The day started pretty much like any drift day, get up at an insanely early hour and head to the track.
This time Lucy would be taking the Laurel for it’s first proper turn around an actual track, and I would be there to offer advice/ have a go in her car too!
We arrived at the track just after 8:30am and fellow Death or Glory member Craig had saved us a space in the pits, being local he got there before us. The sun was already beating down as we set up ready for her first session.
Briefing took place and after a couple more checks on the car she was ready to go!
We focussed on the West course, being tighter and more technical we felt it offered a better place for Lucy to learn how to control the car around the corners. If you’ve only ever done donuts and figure eights around cones, moving to a track changes things completely!
We started out just driving around getting a feel for the layout, and getting her back in the mindset of her previous drift day (at Santa Pod) or at least this was the intention… To my surprise on her first run she was already trying to get the feel of those clutch kicks again.
Over the course of the morning she managed some good skids and also worked on undoing some of the habits she’d got into at Pod. Nothing major, just little things, for instance, when you start out by learning donuts you can often get the backend to break loose by turning in tighter, however if you do this on a race track one of two things happen:
- If you don’t have enough speed you either end up cutting the corner and coming off track (and smashing aero, the front bumper was the first to go!)
- If you have enough speed but don’t quite get your clutch kick right, turning in tighter causes you to understeer and the car to go straight on (I did this a lot on my first few times out and its a real pain to get out of the habit of doing!)
Having said that it didn’t take her long at all to realise this and start to correct herself. She put in run after run, pushing herself every time, some times getting frustrated at not getting something right, other times getting hyped when she held a good skid!
If you’re thinking of starting out drifting, or you’re new to it and you’re reading this asking yourself “is it common to get frustrated in the early stages?” I would say yes, it is especially for those who don’t start out using the handbrake but instead opt for the clutch kick.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that initiating with the handbrake is the easy option but out of these two ways to get the car sliding it is definitely the option with the least to remember.
I know I went through that phase (probably several times) and others I have spoken to also agreed that feeling frustrated plays a big part in the early days, its all part of the learning process! But keep at it and things will eventually fall into place!
As the day wore on I watched from the passenger seat as Lucy progressed more and more, each run thinking about what she did in the last time and where she might need to improve or change tack.
Overall I thought she did amazingly for her second ever time out! On my second drift day I was still piddling around in the playpens at Pod (big mistake on my part!)
The first corner of West course did prove an issue for her, but after speaking to a few other people who have driven Teesside they all said that they had issues with that corner too early on.
In spite of this it didn’t put Lucy off and she continued to push herself on turns two, three and four, showing some real signs of promise!
Towards the end of the day we did have one fight with a tyre wall. This led to the rear bumper being smashed, however we knew this might happen so we were (sort of) prepared for it.
It was down to not having the car in the right place for the transition and running too wide as she went into the uphill section after turn three, hitting the tyre wall, pushing the rear bumper out of line, and creating a new exhaust hole on the opposite side of the bumper as well as adding a few tyre marks up the rear drivers side 1/4 of the car.
It was great to see her out there, it was as much a learning experience for me as it was for her. I definitely think she will be back on track again, however next time she will more likely be using my Skyline as we have since decided that the Laurel is in far too good shape to use as for skids.
What’s next for the Laurel? The damaged bodykit will be replaced, and much more, but you will have to wait for my future posts to find out more.
Laura Johnson and Andz Smith of Aperture Arts Photography.
So by the time this blog goes live you will have seen the many posts saying how good British Drift Championship is under new management. Now, the question is was it really that good? Was it really that much better?
I have been a big fan of drifting for a long time and remember a time before Dave Egan, I watched the sport grow under his ownership and draw in huge crowds. It’s fair to say Matt Stevenson had some big shoes to fill.
So round one very quickly came around after the new ownership was announced and before I knew it I was throwing my car back together to drive down for PRO AM on the Saturday.
Time for change!
First things first the biggest change of all, the track is in reverse. I had reservations that this would slow the action but how wrong I was! A wild entry really pushed the drivers to their limits seeing many drives having fast paced offs. I have driven Teesside and enjoy the standard layout but this new layout pushed drivers and made the track longer something that was well overdue after damage to the barrier. A very noticeable thing with this layout was that the lower powered cars were having trouble keeping up on the south bank which in turn saw the demise of the underpowered heroes but none the less I enjoyed the battles.
