The car scene in Louisiana is dead. That’s a fact. But there is a resurgence in process. The resident group of drift hooligans known as NODRFT is leading the charge, alongside CZ Wheels and Low-Weezy-Ana who are also making noise for the great state (more on those two in later Q&A’s.)
NODRFT has been sliding and shredding tires in the streets of New Orleans since 2003 when Kim Tran and his motley crew of car friends were just amateurs in the art. I met up with a group of the NODRFT crew at one of their recent drift days, hosted at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, LA, and rode along for a little seat time with Kim Tran, Ian McDougall, Dominic Favalora, and Daniel “D-Bo” Bonilla.
SOUTHRNFRESH: Who were the original members of the group?
Kim Tran for NODRFT: NODRFT was originally myself, Lance Fitzhenry, Bradley Fitzhenry, Sumo Dinh, Steven Brolin, Chris Brandt, Squirrel, Daniel Bonilla, Pete Murdoch, Dominic Favalora, Tommy Thompson, and Rodney Prejean.
But today a lot of the members are stagnant, have families, or have broken/under construction cars for the effin longest.
SF: Who are the active members nowadays?
KT: Myself, Dominic, D-Bo, Steve Brolin, Ian McDougall and Chris Brandt.
SF: Back in 2003 there weren’t many sanctioned events, so where did you guys find space to practice?
KT: We first started going to OG events by a group who were once known as Texas’s first drift event hosts. An organization called “Daily Drifter/Grind101” who put on events at the Gulf Greyhound Park in League TX, Houston. (Both sentences are hard to understand and the second one isn’t a complete sentence.) But our first ever event was in the parking lot of a club in Houston called Club Hush. It was a super small event in back of the club’s parking lot. But that’s kind of how the bait/hook caught us. After Club Hush in ’05, we started going to more Daily Drifter events.
SF: Where’d you guys slide at in New Orleans when you weren’t in Texas?
KT: After our dose of Houston drifting, we came back to Nola and hit up our designated spots. We used to have a spot in Wagaman and after Hurricane Katrina there was a paved intersection leading to one of the brand new neighborhoods off of River Road. So 4 or 5 of us would head over there and slide the intersection for many hours into the night, but there’s people living in those houses now.
SF: Which do you find more entertaining: street drifting or sanctioned events?
KT: I really like doing events because the controlled environment lets you go harder and harder each time you go at it.
Street drifting is fun and cool and spur of the moment, but it can be costly if you go too hard and hit something. Been there, done that. And I won’t lie for noobs just messing around in the streets along with going to events are all fun and go hand in hand with helping a person learn the sport much better. Wasn’t sure what you wanted to say here either.
To me, it’s like playing organized basketball in a gym and playing pickup. You learn two ways to play and achieve certain skills that you can adapt when you play organized and street ball.
SF: Before Katrina hit, would you say the drift scene was booming or dead?
KT: Way back in ’03 it was still pretty much dead. The scene was pretty much just us since we all Auto-X our 240’s which were only a mod or two away from being drift-worthy.
I’d say the Nola drift scene started to boom when we were able to host sanctioned events in Belle Chase and Zephyr Field. But it’s funny because our group NODRFT had an overall mid-LA drift scene before even getting a New Orleans scene up and going. We had more people in Baton Rouge and Lafayette that were interested. That’s when we pushed for midnight madness drift events and drift/grip days that Cliff of IFO (Import Face Off) hosted, before Import Face Off went national.
SF: Since the NOLA Motorsports Park opened, what changes have you seen when planning an event?
KT: It made it much easier to get a drift day because Delta isn’t hosting drifting anymore. It also let us side step some of the silly rules they had in place, like we had to have a 60 foot distance between any poles, object, or crowd when making drift courses. That forced us to make setups that were “okay” for drifting, but not something super cool and fast like we’re used to when we go to out of state events.
It’s also given us a chance to expose the sport to more people. To turn a person into a crack head, you have to give them crack.
SF: Since the group’s first NMP event, there has been an emergence of many entry-level drifters. What advice can you give them?
KT: The most generalized advice without the BS is that to get good, you have to go FAST. There are so many different levels to the sport. Crawl before you walk, walk before you run.
SF: When you were just crawling, what was the hardest part of driving?
KT: It seems like the fun knob keeps turning up the better and better you get at drifting. First I practiced by myself. Then I started going to events and running the course somewhat good. Okay after a few months I’m good now. Then you have the itch and craving to learn how to tandem and the learning curve starts all over for you. But the hardest aspect of drifting for me to learn was counter steering and transitioning between drifts. Learning the feel and predicting the cars counter steer was difficult.
SF: What helped you grow into the drifter you are today?
KT: Well I originally started out with the mentality of “I want to keep my car in a super clean, nice, showy state” to a “man, my car just needs to look good in pics. I just want to drive the eff out of the car; fast, sideways, and scraping barriers.” Even though I still get bummed when I wreck, I understand it comes with the territory. I was watching videos from around the world and trying to mimic styles too, and that helped me learn the techniques.
SF: Where do you guys foresee NODRFT in the future?
KT: We want NODRFT to keep getting opportunities, whether it leads to pro level. We’re open to it, but for now were focusing on bringing back the drift scene that was left stagnant since 2010. We want to continue putting on events to get guys out there to learn and enjoy themselves and attract out-of-towners to help it all grow in this area. Shit, might as well, with this new track in our backyard.
We are pushing the group to become more of an event organizer and creating a separate brotherhood for a drift team. So be on the lookout for what’s to come from us.
NODRFT is just one part of the tripod of groups that are looking to promote the New Orleans car scene. Make sure to check out their Dooms Day Drift Event at Nola Motorsports Park on December 15 to see Kim Tran and the rest of the NODRFT in action. Or maybe try your hand at the sport or ride along with one of the members for free.
Big thank you to all the members of NODRFT, especially Kim, Dom, and D-Bo, as well as, Ian McDougall. Drift on.
“I can’t compare the 240 to the 350Z. Because the 240 is just so light and nimble, while the 350Z is like drifting a boat.” –NODRFT’s Ian Mcdougall
Thanks for looking