Drifting – Fast Cars, burning rubber, fur coat, helmet and trainers.

I have always loved the 2 Fast 2 Furious franchise.  2 Fast 2 Furious Number 2 TokyoDrift is my total favourite.  It is about drifting. The best explanation for Drifting is from Urban Dictionary:

 “How to aim one’s car at a wall and miss it completely; drifting is the opposite of grip-driving, which involves taking a corner without sliding. This can be done without any regard to horsepower, weight, or any other factors. Essentially this means any car can drift, however, some cars are more apt to ‘powerslide’ than driftDrifting originated in Japan, thus most cars used to drift are Japanese.”

HEALTH WARNING: Drifting is not for the faint of heart, the poor, or those who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant.

Through a friend on Facebook, I found out about drifting in Pallas Karting – which is a race track literally 25 minutes down the road from me.  They had a Drift Club practice meet on a Saturday just after Christmas.  They advertised free passenger rides if you come early enough.  I got my lovely friend (who watches all the 2 Fast 2 franchise with me) to come to the drift meet with me. We were totally excited. There was a very reasonable entrance fee , we went in and the roar of engines and screeching of tyres filled our ears.  I was super excited to get out of my white van go to the canteen clubhouse type area and ask about the ‘free ride’.  We got a cup o’ builders tea and a sausage bap (I am really trying hard to be a vegetarian/vegan but sometimes you have to settle for food made from anything with a face).  There were male and female drivers and owners, and they were all super friendly to us.

I spoke to the slightly age-inappropriate looking Jay and told him that I didn’t want to go for a ‘passenger ride’ with any young lads. He said that most of the lads were the same age as him, 36! So that worry resolved, off he went to try and get me the ride.

We headed trackside to watch the racing. Well, we weren’t quite sure if it was racing or just going around and around the track.  It didn’t matter, the tunes were banging from massive speakers and it was really interesting to watch the different makes and types of cars, as well as the techniques drivers were showing off.  Though one car did look like a family saloon that hat gotten lost on the way to Tesco and ended up on the track… The laps were pretty fast. In fact, bits of rubber flew over the fence and landed smoking at my feet – how cool was that! I literally squealed with delight (in a very literary Enid Blighton, Malory Towers kind of way – and I hadn’t even had any ginger beer!)

After watching all morning, we decided to head into the canteen area for a soya mocha vegan decaf. Unsurprisingly, we had to settle for builders tea and curried chips. The last time I had curried chips I was 15 years and hanging out at the shops drinking Thunderbird red (red Thunderbird one had a stronger alcohol content, which was v relevant at the time).  As we ate, we sat next to some more age inappropriate boys and I got chatting with them about 2 Fast 2 Furious!!! I could tell they were all impressed with my drift knowledge by the way they rolled their eyes and laughed a lot.  Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed in the young fellas’ cars as they didn’t have roll bars. These are metal bars running up the sides and across the top of a vehicle, especially used in motorsport, which strengthen the vehicle frame and protect the occupants if the vehicle overturns. What a pity!

After our ‘meal’ we went outside to get the free ride.  The drift laps were looking super fast and some of the cars had bits hanging off of them –  just their bumpers and other non-essential bits like that. I was informed that there was a slow lap coming up (however, I think they just told this to me for the craic).  The lovely  Jay was outside, asking me had I got the ride yet.  I replied that I was waiting for the ‘slow lap’.  He just looked at me.  Hmmm.

I waited a bit more, and whiled away some time dancing and also dodging the flying rubber. I then decided that I was just too scared.  So we called it a day and the decision was unanimous to just actually practice the drifting on the road home!  We made a pact to come back to the next drift meet in a month’s time, where I would defo get the ride!

FAST FORWARD TO THE NEXT DRIFT MEET….

So it was the Bank holiday weekend, yippee!! I arranged to meet my friend and sister at the drift track that afternoon. It was cold so I wore runners, yoga pants, tracksuit, six layers of upper clothes and a recycled fur coat.  I didn’t even forward plan as to think what outfit goes with a helmet or post-ride helmet hair.  I was the first one there so I got the obligatory cup o’ tea and had a chat with the lads about the passenger ride.  I was told that Alan* would sort me out.

As I waited, I watched the cars drift round and round. The smell of burning rubber (now impregnating my hair and clothing) came back to me from last time. I love it!  I decided that I was just going to go for it, despite how scared I was. But who would film me? Who would carry my pleather black-with-gold-trim clutch-from-Penneys, and most importantly, who would upload me onto social media????

Hooray; then my ‘crew’ turned up, and social media channels breathed a sigh of relief.

I was ready to go!  I was given a silver helmet – which (thank goodness) matched my tracksuit bottoms and my runners.  I had to take my recycled fur coat off and  I was strapped in at the crotch area which was totally appropriate apparently.  There was a massive sticky uppy gear stick up high in the middle of the BMW 3 series. We screeched out of the pits and on to the track.  My friends said they could hear me scream from track-side!

I proceeded to scream.

There was burning tyre rubber coming up through the car floor, come to think of it I wasn’t sure if the car had a floor.  The driver flung the car around the track, skilfully drifting from one side to another at top speed.

I was still screaming.

