Catch them if you can
Fact is, whereever you are in the world, you’re never far from a petrolhead. And we’d bet that the last stop on the longest railway line in the world, the Trans Siberian Railway, is the last place you’d think of as a goto location for motorsport. But you’d be wrong because Vladivostok is home to the Prim Ring. And Prim Ring is home to the fastest growing form of motorsport in Russia. Drifting.
a Russian city that is closer to Tokyo than Moscow
Now Vladivostok may seem a bit of an extreme location. But there’s a whole lot of logic behind the decision to get Herman Tilke, Bernie Ecclestone’s track designer of choice, to do his thing in a Russian city that is closer to Tokyo than Moscow. But we’ll need to press rewind to explain…
Drifting first became big in Japan back in the 1970s. It then took until the mid 1990s to take off in the U.S. getting bigger still when it became star of the show in the third of the action film series, Fast and the Furious – Tokyo Drift. This in turn became the spark for generating interest in Russia, particularly in Vladivostok, where they could almost smell the burning rubber across the water on the Japanese mainland.
a form of sport that was almost anti-establishment.
Now street racing and drifting are often mistakenly thought of as virtually one and the same. And maybe in the bad old days when they shared the same tarmac it was justified. As a result the reputation of its protagonists was that of motorised cowboys or perhaps bandits. And there perhaps is the reason why it caught the imagination of the Russian car fan. A form of sport that was almost anti-establishment.
…anything up to 950+bhp and even 1200 is not unknown
But now drifting is big news and no surprise as it’s seriously as spectacular to watch as it must be fun to drive. Careening sideways at speed, just feet away from your fellow competitors, certainly makes things lively. The cars too are no shrinking violets. Japanese makes seem mighty popular, the Nissan Silvia or Skyline as it’s known here, for many years being the car of choice for many. That road car ancestry though definitely leaves town when you open the bonnet.
Lighting up those tyres and keeping them spinning requires a power hike. And some. The professionals are packing anything up to 950+bhp and even 1200 is not unknown. Twin turbos the size of spin driers providing the necessary added beans.
Keeping the backend out though isn’t just a case of putting pedal to the metal. It also requires a fair few tweaks to the steering. Angles of up 60 degrees and more are the order of the day to maintain the fairly insane drift angles these guys achieve and angles are all important because they provide part of the marking system that delivers the winners.
Back at the Prim Ring in Vladivostok, the big event of the year is the battle of the giants in September where the big names from Japan descend to fight it out with the locals. Although not an actual round of the D1 World Drifting Championship, it nevertheless is very keenly fought between the two biggest fan bases of the sport and our local hero Grigory Chivchyan will be flying the NGK flag.
If you fancy giving it an eyeball why not make a serious trip out of it and take the Trans Siberian Express? The train now leaving Platform Four at Moscow Central only takes seven days to reach Vladivostok so you’d better leave early to avoid disappointment!
Failing that you could pick up the British Championship which pretty much travels the length and breadth of the country. Details available at thebritishdriftchampionship.co.uk.