Along with a new layout the Bdc had several other promising additions favourite of all was the massive improvement in technology. Anyone that has attended an event before will remember the shocking PA system, well that has gone and a super clear sound system has you covered from all areas of the track (I could even hear it clearly in the car park).
Another great improvement was the live stream footage on the big screen on both days not just the pro day, this would not have come cheap but gave the people at the track a better view of the action.
Although drones have been used many times in drifting the live stream drones really do bring a whole new level to the viewers at home but truthfully hold very little improvement to spectators at the even as you don’t want to take your eyes of the action to look at the screen if you dont have too.
Another new feature to the day was the addition of a “trade village”. The idea is fantastic probably the best new feature yet but……… it lacked content with only 4 stalls(Walton motorsport, Bdc merch, xite, ratrap RC and a burger van) it felt empty. I really hope Matt hangs on to this idea and builds on it as I really think with the right brands at the event it will push people off the couch and to the event.
The Bdc merch stall also introduced a program which really helped identify drivers and cars (great idea) and its only £2.50 nice keep safe to remember an event.
Back to business.
Overall the two days saw many top-level drivers fall from grace. The second clip seemed to really have the drivers pushed to breaking point, it was very rare to see it done perfect with many drivers dropping wheels or cutting the track. When it went well it really did go well though, if both drivers hit it just right it created an artwork of exciting driving styles.
One of the biggest victims of the new layout was none other than championship favourite Martin Wonnacott. After several good laps it all went down the drain the freshly built chaser took a heavy blow damaging most of the suspension. In true drifting style Martin came back out and pushed hard but the car seemed off its earlier pre-crash form which would later see him knocked out.
As the day went on it really did start to hit home truly how many big name drifter had not returned after the winter break. A huge miss from the grid was the Irish in general, seeing no more than 3 in the battles it felt like something was missing, was it their skill, wild driving style or their energy who knows but they were a big miss. Not only were the Irish a miss but the big names of the past seemed to have vanished crowd favourites like Simon Perry and his son Brett, Driftworks, Richard Dalby Smith, Matt Carter and many more really left the grid feeling a little incomplete. Another real loss for the sport in a way was Matt Stevenson himself one of the very few that would truly destroy his car to please the crowd.
Regardless of the fact I missed the presence these drivers brought to these events, the fresh looking grid did step up and put on a good display of driving. Will this fresh grid grow and win over the fans? Only time will tell but to me it’s looking very promising.
Both days saw strict judging and close call battles even several “one more times” but Aurimas Vaskelis showed dominance throughout and took home first place in his 1000hp e46 bmw.
Would I recommend attending?
OFCOURSE I WOULD! Don’t get me wrong it did seem to feel like something wasn’t quite there yet but this is all new Matt has started totally from the ground up and I am sure that as the year goes on this will start to become one of the best in the world but support is key, show your support and it will grow.
Tomas Falvey threw his beautiful s15 off track and onto the grass as flames curled around the bonnet, marshals ran to his aid but so did Matt Stevenson he could have easily stood back and hoped his team had it covered but instead sprinted to the car. This does show the Bdc is truly in good hands and I look forward to seeing the promising future of BDC and of this sport in the uk.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog keep an eye out for more in the future but until the go give our facebook and instagram a follow
Death or glory photographer :Craig Johnston (project thirteen)
Aperture arts photography: Andrew Smith
BDC images from facebook not property of death or glory
So where do I start?
Well I made it to the NYE Teesside drift day.
After a battle for the full month before getting the car ready for the event I bolted on the last few parts the night before the event. As if it wasn’t scary enough drifting my pride and joy I was taking a car I built in the street to an event with NO testing at all, what could go wrong?
I will get it over and done with, I crashed….. Not once, not twice but 3 times. I am by no means a pro drifter but I consider myself quite familiar with Teesside but I was in for a shock, the combination of the new setup and extremely slippy surface got the better of me. After the first big crash into the tyre wall I thought my luck was on the up so I tied the national/bdc track to find my 3rd gear entry confidence far outweighed my skill and I did some off-roading. At this point I knew things had to change so back to the pits I went.
If you’re new to drifting this is the best advice I could ever give you, TYRE PRESSURE. As I had struggled massively with grip I lowered the front pressure to 18psi and the rears to 40psi. A few small adjustments to the rear toe and I was back on track and the car was starting to find its stride.