Then we went round and round and round!  I thought we had broken down but it was called a doughnut!  I loved it and screamed even more.  Wizzed round the track a couple more times, screaming, laughing and non-stop smiling!  What an experience.  When I we came to a stop and I was released from my crotch belt. I was totally ecstatic.  This must be what it feels like to give birth! It was a life experience!  I thanked the driver and all the lads profusely and ran to the canteen/club house, screaming ‘I got da ride!’

They were all super happy for me.

I drove home in a state of wonderment and with burn smelling rubber hair, with a big fat grin on my face.

I would like to thank the super friendly, hospitable, helpful people at Pallas Karting.  And would definitely recommend it as a fun day out!  They do all sorts of events and are very active through Facebook.  I would also like to thank my friend Bonnie Boyle and my sister who shared the experience with me. I would also like to thank my other friend who asked me if I ‘was the oldest person there?’

The answer is ‘no’ 💗

XXX

BitchMittens Ellen.

 

EDITOR’S NOTES. 

At BitchMittens HQ, we have skydivers, jockers, climbers, runners, jockeys and more. But Ellen takes the trophy for MOST SHIT DONE IN ONE MONTH. Emily once went bouldering and kayaking in the same month. But Ellen’s gone angling and drifting in the same week. She wins. #Badass #2Fast2Furious.

We love her!

*Alan’s name has been changed to protect his identity plus the fact Ellen cannot remember his actual name. (Sorry Alan!)

Please note that PBM does not endorse getting into fast cars with strange boys!

Women’s Day?

This is a first post from amateur jockey and professional academic Emma Lyons – another remarkable woman we’ve added to the stable of cliché-crunching, stereotype-stomping bloggers in the Princess Pit!

Here she gets the bit between her teeth about the sport of racing, and how women still have many hurdles to face, when it comes to being recognised for the contributions.

 

International Women’s Day?

Not at Cheltenham it wasn’t.

 

I’ve been planning on putting pen to paper regarding perspectives on women in sport for too long. While I tend to make an effort when training, unfortunately I do procrastinate when sitting down to put my thoughts on paper.

 

However, the recent controversy regarding the women’s senior soccer team with the FAI spurred me into doing what I’ve been thinking about for quite some time: blogging about how women in my sport, that of horse racing, are celebrated. (or not!)

 

I’m an avid horse racing enthusiast and I was lucky enough to achieve one of my life’s goals: getting my amateur jockey’s licence and to ride in Punchestown (as well as many point-to-points). For me, there was absolutely nothing like it: the speed, the thrill and the energy!

 

So, given my love of the sport, and the ever-increasing involvement, success and recognition of women such as Rachel Blackmore (first female professional jockey in many years) jockeys Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh; trainers Jessica Harrington and Sandra Hughes and Aintree Grand National winning trainer, Lucinda Russell, I was curious to see what racing themed posts would be published online and on Twitter about International Women’s Day.

 

What did I find?

Nothing.

 

No reference to Irish Women’s Day, no reference to our sporting heroines, and no reference to the entries in Cheltenham with strong “female” connections – either those trained by, or to be ridden by a female. None of the prominent and widely followed sites, TV channels, reporters or race courses made any mention of International Women’s Day.

 

Well, not quite nothing.

There was this, from one of the race course Twitter accounts.

A picture of a glammed up “lady” advertising an upcoming race day.

Not quite what I was hoping for.

 

Seriously?

Seriously?

 

Another race course did make reference to a female of a different type – the horse equivalent – Benie Des Dieux who won a mares race last year. And that was it! No other references to International Women’s Day or women in the sport.

 

International Women’s Day occurred in the week before the Cheltenham Festival which is the pinnacle of the jump racing season. During the build up, all sport media channels devote a lot of air time, column inches and social media bytes covering the entries, the favourites and the fancies.

 

For the 2017 festival, there was a strong contingent of female trainers and jockeys. However, apart from the jaded references to Ladies Day (which include tips and suggestions such as what designer dress and tan to wear while going to the races), there was no celebration or promotion on International Women’s Day of the hopeful female jockeys, trainers and owners.

 

Lizzie Kelly was the first female entrant in the Gold Cup since 1984 (The Gold Cup is the biggest steeplechase event in the world).

 

Jessica Harrington became the 3rd women to train a winner of the Gold Cup, She also had two more winners over the festival, and as of 26th April, Jessica is the Irish Grand National, Cheltenham and Punchestown Gold Cups winning trainer for 2017.

 

Briony Fox won the Foxhunter Hunter Chase, the amateur equivalent of the Gold Cup which makes her the third successive female winner in three years (Another amazing female jockey, Nina Carberry won the 2016 and 2015 races).

 

Briony Frost after winning the Foxhunter hunter chase

Briony Frost after winning the Foxhunter hunter chase

 

Horse Racing is a sport that receives great public attention, and provides employment and enjoyment for the public, owners, trainers, jockeys, stable-staff and breeders (both male and female). The increased role of women in racing was really noticeable in the 2017 festival.

 

Given that horse racing is one of the few sports where men and women compete equally, it would have been nice to see, in the floods of of media coverage and commentary during Cheltenham, some reference to International Women’s Day. It would have been a lovely way to recognise the significant contribution women have made in the drama, interest and and success of the sport I love.

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