Welcome to my world, my world of turbos, tyre smoke, and tuning...
Tuning cars, driving cars, testing parts, and complaining about everything. It's my job, and a the majority of my non-work life too...
I actually wrote this for Banzai Magazine last year, but it's still very, VERY relevant, so I'm gonna put it here too...
You know what makes me cringe in the car scene at the moment? Well, a lot of things actually, but at this very moment, as I write this, it's certain peoples obsession, no, expectation, of sponsorship for their cars.
Some people seem to think being sponsored and blagging free stuff is a main goal for their project, in fact many see it as a expectation, and they deserve it just because they've got a nice car. Well let me tell you, sponsorship isn't like that, it's not a charity, it's a two way thing, and unless they get their money's worth out of you, they're either not going to give you sponsorship in the first place, or you'll ruin it for everyone else by short-changing them; putting them off doing so in the future.
While it seems pretty obvious when you think about it, a lot of people don't 'get' the concept of car sponsorship, so let me spell it out for you. First of all, it's not a charity, it's not like asking your Gran to sponsor you for a charity bike ride, there's no “Tuners In Need” fundraising events, and it's certainly not some free stuff you automatically get by having, or indeed thinking you have, a cool car.
Car sponsorship is simply exchanging goods, services, or maybe even money, for advertising, and a big problem is people seem to grossly overestimate the advertising value of their cars. Sticking a few stickers on a car almost nobody sees isn't value for money advertising unless you've been sponsored to the tune of 50p. Competing in some race or drift championship, or going to a lot of car shows doesn't automatically make you a media darling either; like it or not, 90% of competition or show cars are almost never stand out from the crowd enough to get serious amounts of coverage.
Fact is, unless your car is truly special, and by that I don't just mean a nice car that's popular in your local area or club, but truly something stand-out and world-class that has a serious following, it's unlikely it can justify any serious amount of sponsorship over a company simply spending the equivalent amount of money on conventional advertising.
Unfortunately this sponsorship craze has become such a big deal to some that it's become a badge of honour, to the extent that some will happily plaster their cars in company logos in exchange for 5% off an exhaust and a free T-shirt, but in reality they mostly want 'sponsorship' so they can try and show off about being a big shot sponsored car/driver to anyone who will listen.
If people spent more time truly working out how to make a good car, rather than mass emailing badly written begging letters to companies for undeserved sponsorship, the tuning world really would be a better place; especially as so many 'sponsored' cars are far from as good as they could be, as instead they're just a clothes horse for a companies products, no matter how unsuitable they are...
I love going sideways. For me the adrenaline rush of being beyond the limit but still in control is more fun than anything else you can do in a car. Like it or not, oversteer, powerslides, drifting, whatever you want to call it, often isn't the fastest way around a corner, but it is the most fun way around, and from a spectator point of view it's certainly what's memorable and gets the crowds excited.
Despite my love for it, there are some aspects that drive me flippin' mad, some because they affect everyone associated with drifting, and some purely because so many more people, even people who are already part of it, would enjoy things much more if things were a little different...
While I'm not a JDM fanboy by a long shot, one thing the Japanese have pretty much 100% correct is their drift scene, and if we, as drivers, as fans, as organisers, could have the same attitude to it as they do, things would be a lot better.
My problem mostly boils down to peoples reasoning for why a car performs as it when drifting.
In Japan they rightly say drifting is 90% driver skill, 10% car spec, and they embrace this in every aspect, from practice days where it's normal to see low power basic spec cars drifting with absolutely mind blowing skill, to high end competition, where the cars are surprisingly low power and basic compared to UK competition cars, but the action is so much more impressive to watch, and the driver skill is so much more apparent
In the UK however we've got a huge tendency, whether it due to over-confidence or simply ignorance, to blame the cars specification for everything. Because of this, massive spec cars being driven in hugely mediocre ways is the norm here, and even newcomers to the drift world have it in their heads that before they even get behind the wheel, a car needs big power, huge amounts of lock, and a hydraulic handbrake.
Well let me tell you, you're wrong. Lower power lower spec cars entering corners at huge speeds using massive Scandinavian flicks, like you see in Japan, is a whole lot more fun both to do and watch, not to mention cheaper, than seeing a big power car doing a skid on the handbrake, then smoking its tyres around the track with just a lazy stab of the throttle.
It's a good job there's no UK versus Japan drift events any more, as if we went by their rules, our top cars would be hugely embarrassed by cars with half the power and specification, but driven by guys who truly push them to their full potential...
Hi, I'm Stav...
You may or may not have heard of me, but I've spent the last 15 years working full-time in the tuning scene, and the last decade or so writing for various car magazines.