Drifting is to motorsports like figure skating is to the winter Olympics. It takes a heck of a lot of training, talent and ability yet the scores come from judges, not from the clock. For that reason, drifting has been frowned upon by many an old race fan who doesn’t see it as racing.
Sort of like when snowboarding came on the scene in the Eighties and many ski hills refused to allow boarders to ride at their facility. Eventually, the masses came to see that the two sports could exist alongside each other and the popularity of snowboarding exploded.
It is interesting then that today’s media drive event leading up to Sunday’s Drift Mania Canadian Championship round at Mosport should be conducted by one the of sports elder statesman. Far from being an elder, Claude Poirier is older than most drifters. In fact, Poirier was likely racing cars years before many of his competitors were even thought of. The DMCC driver has driven Formula Ford, Formula 2000, Players Challenge, Firehawk Series and even ice raced and yet his chosen form of motorsport these days is drifting. Why? Pretty simple really: FUN. Drift is the only form of motorsport where fun and passion reign over outright speed.
Poirier’s weapon of choice for the 2010 season is a Nissan 350Z convertible with a monster LS7 Chevy V8 stuffed under the hood that churns out a whopping 600+ horsepower. That is pretty much guaranteed to melt the BF Goodrich tires in next to no time. 3 minutes to be exact. That’s right, 3 minutes of smoke turns brand new tires into baldinis.
Earlier this summer, I was amazed at the violence of Randy Pobst’s Volvo S60 World Challenge car. I was expecting to get a similar beating from the drift car. Boy, was I ever wrong. The cars are as different as the two forms of sport. Where the race car is all about grip and outright speed, a drift car is set up to be loose. There is so much torque from the beast that Poirier often starts off in second gear, quickly shifting into 3rd where the torque is more manageable. The rear wheels never stop spinning, so the lateral transitions feel more like a slow dance than anything else. Poirier moves the steering wheel from lock to lock, but the most “work” he does is with his right foot which controls the drift angle and speed.
From the passenger seat, it is an interesting study in fluid car control. From outside, it is nothing short of spectacular.
Drift Mania happens on Sunday afternoon at Mosport’s Driver Development Track. Tickets can be purchased on site or in advance by visiting here.