While professional Drifting is growing around the world, equally, the sport at grassroots level is also developing at a rapid pace. Thanks to some organisations, often run by volunteers, the sport is able to encourage performance cars off the street and into the Drift world. A world where horsepower, car mods and speed is not restricted.
Drifting is still a relatively new sport, meaning these local clubs and series are still establishing themselves and the way the competition is run. When Ryan Meyer wanted to reinstate his local speedway as a location for drift events, he was given three weeks to gather enough cars to do so. Riverside Drift was born almost immediately. The series in Louisville, Kentucky, has now evolved into a breeding ground for local talent and a place for car enthusiasts to enjoy.
In 2017, Link ECU jumped on board with Riverside Drift. Link saw the vision for the future of Drifting Ryan withheld and the purebred passion for cars acting as the backbone behind the series.
Now, the number of Riverside Drift competitors is growing exponentially with the series now including two-day events and a six round series.
Round 4 of the 2019 Championship is on this weekend at Sportsdrome Speedway, Indiana.
Ahead of this, we caught up with Series owner Ryan for the low-down on how the series got started, how it operates and what plans are on the horizon!
How did the concept of Riverside drift come about?
After spending a few months back at home in Louisville, Kentucky, after leaving my job in the marine industry, I realised the only other semi-local series in the area had essentially relocated their home track to a venue about 3.5 hrs away. This left myself and a few other drivers with no accessible venue to drive at, without making at least the 3.5 hour trip to St Louis, MO or Ohio tracks like Kil-Kare and Midvale.
Knowing that our local track about 10 minutes from Downtown Louisville had accepted drifting with several other organizations in the past years, I called them up and asked for a meeting. Following this the owner of the track gave me 3 weeks to put together an event with the stipulation that I prove local interest was still carrying enough weight to support a series; if the driver turnout and spectator turnout was insufficient the track would not host us as part of a joint venture and I would be on the hunt for a new venue. I assembled a small group of volunteer staff and promoted our vision the best we could in our short window. The first event beat our goal by ~150% and had 19 drivers which prompted two more rounds in our 2016 season. After these we added one final two day event in October to close out our first season.
Since this first year, we have rapidly grown and now host as many as 75 drivers and cover 8 days a year with Riverside Drift events. We still run at our home track and have expanded to include one of the largest venues in the Midwest KY Speedway. Host of the Quaker State 400 and I are working to expand even further in 2020. This growth only accelerated with the addition of Link ECU in our 2017 and we can’t thank the team enough!
Where are the events held?
Sportsdrome Speedway in Clarksville, IN is our “home track” and in our 2018 season we included KY Speedway in Sparta, KY on our map. 2020 will see the addition of 2 more venues and we can’t wait to explore those new opportunities.
What sort of cars compete at your events?
Our events include the full spectrum of drift machines, we get bone stock BMW’s and Z33’s still being driven daily all the way up to Formula Drift Pro2 chassis. We still want to host all skill levels and help drivers grow no matter what the driver is able to bring. This has helped us build an amazing community surrounding our events.
What is the format for the events?
We typically run one day events with the first and last rounds of the season as Two Day Bash style events with at track camping etc. Drivers run in single and tandem driving groups throughout the day and then we end with Comp Qualifying and Top 16 battles on the last 2 hours of the event. Our drivers compete for $5,000 USD in Link ECU championship prizes (1st-3rd place overall) as well as our Summer Throwdown event which carries an extra $2,000 in product credit for the winners of skill based drift games and tandem competition. We also have prize tiers from our partner companies such as Red Line Oil, for drivers to get their hands on.
What do you see in store for the future?
So far our goals are to continue to expand into unique and new venues for drifting as well as grow our driver field to include more new talent. Our competition side of the events will always co-exist with a more fun morning session to stick with our all around experience we are known for. As of now we have some new prospective changes but we’ll have to save those for later!
“We at Riverside Drift are a group of Enthusiasts running events FOR Enthusiasts, maximising seat time and supporting an ever more growing drivers field”
Thanks for your time, Ryan. Link ECU wishes all the best to the Riverside Drift Competitors for the remainder of the 2019 season.
All photos by Austin Hattabaugh