During our trip to the Bikernieki Racetrack in Riga, Latvia for the third round of the Eastern European Drift Championship (EEDC), we got to experience everything the series had to offer. And the coolest thing about our visit was absorbing the differences between the US scene, particularly the cars they drive.
From an old Ur Audi quattro, converted to RWD with a V8 under the hood, to Supra-powered BMW M3s, and even some OEM+ engine swaps, there was everything and anything.
Drifting isn't as mainstream as it's become in the US, and people almost seem to ignore the ultra-popular Nissan 240 chassis. We're not sure if this was because they want to be different, or those particular cars were simply less available in Eastern Europe.
Drifting became popular here about three years ago, although series founders Haiko Simonian and Evgeny Nikitin have been running EEDC for five years now. And the series has gained great momentum, collecting bigger brands and sponsors, as well as seeing greater attendance at each event.
Surrounded by the cars that are popular, especially those from BMW, the event was great fun and extremely relaxed. Without the pressures of big-money sponsors, the event was simply a group of guys who built their cars to meet minimal technical requirements, enabling just about anybody to show up and compete.
The course was wild, with entry speeds sometimes reaching 100mph. And the drivers were as crazy as their cars - we'd never before seen the speed or steering angles we witnessed at the Riga circuit. That said, we'd never before seen so many crashes in one round of competition either, with seven occurring in quick succession, many taking people out of the competition entirely.
"I'd say the drift scene in Latvia is how it was a few years ago in the US," Pro drifter Ryan Tuerck told us. And if that's the case, we should be seeing more from Eastern Europe in the coming years.