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The Harsh Reality of "Drifting on a Budget"

Well howdy drifters, I'm just writing this blog post to get some content out there. It won't be super in depth so I'll revise this once the actual bulk of the website is done.

Can you drift on a budget? Sure you can, you can do whatever your heart desires. This is such a funny question because adding the word "budget" to anything actually comes at a cost. Hah. See what I did th-

Ok enough goofin, lets get down the dirty. Since there are so many factors involved in running a successful vehicle in motorsports, how about we narrow it down and talk about my top 3: Tires, vehicle, and event cost.

Even cost is pretty quick so let's get that over with first.

We are very lucky to be re-entering a possibly new golden age of drifting here in Ontario. Now that Vocid-91 is old news (knock on wood) we are finally re-establishing drift events in Ontario after a three-year dry spell. Looking at the event calendar for the year, we pretty much see events every single weekend in summer and the fall. And with Adam LZ and DriftGames coming to TMP in September, we should consider ourselves very fortunate to be in this current age of drifting. 

With all these different events run by different organizers, how do I choose which events to go to? I have so many option? Well I'm glad you asked, let's break it down. 

By far the most affordable option is Topp Drift, there isn't another event out there that is similarly priced. With event cost at around $140 per day if you stay the whole weekend, Topp takes the cake on affordable drifting in Ontario, something they have established over the last decade as one of the powerhouse events in Ontario which used to take place at Shannonville Motorsports Park until John Bondar's takeover of the track in 2019. Are you on a budget? Go to Topp Drift. I can't really think of any other reason than cost you would go to this event over others. I guess maybe since they have a drifting monopoly on Grand Bend near London Ontario, if you've been dying to drift that track, your only option is Topp Drift. Some downsides of Topp come at the cost of that sweet low entry fee. The event is packed! This is a good and bad thing of course. Low cost events drag out SO MANY drivers, a wonderful thing. While we at STRAND TYPE appreciate jam packed events in the drift community, its also not great for seat time. 200 cars at one event means your seat time is going to suffer, its just simple math. At some point you need to start doing a seat time per dollar calculation if you truly care about where your money goes. Another thing to point out is one that people often forget. BEGINNERS. And let's get something straight before I continue. There is nothing wrong with beginners, everyone has to start somewhere. I was there once too, we all were. So let's respect the fact that people need a space to learn safely. OK? No beginner shaming here. Topp Drift gives beginners that space. Why am I rambling about this? Because of track shutdowns. I can speak for many when I say I've seen cars barrel into the wall back in the Topp Drift Shannonville days and shut the track down for a half hour at a time, only to open the track once the accident is clear, and immediately witness another car wreck into the wall and shut the track down again. ARGGHHH! At some point it's just not worth it to go to these events because of the gamble you take on seat time. If you don't care and just want to get out there, then be my guest. I think thats enough talk on budget event cost, lets move on!

Vehicle cost! Man this is a hard one. Other than telling you what you already know, like you should go buy a non-M3 E46 BMW or Infiniti G35 thats already had thousands of dollars of drift parts pumped into it for $3500 and never look back, there isn't much else. Thats pretty much common sense in drifting these days. You want to be cool? You spend more money. The experience is physically the same for every dollar amount imaginable, you're drifting on a track, and the car might drive really well too, but some people want to drive something a bit nicer and with more power, especially once they get a bit more experienced. I'm all for nice drift cars, but like all motorsport, you get more fancy, you end up spending more money. Fancy cars like oldschool Japanese stuff, fancy parts, its all going to add up. And for what? So you can flex? So you can live out your Japanese racing nostalgia in current day? I'm all for that! I'm a living breathing example of it, maybe not to the extent of others, but I do love my Japanese 90's hero cars. Lets summarize, are you on a budget for a car, buy a E46 or G35 and be done with it. If you happen to already fantasize about those cars, then lucky you. 


TIRES tires TIRES!!! OMG TIRES. They're so expensive! I'm going to spend 3 hours mounting 50 old tires and then have my buddy drive out to the track in his cargo van with them all and yea itll be all great. 


This seems to be the mentality of the past, but its still around a little today. Of course it depends on if you have access to a tire machine, or maybe you get cheap mounting from a friend's shop or something, but sometimes the people who hold onto this mentality are just simply not good at math. People were buying scrap tires at $10 a tire, $10 to mount, and thats on the cheap end. So lets say the average cost per tire is $20. If you bring 40 tires for your weekend event (which is not uncommon for these guys) your cost is $800 in tires for your event and that doesn't even include the cost of all those wheels!!! ALSO DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG IT TAKES TO MOUNT 40 TIRES? Like half of your day.. AT LEAST! Only to get your buddy to spend $100 on gas to drive them out to you. So OK now you're $900 into tires for the weekend. And you're successfully driving on hot garbage at best, with tires that may or may not last 2 laps a piece. Do you like gambling on tire grip and life, and changing a half-gajillion tires at the track? Honestly, some people do, its part of the experience for them, and I'm not knocking it, its just not my cup of tea. Personally, I had used this scrap tire method for my first THREE YEARS of drifting until I found new tires, and I haven't looked back since. Of course I had access to free scrap tires and free mounting early on because I worked at a race shop (so I was usually on pretty good scrap tires) but these tires would usually only last a few laps, or they would blow up and damage my bodywork. The last straw was when I had a scrap tire fully delaminate and take out $1000 of my RX7's fiberglass body panels. That was it. It was no longer worth it to try to save money in this drifting game. I had to level up. Lets justify new tires now. A new good quality China tire might cost you in the realm of $110 these days, if you mount it yourself, thats 220 for the pair. In my case, I can typically make a pair last all day at Shannonville if I'm being smart about tire life. At Cayuga its pretty easy to make a pair last without thinking too much, just because its run as a staged run event vs open lapping drift. Lets say you go through 2 pairs a day, your cost is $220 per pair x4 pairs = $880. Add in your tire mounting fee and you're pretty much at the same price as the 40 scrap tire dude. AND YOU DONT NEED 40 DIFFERENT WHEELS AND AN ENTIRE VAN TO HAUL YOUR JUNK. Isn't that incredible? The other upside to new tires is you drive on a consistent level of grip the entire time. With this, you can now learn about how tire pressure effects the handling and balance of the car. Before this would have been impossible with the scrap tires. I don't really want to start a rant on tires, because I could go on for hours. To summarize, I don't really have a solid answer on tires for your budget, because different people are going to have different situations, but hopefully that gave you some insight on the ups and downs of a couple of your options. 


Thanks for listening to my budget drifting rant! I hope you liked it. So many people ask about this so I figured I had to write something about it on here. So just to reiterate, budget friendliness comes at a cost, you should always be doing the math to see if you can justify the next level up whether its tires, event dollar cost vs seat time, or modifying your car with the coolest new parts. Sometimes you might find you're just playing in the dirt for the same or similar amount of money that could boost you into the next level of driving! 


Cheers drifters, see you in the next bloggity blog post!




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