Two weeks ago I was at Pattaya, Thailand for a test of the new Michelin Energy XM2 tyre (which I will blog about in a later post). Extending my trip for two more nights after that, I returned to Bangkok and stayed on to meet up with friends like Max and Eve, as well as catch a glimpse into the Thai drifting scene.
For the three days I was in Bangkok, I went to BRC every single day. BRC is Bangkok Racing Circuit, a place where the local Thai drifters practise and also a common venue for local Thai drift events. It’s not the most glamourous track I’ve been to, but it is definitely better than Singapore where there is no such place to practise drifting. It’s a go-kart track as well as a bike racing track, with lots of grassy areas to run off on.
On the first day I was there, I had the opportunity to meet Pete (Thanapol) Thongchua, a famous Thai celebrity who has since retired from the acting circle but has always been active in the motorsports scene. He was filming the third episode of his new cable TV series “Test It? with Pete” and he invited Joe PTT (Wattanaporn Phungpearn) of the PTT Performa Achilles Drift Team to battle with him in their drift cars. Don’t know who Joe PTT is? He’s the one who drifts the ‘police car’!
Too bad I can’t understand a word they are saying as I can’t speak Thai at all! I had to wait until Pete was done filming before I could interview him so I spent the next few hours entertaining myself by taking photos of the production.
In case you are feeling that something is not right with Joe’s car, you’re right! His police lights are missing from the top of his car; he had them removed as his car is being used in a local drama serial that he is currently starring in. His role is as some mafia so he can’t be seen escaping with a police car!
I was roaming the grasslands and finding the best spot to shoot as they took different lines around the track for their drift battle. I couldn’t speak to the cameramen as they don’t know English and I don’t know Thai so I just sat around waiting.
Pete only started competing in drifting last year, although he learnt it in 1997 from Kumakubo. He has driven for several works team and is now driving for Mazda and PTT.
He’s 43 years old, a father of three children (two daughters and a son called Rotor as in rotary engines) but yet he still exudes that charm and charisma. I can only imagine how much of a heartbreaker he was when he was younger. Just before they wrapped up filming, I had some fun shooting pictures of the boys.
Their relationship is quite special: Pete’s company was the one that brought Initial D the movie into Thailand back in 2005 and he had a roadshow for it which Joe attended. Joe fell in love with drifting the moment he watched Initial D and he was keen to learn it.
Pete was already sponsored by PTT then and Joe was introduced to Pete by PTT as a potential new kid on the block. Joe told me he was over the top when he was introduced to Pete, who later became his mentor. Joe proved enough potential and talent to then be recruited by PTT as their first drifter.
The two of them are like brothers despite being almost two decades apart.
Finally filming wrapped up and I got the chance to sit in Pete’s car as he took me sideways around BRC.
Joe also took me around in his drift car, but his car was having some problems so he couldn’t really keep the line.
Btw, Pete likes pink too! Not as excessively and obsessively as I do but enough to make me notice it.. He was wearing pink shades and check out his helmet:
Well, Pete is such a cool dude that he can pull off not just pink, but probably fish net stockings too.. erm ok, maybe not.
Amm and Non of the M150 Overdrive drift team were also there, but only Amm was drifting as Non stood on the side to watch and advise. I think they are really fortunate that they have places to legally practise drifting and they can spend hours on end going out to test their car settings and get their lines right. Our poor Singaporean drifters have nowhere to practise at all!
The next day I went back to BRC again and Amm was there too, along with the Big Cola Goodyear team drifters Pop and Nakorn.
Mick of the PTT Performa Achilles Drift Team, basically Joe’s team-mate, was also there practising but his gearbox blew on him within the first few minutes on track so he spent a lot of time waiting for it to be done before he could go out again.
When I arrived his car was alright and so he took me out for a round!
His nickname Mick was derived from Mickey Mouse, which was really popular during the time he was born so his mum decided to give that nickname to him. Hence the back of his helmet has a picture of Mickey Mouse!
I’ve only ever seen Mick clad in a racing suit the whole time at Formula Drift Singapore. Apparently he just finished a two-week vegetable and soup diet, trimming down his tummy in the process as he couldn’t fit into his suit upon returning to Bangkok after FD Singapore! Well done, maybe I should go on a vegetable and soup diet too…
His drift car is a happy pink; its shade close to the pink that I like. But he is changing the colour of his drift car as the fortune teller told him pink is not a lucky colour for him! Man, that sucks…
Ok his car looks kinda red here but I suspect it’s the lighting of the sun.. it really is pink!
On my last day of the trip I was back at BRC again but this time no familiar faces. It was a Friday and the track was relatively quieter than the previous two days when I visited.
There were other Thai drifters there, apparently this pair of Thai Airways drifters were pilots of the local airline, and a female Thai drifter too. Wow, I wish I could go drifting too!
Anyway, that concluded my three-day BRC visit and a little insight into the local Thai drifting world. I hope to have a chance to visit the various Thai drift team’s workshops as well as visit some of the drifters’ homes to see what they are like off the track and outside of their suits.
I’ll be back in Thailand next week for yet another tyre test – this time it’s the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric II in Hua Hin, before I return to Bangkok for Round 3 of the All Star Professional Drift Thailand series. I’ve never watched a drift competition in Thailand before – I unfortunately missed both rounds of Formula Drift Thailand the last two years – and I am looking forward to indulge in their rich drifting scene.. I will bring back great photos and a report, I promise!