Last Updated On January 15, 2021.
There’s nothing as bone-chilling as a driver car drifting through dedicated markers, throttling like there’s no tomorrow and watching his rear wheels cough thick clouds of inky whiteness at insane speeds. Absolutely nothing!
But, what makes a car drifting act perfect?
Is it the skilled driver handling the wheel, his hyper modded whip or the enthralled crowd of petrolheads seemingly screaming at the top of their lungs and asking for some action?
The Car Drifting Culture of Abuja, Nigeria.
Tokyoites could have heard this like a thousand times but for context, car drifting started out in the mountainous regions of Japan in the 1980s, and as drifting competitions such as The Granturismo D1 Grand Prix and other championship races sprang from the island nation, many automobile enthusiasts across the globe began trying out drifting techniques and organising drifting events on their own turf.
Since then, public interest in the extreme motorsport has been on the rise particularly after the release of a 1995 Japanese manga series, Initial D (featuring the Toyota Corolla AE86 or Trueno), sensational car drifting videos like Pluspy and subsequent moviefilm (see Borat 2 for comedic reference 😅) and games including Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, Cars, Baby Driver, Gameloft’s Asphalt and EA’s Need for Speed.
Bringing this home, Nigeria’s car drifting culture kicked off in Abuja – the country’s central and landlocked Federal Capital Territory (FCT) founded during the reign of Murtala Mohammed as Head of State – in the early 2000s.
Back in the day, talented motorists converged at popular highways in the city with their BMWs, Mercedes Benz, Hondas, Toyotas, Trucks, and other vehicles to perform ghastly stunts on roads often crowded with spectators.
And when the smoke settled, all that was left was totalled cars, intense skid marks, and on some occasions, injured bystanders.
Authorities like the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and Police were usually against these “illegal” street racing drills and they often clamped down on such auto shows in the FCT.
Observing this as an obstacle to their new-found obsession, car drifting enthusiasts moved to improvised and purpose-built drifting locations in Central Business District, Utako, Garki, Eagle Square, Jabi, Karmo, Wuye, Idu, and Life Camp over the years.
The Abuja drifting community is stronger than ever, and there’s no denying that all authorities can do now is take a backseat and watch the adrenaline pumping action unfold!
The Car Drifting Bug Spreads Across Nigeria.
After the success of drifting events like the Drift League Championship organised by Dark Knight Motorsports in Abuja, petrolheads across the country took a cue and in the next couple of years, Lagosians too, were entertained by never-say-die car performers in their bustling city of excellence.
Again, the BMW Club of Nigeria in partnership with several sponsors organised drag race events like the Xmas Autofest in 2017, Bimmerfest in 2018 and 2019, and the 2020 Xmas Autofest – this was a strict drive-in auto show and attendees were wowed by musical entertainment, fast car drifting, super bikes, terrific stunts, and nighttime fireworks at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) on Lagos Island.
Car drifting and other motorsports have also seen limelight in states such as Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo and Cross River.
Down south, Edo car drifting fanatics (Ha! Edo no dey carry last 😏) took their motorsport obsession a bit further by constructing the first ever purpose-built race track in Nigeria!
The Motorsport Raceway, Evbuobanosa (MRE) in Edo state is now home to some of the biggest auto competitions in the whole of West Africa.
For continuity, I’d like to appreciate my dear friend, Saddam, M.D. Igie Sparkles, who is also an enthusiastic petrolhead (thank goodness). He was at the venue of The Drift League 4 competition in Abuja and his recollection of events will be super imperative in this motorsport narrative.
CRAZY CAR DRIFTING in Abuja: 7 Things Petrolheads Can Always Expect
#1. Eccentric Donuts.
Sunday, December 6, 2020, 6:56 P.M.
Musa Muhammad kicked and oversteered furiously, keeping his surging Nissan 350Z completely under control. There was a lamppost in the centre of the drift course and using the marker, he churned out continuous rounds of skid marks with his dazzling red-white convertible.
Not too distant, the enthusiastic crowd cheered on, watching the skilled driver burst more and more nerve racking donuts.
Musa was so determined to get the most points from the three judges at the Drift League 4 (DL4) Championship.
The Drift League event was beaming with motorsport fans who’d travelled all across ABJ (byname for Abuja) and the rest of Nigeria to see their favourite drifters perform for free!
This was at the SPAR Mountview Shopping Mall in the Life Camp district of the FCT.
And on that day, ten pro drifters competed for a grand prize of 200,000 Naira while onlookers watched in awe as they peeled out 360-degree skid marks on the make-shift arena.
In the Abuja motor scene, donuts or doughnuts are regarded as the cradle of drifting and drivers are often judged on their handling, dexterity, mimicry, speed (not necessarily fast), stunts, riskiness, and level of smoke from tires.
Up until dusk, drifters continued dishing out donuts and at one point, they had to hit a round balloon while car drifting for some extra points.
Captain “DRIFT SENSEI” Awwal of Drift Hunters emerged winner of the DL4. He drove an orange BMW E30 3-series called Chucky.
