How did you get into the drifting scene?
My dad was into grassroots rallycross when I grew up and he was a fantastic driver, but with two kids and limited money he never got to be in competitive cars and build a career out of it. He was working a lot too, and I didn't see him that much, growing up. When I turned 12, he was able to take me gokarting and that ended up being a father/son activity that created a very strong bond. But instead of looking up to the fastest drivers, I always ended up admiring the drivers that had the most control in the wet, or the drivers with the most style and "flair". And when I discovered drifting one late night browsing the early internet, by finding an old video of Japanese legendary drifter Katsuhiro Ueo, I fell in love with the sport instantly. I was in awe with how he was whipping the car around, sideways.
What is it that you love about drifting?
I've often said "drifting is the art of controlling a car that's out of control". I think there's something magical about taming an animal, or in this sense, a car into doing something it wasn't really made to do. I remember randomly ending up at on of the first Gatebil festivals at Rudskogen, around 1998-99, which happened to share the pits with the gokart families that were there to practice on the small track. There was an old Volvo 142 drifting and linking the entire big track and the announcer was going bonkers, hyping the crowd to the max. That moment was almost life changing for me. I saw and heard the spectacle and remember thinking to myself "I want to do that".
What makes a perfect drift car?
First, there's no magic number when it comes to horsepower. You only need enough power to overcome the grip of the car, so that means the real defining factor of a drift car is the grip level needed to win the competition or the battle. We always change and "chase" the perfect setup depending on conditions and what we're learning along the way, we run a lot wedge, dynamic alignments, and so forth, which are fairly advanced setup theories. But the theory behind it is simple: We want to have a lot of margin in the car, which leads to the highest chance of pulling out of any situation that gets thrown at you. We want as much steering lock as possible, as much as grip as possible while still keeping the car somewhat easy to drive and easy to place, we want as much torque, rpm range, drivability as possible, we want better braking capabilities so we can dive in harder behind other drivers, and the list goes on. A lot of these things cancel each other out, so car setup is always about finding the best compromise.
How do you make sure your car stays in a perfect condition when it has to endure so much?
There is no secret that drifting is really hard on the cars, especially when it comes to the engine and the drivetrain. We're pushing well over 1000 horsepower, and they get used hard: We keep the engines on the rev limiter lap after lap, we're clutch kicking, there's limited time to heat up the drivetrain before a run, and so forth. The secret to making this all work is to use the best parts and lubricants out there, which aren't really that hard to find: You just look for the most passionate people in the business, because they really care about making their stuff work. Rymax Lubricants is in deed one of those companies. After we started using their lubricants, and especially their engine and transmission oils, we haven't had a single failure.
What does your training look like?
Motorsports get expensive quickly, and drifting is no exception. Keep in mind we go through a brand new set of specially formulated tires in 50 seconds... So for me, the best practice is the ice driving we do in the winter back home in Norway. With properly studded tires, you get almost the same grip level as in the summer, but it's a lot lighter on the cars so you get tons of seat time in a day. I try to clock around 15 days of ice drifting before the season starts in April/May.
What would you advice people who want to become a professional drifter?
The biggest thing is knowing and understanding that you have an intense, very strong wish, almost like a calling in life, to become a professional drifter. There are so many skilled drivers out there that it'll take a lot of dedication to make it happen. If you know within yourself that you have that drive, then be smart and analytical. Dissect what the best guys and girls are doing well, and also what they are not doing well. Learn by watching, while at the same prioritize becoming a very skilled driver. Being a good driver with an understanding of competition is more important than pretty looking cars. Build a team of friends that all want to succeed together, and win as a team. Only with others can you achieve greatness. Good luck - and enjoy the ride!
- Fredric Aasbø, Formula Drift Champion