I sat with drifting aficionado, Steven Tamayo and interviewed him about why he loves the sport and how it’s impacted him.
1. What car do you own?
I own a 1995 Nissan 240sx. It runs an Turbo SR20DET motor built by Dakar Transmissions in Long Island City. It has an adjustable suspension that was tuned by Miro Ovcharik and the engine management system was tuned by R/T Tuning in Pennsylvania.
2. Was there a significant point in time where you realized you loved the sport?
One day I went to an event in a huge parking lot that allowed people to rent a Lamborghini or Ferrari for a few minutes and do 4 laps on a racing layout. When I pulled up in my old rusty race car I broke necks. People didn’t really know what my car was but they knew there was something special about it. When I arrived a semi pro race car driver ran to my car and asked me to drive it. I got out the seat and sat in the passenger seat. At this point I’ve never even been in a car that was drifted. This man accelerated as fast as he could and threw my car into a corner hard. My car went sideways and all I felt was my entire body trying to rip out of the seat of the car. The view from the window was like a video game because everything was sideways. At that moment my mission was to learn as much as I could from this guy in the short amount of time that I had.
3. Describe your first time drifting?
I just went for it. The first time I ever drifted my Nissan 240sx, I put my car into first gear and slammed on the throttle. I was pushed back into my seat. I entered second gear and I knew I had committed to the drift. I steered to the left and then immediately to the right. I slammed on the throttle again and the car instantly got sideways. I felt like I was trying to be ripped out of the seat again, but this time ‘clueless me’ was in control. As the tires spun all I could hear were loud screeches and the bang from the exhaust. I could smell the tire smoke as it filled the car and I had to fight gravity to properly keep my body in the seat. I steered the car and tried not to hit the curb or light pole.
When it was time to change direction, I let go of the wheel and it rotated in the other direction. I grabbed it just in time for the car not to spin out. I was about 5 feet from a cement light post and I was headed in its direction; but somehow instinct took over and I was able to avoid it with slight breaking and acceleration. I steered all the way to the end of the track layout.
4. What does drifting mean to you?
When I’m done drifting, I get a smile from ear to ear. I could feel every vein in my body pulsating. My heart feels like it’s going to pop out of my chest. That’s the feeling of knowing that the car I built with my bare hands is able to perform what it was built for. That’s what drifting is. No matter what you have to do to get the car to work properly it is always worth it in the end because nothing can compare to that feeling of adrenaline running through your veins.
5. How do you stay motivated and drift-ready?
The feeling I get when I’m in the car and after a drift run is what keeps me motivated to continue drifting. There’s no better feeling than being in the car you built, and ripping it on the track with your friends. As for being drift-ready, its always a struggle to keep the car up for the challenge. My team Drift Unhinged, which are my neighborhood friends work hard to keep the cars ready. We all help each other build our cars. Build it, Drift it, Break it, Fix it, REPEAT. That’s how we stay ready.
Watch the video below of Steven drifting during a local event in Queens, NY.