Published on August 5th, 2013 | by Jos Roder0
Fresh from it’s biggest event of the year at the Drift State of Origin (which we provided an event preview for here), Drift Life felt it was time to further investigate the local N.T drift scene.
Technically drifting is drifting no matter where you go, but in Australia, each state has its own style, vibe and subtle differences in their local scene. The Northern Territory state scene has evolved into something special. Because of Darwin’s relative isolation, territorian’s haven’t worried about what the rest of Australia was doing with drifting, they just focused on what worked for them! And, it is working well. All you have to do is ask any interstate drivers who have attended an event in NT to receive nothing but praise about the events and the people involved.
I’ll be honest, the first drifting I ever saw from Darwin (at Hidden Valley) was this effort by Shane Van Gisbergen!
To begin my investigations, I was directed to Shane Davidson who is none other than the founder of T.E.D.A (Top End Drift Association) and he was more than happy to explain the local scene. Shane’s passsion and dedication to drifting was evident in his answers. I also had a chat with another local driver Brentton Deane as well as a few of the interstate drivers to find out why this place was so special from an outsider perspective.
1. When was the club formed and under what circumstances?
The top End Drift Association was formed in 2007. After realising there was no actual local drift club, and no regular drift events being held by the local motor sports body, I set about finding like minded people to help form a club. With the help of the North Australian Motorsports Club, and approval to run a drift practice day, I formed a committee and had general public meetings to discuss using Hidden Valley Raceway for regular drift events and consolidated the club now known as TEDA. The full development of the club, as it is today, came to fruition with key partners like Jeff Dunkel, Danny Probert and Andrew Billsborrow, who helped bring the club into the high standard of competition it has now, and gain recognition throughout Australia.
2. How has the club and the scene evolved over that time?
TEDA has evolved immensely over the past 6 years, as has the local drift scene. The quality and caliber of new drivers that join the club are already far beyond the level of drifting that we were doing in the early days. The cars are getting better every year, and the competition heats up more and more. The introduction of a Street Class saw a massive influx of members, along with some very talented drivers coming out of the woodwork. Also with the conception of the State Of Origin Drift competition, TEDA has gained Australia wide recognition. With interstate drivers competing on our track, it has helped lift the standard of competition even further.
3. How many events per year do you now hold?
T.E.D.A generally hold 12 events per year, consisting of private practices, competitions such as our State Drift Series, the NT Titles and State of Origin Drift. This year we were asked to do demonstration events for the HQ Nationals, which consisted of 6 car drift trains and tandem battles.
4. How does the club function? Is it run under CAMS?
TEDA is primarily under the wing of the North Australian Motor Sports Club, which is CAMS sanctioned. This works very well, as we are left to manage ourselves in full, which is part of the success of TEDA. We promote ourselves, organise our own events, manage the moral of our members and try to help N.A.M.S.C where we can, and do our part in being a responsible and professional club.
5. Tell me about the track
TEDA uses the V8 Supercar track, Hidden Valley. It is a fast 2.87km long track, with two main sections for drifting (see picture) one offers big entries, but with tight corners, including a hairpin (number 2 on map) and the back section offers a slick long double apex, transitioning quickly onto the main straight (number 3 on map). We also get to use turn 1 from time to time, which allows for entries in excess of 150kmh into a very long large radius 3/4 corner (number 1 on map)
Here is a clip of Brentton Deane showing the judged section for the most recent event at the State of Origin invitational.
6. What challenges does the sport face in the N.T?
The main challenge we face is that Darwin only has a population of 120,000 people, divide that by the number of people who prefer to go fishing, four wheel driving, play football or whatever, and you are left with a small amount of people dedicated to drifting. The other main issue is the distance required for interstaters to travel here.
The massive advantage we do have is that Hidden Valley is a government owned track, and with the help and support of N.A.M.S.C, we find it very easy to use the track, the facilities are of very high quality being a V8 Supercar track, and ultimately it is extremely cheap, probably the cheapest in Australia in fact. The track manager Laurie Feehan has also been exceptionally helpful, and understanding of drifting, thus essentially, has also helped us pave the way for drifting in Darwin.
7. is there any specific trends or areas of note about drifting in the N.T?
Drifting in the NT is very relaxed, very social and you will find a high level of moral throughout T.E.D.A members. We run a not for profit club, therefore people are doing this because they love doing this. I believe drifting would fail due to its small size in Darwin if you tried to run it for business purposes. One of the biggest trends we have found in Darwin is people love just getting out there for practice as much as they enjoy the competitions, probably more so, because there is very little pressure, we have plenty of freedom to practice new things, and get an excessive amount of track time.
Other Interesting Facts
I also spoke to another N.T driver, Brentton Dean who is a TEDA committte member about some other topics that may interest outsiders. The question that immediately came to mind was in relation to cabin temperatures and if many of the cars retain air conditioning? Deane informed me most drivers remove air conditioning because reducing weight, adding power and improving cooling of the car take priority over a boiled driver! I don’t blame them and it is the same train of thought as anyone else in Australia, but somehow I had envisaged most cars running a nice cold air conditioning system. Deane added that now many of the events are run in twilight and into the evening so temperatures are more reasonable.
I nearly choked on my sandwich when Deane explained fuel prices hovered around $1.95. I won’t complain about filling up with BP ultimate before a drift day at $1.70 ever again.
Tyre prices are more expensive than you will pay in the other major cities due to the distance and fees to transport the tyres north. A cheap 17″ tyre is around the $100 – $110 mark in Darwin which is about 20% more expensive than the rest of Australia.
Drift Life also talked to interstate driver Chris Solito regarding the N.T events he has attended. Solito was amazed at how accommodating and helpful the local drifters were in not only assisting the drivers with the drifting component of their trip, but also showing them a good time out and about in Darwin and surrounding areas for some sightseeing.
Winner of this year’s State of Origin, Jack Widdas (SA) loved the whole experience. Widdas sums it up nicely, “The atmosphere is like no other event i have ever been to, its wild, everyone makes you feel welcome and are friendly. They are all a great bunch of people and they really have something special going on up there.”
Hopefully Drift Life can head up with a drift car and experience the scene in the not too distant future.
If you are a N.T local looking to get involved in drifting as a volunteer or competitor or even an interstate driver wanting more information, the TEDA facebok group is the best place to head, or the website is www.teda.com.au.
Thanks goes to Shane Davidson, Brentton Deane, Adam Burgan for most of the photos you see here, Kat Philcox, Chris Solito and Jack Widdas as well as the whole N.T drift community!