History of drift in Australia

How and when did it migrate to Australia? And since then, where did it go from there to get to where it is today? Here is the History of Drifting in Australia…

Danny  “Denzo” Vahoumis is commonly referred to as the ‘God Father’ of Australian Drifting, and with good reason. Danny was also one of the founders of an Adelaide based business, aptly named, Japanese Motorsport back in the 1990s.

Danny regularly travelled to Japan for business and came across drifting, which, by this time, was huge in Japan. In 1998, JMS held the very first drift competition in Australia at Mallala Motor Sport Park in South Australia. A few small competitions were held as format was established and track owners became more comfortable with the style of driving. Media coverage got the word out across the country about this new form of motorsport hitting Australian tracks.

Following this a drift competition took place at Port Gawler in South Australia in January 2004. This was the first time interstate competitors attended an event, with representation from the Full Lock/Broadside Racing team from Victoria. After these events, Full Lock was established as a company by a bunch of young enthusiasts.

The objective of Full Lock Motorsport was to develop and professionalize the sport of drifting in Australia by educating track owners of this new type of motorsport and developing a national series.  The Full Lock crew began by meeting with Bob Jane and demonstrating what drifting was all about. The outcome was the first round of the national drifting series called the Drift Nationals held at Calder Park on 20 March 2004.

With extensive print, internet and radio advertising, this event saw around 120 competitors from VIC, NSW, SA and QLD entertaining a huge crowd, and thereby signaling that drifting had well and truly arrived in Australia. That year Full Lock went on to run further events in NSW, QLD and SA often with Japanese D1 drivers in attendance. A set of rules and strict judging criteria was then established and these form the basis of today’s rules and judging criteria.

In 2005 Toyo Tyres became the new naming rights sponsor for the Drift Nationals. This series ran across VIC, NSW, QLD and SA. Round 1 of the Drift Nationals was aired on national TV on Network Ten’s “Trackside” program, 1.00pm on April 24, 2005.

The directors of Full Lock volunteered their time, invested their own capital and never received any financial benefit in their two-and-a-half years of operation. Every dollar the business earned was re-invested in the company for the benefit of the sport, but sadly this took its toll and at the end of 2005 Full Lock wound up its operations.

After the demise of Full Lock, Drift Australia stepped in to satisfy the demand for a national drifting series in 2005. Drift Australia was established at the beginning of the year by Wayne Boatwright and Scott Anderson, who had both been involved in Australian motorsport for many years; Scott as a team manager and Wayne as a driver.

As Wayne considered retirement from professional car racing, he and Scott noticed that drifting was rapidly gaining in popularity around the world. They believed drifting had great potential and after two one-off events in 2005, developed the first CAMS-sanctioned 5-round Australian Drift Championship, starting in 2006.

From that point until the end of 2008, events were held at Symmons Plains (TAS), Barbagallo Raceway (WA), Oran Park Raceway (NSW), Eastern Creek Raceway (NSW), Wakefield Park Raceway (NSW), Queensland Raceway (QLD) Mallala Motor Sport Park (SA) and Winton Raceway (Vic). The series was developed into a very popular and successful TV show, which aired regularly on Speedweek (SBS), Channel 9 and Fox Sports.

As the Global Financial Crisis took its full effect on most companies world-wide, sponsorship across the motorsport scene was, in most cases, withdrawn or dramatically decreased. This affected many companies including Drift Australia, which was sold to Ninety Degree Entertainment at the end of 2008 and they pulled off a very impressive farewell event at Oran Park in 2009, but unfortunately this would be the last event to be ever held by Drift Australia.

In 2012 there are two series that run semi-nationally. The Stadium Drift series encompasses events in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia and the newly formed Australian Drifting Grand Prix holds events in Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and Perth. All of these events are well supported by competitors with many travelling thousands of kilometers interstate to compete.

Each state also has strongly supported local drift clubs and competitions with the Initial Drift Club in NSW becoming the first CAMS sanctioned drift club in Australia way back in 2005, and the Victorian based Vic Drift holding several large events every year that attract many interstate competitors, with well run local competitions in almost every other Australian state that are often full to capacity.

So where do we fit into this? In 2010, with the demise of Drift Australia, we thought it would be a good idea to include a small drift competition to the very first world time attack event and allocated two hour timeslot in the middle of the day on both days. We invited the best Australian drifters to compete and the Tectaloy Drift Challenge was born.

This event was won by Beau Yates and was so well received that in 2011 the decision was made to stage a much bigger event – under lights on both evenings of the World Time Attack Challenge. With a much bigger track time allocation we also decided to bring some top D1NZ cars across the ditch to compete with the Australians.  Kiwi Curt Whittaker dominated the Australians in front of a packed house and media from across the globe.

In 2012 the event is shaping up to be even bigger with the New Zealand team returning with a a vengeance and some top Japanese D1 cars scheduled to take on the best drift talent Australia has to offer. As you would expect an event like this doesn’t happen without the very best people being involved and we are proud to have the founder of Drift Australia Wayne Boatwright’s daughter Amy as the event co co-ordinator and the most experienced judge in the country, Kristian Appelt as our senior judge. And with an entry list that will include the biggest names from past and present, the 2012 Tectaloy Drift Challenge is sure to go down in history as the biggest drift event ever on Australian soil!