Ever since I first started drifting, Driftland had been a bit of a goal for me.
I knew I had to drift there at some point and in 2018 I was offered a chance to do just that by taking part in the Rogue Concept charity event organised by good friend Ewan Stark. Sadly this didn’t end up happening as a couple of days before the event the engine of my beloved Skyline started to get a bit “tappy”. Thankfully it turned out to only be the water pump, however this was only discovered after the event.
So as you can imagine when he asked me earlier this year if I’d like to take part again I jumped at the chance!
I picked up a trailer from Rothwell Trailers early Friday morning, and headed home. When I arrived the Land Rover started to die and wouldn’t start up again. After some discussion with a friend of mine and a close examination of the fuel receipt from the petrol station that morning. I realised in my half asleep state I had picked up the wrong pump nozzle and filled the truck with petrol instead of diesel. At this point I started getting a strange sense of deja vu, was I ever going to get up to one of these events?!?
Thankfully my friend Ste came round and helped me drain the tank before filling it with Diesel after which, the truck fired right up! Crisis averted!
I then got the car loaded on the trailer, and got the Disco packed with all the necessary tools, wheels etc. and I along with my better half Lucy and our dog Benji were on our way.
There’s no denying the journey up to our hotel for the night was long but nevertheless it was so picturesque, and the roads were so quiet!
The next morning we had an early start, albeit not as early as other drift day mornings! We arrived at the track for 8:30am and got straight to work preparing the car for the day ahead.
Shortly after briefing, where we learned the layout for the morning ahead, it was time to hit the track!
Track time was split into 5 minute sessions for a maximum of 6 cars at a time. As it was my first time driving here I wanted to get straight out and get a feel for the track. My first session didn’t quite go to plan, Somehow, even though I had checked them before going out I had way more pressure in the tyres than I wanted so I spent the majority of the first session spinning! Although I did manage a couple of half decent skids despite holding up those on track with me!
After I’d been back to the pits to correct my tyre pressures (and a quick pep talk from Ewan), I headed back out for my second session, this time the car felt much better as far as grip was concerned, and I managed a few more decent skids (as well as the car stalling on one spin out and not start for what felt like forever!, this caused me to get a telling off by the marshals when I got off track.)
After this run I had a better understanding of what I was doing wrong and what I needed to do for my next session so I headed straight back out. Sadly this time, it seemed everyone else’s turn to impede me, every time I got ready for the big corner, someone had already spun just in front so I only managed a few skids on the tighter corners at the bottom of the track.
After a break and a drink I headed back out determined to push myself harder than ever! Sadly the Skyline had other ideas and as I initiated for the big corner… nothing happened, I just carried on driving straight on!
What was wrong? I tried a skid on the tight corners and it felt like either the clutch was slipping or I was only spinning one wheel (impossible unless my diff had become an open diff again??)
I headed back to the pits and it was making a number of strange noises, from a ticking noise that sounded like it was coming from the back of the engine when revved (which disappeared shortly after!) to the engine sounding lumpy at best. I let it cool for a bit as it was nearly lunch time.
During the lunch break all cars were due to be out on the track for a meet and greet type thing/photoshoot. I drove the Skyline down and it sounded okay again… strange! So I thought well I’ve got a trailer so if the worst happens I can still get it home, so as soon as lunch was over and afternoon briefing was over I headed straight back out!
I tried initiating in the tight turns and as I was expecting it to still not be working I spun! “Great!” I thought, “it’s working again, lets go!” so I accelerated towards the big turn initiated and …. nothing.
I took myself off track and as I sat in the pit talking to Lucy, the car started to idle really lumpy! Sadly this was the end of my day, I wasn’t prepared to keep going out, knowing full well that I was just getting in people way and if I hadn’t fixed it I would just be a moving roadblock for them. So I packed up and hung out with Lucy and Benji for a bit watching everyone else smashing it around the track.
You might think that after so much effort and preparation I would be feeling down hearted about the whole thing, and I will say there have been times in the past where I have come away from a drift day feeling frustrated and beating myself up for various things, but this time it’s the complete opposite!
For the first time I have come away from a drift day with a clear idea of where I was going wrong, and what I can do to improve. But what about the car? Well as a drifter its an occupational hazard, cars break some times especially when you’re beating on them at the track, thats exactly why I got my trailer license, so that if it did happen I was safe, As soon as I get a dry day I will diagnose the issue with the car and fix it, if it needs a new engine so be it, it will take longer before I can get back on track but, if thats what it takes. I’m fine with that!
The other thing that has stopped me from having a downer on the whole thing was the fact that I actually felt like I was part of something for a change! In the past I’ve gone to drift days and for what ever reason I’ve been on my own, I tried talking to people but they were either busy or just didn’t want to know. This time I had people coming up to me, chatting about the car, and how I was doing on track, and I chatted to them about their cars and had a bit of a joke with them.
Now let’s get this pig fixed and get back on track!
Feckless Media https://www.facebook.com/FecklessMedia/ and Lucy Richmond