Can A Speedhunter Be A Driftmaster, Too?
Back To School

The tacho needle dances playfully just below the 7,000rpm redline, before my steering wheel suddenly flicks to the left. I re-engage my clutch shortly after and heave on the handbrake, sending it almost vertical. My gunmetal grey R32 slides effortlessly through the abandoned industrial zone, its raging RB and the squeal of tyres disrupting the usual early morning silence of the area.

I was a king. Or was I?

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Once the haze of both memories and tyre smoke disappear, I’m returned to reality. Back to the here and now; back to the driver’s seat of another R32 GTS-T. It feels like home again.

Seat belts on, kids, this could get ugly. We’re milliseconds away from my second attempt at initiating a proper drift. Full disclosure: the first attempt was less than spectacular.

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Memory is a curious thing. I could swear I used to be pretty decent at late night slides in my own R32 GTS-T Skyline back in the day. But right here, right now, sitting in GTS-T driver’s seat again, I’m forced to question the accuracy of those memories. Maybe I’m just rusty? Perhaps it’s all the time I’ve spent in the all-wheel drive camp?

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If my first attempt at initiating – not even holding – a drift is any benchmark to go by, it was only by divine intervention that an ambulance was never called to unwrap my cold, dead body from around a power pole or fence. A compelling statement if you understand how little faith I have in a higher power.

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Uncharacteristically, I found myself in the right place to come to terms with the cold, bitter reality of just how useless I was behind the wheel of a speeding sideways car. It was time to get schooled.

This was no regular school, though. Burning rubber replaced pens and blank notepads were exchanged for the black tarmac of Sydney Dragway’s pit area.

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And our teachers? Well, they’d be a little different from the middle-aged, mild-mannered educators one usually associates with higher learning. As I mentioned, this was no ordinary school. Welcome to Drift School Australia.

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After a quick introduction to the team and the usual safety briefing, drift students were allocated cars and instructors. The crew wasted no time; our class was in session.

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Old habits die hard; I sat at the back and chose to go last, spectating the morning’s proceedings. I was curious to see how well my classmates would attack the track and complete their exercises.

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I’m ready. Let’s do this. Buckle up.

The Portable Classroom
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Before we get out there and try to fry tyres, let me introduce you to my rolling classroom: a humble 1990 R32 GTS-T that still retains the majority of its original parts except for a few minor additions under the hood for a moderate increase in power.

The most notable difference between this Skyline and ones you’re likely to find on the street is the added pneumatic hydraulic handbrake plumbed to the rear wheels. The hydraulic link replaces the steel cable link to the rear calipers, increasing the braking force and reliability. The additional stopping power makes breaking traction a breeze and helps drivers slide on demand.

Under the hood, the original 2.0-litre RB20DET engine has been replaced with a 2.5-litre RB25DET, liberated from an R33 Skyline. A larger front-mount intercooler replaces the standard in-guard cooler, and a rebuilt T25 turbocharger running a little more boost increases the power to somewhere around 270hp (200kW). That number might be underwhelming on paper compared to pro drift cars, but remember, there are no pro drivers here. Only hacks like me, eager for their first real taste of drifting in a controlled space.

Aside from those few essential skid-school mods, the most noticeable difference from a street car is how beat up it looks after providing years of educational service. It’s quite a pig. I like it.

Controlled Skids 101

Finally, it was time to jump in the driver’s seat and sit through my first practical, hands-on lessons. My first instructor, Scotty Porter, is a local, up-and-coming drifter with a mean S13 Nissan Silvia took me through the motions of each lesson before handing the wheel over to my on-loan R32.

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Driving was split into three main lessons, and I’ll run through each part and might even follow up with some insight on what worked best for me. I indeed proved that I’m no expert, but when has that ever stopped people offering or taking advice within the glorious realm of the internet before?

