Drift Shifters returns, location and first drivers announced

Red Bull Athlete ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett has confirmed Red Bull Drift Shifters will return in 2018 following a four-year hiatus.


This year’s event will take place in Liverpool, England for one day on August 19. The electronically judged drift competition will take place on the streets set to the backdrop of the Royal Liver Building.


The location is the same place where parts of the move franchise Fast & Furious 6 were filmed.


With the location announcement comes confirmation of the first international drifter to join the long awaited event. Joachim Waagaard of Norway will contest the one-day event in his 633kW BMW M4.


Joining Whiddett and Waagaard will be New Zealanders Gaz Whiter of Dargaville and Whangarei drifter ‘Fanga’ Dan Woolhouse. Whiter got given the chance to compete this year after he won the last edition of Mad Mike’s Summer Bash.


Watch the announcement trailer below:


Woolhouse will bring with him his Formula DRIFT-specification Ford Mustang RTR Spec 5D. The former Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship drift king this year debuted the new car and is quickly getting to grips with it.  


Whiddett said he’s excited to bring back the competition, which he believes will be a big step up on the last two.


“It’s going to be fricking next level,” Whiddett told velocitynews.co.nz.


“In 2014 we improved it and then we were like what’s next. It had to be next level. I wasn’t going to do one every year annually just for the sake of it. We had this opportunity to go to this next level which is going to be really freaking cool.”


Another eight drifters will be announced in the three months to come. Whiddett said he’s not so much focused on the drifters with the best results, but those who can put on the best show.


He cited former full time drifter Hugo McLean and Swede Samuel Hübinette, two drifters with plenty of style and ‘wild’ cars.


“He wasn’t even near the top-16 in competition, but he had charisma. His car had heaps of character and he was a cool young dude. He was perfect.


“It’s not just about having the best drivers. Of course I want the best for competition as well, but it’s really about showcasing our sport and having all these different styles of cars.


“It’s the hardest part for me, picking the drivers. We’ve got literally every driver who wants to be in the show. That’s humbling that people want to be part of it.”


Photo: Miles Holden


The concept behind Drift Shifters is simple and fundamentally makes it easier to understand for spectators.


Sensors around the circuit are outlined to the drifters, which measure speed, angle and proximity. The drivers then have to complete the course in a limited amount of time and hit as many sensors as possible and racking combo points.


That simplicity is what Whiddett said makes the event easy to watch and enjoyable.


“We created an event that has no judging and is fully automated—that’s Drift Shifters. It’s just a giant pinball machine, has all the sound effects and big screen.


“At the first one, our son Lincoln was four. He and his mates could fully understand with the scores and the count down.”


Red Bull are anticipating 10,000 spectators will attend the event, which is only the third edition in Drift Shifters history.


Whiddett will also be competing in Formula DRIFT Japan later this year, alongside running Drift Shifters, Drift Force days, Summer Bash and a return to the Goodwood Festival of Speed.


Photo: Miles Holden