Stories: The Deep end of Professional Drifting PT2
It was pretty funny bumping into some of your idols unexpectedly. Kumakubo and Suenaga were lurking around the paddock, trying to have a broken English conversation with them was a good time.
The absolute explosion of the entire TRA Kyoto Customs movement and everything rocket bunny has been a huge benefit to the car scene. I’ve always admired everything Kei has done. It was obvious like a favourite personal band, the style was eventually going to hit the mainstream. I don’t care though; I still think everything he has been putting out has been a refreshing take on many car designs. This GT86 was an absolute treat on the eyes, will we ever get sick of seeing this kit done right? Debatable…
The guy is a genius, and as much as people celebrate his work, he went seemingly unnoticed at the event. It was awesome to have the chance to grab a shot and say hello. I’m sure he likes to keep somewhat low key; we need more people like Miura san in the car scene, super humble and genuine and dripping with originality.
Ken Gushi was one of the first cars out on the track that Saturday morning in a fresh liveried Greddy FRS. Seeing the track in real life gives you an appreciation for what these guys do. Its cliché to say it’s fascinating to watch but the precision that is required just to compete from a good driver is incredible. Ensuring all clipping points are met, throwing everything into a battle when quite a lot is on the line is no easy task.
I honestly can’t imagine the mindset of a driver like Dean. Being able to block out all the “what ifs”, all the scenarios that could possibly go wrong. The stress of being sponsored, getting events covered, stress of ensuring everything is 100%, having faith in the crew and car. There is so much behind the scenes stuff that you just have to blank out, so much on the line… Putting all that stuff in a box and just focusing on the now. It takes a certain kind of human to excel at this.
Dean has a small crew, and a not so massive budget when everything gets factored in. He has be the boss of his own situation too, asides from working on the car he has been a one-man band for the last few years. If anything breaks, it’s easily a three to four grand price tag on parts and labour. All of which, has to be factored in with budget for the year. Flights for everyone, places to stay when out on the road, for the middle of the road guys in drifting there is such an over whelming amount of extra stuff that has to be taken into account.
You really have to be in this for the love. The passion has to be super strong with this sport. When you talk to many people outside this world, they just see the cars and sponsorships and think this is the dream life. The struggle doe not stop once you “make it”. There are many on the circuit too, who do not make a comfortable wage from this and probably won’t be able to retire from sliding a car sideways. The act of drifting itself is so expensive that quite a lot of the time there isn’t a whole lot of money left over to cut yourself a cheque.
You get a small amount of chances out on the track to ensure you did it right, for everything to line up… If you mess up its game over until the next round… Alex (Deans Mechanic) is brilliantly relentless and an absolute asset to Deans success on the track. Even in the downtime Alex is thinking about what went wrong, or what could be done to improve on the car, a vast brain over flowing with knowledge which never switches off.
Bill Baldwin, the man the legend, Bill has become a bit of a hero amongst the drift scene, a super nice guy to talk to he had heart surgery last year and we wish him a solid recovery. He always has the best seat in the house.
The sport has come quite a distance from its primitive years. Every young kid from ages eleven onwards is well accustomed to the word drifting. A world of cars dominated by V8 engines, corporate sponsors and global recognition, but behind all the logos and sponsorships it’s a very normal existance. Many of the drivers are still just average humans you can approach in the pits and after the races.
The cars of Formula D have become some of the most powerful competition cars in the world. A long way away from what many on as the “golden era” but the sport has already and will further continue to break off in different directions. Hopefully we will see more grass roots competitions, it seems events like Final Bout, Club Loose and other weekend gatherings are bringing that attainable fun back for the average Joe and keeping the original spirit of the drifitng alive.
A possibility in the future could see categories or classes like we see in Rally or Moto GP. How about different drift categories to give everyone a fair chance? I guess for now it’s a horsepower race, he who has the most power has the better chance. Maybe in a few years we will see things split off into all sorts of Groups but for now at pro level there is only one Category.
Unfortunately a series of events took Dean out of the race, we stuck around to watch Kenny absolutely mash his s14 off of a wall. It was nice to see very rough and ready techniques still used to get the car back out on the track, a familiar sight in Ireland for sure!
Daigo had also been taken out earlier on in the day, the last battle saw Kenny Moen up against Chris Forsberg for the final and it was a pretty intense spectacle. I was surrounded by many of the drivers as everyone stood around to absorb he last few chases.
I have nothing but respect for everything Dean has done for himself and the success that following his passion has brought him. Dean didn’t get the result he would have hoped this weekend but I’m sure it didn’t matter. Many of us can only sit back dream of how it feels sit behind the wheel of a mental 1000hp viper. I’m sure everything is worth for that moment of pure freedom living out a their dream on the race track.
At the end of the day we are all this for the Love of a Machine, the automobile. The scene drags the most interesting people from all over and sticks them together for events like this.
Seeing everything come together, the hard work, the dedication, the insane time and effort that has gone into the builds, the teams, drivers and all the behind the scenes effort to pull things off definitely gave me a whole fresh perspective on the activity of drifting at this level, especially for the not so big budget guys who still do whatever they can to make it happen. We sort of forget that the Drift world isn’t Formula one. Many of these guys are living on the edge of finances to live out their dreams…
Thanks to Dean for the opportunity to see how it all goes down.
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