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Hopefully, I’ll be able to pass on something useful. Worse case scenario, it’ll provide plenty of fuel for heated discussion in the comments below. Just promise you’ll wait for my popcorn to cool down before you get really fired up.

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Our first lesson was initiating the drift. The premise was simple enough: boost the car to the right speed, turn in, handbrake, slide the car past the cone, and finish with the right angle to drive straight through to the exit lane. It couldn’t have looked simpler when Mr. Scotty Porter gave me a demonstration. I had this, surely?

Aparently not. Well not at first. As simple as the task was, after the first couple of attempts, which weren’t bad in all honesty, I really seemed to get caught up overthinking things which led to me mixing up the order and disrupting the flow of the slide.

If I had any tips to offer they would be to drive by feel, and to enjoy the moment and let your body do all the hard work. Trust yourself, you’ve got this. A more relaxed approach certainly seemed to help me increase the fluidity and success of the slide. Here’s another tip: keep your foot away from the brake pedal and rely on the handbrake alone to swing the rear end out.

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The second excerise was fun. Extremely fun. Controlled donuts on a wet surface in a car I wouldn’t have to maintain. Of the three tasks to complete, I was by far the most comfortable circling the cone. I need to admit though, it did feel somewhat strange to do this during the daylight hours and with an audience, no less.

With a few successful laps under the belt, the simple excercise was expanded by drifting the car in closer for some tighter circles, and then drifting out further away for some wider circles. The hot tip for this part of the drift is to be as gentle as possible on the throttle and to give the car half a second to catch up. A heavy foot will see you spin clean out every single time.

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Finally, after completing the slower paced tasks, we headed to the far end of pitlane to see if we put together all of what we’d learnt in a higher speed environment. The goal this time around was to initiate, drift and exit the course at around 80km/h.

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It took a few attempts to find the right level of pedal enthusiasm to induce the best drift without sliding the Skyline out completely. Similar to the first task, my most significant hurdle was to not overthink the situation. The drifting got worse before it improved, but eventually, Scotty had me sliding comfortably across the whole course. During a second attempt in an S14 Nissan Silvia later in the afternoon, I was even able to maintain the slide all the way back to the exit road.


Let’s answer this story’s opening question: can a Speedhunter become a Driftmaster? More specifically, did this Speedhunter master the art of drift in the afternoon? Absolutely not, but I did acquire my first taste of drifting and have since been craving another hit of adrenaline that only riding the edge of control can bring.

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Initially, I was disappointed that we didn’t unlock some dormant drifting superpowers. But luckily, you don’t need to be an instant champion to enjoy something.

If I was already worried about getting hooked on another form of motorsport, I shouldn’t have agreed to passenger laps when instructors offered to show me how it’s done correctly. During those hot laps, I’d learn two final lessons. Firstly, I was taught just how little I knew. If I thought I was taking baby steps I was dead wrong. I’d just started to crawl – awkwardly.

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Lastly, they demonstrated why drifting is so popular and drifters so passionate. Drifting provides a completely different kind of rush to regular circuit attack. A rush that I wager would be hard to see outside of a high-speed police chase. A buzz that’s entirely addictive and something you can’t possibly understand from an armchair.

Get out and drift. And if you can’t drift, get out and learn.

Matthew Everingham
Instagram: matthew_everingham

High-Speed Antics

Instead of the regular Cutting Room Floor, I’m going to dedicate the final chapter to our shenanigans, and keeping the content richly Australian we’ll even finish off with some ute skids. While you’re busy flicking through the gallery, I’ll be on eBay shopping for a cheap drift missile of my own.

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Very nice morning read, great article!
Sold off my R32 GTst a while ago, happy it ended up with a guy that gets it way more sideways than i did :)
In the article its stated that the RB20 has been replaced with a RB25DET, running more boost and has 230hp, is that bhp? Otherwise it kind of feels like its downgraded somewhat ^^

Matthew Everingham

Sorry, that's a typo. Late night writing. the rear wheels. Story amended.


