Drifting has been on the rise in this country since George W. Bush was contemplating a second term. Why does it keep drawing people in, and why are there so many attractive people here?
I went to Englishtown Raceway in New Jersey to see what it's really like at an amateur drifting event and to see William Petrow of Broken Motorsports enter a drift event for the very first time. Since my '73 Baja Bug is still in the shop, I took my family Prius. It did not fit in.
And I didn't think I would either. My iPhone doesn't have any dubstep on it. I have no tattoos, and my ears have no holes in them. Nothing I own comes from Supreme.
I do have an addiction to YouTube, though, and I watch a couple random drift vids a day. So when I walked past imported GT-R after imported GT-R and made my way to the track I felt surprisingly comfortable.
They had a DJ booth that was straight blasting the theme song to Wildboyz and cars were screaming by sideways in clouds of tire smoke as thick as San Francisco fog.
I had somehow been magically transported into my laptop screen and inside YouTube.
Only YouTube doesn't fill your nose with set after set of sour, burning tires. It doesn't get you a sun tan, and it doesn't let you feel the wind when a V8 Nissan blows by pointing the opposite direction it's going.
YouTube does, however, have kitten videos. I saw no kittens at drifting. Frowney face.
What was weird about the event was that at no point did I know exactly what was going on when or where. That day at E-Town there was:
- a go kart race
- an active drag strip
- two running motocross courses
- a motorcycle training class
- a motocross training class
- drifting (duh)
There were biplanes taking off nearby and flying around over head, too. I was struggling to think of any other motorized sport you could do when William Petrow told me they used to have boat racing also.
My coworker Travis and I drove over and watched some Bubble Impalas run quarter mile times as fast as a new SRT Viper and then meandered back to the d-d-d-dorifto extravaganza on the road course.
Every few feet you'd pass another car getting taken apart and put back together.
As long as the car was running and safe, it was good to go. Who needs looks?
Not many people brought bash it/ain't care dedicated competition cars. Most of the people running at the non-competitive event were just in their daily drivers.
This is where I found the staying power for drifting: it's affordable. It could cost over a grand to even enter into a rally. These drifters turned up and paid $160 for the day.
You saw a lot of license plates out on track.
The whole thing felt more like a carnival than any other car racing I've ever been to.
And the women! What the hell? I've never seen so many attractive women at any motorsports event in my life. Go to a rally event and the closest thing you see to an unattached girl is a 43-year-old Irishman with some stubble. There are women at F1 races, but they're looking for multimillionaire dudes like this.
Pretty ladies with tattoos aside, how did William fare on his first drift event?
Well, he figured out that there's a lot of work to be done. He was driving the very same car he ran at the Empire State tarmac rally in New York the weekend before. He knew he didn't have the turning or the power that you need to make big, beautiful smoky drifts. I saw him get a few nice long sideways runs, but clean transitions were not happening. Oh, and there was this dirt drop.
"I was looking at the dirt to see how close I could get to the edge of the track and then I'm in it!" William knew it was a rookie mistake. It's called target fixation. Whatever you're looking at, you're going to hit. At least he wasn't the only one.
So in the end, was the day worth the $15 ticket?
Hell yeah! Needs more kittens, though.
Photo Credits: Raphael Orlove/Jalopnik