At 29 years of age, I’m not afraid to say that as an addict, I’ve spent the last 8 years of my life annually sending tens of thousands of Euro up in smoke!
Now that I have your attention, I figure it’s a rather opportune moment to introduce myself, tell you some more about my addiction or as more spiritual individuals would term “my purpose”. Daniel Waldron is my name and I’m a full time electrician based in a small village tucked away in the wild west of Ireland. Similarly to the vast majority of working class people; my job, family & friends, day-to-day responsibilities and basic survival take up the vast majority of my conscious thinking. However, as with any addict, there is always another subject humming away in the background that at a moment’s notice will fill any available gaps. This same subject undeniably dictates a lot of my subconscious thoughts & actions. This subject is drifting.
“What is drifting?” you might ask. Well to most people it’s a variation of closed-circuit motorsport, where a highly skilled yet perhaps slightly deranged driver hurtles a purpose built race car sideways, billowing smoke through a complex circuit at break-neck speeds. To me however, it’s something different. Drifting to me is an addiction or as I more kindly dubbed earlier, a “purpose”. Drifting is what motivates me to work harder, earn more, party less, and in some cases sleep less. Sure, if it weren’t for drifting I would possibly have bought a house, treated myself to annual vacations or got that GTR I’ve always dreamed of. That said, if given the chance to get back any of the time or copious amounts of money that I’ve invested in this niche motorsport, I would refuse it point blank, which is strange considering drifting only favours a small percentage of the vast grid in terms of granting you the chance to step on the podium.
This certainty begs the question, “why not?” which leads to an answer which is quite difficult to justify in words. Drifting is a strange sport, most motorsports tend to cause divide amongst people who share victory as a common goal, yet, if anything it seems to encourage us drifters to pull together. The community or family vibe that surrounds drifting is second to none and this is plain to see in the Irish drift scene to even the most unfamiliar spectators. Drifting is what makes us all “tick”.
Now that you’ve read this far and have a vague understanding of “my purpose” there’s no better time to fill you in on the specifics of the trusty little 31year old Corolla that’s shared this epic journey with me. This little legend that has been with me through all the highs, such as stepping on the podium alongside world-class drivers like Tomas Kiely and the lows, like mounting a fixed, concrete wall after a 3rd gear clutch-kick entry in Rosegreen many moons ago. The AE86, a rather iconic car in the JDM and drift scene worldwide, at a factory kerb weight of 923KG and pushing high revving 130bhp and 105lb.ft of torque packs quite a punch. This punch however is a mere pat on the back compared to the kick in the teeth delivered by the 520bhp and 500lb.ft of torque it currently produces.
With such a crazy power to weight ratio, one would think the Corolla would be very competitive but in fact it can be quite the opposite. With huge amounts of grip and turbo lag the car provides me with a sort of knife-edge complex each time I drive it. Drive too aggressively and the car will send me hurtling out of control, drive too conservatively and I’ll be left in the wake of even the most underpowered cars. However, there is what I like to describe as the “sweet spot” where if driven correctly, the momentum, angle and surprising precision the car can yield is simply jaw-dropping. This range is somewhere that I’ve only really started to feel in recent times after completely changing the suspension, power and dynamics of the car 2 seasons ago.
Coming out of 2 disappointing seasons back-to-back after finishing the 2013/2014 season on an all-time high might leave most people dis-heartened but with me it’s quite the opposite. Of course, I’ve had to deal with disappointment and frustration but if anything I’m more fired up than ever, simply because I feel the development of the car is finally coming to a close and I’m finally getting to grips with the commitment level I need to ensure it’s driven to its full potential.
Now that you’re well informed of me, my addiction, my car and my recent performances, feel free to follow the rest of my journey and see how this season unfolds from my perspective. I’ll be bringing you a series of behind-the-scenes and technical articles throughout the 2017 Irish Drift Championship Season on these very pages so please check back soon for your next drift related fix!
Thanks for reading,