Friday, May 15, 2009

Chapter 7 - Getting Ahead?

The weeks leading up to the drift event wore hard on our drifter. He was nervous and out of practice - scared to be shown up by the younger all-business drivers. He began spending all his spare time at a low-rate local speed shop. The shop was trying to break into the drift scene. Decals on every hot local car, but it was no secret that they made their money exclusively from green Rotas and Blox arms.

Our drifter sold his prized rare wing. The forum said it “flowed better” without it. He took a sizeable hit reselling it. He really liked that wing. He almost kept it in spite of its poor reception, but in the drift world, to stand out is to stand alone, and he was lonely enough already.

At ‘the shop’ he enjoyed near celebrity status. They let him park right in front. The young management loved being associated with his car, he was secondary. But they looked out for him. He would be the face of ‘the shop’ at the upcoming event. He received a flurry of vinyl decals, a custom alignment, and engine refreshments with spare bits lying around the shop. The attention brought his spirits up. His car was loaded onto the shop’s trailer for the morning trek to the track. It looked good - ‘Race Car’. Any drifter will tell you, nothing beats the feeling of rolling into the paddock in a big diesel, race car in tow. Fashionably late for all to see.

First run of the day he lost his front bumper. It was no worse for wear, but he left it off the rest of the day. It may have been the lack of front ‘aero’, or it may have been his lack of practice, but the car was an understeering mess. There’s no worse feeling than an initiation flick that just keeps going. Wheels fully locked, thump thump thumping over the soft March dirt. After each run our drifter could be seen crouched in desperation, bleeding more air from his front tires. 215 - who would’ve thought? The car looked good, no doubt, and looks go a long way in any motorsport. Public opinion of our drifter was, for the most part, unaffected by this poor showing. But he was worn out, tired of it all, never before had he felt so unmotivated. Unmotivated to maintain his car, return to driving, or even post on forums.

Some decent action shots emerged, and naysayers turned in his favor. He was ahead of the curve for the first time. But the man behind the curtain was falling apart. His W-2 said $11,000, his checking account said $600, and his credit card bill still said $6,000. Is this what ‘ahead’ felt like?

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