Here’s a question for you… what are the 3 most exciting things about motorsport? Think about that for a moment. Is it all just about the speed? Well yes and also no, because if it was then we’d all just watch top fuel drag racing and nothing else. First and foremost, it’s the competitive stuff; when two drivers are literally on each other’s bumpers! When the slightest error, or a moment of brilliance for that matter can change everything. That’s what gets me. Be it karting, touring cars or F1 it’s the close up action that takes you to the edge of your seat. Then what about rallying you cry. Okay, so in terms of timing two drivers can be close, but they’re very rarely bumper to bumper. It’s here that the sideways action takes over. It’s about driving on the limits of car control, the power slides and the handbrake turns. It’s the hanging-on-for-dear-life stuff that grabs you by the seat of your pants and won’t let go!
Finally, while nobody ever wants to see anyone get hurt, we all secretly love those fleeting moments when the drama causes us to forget to breathe. It’s the moments where chunks of metal, carbon and just about everything else transform into shrapnel; erupting from a cloud of dust and smoke. Crashes boys and girls, we all secretly love crashes! So aside from the horsepower, what we the fans desire is to be entertained. ‘Drifting’ is not a traditional motorsport. It’s not decided by a number of timed laps and the winner isn’t the guy who crosses the line first. It’s decided by a panel of judges, who mark the drivers on their precision, fluidity, style and speed. It’s shoulder-to-shoulder, sideways action with all the screeching tyres and roaring exhausts you could possibly want and with its fair share of crashes thrown in for good measure. It’s not motorsport, it’s “Motorsport Entertainment”!
This weekend Mondello Park will host round 3 of the Irish Drift Championship. While drifting is nothing new to Ireland, its meteoric rise in popularity over the past few years could only be compared to that of the UFC. However, what most people don’t realise, is that Irish driver James Deane was out there wiping the floor with the world’s best, long before Conor McGregor even had a hair on his chin. He is a four-time European Champion and the number one guy in the world right now. And James isn’t the only one; we are blessed to have some of the very best drifters on the planet, and with 16 year olds like Jack Shanahan and Tomàs Kiely the future is incredibly bright. I should also at this point mention Conor Shanahan who at just 13 years old finished on the podium at the last round of the British Drift Championship. The Japanese may have invented the sport of drifting, but it’s beginning to look like the Irish are doing their best to perfect it.
Nothing is a greater testament to this than the fact that in the 12 years of competitive Irish drifting, 46 of the best champions from across the globe have travelled to Ireland in an attempt to claim the top podium spot at an Irish Championship event. All have failed. This unbeaten streak has very much become key to the promotion of the IDC (Irish Drift Championship) itself. David Egan took over the running of the championship a few years back. Under his marketing brilliant and guidance, the IDC has grown and grown. Last year it set a new attendance record for Mondello Park and thanks to the live stream on idcnation.com, the IDC had more viewers than the GAA last year. Add to that the 1.8million online video views as well as the IDC Facebook reach of 1.3m people and it’s clear that the IDC is the chosen motorsport of the PlayStation generation. Its popularity was not lost on the tv networks, but David declined those deals and instead opted to go down the route of pay-per-view streaming. The revenue raised from this is being invested back into the IDC and more importantly the drivers. While at grassroots level drifting can be one of the most affordable motorsports out there; drivers who achieve IDC status are faced with huge bills. Pro driver Adrian Walsh’s V8 Corolla for this season set him back €80,000. Others may spend even more. To date this comes out of the drivers own pocket, give or take whatever they can offset in sponsorship. Thankfully plans our now underfoot, that will see a portion of the revenue IDC generates going into driver contracts; which will hopefully lighten that burden.
This weekend however promises to be one of the biggest drifting events that Ireland has ever seen. The IDC’s annual ‘Global Warfare’ event sees Round 3 of the 2016 Irish Drift Championship combine with Round 3 of the Drift Allstars European Series. Drivers from 15 countries will battle it out for championship points and more importantly to either prolong or end the now infamous undefeated streak. James Deane will be on hand, as will current championship leader Duane McKeever to lead the Irish defence. It promises to be a massive occasion with over 50,000 horsepower descending on the county Kildare circuit. In addition to the main event on the track, Global Warfare will see Gymkhana Grid make their way to Ireland as they host their Irish qualifier, with anyone able to take part and be in with a chance of winning themselves an all-expenses paid trip to the final in Athens later in the year, where they could face off against legendary Gymkhana driver Ken Block, or Formula Drift driver Vaughn Gittin Jr. in the final.
So if you fancy experiencing Ireland’s fastest growing motorsport for yourself get down to Mondello Park this Saturday and Sunday July 2nd and 3rd. The paddock is one of the most open and welcoming you’ll find anywhere and Global Warfare 3 promises to be an epic weekend for petrol-heads of all ages!
Finally – Big thanks to Adrian Walsh for taking me out yesterday on a few runs of this weekends track layout in his V8 powered Ls2 AE86. One word…WOW!