11-03-2017 – Laurie Southern
First Time For Everything
Drift  – Events

I’ve a confession to make. I’m not proud of it, but I’m going to have to come clean and admit it. My name is Laurie Southern and until last week I had never been to a drift event. In all my years pointing my lens at things with four wheels, I’d never managed to make it to a proper drift day. Which is strange, given that the Three Sisters Circuit is less than an hour from where I live and they hold novice and pro days pretty much monthly.

I knew I was missing out, and that was confirmed the moment we stepped out of the car and loaded up our gear for the day. You don’t see too many S-Bodies in the UK, let alone over the winter months, so you can imagine my excitement when this guy rolled up behind us. I think the smile on my face alone was enough to erase the last of the dire hangover I was nursing from the night before.

There wasn’t just one, either. A second Silvia, this time an S13, pulled up alongside. This shape has to be my favourite of Nissan’s ever-popular S body drift weapons. Within seconds a crowd had flocked, some knew each other, others meeting for the first time. One of the major lures of grassroots drifting events like this was proving true right in front of my eyes, community. It’s something people talk about all of the time when it comes to these events, it’s all about the community.

I’m also a firm believer that of all the motorsport disciplines, the drift scene contains the highest amount of personal expression. For some it’s a hobby, for some it’s a way of life. I don’t think there’s any need for me to point out how this fella chooses to express himself. Never have I seen such a dedicated approach to a hobby we all love. I’ve nothing but respect for him.

He hasn’t let a single thing stop him, and he was out there with the big boys all damn day. Suddenly my hangover felt like a puny excuse for not getting up earlier than I did…

Back to that personal expression thing. If I told you I knew what the fuck was going on in the mind of Charles Dwyer I’d be lying, but oh boy do I love it. He’s been working alongside Garage Seventeen for his latest project, a Mazda MX5 NB that has to be one of the craziest I’ve ever seen. Of course it’s a rattle can or bust kind of affair, and it certainly attracts the attention of the masses, positive or otherwise. Within a couple of weeks the turbo build was done, all the work carried out himself with his pals and it’s ended up putting out a healthy 220BHP.

It looks even better out on track. Almost like a wasp. That flew through a Crayola factory. On steroids. I’ve seen plenty of bizarre no-fucks-given builds in my time, I am of course a millennial with access to the internet, but for raw creativity this takes the cake in recent months.

The family daily isn’t exactly ‘beige’ by any sense of the word either. Can you imagine being dropped off at school in this?

That’s just the thing with drifting though isn’t it. There’s creativity flying all over the place. There’s also bumpers and other miscellaneous bits of car all over the place too, which could partly be the reason to my last statement. I guess the fact that there’s a rather large risk that you’re going to put your nugget pride and joy into a wall each time you take it out means you can be a little more playful with the styling of the car. Safety taken into consideration, the lack of rules and restrictions at a grassroots event means you can get pretty crazy with your builds. Silvia? Check. Angle grinder? Check. As long as it’s got a cage…

Lack of rule set also makes events like this some of the most accessible. There’s novice days held alongside the full events for people to get themselves off the streets and practice in a proper environment. Accessibility leads to variety, and of course variety is the spice of life. BMW’s M cars make a great platform for learning to drift given their respectable power and balance from stock, which is why you’ll see so damn many. I particularly liked this one, affectionately named Dirty 30. If I owned an E30 I know I’d be terrified to throw it onto a corner at full lock, but I guess it’s just another day for this lot.

Michael Essa has been running an E46 M3 in Formula DRIFT for a good few years now and to good result, a trait reflected right down to the lower echelons of the sport. Whether BMW intended for their cars to be so cherished within the skidding world or not, they certainly should be proud of what can be achieved with these cars.

It would be rude to talk about entry level drift toys without bringing up the plucky little Mazda again. They’re cheap, reliable (ish), and easy to work on. Parts are easily available and the community within the MX5 scene is nothing short of remarkable. If you need it, chances are there’s a bloke down the road willing to give it you for peanuts. I challenge anyone to have a go in a sideways Miata and not step climb out with a stupid great grin on their face.

By far my favourite example of the day was a Eunos belonging to Will Ashcroft of Destroy Or Die. Folks call him Crashcroft, and as you can see there’s probably one or two reasons for that. I love the missile vibe given off by the bumper-less rear though. His colour combo isn’t something you see too often either.

The Destroy Or Die squad were out in full force with their lineup of skid-ready Fives, putting on a great tandem show all afternoon. Three Sisters is a perfectly fitting circuit for it too, big elevation changes, lots of tight bends and late apex delights. It’s like a little slice of Ebisu right here in the North West of the UK. It has character in bounds, which is more than can be said for some of the facilities in the area.

It’s also a place that some of the big boys use as a playground. I’ve no idea what kind of power this Soarer was running but it was spinning up the rears in spectacular fashion every single time I laid eyes on it. I probably inhaled enough burnt rubber on each pass of this thing for a lifetime. Find what you love and let it kill you… Or something along those lines?

It doesn’t matter who you are though, if you’re part of this scene there is ALWAYS going to be a certain level of playful attitude about you. I mean, what’s that front lip made from? Fucking garden edging, that’s what.

If you’re ever over these parts, I urge you to make the trip to a Three Sisters drift day. It was the perfect way to lose my sideways virginity with enough variety to make anyone do a little dance in their head. From dailies fresh from the school run to work in progress big buck builds like this one, they’ve got it all. You’re missing out.