My confidence in the car had grown and that’s when I had strike 3. I came up the hill on west track on a rather spicy lap a lot wider than I should have washed off the track, as soon as all 4 wheels were on the grass I was a passenger and into the tyre bail I went. Unlike my first meeting with the wall the car came off really well no damage.
Now at this point your thinking give up whilst your cars intact, so that’s exactly what I did. Well I needed the toilet so I came off track emptied the tank and went straight back too it ha.
Every lap after that I bonded more with the car pushing it harder every lap until another driver with a beautiful red sr powered s13 asked if I wanted to try some twinning. I paused when he asked but knew that’s what I came here to do so nervously agreed the first 3 laps where absolutely dreadful and that’s putting it nicely my timing was all over. after a pep talk from my mate Connor I tried again but this time I tried drifting as if he was not there and I worked I couldn’t believe it I was drifting on track with another s13 and a driver I really looked up to. I think forgetting about him helped build my confidence then when I believed in myself the hunt was on.
The reality is I have an underpowered car (shocked face) so chasing that sr powered monster was going to be a challenge for me but I gave it my best shot. I managed several good laps with him before disaster struck…….Powering up the hill a massive bang and the car died it sounded like a rod had ejected my poor little CA. I limped it back to the pit opened the bonnet expecting to see my piston but nothing, no oil, no broken bits what had happened. Thankfully a boost pipe had evacuated the dance floor it was a nice easy fix and I was back at it again in now time.
During my down time fixing the car a new challenge had presented itself the sun had gone and I was surrounded in darkness. Now don’t get me wrong I have slid my car around in the dark but I had never initiated a drift at over 60mph in the pitch black. For the record your car lights are totally useless as soon as you’re sideways the track you need to see is no longer illuminated. That being said it was by far one of the most exciting challenge I had ever faced.
When you read this your probably thinking it sounded like a bit of a stressful day which don’t get me wrong it really was but I must say it was by far the most challenging but fun day I have ever had.
If you ever get the chance to do NYE at Teesside you really should it is like no other drift day and will test your skill in so many ways
I have uploaded a small video of my car during the day follow the link to see how I got on.
photo credit to: ADimages (on instagram and facebook)
aperture arts photography (@andz_smith)
Last weekend I took a trip to Teesside Autodrome. It had been a while since I had been behind the wheel of my beloved R32 Skyline, and with the wintry weather closing in on us, it seemed like as good a time as any.
As with any drift event, the day started with my alarm going off at some unholy hour and hitting the road, in this case with Lucy in tow in her daily (as my support vehicle). We arrived at the track just after 8:30am and after signing on we got to work setting up my little pit area. My good friend Ste Warrior (who was instrumental in talking me into going in the first place) was also in attendance with his MK2 Ford Escort.
After briefing both Ste and I got ourselves ready to go out on track, I started off by going out for a few runs on my own just to get a feel for the West circuit again. It was where I had spent all of my time when I was last at this track and I set myself the goal of being able to consistently run this circuit without spinning, which for much of the morning seemed like an impossibility.
My early runs were very tentative, I kept my speed low, and more annoyingly I seemed to have forgotten how to initiate properly! For some reason when kicking the clutch I was lifting off the loud pedal and as a result I would either end up initiating too late or not at all.
Thankfully another good friend of mine Joe Birkett was on hand to point out where I was going wrong and after going back to the pits to adjust my front tyre pressures, have a drink and a chat about where he thought I was going wrong, I went back on track and sure enough things started to come good!
As the day wore on I found I was starting to enter the turns with more and more speed, and yes while on some occasions I was still spinning from time to time but not it was because I was pushing myself, NOT because I was being cautious.
By the end of the day my confidence in my driving ability had returned to normal, so much so that I even decided to have at least one go at the infamous (in my eyes) South Bank course.
Overall I had a blast, I got to spend time with my wife and friends doing something I love, and I look forward to doing it again soon!
Photo credits: Ste Warrior, Craig Johnston, and John Bearby
A couple of weeks ago I headed to Teesside Autodrome for my first time as a novice drifter. I had such a good day getting to grips with both my car and the track. Initially things were pretty sketchy especially as this was to be my first time drifting in the wet. However as the day progressed my confidence grew and I managed to get in some pretty decent skids.
The day also helped me to understand how my current set up can be improved in terms of the cars handling etc. I made a short film of my day (made shorter by the fact the camera died in the afternoon!)
I didn’t go with the standard talking to the camera style vlog though as I wanted to try something a bit different, So I hope you enjoy it.
Header photo: Red Eleven Media