A new drifting facility at the motorsport hub of Hampton Downs is aiming to get kids off the street and learning the art of the sport in a safe environment.
Evergreen Drift Park, nestled between Meremere Dragway and Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, opened this week and is the brain child of former D1NZ professional drifter Sky Zhao.
Zhao, who has carved out a successful career for over a decade, had the idea of a purpose-built drifting facility after visiting Japan a number of years ago.
"Japan is where drifting started and they have very famous tracks and drivers and it has always been a dream to go there," Zhao told The Herald.
"One their famous facilities is called the Ebisu circuit – I went there and bought a car and had the best fun ever.
"Coming back after that trip I always pictured something like that facility in New Zealand.
"I started working on this project maybe four years ago."
Unlike the multi-purpose race tracks around the country this facility has been built for drifting alone so it is a lot smaller and a lot tighter than normal race tracks.
The theory behind that is that it will help keep costs down and provide a great way for motorsport enthusiasts to take that first step in a safe place rather than getting on quiet public roads illegally.
"It is lifting the level of drifting – getting people off the street and onto a track," Zhao said.
"Drifting is probably the fastest growing type of motorsport. Drifting is getting bigger and faster so the entrance point of the sport has got a lot more expensive.
"We want to help people who want to express themselves by drifting.
"Because it is such a tight track you don't need a lot of power, so that keeps your budget down. The speeds aren't as fast as somewhere like Pukekohe," he added.
"You don't need to hold a motorsport license for practice or training day but for competitions you would need a motorsport license.
"We want to open gates for drifting fans to drive themselves."
People often associate drifting with hooning and dangerous driving on the roads but Zhao is hoping his idea will help get people into safe environments and improve the sport's reputation.
"Drifting as a sport is professional. There are more and more young people that want to get into it.
"We want to encourage them to come off the street and give better name to drifting overall. It only takes a couple of bad fish to give the sport a bad name."
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