Club Loose: Drifting Without Borders
I Gotta Cut Loose

Without getting too philosophical about the whole thing, I’ve recently begun to enjoy drifting again. For several years the sport left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I felt it had lost a lot of what made it special to me, but maybe I was just looking in the wrong places.

‘So what?’, I hear you ask. For a lot of people around my age, drifting was their entry point into the world of motorsport. It also opened our eyes to a form of car culture far removed from what surrounded us on home soil. It made us appreciate the contrasting tastes and style that were on display a world away. I won’t blabber on too long, Mike has covered this topic better than I ever will and was the inspiration behind this post, but I will add one more item to the list of positive things that drifting has been responsible for in my life. My friends.

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It was these friends that I caught on the motorway north-bound to Mondello Park at god-awful-o’clock one recent Saturday morning. For me, it was a rare weekend off, but how else would you spend your days off?

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I think it’s an experience we can all relate to, that early morning jaunt to our places of worship. From my own travels, it at least seems to be an identical experience no matter where in the world you are.

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It’s probably my favourite part of the day. The quiet, relaxed atmosphere. The crisp, early-morning air. The silence being gently broken by the sound of engines warming. It’s the day’s prologue.

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What made this day even better was the prospect of zero competition and a shed-load of track time. The emphasis was on drivers getting as much practice as they or their cars could handle. Drive hard, be aggressive and have fun.

Welcome to Club Loose Ireland.

Kick Off Your Sunday Shoes
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The event, which was organised by ex-Prodrift champion and former Formula D competitor Eric O’Sullivan and his wife and fellow drifter, Amy Griffin, was the second of its kind here. Let’s talk about the layout for a bit, because it was monstrous, combining both of the Irish Drift Championship’s courses into one tyre killer. Starting on the front straight (beside where the Mondello Park pin is above) the cars ran counter-clockwise. The pro class would have a longer run-in where the amateurs and guys in their own street cars would have significantly less, but other than that the course remained the same.

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The mix of drivers were split into three groups: A, B and C. Group A featured some of the top drivers in the country, getting some valuable seat time in ahead of the upcoming IDC finals. Group B was a mix of semi-pro drivers, those with capable skill but maybe lacking the experience or horsepower of the Group A drivers. Finally, Group C was composed of guys who drove their cars to the track and would hopefully drive them home again. Group C guys ran solo, where Groups A and B could run together. I want to talk about one of those Group B drivers for a bit…

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This is Aidan Ryan, driver of the incredibly bright yellow S14 being transported at the top of this story. Like the vast majority of those involved in drifting in Ireland, Aidan is one of the good guys and has one of the most positive outlooks of anyone I know.

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This is Aidan’s car. It isn’t a big budget, huge horsepower car. At best estimate, it probably has around 300 horsepower – on a good day. But what it lacks in performance, it makes up for in character. It also features what has to be the most unbreakable SR20 in the history of the world. I don’t think the engine has even been serviced this year, it’s likely got to the stage where it’s best to just leave it alone. It’s a car prepared by friends and it’s a car to be enjoyed. I like that.

With such a huge rise in the popularity of drifting in Ireland, it’s become incredibly difficult to get decent seat time at events. Over the course of a full weekend, a driver in the lower classes might be lucky to get one or two practice laps, two qualifying laps and whatever they can manage in the battles. I think in the first two hours at Club Loose, Aidan got more laps in than he had done previously all year to date.

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As is the way when you’re properly trying behind the wheel, sh*t happens. In Aidan’s case, it was a simple mistake of a slightly late initiation. Thankfully, the tyres cushioned the blow, but not before claiming a few panels in the process.

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Some would call it a day at this point – I know I probably would. But I don’t think Aidan even had his harness undone when he was already shouting for a loan of some cable ties and a big hammer.

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A quick jog across the track saw him return with the missing parts…

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And before we knew it, ol’ yella was being pieced back together again.

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Never mind fighting to live another day, Aidan fought to live the same day. The car has lived a tough life, but man does it put a smile on my face watching it go around on track. I think I prefer the battle-scarred look too. It’s the embodiment of hard driving and not giving a single f**k.

