Catch my drift

Report and pictures by: 
Ariffin Jamar

With my helmet on, I clamber into the passenger seat of an awaiting black Toyota Altezza with my instructor, Mr Ivan Lim at the helm. My lesson starts with a screeching tyre spin. It’s hard to concentrate on my technique when I’m lurching and the scenery is spinning. It’s exhilarating, but over too soon. 
 
Getting out, I notice the steam coming from the tyres. They may be wet, but they still emit an incredible amount of heat. The question is, will my driving be as hot? I swop positions with my tutor. Now he’s at my mercy. Let’s just say it’s a squeeze to get in and out, and I realise that you need core strength for drifting. 
 
The less said about my first, stalling, expletive-filled attempts, the better. But I get another try, this time in a dirt-splattered, track-ready white Nissan S13. I line the car up. Ivan gives me more tips through hand gestures. This is it. With my left hand poised for action, I step on the gas. I gun for the cones. Passing them halfway, I punch the clutch, yank on the handbrake and turn. The back of the car whips out and I nail it... or so I think.
 
There’s a fine line between drifting and skidding to a standstill. It’s hard to fight every instinct telling me to counter the slide so as to not lose control. After my third or fourth round, Ivan tells me to floor the gas pedal instead of feathering it. I spin the car on the spot – Initial D, baby. Except it’s D for donut. And I can’t stop doing them.
 
After another few rounds of dizzying donuts, my turn is over. Time to make way for other aspiring drifters. I share my virgin experience with the other beginners,  who are eagerly sharing tips on achieving that perfect drift. I’m determined to get it right. In fact, throughout the rest of the day, I’m imagining a handbrake on my left and tapping a clutch that isn’t there. I think I’ve drifted into drifting addiction!
 
The article related to these pictures was first published in The New Paper on Sunday on September 22, 2013.