Looking for something different to do on the weekends? Drifting combines the fun of burning rubber and the adrenaline of getting your car sideways with the skill of driving only inches away from your competitor. FOCUS went along to Raleigh International Raceway, where Drifting organiser Brad Piggott gave us the low down.
What is your connection to the Coffs Coast?
My family and I have lived in the Bellinger Valley for the past 150 years and on this farm for more than 130 of those years. We have survived off this plot of land in many ways, including farming, milking cows, working with the Forestry, and up until about 10 years ago my grandfather still cut banana cases.
What is drifting?
Drifting is a driving technique where the driver intentionally oversteers, with loss of traction in the rear wheels, while maintaining control and driving the car through the entirety of a corner. Through a corner or set of corners the drivers are judged according to their speed, angle, overall impact or aggression, smoke and the line taken. The judge or judges usually dictate the desired line and highlight other areas of importance, such as clipping zones and clipping points.
How is the winner decided?
First everyone competes in the class qualifying round, to get their top 32 battle order (similar to tennis). Then they go into elimination battles, pitching 1st place against 32nd place.
The driver that wins all six of their elimination battles stands on top of the podium.
How long has this been happening on the Coffs Coast, and why did you start Raleigh Drift?
We ran our first drift competition in 2008, so this will be the ninth year.
I started Raleigh Drift for drifters on the Mid North Coast who wanted to take things to the next level and challenge themselves against other drivers in a competition, instead of just coming out and having a bit of fun.
We have a healthy group of local Coffs drivers, with the likes of Mitchell Sutton, Brock Stevenson and James Dehnert doing an excellent job against the best in NSW and QLD.
What do you like about drifting?
The awesome bit about drifting is that you can express yourself in the way of car style (on and off track) because there are not a lot of rules surrounding requirements for cars. Also, the ability to be able to drift next to your mate only millimetres away from each other and just the general concept of having fun by yourself in your car is always nice.
What makes a good drifter?
Anyone over the age of 16 can become a drifter. A good drifter is someone who has started drifting in a car with no power, like a $200 special they bought from Grandma. Then they get used to throwing the car around the track.
What kind of modifications do people like to do to their drifting car?
The standard modifications are lock differential, so that both wheels spin at the same time. A handbrake to control the lengths of your drift and suspension is the next biggest thing I would work on.
James Dehnert drives in our Pro Class with a car that would fit this bill, and he takes on the best of the best and most of the time comes up trumps. So you don’t need a big budget car to take the fight to the best of them; you just need those vital skills that you will learn from driving something with no horsepower.
How often are the drifting events held?
We hold drift championships five times a year, every second month starting from March or April. On the off month we have a practice day for everyone to get out and have some fun and learn.
The 2017 Speedflow Australia Drift Championship is being held on May 6 and 7. Who will be competing, and what can spectators expect to see over the weekend?
This will be round two of the championship, and there will be many people competing from anywhere between Brisbane and Sydney.
Spectators can expect to see cars burning rubber all weekend from 9:30am to 4:30pm.
There will also be some close calls, as these days the cars are drifting only inches from each other’s doors.
Is there an entry fee for spectators?
The entry fee for spectators is $15 for the weekend or $10 for the day. Under 14s get in free.
Where can people find out more?
Got to our Raleigh Drift page on Facebook or to our website, raleighraceway.com.au