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Feature : Sideways on the streets of Sabah

Feature : Sideways on the streets of Sabah

by Shopify API

9 years ago

Text and photos by : Jonathan Ng

I first met Andy, the cousin of my girlfriend and newly wedded groom while visiting the couple's new house in December last year. There sat a sweet Toyota with fender flares and fat tyres in his drive way. It perked my interest and the ever so friendly and cheerful Andy happily showed me the two cars he owned. His daily driver Unser... which has a 4AG swap for a bit of power and fuel economy and his dedicated Toyota Corolla DX drift car. His car was featured in a local car mag once before as he proudly showed me the feature article. As my trip back in December was too short to have the chance to meet his friends, I made sure I would have the chance my next visit.
Andy brought me and my girlfriend Elaine out to their regular drift haunt, an industrial area with minimal traffic. Since the land space in Malaysia is so big, they were able to find a space big enough where Andy and his friends could practice drifting without getting complained about. I arrived slightly later then originally expected because it was a tough location to find, but when I finally found my way we were greeted with the sound of screeching tyres and clouds of tyre smoke. There was a wide array of cars, S15s, Corollas, AE86s and a several others.
Most of the cars were imported from JB and KL, the "Play" toys for grown up men with another daily driver back at home for family matters. The group of drift cars started back in 2008 with almost 30 odd cars, with the drifters ranging from their early twenties to their late thirties. The group gradually shrunk to the current 8 cars due to changes in life style, family commitments and work issues just to name a few. Regardless, these men still welcome new participants to join in their weekend fun. If you're from Sabah and you've got an interest in drifting, they gladly guide you along.
The meetup every Sunday is a "just for fun activity". No feeling of competitiveness in the air and just enjoying the company of people who share similar interests. They do get slightly more competitive when there's a drift competition approaching and they head to the same spot to practice more. No matter how you look at it though, they're practicing drift for a drift competition, still seems like a whole lot of fun to me.
Although it is an industrial area that is reasonably isolated, it is still a street drifting area and it is definitely not safe. The drains at the junction they drift at has no covers. You could still potentially over estimate your abilities and drift straight into one. Hence, reckless driving despite all drifting insanity is frowned upon by everyone, including the people who specially make a trip down just to watch the drifting action. To aid in safety, there are usually assigned road marshalls, usually the individual with his car undergoing changes in the workshop.
The drifters previously had issues with the authorities due to a nearby factory with sensitive goods (Bird's nest rearing). The noise caused by drifting caused the swallows to be afraid to return to their nests. The drifters being responsible, stopped drifting for several months but only recently returned after the factory relocated. The atmosphere had a friendly feeling to it although not everyone was very familiar with one another. Despite this, everyone was still very helpful towards one another, helping out if they had car trouble or just being encouraging when it came to drifting.
An hour passed and more cars arrived on location, immediately joining the queue to enter the "drift area". The drifters only get the weekends to practice their drifting so they really make full use of every second they have. The longest I've seen any of them out of their cars was for a short 10 to 15 minutes to allow the car to rest before starting again!
Unfortunately I had prior engagements, I left a little earlier then the rest. While I was leaving I spotted another 3 drift cars arriving, only to join the queue immediately too. Seemed like a popular hang out for drifters where they can practice undisturbed and at low costs, something I'm sure many Singaporean drifters would love.


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