Come On Before We Crack
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Friend-bias aside, I have to talk about some of the other drivers out on track that day. Whilst the Group A pro class could cover Mondello with a low-lying fog at the seemingly simple squeeze of a throttle pedal, my big respect was for the two AE86 drivers in the street car group. Conor Norris in the supercharged Levin was one of those drivers who made me applaud on the sidelines.

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Sean Hennessy was another, but equally committed, Hachiroku pilot in his 20-valve Trueno. I think every driver who wants to start a career in drifting, should be forced to use a 4A-GE AE86 for their first season. If you can drive an 800hp S14 with the same aggression you would a Corolla, you’re going to be a guaranteed winner.

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The youngest entrant on the day was 15-year-old Tomás Kiely with his freshly-built 813hp 2JZ S14. I’m not going to wax lyrical about Tomás just yet, as I think he deserves a much larger piece of Speedhunters real estate. Tomás is currently second in the IDC Pro class standings heading into the final round.

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Tomás will be competing against his school mate, 16-year-old Jack Shanahan who drives the 700hp-plus West Lake Tyres BMW turbo powered S14 in the IDC. Jack was just crowned the British Drift Champion last weekend. A 15-year-old and 16-year-old, with a combined 1500hp-plus at the top of the game? That’s definitely a story that needs to be told…

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You might not be familiar with the name Wesley Keating, but you really should be. Wesley is the godfather of Irish drifting and is responsible for helping more drivers get and stay involved in the sport than anyone else. Having struggled with his Rocket Bunny 180SX this season due to reliability issues, he’s decided to jump back into his old car, a far more humble strawberry-faced 180SX. He looked like he was really enjoying himself at Club Loose.

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Rueben Dover was another who impressed. His immaculate R32 Skyline GTS-T almost belies his aggressive driving style.

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I’m not sure when this happened, but seemingly overnight there has been a huge influx of four-door Japanese sedans into Ireland. I’m not complaining – quite the opposite in fact. Although I would like to see more doing like this Toyota Mark II and annihilating tyres in the best possible fashion.

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Whatever about Club Loose being for the drivers, I found it just as beneficial for me to get practice in and try things or positions that I normally wouldn’t risk while photographing an event.

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Maybe some of you can relate, but when covering an event – regardless if it’s for an outlet or even for yourself – you always find that there’s a pressure on your shoulders to try and capture everything. This pressure removes the enjoyment from the occasion and people often scoff when I try to explain that hunting speed isn’t exactly the glamorous vocation some believe it to be. I’m not complaining, I absolutely love what I do, but just because it’s the best job in the world, doesn’t make it the easiest job in the world.

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I’ve never competed in a motorsport event of any kind. I’d like that to change, sooner rather than later, but I get the feeling that the pressure of competition has the same affect on the drivers – that it removes the enjoyment. There are very few who are fortunate enough on this planet to drive competitively for a living, but for the rest of us we drive because of the enjoyment it brings us. If you’re not having fun, then you really have to ask yourself, what’s the point?

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This applies to all disciplines, in my humble opinion. If you’re not happy with the amount of track time you get or you feel that you’re not getting the chance to further yourself as a driver, maybe the answer isn’t to become more competitive but to do the opposite instead? Do a track day or find an event that reminds you why you love to drive in the first place.

I think that I’ve found mine.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos
paddy@speedhunters.com

Cutting Room Floor
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67 comments

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1

great piece and awesome shots!

2

danielbelvino Thanks, Daniel!

3

irish loves ae86?  allways see it

4

@turbo BEAMS ae86 Yeah, there remains a big following for the '86 here. It's interesting how they're split between traditional UK / Irish style, JDM and all out track builds.

5

100% agreed. I've been drifting for the past 3 years or so. I've done close on 20 track days, of which only one was competitive. Even at that, it was in a 'feeder' series in a borrowed car. I fully relate to your comments above. Fun is important, but at the same point we do have to consider what the 'point' of competitive driving is. It's not to show how much fun you're having, it's to show off how amazing you are as a driver. They're two very different things. It can get very serious, the need to perform when you know people are watching and judging. Whereas at a 'fun' track day, nobody is watching. Only the odd spectator and photographer. 

