“The Birth Of Drifting For Life”
Why “Drifting for Life”? The concept of this campaign and awareness platform grew out of the love of racing and the racing community/family. I always knew as a former ASA short course circle track driver and NHRA drag racer, that through my love of anything to do with racing, competing, going fast, rowdy loud horsepower, smoking tires, would be the platform of giving back and making a difference one day. On October 19, 2019, my sons and I attended our first Formula Drifting Competition. Wow, I was so impressed with the work and skill of the sport. There it was again, the fans and drivers together not separated by walls or fences but interacting with each other, like a community. I was with my two sons and when we left the racetrack, we all knew what we were going to do. We were going to build a car, smoke some tires, and try to sling the car around corners at a crazy speed. Oh yeah, baby we’re in! A few weeks later, I was at a meeting with my business partner Don. We were discussing how our company could launch a campaign on something that is really affecting our society at an alarming rate, suicide. We decided that this was going be our platform and we were going to focus on our teenagers and young adults. We knew we wanted to try and do this in a totally different way than what has been done before. We want to naturalize/normalize the conversation of suicide and create the discussion. We want reach millions who HAVE contemplated, ARE contemplating, WILL contemplate suicide and been DIRECTLY affected by suicide. Letting them know that they are not crazy having these thoughts. As a matter of fact, thousands of people just like them, including myself have or had these same thoughts. Well, it appeared we found our mission, however the “how” we were going to do this would have to be tabled for another meeting. For a timeline, this meeting took place on October 31, 2019. As Don and I always do, when we end our meeting we share and catch up on what our families are doing. This where this story gets crazy cool. I was showing Don a picture of a 2004 BMW 325I with a rod kicked out of it (aka “a blown-up motor”) that I had just purchased for $750.00. I was explaining to him that me and my boys were going build a drift car. Just to clarify… my first exposure to drifting was on October 19, 2019… bought car on October 29, 2019… aha meeting on October 31, 2019… I am thinking somebody (aka God) is driving this car/mission. As you can tell, I do not impulse buy. After being in business for over 25 years together, he has seen this act before, so he smiled and said you and your boys have fun! That is when the smart*** in me kicked in and I said “Drifting for Life Baby…..” We both paused for a second, looked at each other and said THERE IT IS (I really thought in my head holy**** there it is)! We both knew then and there how we were going to accomplish our mission of reaching millions. At that moment, we both knew what we needed to do and went to work. Don started building the awareness campaign you see it today and I started to build a drift car now known a “Project Rowdy 19”.
The days after this meeting were crazy. I was making phone calls to people I knew who could help in the racing, business, and professional worlds. Don, is running like a wild man further developing the concept, creating the infrastructure of this project, capturing domain names, graphics, directing the web site creation, reaching out to his media connections and most importantly trying to keep me focused and organized. As I always do, some of my best/scary ideas or solutions come to me in my dreams and thoughts during the night. I knew this was the right sport/discipline for this cause and I knew it fit, then it came to me. Please remember that I did circle track race and drove a former NHRA pro-stock truck making 1150 hp, but I have never driven, rode in or seen a drift car prior to October 19, 2019. All of what I am going to say going forward is based on my 18 year-old son, who also has never driven, rode in, or seen a drift car prior to this October 19th, but watches a hell of a lot of YouTube (thanks Hoonigan/Ken Block) instead of homework.
As I reflected on the Formula event, lots of things stood out. The first thing was the race fans. Irwindale Speedway was sold out. The age, gender, and family demographics were all over the place, but I mainly saw younger people than myself (I am 48). I was impressed how the fans interacted with the drivers in the pits and how passionate and knowledgeable (shout out to YouTube again) they are about this sport. I felt safe and comfortable around my fellow race fans. Second, was how the racers, teams, and sponsors interacted with the fans. It was the typical grateful nature of racers thanking the “fans” for supporting them in doing what they love to do and using their hard-earned money to buy the tickets allowing the racers to do what they love, race. Third, everything else, the crazy screaming engines, the smoke, the smell of the smoke, the smell of race fuel, the fans going nuts on a good run, and the most impressive driving skills of the drifters. I had never seen such car control, ever! It was clear to us that the platform we were going to use to reach millions was Drifting.