‘Everybody likes a good bit of drifting,’ said Richard Hammond, once, but he’s wrong. I’m part of everybody and I hate it.
I accept that drifting takes a good deal of skill. So does playing the hurdy-gurdy, but that’s no excuse for doing it. Like the hurdy-gurdy recital, drifting makes a godawful racket but also a terrible smell, so as a form of entertainment it ranks alongside someone playing the hurdy-gurdy while simultaneously cooking a packet of condoms on a barbecue.
For some reason, no car-themed event is now considered complete unless someone is making a deliberate balls-up of a simple corner; viz, the London Motor Show a couple of weeks ago. This ‘featured’ a continuous display of indoor drifting.
So there I was, trying to talk to an interesting bloke about the new TVR, but I couldn’t really hear what he was saying because of the ritual rubber sacrifice taking place at one side of the arena. And when I got home my shirt smelled like a burnt-out slot car. It’s antisocial.
What really alarms me is that drifting seems to have been invented by the Japanese. I’m a big fan of Japan, having spent quite a bit of time there. Everything is exquisite: the fuel-station etiquette, the small rituals, the view of Mount Fuji in the morning mist, even the way they wrap and present a simple boiled sweet. It’s all wonderful.
Some Japanese enthusiasms can seem a little eccentric. On one visit, I seemed to have arrived in the middle of a craze for dressing up as Elvis Pressley, which is a difficult look to pull off if you’re five-foot six, of slight build, Japanese, and culturally averse to the idea of a cheeseburger. On another trip I found myself in the Museum of the Vulva, which was a garden shrine dedicated to naturally occurring objects that happened to resemble, vaguely, the silken purse. But because it was Japanese, it was excruciatingly tasteful.
But now it turns out they invented drifting, which obfuscates all their other achievements with a grey/blue fugg. And here we are in the West worried about North Korea.
What is it that’s so offensive about drifting? I think it’s because drifting is like a form of performance mooning. The car approaches the bend, flashes its arse at the baying crowd, and farts.