Drifting is growing in Victoria.
Made famous by street racing movies and video games like Need for Speed and Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, drifting has a dedicated grassroots following in Victoria. But unlike in the movies, racing in Victoria is done legally and as safely as driving sideways at breakneck speeds can be on a race track.
Victoria is home to an organized drifting organization called Capital Drift. Their competition season opened Saturday, and it’s the second oldest drifting series in Canada.
Nick Oldford, 27, is originally from Esquimalt, and has been involved with Victoria’s drift scene for nearly a decade.
“I bought a car in 2008 and started watching, coming in to the pits and meeting everybody,” he said. “In 2010 I started driving.”
Oldford races and volunteers with Capital Drift. The volunteer based group organizes drifting promotion, lessons, events, and competitions at Western Speedway.
This season they expect 40 to 50 cars at every event, though opening day only had 24 competitive drivers.
The judging is more technical than just looks and sound, but the eyes don’t lie. Someone in the stands who’s never seen drifting before can reasonably guess who wins each race.
“From a competition scenario it’s whoever looks cooler (on the track) wins,” explained Quin Howling, senior volunteer with Capital Drift.
“Drifting is the great equalizer, it’s about skill. Just because you have a fast car doesn’t mean you can drift well. Sometimes the 70 to 80 horsepower cars win against the 400 horsepower guys.”
As one of the more senior volunteers at the track, Oldford, who has placed second overall at the end of three separate drifting seasons, will be more of a back seat driver this year, volunteering and looking to give younger guys opportunities to move up in the standings.
The 2016 competition schedule consists of a series of three individual race days, and for the first time this year, a team drift session.
Volunteers aren’t allowed to volunteer and compete in same-day events, but Oldford knows he’ll be back in the drivers seat for the team races. He’s been part of a drift racing team, Business Casual, since 2011.
“We’ve been to team events in Penticton,” he said. “We’ve always just done them spur of the moment. We’ve finished first twice and second once.”
Capital Drift is believed to be the largest drift racing organization in Western Canada.
For anyone looking to get into drifting, Capital Drift has a complete gear list online, but according to Howling the biggest things are an approved helmet, and an ideally rear wheel drive car with the battery tied down. Lessons that provide cars are available. A valid driver’s license is not required.
Teenagers as young as 15 have competed before.
The next competition is May 23, Victoria Day. For the full schedule and regulations, visit capitaldrift.ca.