The Garage took in a different type of motorsports last weekend: Drifting. As the popularity of drifting has grown around the world, here in North America it has been a bit slower to catch on, at least among traditional racers. The problem seems to be that they don’t consider it to be real racing. Well, they are right, it isn’t racing. That is not to say that there isn’t a whole lot of cross over between the two sports.
Drift cars are pretty much race cars with funky alignment settings. All the safety bits we’ve come to expect on a race car are there on a drift car. Racers have been working to control the perfect drift angle since they started racing. Drifters look for the perfect drift angle too, it is just a little further out there.
Racing isn’t cheap and neither is drifting. In fact, keeping a drift car in top shape might even be more expensive than maintaining most race cars.
How can it be more expensive to maintain a drift car? The reality of hanging the back end out so far is that eventually every driver runs out of grip. Or talent. The result of that is usually contact. Add in the fact that the competition portion of an event pits 2 cars in very close quarters, contact is fairly common. Perhaps that explains why most cars seem to attach their bumper covers with zip ties and aren’t worried when they fly off during a run.
Then of course there is the tires. In pro road racing, teams may use one set or a dozen sets over a weekend depending on the series. Weekend warriors often work to make a set of tires last a full season. On a high powered drift car like Claude Poirier’s 600 horsepower 350Z, rear tires last all of 3 minutes. No wonder drifters work hard to obtain and maintain a tire sponsor!
Sunday’s event was the sixth and final round in the Drift Mania Canadian Championship. Oddly enough, it might as well be the Que/Am championships, as this was the only Ontario round and at least 2 of the top drivers are American. That is a shame, as this stuff is a lot of fun for drivers and the fans. The revving engines and clouds of smoke emanating from the sideways cars is a sensory carnival.
The points leader coming in to the event was Matt Waldin from Philly, whose white and orange 350Z looks absolutely stunning in the bright sunlight. Waldin’s engine expired in spectacular fashion in the finals, directly in front of the grandstand, which erupted in applause. While not managing to finish, Matt had enough points to win the season.
The winner on the day was Quebec resident Marc Landreville in the pink Nissan Silvia. 2nd and 3rd spots went to Bob Patinka in a Nissan 240sx and Poirier in the wicked black 350Z. All the top spots captured by Nissan products. You might think there was a trend here and you would be right.
Words can’t really capture the excitement of a drift event. Not only are there cars and girls, but a DJ pumps out music all day long while fans check out the on track action and vendor alley. Perhaps the only thing missing is any variety to the food, which is limited by long standing relationships at Mosport.
The only thing holding drifting back from real growth in Ontario is a great marketing plan and more regular events here in the Toronto area.