I have hundreds of photos of me having fun in my car, thanks to photographers like you. I have great memories and if i never drift again i've got amazing stories and friends as a result. This piece resonates with most drivers in the country, and for some competitive drivers it will make them nostalgic as they've pumped a lot of money into their cars and competing, with very little to show for it. 

Anyways, thanks for the great read and fantastic pics. Good to see the likes of Aidan getting the spotlight. He was one of the first faces to welcome me onto the scene 3 years ago. He's some man to wreck a nice looking car :)

6

Good post Paddy, now get out there in your GTI. Just drive it in reverse.

7

Awesome but i wish owners would remove their bumpers and put them on afterwards! The grey R32 has awesome LED lights makes it look modern.

8

Can someone explain more about the 15yr old with the fully built drift car. Like how he managed to get there with the car in the first place? Really interested in his story.

9

Can someone explain more about the 15yr old with the fully built drift car. Like how he managed to get there with the car in the first place? Really interested in his story.

10

I'm going to be documenting Tomàs' and Jack's weekend at IDC, they've an awesome story to tell.

11

I'm going to be documenting Tomàs' and Jack's weekend at IDC, they've an awesome story to tell.

12

Don't need to do it in reverse! #liftoffoversteer

13

Paddy McGrath praise irish, hope to come  once in future..beautiful

14

Paddy McGrath praise irish, hope to come  once in future..beautiful

15

Paddy McGrath praise irish, hope to come  once in future..beautiful

16

Paddy McGrath sweet :D looking forward to it. Wish I couldve been a pro drifter at 15 lol

17

Paddy McGrath sweet :D looking forward to it. Wish I couldve been a pro drifter at 15 lol

18

Paddy McGrath sweet :D looking forward to it. Wish I couldve been a pro drifter at 15 lol

19

Lovely stuff Paddy!

20

CharlesChris15 Paddy McGrath If I'm being honest, I'm close to both their ages combined and I couldn't hold a candle to either of them in a car. Unbelievable pair of talents.

21

iProGam3r It's a lovely R32, eagle eyed readers might recognise it from 'that' shed visit a few years back.

22

@turbo BEAMS ae86 Paddy McGrath In the meantime, I'll try to show you more :)

23

ConorLuddy Thanks, Conor!

24

LaurenceDusoswa Very well put and thank you, Laurence.

25

Nice! I feel bad for the damage those cars are taking haha but so kickass! Great article!

26

Nice! I feel bad for the damage those cars are taking haha but so kickass! Great article!

27

On a break from marshaling, I went out on track with Conor when he was over for Finalboss at Driftland.
Him and the rest of Team Tekno/MFR have some serious balls and skills!
Having my helmet (steady on...) rattle off the unpadded roll cage, whilst listening to Killian's 20v barking at the passenger door, is a motoring experience I will NEVER forget.

28

On a break from marshaling, I went out on track with Conor when he was over for Finalboss at Driftland.
Him and the rest of Team Tekno/MFR have some serious balls and skills!
Having my helmet (steady on...) rattle off the unpadded roll cage, whilst listening to Killian's 20v barking at the passenger door, is a motoring experience I will NEVER forget.

29

So right about the 86, ideal car to begin with. 
Can't wait to get one myself and start drifting.

30

When they drive home, do they drive home on the tyres they came with? I assume it should be sweet with a Skyline or Mark II, but being a proponent of coupe life I imagine tyres are very hard to fit inside the boot/car. 

Those tyres better be up to the MOT standard bare minimum tread on the drive home.

Thank you Paddy for those final wise words, and the new wallpapers!

31

Absolutley love your writing style and great photos to boot. Pleasure to read as always

32

Absolutley love your writing style and great photos to boot. Pleasure to read as always

33

kphillips9936 Wish they were more accessible, prices are just going up which is a shame. Would love to drive one, let alone own one!

34

deebideebi You're very kind, thank you.

35

John Key NZ It's not too bad as you can usually either get a mate to bring spares for you or alternatively, there's tyre changing facilities - provided free of charge - on-site.

