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Rain adds to drifting excitement

Technique was the telling factor as rubber burned on a wet Grand Parade

Cruising in to Cape Town on Heritage Day, Jackie Crewe found himself fizzing with anticipation in the knowledge that ahead of him was a long-awaited petrolhead extravaganza kicking off hard, and right in the heart of the CBD.

Thing is, it was that Sunday, the one when the wind took the shingles off, with rain expected to roll in. However, after one weather cancellation earlier in the year, the crew behind Drift City was not going to call it off again. The call earlier that morning was: “Let’s do this.”

So, there was Jackie, turning into Strand Street and noticing how the bang and crash of the Cape wind blended with the squeal of tyres, psychedelically morphing into that singular sound of the wastegate dump. An odd experience, as for a moment or three Jackie could not tell which force was which – the power of mother nature or the raw torque of the Cape’s finest drift machines tearing up the Grand Parade. Nevertheless, as he rounded the next corner all became apparent.

Drift City is the brainchild of Gary Stockenstroom and the first edition was in 2016. After a three-year run then a five year gap (Covid and wind cancellation last year) this edition was the fourth. The idea is simple: bring the Drifters and the kwaaiest show cars, and do it all slap bang in the middle of town.

Jackie headed straight for the Drift arena where the last of the qualifiers was taking place. This entailed a technical drift through and around and obstacle course, with the fastest times getting the pole positions.

Izak van Zyl scored top, with Daniel Blaser in at second. Thing about Izak is he drives this boxie, and from the outside you’d not think much of it. But Izak has installed a menacing powerplant and other goodies that allow his also considerable driving skills to shine through.

With Vic Pardal on the mic, the punters were thoroughly entertained, especially when the rain arrived at about 2pm and Vic got a spontaneous Rig Riot going, keeping people sheltered and giving the DJ a moment to shine.

Interestingly, the rain measured the playing field, as big power matters less in the wet. With a wet pitch, drivers need to be technically inclined as opportunities for traction are few. For enthusiasts, the wet weather brought an interesting twist, as they could see which drivers were able to adapt, easing off the throttle so as not to overshoot, and controlling tyre pressures to meet the conditions. As one enthusiast put it: “It was the day of the driver, not of the car.”

Drift City winner Kyle van Dyk reflected that while the rain did in fact throw a curve ball, and that though his team knew they had pace in the dry, it was the changes they had to make that earned them the win. In second place was Chris Long in his Auris fitted with a supercharged Ford V8. Tellingly, Kyle drives a stock Nissan 350z, his daily drive. Daniel Blaser in a Nissan 350Z took third, beating out Izak van Zyl.

Across the parade, Jackie bumped into comedian and car lover Kurt Schoonraad admiring a blue Datsun 160Z. Apparently there’s a ‘wiele file’ in Kurt’s brain, a plentiful encyclopedia of car knowledge, evident in his remark: “This is vintage at its best, they’ll pay a million bucks for a good one in Japan right now. Very collectible, if there’s a car to put on your list this is it, in this coupe sportsback body, rarer than hen’s teeth maybru.”

Responding to Jackie’s comment that it looked a bit like his grandmother’s cabbie, Kurt said: “Well, at some stage it was someone’s grocery-getter somewhere, but when it has been transformed to rev to about 8 000rpm that’s a different story altogether. You can still get the groceries, but a lot faster.”

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