Meet the drifter part 105: Eric Conkling.
We are back this time with American drifter and all round gentleman Eric!
Sarah: So, introduce yourself to Drivetribe.
Eric: Hello, My name is Eric Conkling and I am a 25 year old drifter from Gainesville, Florida. I have been drifting for the last ten years and have been infatuated with anything with a motor for as long as I can remember. My father has owned his own shop for the last 32 years, so needless to say, I was fully surrounded by his neat projects and customer cars at a very young age and definitely "caught the bug." I would always tinker with things around the shop and on my bicycles and what not.
Sarah: What age were you when you first got behind the wheel?
Eric: I started riding an small 4-wheeler my father bought for me around six years old if I remember correctly, and within the first three hours of riding it I was starting to make up a course and slide it around. From there it escalated to dirtbikes and go-karts.
Sarah: What was the next step for you after that?
Eric: I continued to play with anything and everything motorized I could, as well as skateboarded a lot. My father heard about a drift event happening in Miami, Florida in 2008 or 2009, so we hopped in the car and made the 350 mile drive to go watch our first event, which happened to be a D1GP event. Watching these super cool cars with strobing lights and crazy liveries throw themselves at concert K-rails as fast as they could go instantly hooked me.
Sarah: What was your first 'legal' set of wheels?
Eric: My first actual car was a 2002 Lexus IS300, but my first drift car was a Miata.
Sarah: What first caught your attention about drifting?
Eric: I was instantly drawn to the style of driving, it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I loved how similar the vibe felt to skateboarding, everyone going out and pushing as hard as they could to drive as gnarly as possible.
Sarah: What age were you then?
Eric: I was 14 years old, and that event made an everlasting impact on my life.
Sarah: What made you think, I could actually do that?
Eric: I never had the thought that I couldn't. Maybe it was the irrational confidence of a teenager or maybe how effortless the D1 drivers made it look but I never had a doubt. The only thought I had was, "Man, I have to do this!"
Sarah: What was your first proper competition car?
Eric: My first real competition car was a 1990 Nissan 240sx powered by an RB20det, although I'm not sure I would call it a proper competition car hahaha.
Sarah: Why did you pick the car that you have now?
Eric: I currently have a 1998 Nissan 240sx, powered by a Toyota 2JZ. It seemed like the logical jump from the s13, which met an untimely death as many drift cars do. We had the s14 shell at the shop, so I went to work building the car.
Sarah: So you've been a spectator and a competitor. Has it good side bad sides etc?
Eric:Spectating drift events is always a blast. I love watching grassroots drivers progress and learn throughout a practice day, and watching some of the worlds top drivers at Formula Drift rounds lay down some of the craziest runs always inspires me to push harder or try new things in my own driving. Nothing compares to the rush of actually driving though. Placing your car on track exactly where the judges want you to while going as fast as possible and carrying as much angle as you can is a blast, and when you get it right it is one of the best feelings in the world. The only downside to actually driving is the amount of time and money go into an event, but it is so worth it in the end.
Sarah: Best aspect of drifting for you personally?
Eric: The people I've met through drifting, 100%! I have met a ton of amazing people through this crazy motorsport and the comradery of everyone has always blown me away. It is the coolest thing and I do not think you find that type of atmosphere in any other motorsport.
Sarah: One thing you could change about drifting what would it be?
Eric: If I had to pick on thing to change, I would have to say a more clear structure to judging. I actually really enjoy the fact that it is a judged sport and think the Formula Drift judges do an amazing job, but it would be nice if there was a way to make the judging more clear and concise.
Sarah: Whose you best friend(s) you've made through drifting? Why?
Eric: I don't know if I can narrow it down to one or a couple of people. I have made a ton of amazing friends through drifting, people from all around the world, who I would have never met if it had not been for drifting.
Sarah: Have you got any advise for anyone wanting to get into drifting?
Eric: Keep the car simple in the beginning and focus on driving as much as possible. Don't get discouraged when you struggle in the beginning, no one is amazing right off the bat. If you can get a simulator, that will be a huge benefit and can keep the cost of learning relatively low.
Sarah: Are you glad/happy you got into drifting? Why?
Eric: Absolutely!!!! It brings me so much joy and I don't thing anything could replace that.
Sarah: One thing you hate about drifting from any aspect of it?
Eric: How opinionated some of the people are. A lot of people think drifting should be a certain way and there is only one type of drifting that should exist. People seem to have a hard time understanding that grassroots and professional drifting are two very different things and can be a little frustrating at times.
Sarah: Tell us a random fact about your drifting career to date?
Eric: My father crashed my first competition car at an event while I was out of the country, but he was okay and everything worked out for the best!
Sarah: You have drifted and battled with some world famous drifters, who was the best and why?
Eric: I would say the best person I have ever battled with would have to be Chelsea DeNofa. He is a certified ripper and always throws down!
Sarah: If you could meet or battle against one other famous world known drifter who would it be and why?
Eric: There are so many! I love driving with anyone who is better than me, and it always makes me push harder and grow as a driver. But if I had to pick one I think it would be Michael Essa. He always throws down incredible lead runs and really puts the pressure on in chase. He is also my friend and I think it would be a blast to drive with him.
Sarah: Endless amount of money for a new car and build what would it be and why?
Eric: This is always a really hard question, I would probably build a Lexus LFA. They are the so freaking cool and sound absolutely amazing!!!!
Sarah: When it's time for retirement what do you want to be remembered for in the drifting world?
Eric: I just want to leave a positive impression on the sport, on and off track. I really hope I can help others feel the same way I feel about some drivers like Robbie Nishida, who was an amazing competitor in Formula Drift and would do anything possible to help anyone he could.
Big thanks to Eric for doing this interview, if you would like to follow Eric I have listed his social media below!
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