#2. Cars! Cars!! Cars!!!
BMW E30, E40, M3, M4 Coupé; Mercedes Benz AMG C-Class; Audi D3 Convertible; Nissan 350Z; Mazda RX-7; The Polaris Slingshot; Ford Mustang; Dodge Challenger; BMW, Yamaha, Dirt and Custom Bikes for cool wheelies 🏍️; and occasionally a two-person Tiger Avon just around the corner. That’s what you’d find if you attended the DL4 in Abuja, Nigeria.
Now, one thing’s certain, expert drifters in the capital city love to have a nice BMW on hand but that’s not to say that cars from other categories aren’t as showcased.
Oftentimes, you’d see sports cars including Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche or luxury cars like Rolls Royce take a spin at such events.
If you wish to see all the world famous cars up close, attend any auto show in the FCT.
#3. Epic Burnouts.
Hehe friend, hope you like the smell of burnt rubber on asphalt?
Burnouts happen when drifters throttle to spin the wheels of their cars while in stationary position, this makes the spinning tires burn rubber and produce white smoke and when inhaled, it may give off a tingling sensation.
In competitions such as the Drift League, burnouts earn drivers bonus points while car drifting but in other scenarios, drivers may do burnouts to showoff a new car, impress hot ladies or command hood respect!
You should know, burnouts aren’t cheap either, new tires cost between 24,700 to 66,500 naira each (65 to 175 dollars each) and some drifters may replace up to three tires per day.
Heck, one time I watched a drifter burnout and rupture the rear wheels on his Rolls Royce Phantom. A whole Rolls Royce o! Each tire can go for about 374,300 naira (985 dollars).
Abuja is such a vibe.
#4. Close Calls.
The drift marshal at DL4 spoke over the high-pitched screeching tires, “Please move back!” She said to adrenaline junkies who were attempting to breach the bulwarks.
No doubt, car drifting is an extreme motorsport which requires utmost protection for both drifters and watchers.
At auto shows, organisers make sure bulmarks, marshals and security operatives are on ground to deter excited persons from entering the drift course.
However, when “illegal” motorsport maniacs choose to run on the streets of Abuja, there’re sometimes record of damage to public property, vehicle wrecks, or fatal injuries to ecstatic bystanders.
For safety while drifting, professionals perform stunts in controlled spaces, wear a helmet and five-point harness, and have a roll cage installed in their vehicle in the event of sudden impacts or rollovers.
Be safe, keep your eyes peeled for danger and be ready to jump out of the way if a drifter loses control of his car.
#5. Celebrity or Guest Appearances.
When it comes to car drifting in the Federal Capital Territory, there are several names that resonate with locals.
Frequent stunt drivers are fondly tagged “The Rich Kids of Abuja” and these two petrolheads stand out from the rest of the pack.
- Captain “DRIFT SENSEI” Awwal.
- And Jay “DRIFT PRINCE” Bash who also drives a BMW E30 3-series nicknamed Bumblebee.
In December of 2020 alone, these Drift Hunters were scheduled to perform in three cities across Nigeria – Abuja, Ibadan and Lagos. Amazing right?
Motorsport enthusiasts in the country regard Captain Awwal and Jay Bash as celebrities.
And on the other hand, Afrobeats artistes are occasionally billed to perform at car drifting events across the country, not just in Abuja.
#6. Expat Drifters.
The Abuja drifting community is very open and welcoming and you’ll often see expat drifters showcasing their “expert” techniques at auto competitions like the DL4.
#7. Sunday Funday.
On Sunday evenings, particularly last Sunday of every month, The Rich Kids of Abuja come out to play with their pricey toys.
Other popular days to catch some car drifting action are Saturday, Salah break, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and public holidays.
For a car drifting act to be perfect, the driver needs to have confidence in himself and his four-wheeled machine.
This, of course, is the foundation of all drift stunts. And technicalities may include having a stickshift transmission and powerful rear-wheel drive with limited slip differential, preferably a BMW; rigid suspension system; a custom handbrake and gear lever; responsive drifting steering wheel and pedals; and high-performance tires.
The motorsport culture in Abuja and the rest of Nigeria is ever-growing and there’s no telling what will become of this expensive hobby in subsequent years.
To watch drifting kings burn rubber in ABJ, take a road trip to Idu Industrial or Life Camp (they’re close), I hear from my friend, Faruk, that there’s usually some car sliding action going down near Nizamiye Hospital but, as you know, this may change…
In a subsequent chat with DRIFT PRINCE, he opined that car drifters who performed stunts in the preceding locations are in fact illegal drifters and he mentioned that plans were being made to gain proper access to the Moshood Abiola National Stadium for regular practice runs.
The crazy car drifting scene in Nigeria has been featured on different platforms and news sites including CGTN Africa.
And if you’d like to track down upcoming auto shows and competitions in the FCT, check out these Instagram accounts.
Go have fun!
So tell me friend cos it’s now time to shift gears, have you ever attended a car drifting event?
I can’t wait to hear from you.
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