What we have all be waiting for, well me for definite and a few friends from work, especially little Jack.
So the interview with Axel, the driftpro championship racer, has landed.
I’m very proud and over the moon to have done this, and I hope it’s the 1st proper interview of many, but what a damn good place to start.
Axel, and other people like him, literally puts his life on the line for our entertainment, and I can not stress this enough, show some love and plenty of appreciation.
I’m so happy to bring this to you peeps, I hope you will enjoy this.
Also let me say a big thank you to Axel for doing this with me, and also everyone else who does this dangerous motorsport for the pure adrenaline rushed entertainment.
I met Axel at doningtonnpark, during the UK motorsport drift pro championship. He was a friendly dude, and we spoke for a while, very approachable and an awesome sexy beast of a car.
I found him on instagram, and I feel I pretty much begged him for an interview, but he was very happy to do so.
How old are you dude?
I am 31 years old
Where you from?
How old was you when you 1st started driving? And what age when you got your licence?
Started Karting around the age of 10, got my licence when I turned 17
What was your 1st car?
1997 volkswagen caddy van
What was life like growing up? Was you brought up around cars or racing or is it just something you got into as you grew up?
My father raced cars and has always been in the motorsport industry so it was a natural progression for me
What age did you start racing/drifting?
Raced karts at from 10-15 years old, started drifting when I was around 26
What got you into the racing/drifting scene?
We were sponsoring many high profile drifters and it seemed like a more fun and affordable way to get into motorsport
What’s it like being on the road drifting at various venues?
Every weekend feels like an adventure, there are many hours spent in the workshop prepping the car to make sure its ready for each event so it’s a relief each time you fire up the engine for the first time at an event and take the car on track. The drive to each event is around 6-9 hours for us which can be very tiring!
Being a mechanic myself (HGV technician), I would also love to know the specifics of your car, what set up do you have?
(the short version) The car is a 1997 Nissan 200SX which is fitted with a built Nissan RB25det motor from the R33 Skyline. Its tuned to 700bhp by skyline specialist Abbey Motorsports and puts the power through a quaife sequential gearbox and a GTR differential. Driftworks hubs and suspension components help to achieve the steering angle needed for drifting.
Do you fix and tune up your car yourself? Or do you have someone with special skills?
I maintain all the day to day running of the car and repairs but get help from Abbey Motorsport for tuning the Link ECU
Also, do you have another job as well as this one, or does this take up all your time?
All of my drift activities are funded personally and through our business which is a distributor of most of the brands that you see on the car including Sunoco Race fuel, Driven Racing Oil, Sonax Car Care products and Zestino Tyres
Would you class this as a job? Or is it like a hobby or just pure fun?
I would say it’s a combination of the above. Drifting is a great way to promote the brands that we work with.
I spoke to some of the other drifters while at Donington, most said it was just fun, they don’t see it as a competition, they just do it to please the crowd and just to have a good time. So my next question is why do you do it?
I think this is true for myself and most drifters although deep down we are all competitors and would love to be holding the trophy at the end of the day!
That then brings me to this question, what do you think when your in the car (amazing machine by the way, I’ll have more questions about it soon) what goes through your mind when your on the track just starting up that fierce engine, hearing it purring away, just before that green flag drops?
Please don’t break, Please don’t crash, please don’t break, please don’t crash…. on repeat
Also what goes through your mind when your gliding sideways down the track round the amazing bends with smoke pummelling from them impressive tyres?
When your drifting, all of your senses are on high alert and you have to focus very intensely to predict the next move so there isn’t much time to think. It’s a great time to forget about everything else around you and just be in the zone enjoying the drive.
(I also noticed from the crowd the cabin fills up with smoke) how do you actually see and breath when this happens?
Hold your breath and hope for the best! Seriously though, if your car fills up with smoke to the point that you cant see, you haven’t done a good enough job of sealing the drivers compartment from the tyre smoke. Smoke will get through the tiniest gaps. I recently used expanding foam to help seal smoke coming up the rear window pillars and this made a huge difference.
I have to ask, sorry but everyone who was there would want to know, but what was going through your mind when you was going in excess of 100mph and heading towards the gravel at Donington?
Haha, one might call that a brown pants moment. All I could think about was Mark Luney (one of the judges) saying in briefing not to go there as you might roll. As soon as I hit the gravel and realised I wasn’t going to go upside down however it was a huge relief. Thanks to Donington staff for keeping it so well groomed!
(Axel was going so fast, I struggled to keep up with the camera)
Doing what you do, I know you are competing, but I noticed your all quite friendly, and it seems you and the other drifters have a sort of bond that ties you all together, and when racing side by side you have to trust your “opponent” doing what you do, you also have to know where they are going to be at a certain point as well as them with you, because you can be drifting side by side your literally inches away from each other, which is impressive as hell, and as I see it you have to have the ultimate trust in each other. How much of a bond do you all have? Do you train together? Do you go out together? Are you like best friends and talk and banter together all the time?
For sure, the paddock is very friendly, and I have met some of my best friends through drifting. I certainly wouldn’t drive to the other side of the country just to drive my car if it wasn’t for all the amazing people that make the weekend so much fun outside of the drivers seat.
Are you on each others Christmas cards list? Do you invite each other for BBQs and beer round each others houses?
I can’t remember when I sent my last Christmas card!
Ok last few questions.
How much does it actually cost to build a drift car?
You can build a basic car for under £1500 to get started using an mx5 or something like a bmw 3 series. To build something competitive enough for a high speed championship such as driftpro I would estimate you would need to spend atleast £25k but many end up spending upwards of £100k these days. I wouldn’t like to add up how much I have spent.
How much is the up keep a drift car?
Again it depends on what you drive. An entry level mx5 is very cheap to run but when you start adding power, tyres last less time and things are more likely to break.
Can anyone do drifting? With training? Or does it take someone special, like you have to be made to be a drifter?
Anyone who is determined and with the right mindset can get into drifting. I always recommend starting on a simulator or through a company like RDX academy to learn the basics.
When I was younger I used to think I could drift, when I had my little fiat punto I used to hand brake round an island (known by my friends as Robs island) I could slide round it a hell of a lot, but I realised as I got older that it wasn’t drifting at all, it was just fucking around, what you do is drifting to an extreme, could you actually teach me to do what you and your peers do?
Everyone has to start somewhere and many people get into drifting in ways like this or through driving old cars in fields or on snowy days. I’m sure I could teach you the basics in an afternoon but it would take many years of practice to get to the stage where you should attempt to tandem drive at 100mph!
Ok last question for now.
If I asked (I know it’ll be a no) would you let me take your car out on the track? (Not during a competition obviously) Just to see if I could do it.
Nice try but I think I would have to say no to that one.
Worth a try eh?
Thank you Axel, your amazing dude, you and the other drifters.
Thanks, hopefully see you at an event in the future.
Go follow Axel on instagram in the link below
The next rounds of drift pro championship is at snetterton on Saturday 23rd october which is the 3rd round and Sunday 24th october which is the 4th round.
Buy tickets here.
I’ll be there, and itll be amazing.
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