"Suppose I better go check out the course first, eh ..."

Reassuring words from the man who's about to drive this reporter around a drifting track, throwing me sideways in a bone-rattling practice lap ahead of this weekend's Cody's D1NZ National Drifting Series in Whangarei.

But it is Garry "Gaz" Whiter of Dargaville, three-time national drift champion, so I'm fairly sure he knows what he's doing. Even so - the fact that someone else is in the passenger seat for the first few laps is kind of reassuring.

The squeal of tyres is amazing. It takes a little while for the cars and tyres to warm up, but pretty soon the yard at Toll United is filled with wafting smoke.


I watch Gaz and Daniel "Fanga Dan" Woolhouse of Whangarei go for their first practice laps. Third run in, Fanga Dan and Gaz are driving awfully close together.

As if in a kind of dance, the cars drift in perfect synchronicity, until on the final turn I swear they're going to touch each other. They don't - these guys are pros - but it's exhilarating stuff.

I'm dressed in my racing suit and ready for my lap. I clamber over the roll cage and into the passenger seat - into which I only just fit. I figure I'm going to be happy about that though, given how much I'm about to be thrown around.

We head out to the track, so far, so normal, until - whoa. We snap around and I'm amazed at the force it's taken on my body.

The squeal of the tyres pierces the air and a grin grows across my face - "Woohoo!"

Heading down the entry straight all is pretty normal until - BAM - Gaz pumps the pedals and spins the wheel and we shoot sideways again. His feet are working overtime, on the accelerator and the brake - there's a lot of skill involved in this.

After three laps (or was it four? It's all a bit of a blur) we cruise in for a rest as the car's getting a bit hot. That was awesome. I certainly feel like I've been thrown around, but what a buzz. The crowd's going to love it.

Gates open for the Cody's D1NZ National Drifting Series at the Toll United Rewa Rewa Rd yard at 9am today and tomorrow, with drifting scheduled until about 5pm. Tomorrow is the main championship race day. Tickets are $10 today and $20 tomorrow.