had ever been before.
I think I speak for almost everyone on the Hooniverse team by officially declaring drifting to be good. Our friend Drift Idiot was right all along – it’s just plain good. I’ll briefly explain why with some pretty pictures.
Drifting is a way to gain fame by destroying tires in the most spectacular way possible. You can kill a set of tires by doing a brake stand or some donuts in a parking lot, or you can chuck a car sideways at 100 mph and leaving a quarter-mile-long streak of molten rubber on the ground and lots of white smoke in the air. One method is adequate and efficient, the other is a spectacular display of insanity and car control.
What’s even more impressive is watching professionals drift in tandem. In this scenario, two or more drivers are tricking a 3,000-pound car into doing things it was never meant to do while on the absolute limits of control and with only a few feet separating them. They not only have to keep from smacking into each other, they follower also has to mimic the leader’s every move without losing too much ground. Oh, and good luck seeing the car ahead through all the smoke.
But whether it’s one car on a solo run or five in a train, it’s just plain fun to watch. From the moment a car kicks sideways to initiate to the moment it’s completely engulfed by its own smoke, it’s a spectacle like nothing else. It’s the ultimate display of car control and bravery to be able to do this well.
But what it also displays is the creativity within the community. Drifting has evolved well beyond the AE86 and 240sx you always used to see. There are Corvettes, new Mustangs, Infiniti M45s, Skylines, and Supras among other radical creations. And even if you do see a more common car like a 350Z or BRZ, they’re all engine-swapped monsters. Seriously, good luck finding a drift car with its stock powertrain intact.
Not only can anything go drifting, it turns out anyone can go drifting too. When Rob “Chairslayer” Parsons was given lemons, he engineered his own hand controls and made a drift car. Watching him slay on track, you’d never guess he was facing an extra challenge.
It’s fun and seriously impressive to watch (especially in person), it harbors some of the most creative minds in motorsport, and it’s the coolest way to kill a set of tires.
So yes, drifting is good. Go check it out and support one of the greatest spectacles in motorsport.
I probably don’t need to remind anyone about this, but drifting is of course inherently dangerous. Whether you’re at a local amateur practice session or a professional competition, watch where you stand and know where the cars are at any time.
I was standing on the inside of turn 10A at Road Atlanta (as I was allowed to with my media vest) and got a nice surprise. That arrow is pointing to a rock or rubber marble that was kicked up by this 680-hp Corvette when it kicked sideways outside of the racing line where all the debris was. Half-a-second after shooting this, I got hit right in my upper forehead. It sucked, but what’s most important is that the shots I got turned out pretty good. You’ll see the rest of them in the full Gridlife recap later this week.
[Images © 2017 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian – go here for full size]