That "Lucky Strike" helmet gives a lot of memories when they used to sponsor Motorsports, specially F1 (more specially the crazy Takuma Sato).

As a drift instructor once told me, its good to drive a "mule car" or someone else car and not worrying about repairs after the drift sessions abuse and maybe you'll experience different feels and vision angles from different cars which seems good but as a beginner it's better to have your own so you'll get used to it and "master" it then try different chassis. Did you feel it when you were in the R32 or it all seemed the same?

Matthew Everingham

Despite having owned a few R32's back in the day, and the extra torque the RB produces over the 4-banger SR motors, I found it all 100% easier and more natural in an S14 chassis while playing around later in the afternoon. Weird right?


The SR probably has more torque than the RB, not too mentiont he extra lock the S14 would have. Source - I own both.


Great write up and nice photos of not only the cars but people as well! Solid!

Matthew Everingham

Hooray! My story passed the JohnB test! Thank you, JohnB!


Hey SH and fellow readers...where are all the comments about how I hate on everything? Lmao.


It doesn't really count when you use your one positive comment to still goad people anyways.


I can smell the estrogen through my computer screen.


I though you hate drifting material


Organized modern drifting yes. Grass roots I like a lot. Especially stuff like this where someone is messing about and reporting back on their experience / what they learned. The over glorification is what I don't get into.


Grass roots is always better in any kind of motorsports since it's raw and closer to spectators, you have a bunch of friends and "simple" mods not a star with a rocket technology ride. But it has to go to the next level where pro drivers, sponsors and international standards/rules must apply, the good part is that you have the best in the business and the bad part is that sponsors target is always money. TVs were broadcasting whatever they want without broadcasting rights, now you need a special receiver for each set and a separate subscription for everything,...
Example away from cars: UFC was a very raw fighting community with real monsters, with sponsors it became more universal but look at the "Mcgregor / Mayweather" figh, it was all about money. (it was a hell of a fight but sure you got my point)
It's all about money not the sport itself anymore but still more or less can entertain enthusiasts allover the world.


Good analogy. I used to watch UFC back in the 90s when it was pretty violent by comparison. Would be a huge fan of modern drifting if it was done on mountain roads and timed, but for obvious reasons that can't happen :(


Maybe no one though of a competition like this kind, or maybe there is no crazy enough sponsors to take this risk but it would be fantastic.
My personal best is RedBull Shift, relatively a simple built drift car can compete.


It solely comes down to insurance costs and spectator seating / ticket sales. You can't sell something people can't really attend. Oh well. It would be great!

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetle...

I'm not entirely sure what's happening below the frame of this shot.

However, I can hear the raspy sound of an Aussie affirmatively stating that, "what eveah happens in Oz, staays in Oz, mate."


I'm interested to hear more about this "pneumatic handbrake"


Think of air brakes on a trailer, same concept


What else do you want to know? It operates like any other hand brake, but pnuematically lol


I am pretty sure it's just a mistake in the story, it looks pretty hydraulic to me.

Matthew Everingham

I'm happy to accept fault. It should read hydraulic. Strange things happen when you're writing into the early hours of the morning.
The punishment is harsh but fair, so it looks like the next story's errors will be sponsored by sub-standard beer!


We've sent Matthew outside to think about what he's done and drink a slab of Fosters.

Matthew Burgess

He won't thank you for that :') VB or XXXX

Matthew Everingham

I'll have a Little Creatures or a Fifty Lashes, please.


I know, it's the most punishing thing we could think of to inflict on a proud Australian.


a trailer brake need a reservoir tank, a booster,.... it seems more wait added to the car for nothing sure there is a simple way (which i didn't search for it yet). Now I'm interested to know how and what would defer from a hydraulic brake performance wise.

Gabriel Cordoba

Great article !!!!


This is good timing for me, just last week I booked my course with these guys for the 15th of April!