Most of us that are in any way connected to the drift scene have woken this morning to social media feeds full of discussion around the future of Hampton Downs sparked by an incident that occurred during a private-hire track event on Sunday, June 28. What the heck right? Might as well be like every other idiot and have an opinion …
Here is the problem with drifting … it is you! OK so that’s a generalization, but if you are still reading then chances are you are a driver, or at least a wannabe driver, fan, or know someone who occasionally does skids, and it’s entirely possible you are not helping with the perception of the sport!
Drifting went and became cool, and now everyone wants a piece of it and that is a huge problem. Even the helpful ‘who gives a f**k, it’s only grass’, suggestions just further cement a view of what, and who, the people involved are.
Drifting seems, for whatever reason, to want to get in its own way constantly. The efforts of D1NZ and our top drivers to create a professional perception of the sport are quickly undone by ‘drifters’ in what are little more than converted road cars, or the current trend of ‘missiles’ as practice cars. There is nothing wrong with this as they do serve a purpose, but the problem is social media and ego lead to that concept being rammed down Joe Public's throat as ‘drifting’. This then gets picked up and used by mainstream media to describe any moron doing skids on the road. Drifting is just beaten-up, heap-of-shit, boy-racer cars doing skids ay? Prove me wrong … check your Facebook newsfeed and see how many cars look professional or safe?
I wouldn’t blame the owners of Hampton Downs if they reviewed allowing drift days. Think about it like this; what happens when someone comes to your work, doesn’t do what they are told, and generally carries on like they are above the law? It doesn’t get tolerated for long does it? Then they tell their mates to come and do the same thing and accidently make some money, so then someone else has a go at it.
If I were to guess, most organizers have little real knowledge of what they are doing and would have few processes in place. Most events are thin on the ground in terms of marshals, or they are so busy taking photos on their phones or talking to mates that they have little idea what is going on. I’d be willing to bet that half would fail an alcohol check, throw in 95 per cent of drivers who either don’t listen to the briefing, or there probably isn’t one because rules aren’t cool when you are a ‘drifter’. Essentially it's like giving a whole lot of people deadly weapons and seeing who can be the first to accidentally hurt someone.
Don’t get me wrong, people need a place to learn, and in the past this was the domain of car clubs or a mate who had some skills and got you into a smallish track day where you weren’t really a danger to anyone and showed respect to others present. This meant there wasn’t a crowd or a heap of other drivers to show off too, and you weren’t trying to get that ‘mean-as photo, bro’ for your Facebook profile to show everyone how awesome you were. Social media has basically created a monster where everything you do can be seen and judged.
The time to take control has come before someone is seriously hurt or, even worse, dies. To me, the logical solution is licensing the organizers, setting maximums as far as cars that can attend, and also perhaps ensuring that the relevant experience or skill required to teach is held by at least one person involved in any day.
Sadly I think some people use these days as ways to try and fund car builds and probably don’t care too much about outcomes other than if it hurts them financially. If we are serious about drifting becoming a sustainable sport then lets stop getting in our own way and giving people a reason to judge us.