36

Matt Burgess I must try arrange a day with the Team Tekno guys, always enjoyed their style and commitment to the '86.

37

REKT_Disco kphillips9936 Prices are insane, but they always have been to a certain extent. I've seen clean and original Irish / UK spec Corollas list at €15,000+ where as the Japan imports go for less. Regardless, a good JDM model with choice modifications is probably worth an easy €10,000 here.

38

Paddy McGrath Yeah you are right, I'm hoping MX5's don't go the same way! Great write up as always!

39

Paddy McGrath Yeah you are right, I'm hoping MX5's don't go the same way! Great write up as always!

40

Paddy McGrath Yeah you are right, I'm hoping MX5's don't go the same way! Great write up as always!

41

And im over here 17 years old with 150hp. Lol Great Post

42

And im over here 17 years old with 150hp. Lol Great Post

43

And im over here 17 years old with 150hp. Lol Great Post

44

Miata_Mike I was pedal powered at 17, be grateful! :)

45

REKT_Disco Paddy McGrath Would be great to know what the next big thing will be, and stockpile as many of them as possible!

46

This ^ :)

47

Miata_Mike Well, I'm 20 with 70hp lol

48

I need to work wax lyrical into every day conversation. 
Great post! "you always find that there’s a pressure on your shoulders to try and capture everything" too true.

50

Paddy McGrath WELL worth it I'd say! Killian's just back from the US after partying at Finalbout too.
Great bunch of guys I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting to when they came over.

51

I got fwd tho :(

52

Me too, an 00' corsa lol

53

REKT_Disco kphillips9936 I hear that. I see them here in the states but it's hard to find them unmolested, chopped up, gutted out and of course the owner asking for an insane amount for their botched job. 
Just gotta keep searching though.

54

REKT_Disco kphillips9936 I hear that. I see them here in the states but it's hard to find them unmolested, chopped up, gutted out and of course the owner asking for an insane amount for their botched job. 
Just gotta keep searching though.

55

kphillips9936 REKT_Disco Probably wouldn't be so bad if I had more of a mechanical mind, could pick up one needing work for less. But I don't haha

56

I can't speak for competitive motorsports, but having competed in other hobbies of mine, that pressure usually makes it double the fun. Granted, everyone is different, but some of us just love to compete haha. That being said, I started watching IDC last year after getting fed up with Formula D, and was absolutely floored at Jack and Tomas. The level of driving in IDC in general was a huge shock to me, and IDC became my new favorite pro series instantly. Great article, great looking cars, and wonderful photos. A+

57

BrunoFortunato
Sell the corsa, get something manual rwd and have fun.
3 series compact is no nessesearly pretty, but it can be fun.

58

Hahaha you would not believe how much an rwd costs around here (Brazil), it's plain ridiculous. I'll trade my car for an 1.6 fiesta, that costs around $30-35, and that's cheap here. The 3 series costs around $50k (insurance is about $5k), non M spec, 2011 model. It's almost impossible to get insurance in an e90 or older bmw. Same shit goes to any audi/mercedes and so on.

59

John Key NZ
Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule Mr Key. 
I used to drive my old 180sx to the track, I could fit eight 17" wheels, a 40kg jack, tools and still have enough room for a passenger. Great times were had!

60

John Key NZ
Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule Mr Key. 
I used to drive my old 180sx to the track, I could fit eight 17" wheels, a 40kg jack, tools and still have enough room for a passenger. Great times were had!

61

Thanks for the pics of my mark 2 :)

63

BrunoFortunato The answer is always Miata Bruno ;)

64

Paddy McGrath REKT_Disco Miata's are getting really cheap now, when I bought my Jap import Roadster 4 years ago a nice example would sell at around 4000,- Euro's whereas now its more like 1800.

65

Miata? My friend, there's no such thing around here, IMPOSSIBLE to find one, I'm serious. The closest thing anyone can get to anything jdm is the wrx 13', cuz the newer never came, and the 13' is crazy expensive. Good/reliable japanese and german cars here are only for rich people. That's Brazil for you.

66

Shane mooney No problem, Shane!

67

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