Just how much did drifting effect the U.S. aftermarket? At the recent 2003 SEMA show manufacturers, shop owners and any type of automotive connoisseur was invited out to the Yokohama Proving Grounds to see what all the hype is about. Six D1 drivers came out to show off their stuff and when the sun set, turbocharged engines were fired up and ready to drift. Having already covered many different types of drift events my eyes were focused on those who were in attendance. Checking out the many spectator mandatory badges, I saw everything from American race shops, to American suspension companies all from across our nation interested in all the "Drift" hype.
If the mere 150 plus that turned out for this small show wasn't enough to catch your eye then maybe this will: ALMS (American Le Mans Series) race driver, Boris Said, attended the exhibition. Said is known as the hired gun in any type of road racing circuit you can throw at him. From NASCAR to ALMS, he is a universal racecar driver in imports and domestics. Think about it, the mere fact that a man of this caliber was interested in what was going on says that drifting is beyond its underground phase. One thing I found funny was the fact that I was talking to U.S. D1 driver Calvin Wan while Said was in the middle of an interview. Said explained how he would love to compete in one of the five Formula Drift competitions. That's when Calvin's jaw dropped and he said sarcastically, "Oh great!"
Also in attendance, was ex F1 and driver Bob Bondurant. Bondurant's school of High Performance driving is where many racing heros of today started and his appearance at the show can keep the newcomers wondering if a drift school is coming soon (see Tunerology).
Both U.S. drivers wanted the chance to ride with the D1 drivers. Bondirant was to ride with Mr. Ueno in his Toyota Soarer (Lexus SC300) and Said hitched a ride in the RS-R Sylvia with Hayashida. After the slideways section was done, the impressions were self-explanatory: The passengers popped out with smiles stretching from ear to ear. Being a driver made it pretty hard to sit in the passenger seat. Both D1 drivers let the newcomers do the driving. Both drivers' natural reaction was to correct the oversteer problem rather than induce more, but they got the basic idea. The D1 drivers have one thing mastered over the U.S. heros: The ability to drift into the apex early rather than using the apex to create the drift. The four had a blast but Said had a slight over-revving problem which resulted in blowing the SR20DET motor. It was nice to see the RS-R president get a laugh out of it.