Dillon Giancola: Drifting is no drive in the park


I had never witnessed a drift competition before, let alone rode along in a car during one. To be honest, all I knew about drifting was that Tokyo Drift was a cool movie, Need For Speed: Underground was very hard, and I didn't know how drifting worked. But when I was offerred the chance to go for a ride during one of Justin Lagasse's competition runs at the Peace Auto Fest last weekend, I was thrilled, and knew it would be a cool experience. 

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It was everything I thought it would be — scary, thrilling, fun, and a blur. I have no idea how he made us drift and slide around an entire circle of cones, about seven metres in diameter, but he sure did it, and it was the most fun I've had in a while. Countless times during that 90-second run I was sure we were going to crash into a pile of cones, or worse, a tent or two. But we just skidded right along like it was the easiest thing in the world. 

When watching from the sidelines, it's really impressive but you don't have an eye for how fast the car is going and how tight the windows are to maneuver. When you're in the car, you have no choice but to feel like your driver is the best that has ever lived.

When Lagasse first said he wanted to take me along for a ride, I was stoked and excited. When he half-joked that I could even take it for a spin if I wanted, I thought, "Justin this is the biggest mistake you have ever made in your entire life."

Obviously, I didn't get behind the wheel, and may never have the chance nor the guts to do so, but I'm open to the idea and learning how it's done. What blows my mind is that none of the drivers who competed in the drifting competion had ever done so before. That means they figured out how to do this all on their own, or were figuring it out on the fly. Which has me thinking: For the third annual Peace Auto Fest in 2021, if the organizers really want to give the crowd a show, they should have one session just for beginners like me. There would be smoke, there would be crashes, there would be vomiting, and lots and lots of laughter. 

One thing I realized during the ride was that I didn't know what I was supposed to do with my hands and face. I hung on real tight, but couldn't help but notice how everyone else I watched was putting their arms out of the window looking cool pumping up the crowd. I tried, but then realized I didn't want to smash my face into the side of the car, so I stopped. I also had this goofy smile on my face the entire time, and didn't know if I should cheer, laugh, or just try to play it cool. I did anything but play it cool, but that didn't matter at all in the end. 

I do think I could at least attempt a run of autocross. The Fort St. John Car Culture and PRMA crews are welcoming and non-judgmental, and have a beginners division. I would absolutely be the slowest, but I would have a heck of a time, which is all that really matters. 

The Peace Auto Fest was limited due to rain in year one, and in year two, it was limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Well, in theory it was. In reality, it was a heck of an event, that showed flashes of how much fun it will be when the organizers aren't limited at all. 

Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca

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