Wade van Zummeren Interview

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Wade is an extremely multi-talented racing driver. He competes across disciplines in Regional Rallying, International Drifting and in the national WesBank V8 Supercar series. He is highly competitive in all the arenas but he is most well-known for skill and success as a drifter.

I got him to sit down and answer a few questions on his extremely impressive racing resume. There is a lot to come from this softly spoken and extremely humble racing driver and his nature immediately makes you a fan. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

How has drifting grown in the last few years? What do you think is the biggest influence on this growth?

Drifting has taken off tremendously around the world; i think for the spectators it’s very exciting for them to watch as it’s a close and direct view.

Racing the V8’s, how has that been? What have been highlights for you in racing in this series?

It has been a great experience and i have learned a lot. I had a Topcar interview when i was competing in WesBanks v8s. I enjoy v8s as you can travel at high speeds and get to race at different tracks around South Africa

What is the biggest difference between drifting and track racing?

In drifting you are being judged and you need to follow the judging procedure to get points etc. With drifting, if you have a problem with your car during qualifying and you don’t qualify, then you are out but in racing you can still start at the back and work your way up. The biggest difference for me is to remember in drifting that it is not always about going as fast as possible, which is the point of track racing.

How good is the local drift scene?

In East London there are not many competitors as there are no drifting events here and and you cannot practice here as the track is a national road. There is now the SupaDrift series which has seven events at Zwartkops this year.

What was it like taking on the challenge and competing in Japan?

It was a great experience to drive there and see how they do things. They keep things simple and get straight to the point

First time in Japan was with a team like Team Orange. It must have been extremely intimidating, what was it like for you?

Yes it was intimidating as the best drivers in the world were there. It is enjoyable though as you gain experience and confidence

Having 7 tracks on their premises must have felt worlds away from anything local racing offers but also meant you had an opportunity to learn a lot quickly. Was this true for you?

Yes definitely, lots and lots of practice, good for driving experience

What was it like competing in the Street Legal Grand Prix?

It was challenging and nerve wracking

Competing against the D1 drivers, what makes them as good as they are?

They practice every day and they know exactly what the judges are looking for.

Qualifying 30th at the West Course Street Legal Drift was quite an achievement, what helped with your performance?

Sleepy from Japan/Team Orange was a big help as he always gave me advice after the practice and I had my dads support.

World Drift Summit sounds like it was a lot of fun and a competition you excelled in. Finishing 4th must have felt amazing. Talk us through this result?

I enjoyed that competition; it gave me an opportunity to see how South Africa’s driving is in comparison to the rest of the world. We all had more or less the same kind of car. We used Team Orange cars and we all drew from a hat to decide which car to drive. I qualified 2nd on the day. I went out in the semi-finals.

The car I was driving had the least power and I could go through the first corner in 3rd. It caused quite a stir with the other drivers as they thought the car had more power. They had to call a meeting in which Team Orange said the car I was driving had the least power. I felt good about that.

Taking back a Bride Seat to South Africa must have been a hilarious experience!

That was def tiring! Thanks though to Kosie Weyers, he helped me carry that box around! The train stations are huge and you always need to go up and down the escalators. The streets of Tokyo are so jam packed. I bumped into a bicycle and the whole row of them fall down like dominoes. There are only two Bride seats like ours in South Africa, mine and Sean.

Finishing 9th at the Gaijin Grand Prix (an event where foreigners can enter) was an amazing result and taking a driver with 5 years of experience to ‘one more time’ must have been a wonderful experience! Talk us through this event and for you going back to Japan, has it made you a different and better drifter?

It was amazing. In this race we had to use our own car, I was a bit worried to use my car as they say sometimes it’s like a demolition derby but it was not like that and everyone respected each other. It was good to challenge my driving ability against some very talented drivers. It gave me an outlook on how I must improve in order to win one day 😉 I learned a great deal in Japan.

Matsouri, where there are 7 tracks to race on over 48 hours is an event I think that locally we can hardly fathom, what was it like for you and why was the mountain track so much fun?

It feels like you are on a rally stage, it’s up and down short hairpin drop offs where you cannot make a mistake. There are also blind corners where you need to be committed as you are going sideways through the bends. It was the most exciting and most difficult track to drive

Do you see more local drivers coming through that can compete in events like the Gaijin Grand Prix?

There were two other South Africans with us, Sean and Kosie. They enjoyed it and we all had lots of fun. They also competed. We would not have been there if it were not for Jody Powell, he organised the driving in Japan, he is always trying to get more South Africans to compete. It would be great to see more drivers go over to compete, there is a lot of talent in South Africa, we need more sponsors for South African drivers, and I am blessed to have my dad supporting my dream.

Racing both skills – Drifting and track racing, where do you see the future of local motorsport?

In my opinion, local motorsport is not in a good place at the moment. The gap between cars is way too big, the bigger your budget the better and faster your car. It is therefore not always about driving skills and the sport is not accessible to a lot of people. Also a lot of sponsors are dropping out of the sport due to financial constraints. In East London itself, there are very few regional competitors, hopefully there will be more people that will get involved and stay positive about promoting motorsport.

I think drifting puts excitement back into motorsport, as it is close and quick so the drivers and spectators have a lot more fun competing and watching all the action. Drifting is not always about the speed and the faster cars. It is also about angle, driving angle and showmanship. The future of drifting in South Africa looks promising at the moment; there are a lot of enthusiastic people promoting drifting. It definitely brings a new aspect and concept to motorsport.

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