The Midwest drift scene has been buzzing about a new series announced recently, Turismo Drift. A series born from East10Drift/Louie Garza and Hooman Rahimi that promises some big payouts over four events in Tennessee. These payouts, $5,000 for first place each event are one of the reasons there has been a lot of talk around the new series. Manji Cartel sat down with Hooman and Louie to clarify some things as well as talk about what’s going on behind the scenes with Turismo Drift.
First off thank you guys for talking to us about Turismo Drift!
I guess we’re going to come right out of the gate with the big question, the one reason that there has been so much discussion about Turismo. Payouts. They’re big and they have potential drivers from not only the Midwest interested, but drivers across the country as well. People have tried to do payouts in the past and failed. How are you guys attacking this issue and if you can say anything about it where is the money coming from? Can you or will you be announcing any sponsors soon?
Hooman: Thank you for covering our series. Without the great outpouring of support from the media, drivers, and fans, none of this would be possible. The simple answer to your question is that we are venture backed and the money is secured. This means that the purse money is already there and not dependent on ticket sales or registrations. Those who sit on the sidelines because some other series didn’t pay will be watching other drivers take home the money. We completely understand the skepticism, but the purse will be paid whether 1 or 40 drivers compete. Our goal is to give back to drivers and encourage fierce competition. Not only will the drivers benefit, but spectators will have a better time too.
Louie: This is about the advancement of the sport. This is only the beginning. As we grow we plan to do it bigger and better every year! It’s funny hearing some of the comments with people trying to calculate ticket sales to see if we can payout the purse. We have a different philosophy and are investing in the sport. Drivers invest in their cars to make them better and we are investing in the sport to make it better. Those who share our philosophy will be rewarded. That’s why we made the purse payouts all the way through the top 16. Sponsors are not what is driving the funding. We have a lot invested in this, and are well respected in the local community. We would not jeopardize our name or reputation for money that is not guaranteed. That would mean repeating the mistakes of other series, and their mistakes are why you are even asking this question!
You guys recently released your rule book and competition format. The thing that peaked our interest is the new format you guys are following that was pioneered by Lone Star Drift. You’re getting rid of qualifying completely? We’re also really interested in how the Round 1 judging works for the initial seeds. Qualifying has been around in motorsports for a long time. Why change now?
How is judging going to go? Will it be similar to other drift events? Is it going to be the line, style, speed, and proximity determining factors?
Hooman: To advance the sport, we need to focus on both the driver and fan experience. Part of what we planned when creating Turismo Drift was a different style competition that betters the experience. Many fans we know who were not drift enthusiasts would come to events and not fully understand what was going on. One of the most uneventful parts of drifting has always been the solo qualifying runs. It also was subjective and not always accurate. To eliminate this part of the event we are taking a similar approach to Lone Star Drift’s format in terms of no qualifying but with a standard single elimination bracket setup. This does a few things. One, it gives every driver the ability to be part of the show. As a driver if you drive all the way down to an event and get in 4-5 practice laps, and then do not qualify, which has happened to me by just 1 or 2 points many times, it is not the most exciting feeling in the world. It cost a lot of money to get there, and in the end you didn’t really get to compete. Tandems are what competitions are about, not qualifying. Our format allows every driver a chance to compete, be part of the show, and to gain competition experience. It also makes it more exciting to watch very early in the day.
Louie: In terms of judging, we will have very similar judging for tandem battles as most drift events. Our goal is accurate judging and a quality competition. Proximity, line, speed, transition, and style will all be things looked at in the tandem battles. In terms of seeding drivers for the first event we are going to be looking at past performances of drivers in other series and any other information we receive to seed them as accurately as possible. The way in which our format works, this mostly only affects them for the first round and after that the seeding is based on series points. Since there are no points for qualifying position the starting seed positioning will not have as big as an effect. By basing subsequent seeding on earned series points, we encourage drivers to compete season long, but do not eliminate the possibility of running one event if space permits. The alternative would have been a lot of drivers sitting on the sidelines.
With that large payout you’ll probably be attracting the general enthusiast up to the semi-pro and pro drivers. What kind of drivers are you guys trying to attract for competition?
Hooman: Our goal is to attract any capable driver that wants to be part of this new ideology in drifting, and wants to pursue the purse. We are happy that we can accommodate both the newer guys on the block and the pros that have been around for a while. There is a large void right now for drivers who have the skill and not enough funding to travel from coast to coast for a small purse. We aim to keep growing this series to help eliminate that void, and give drivers something to shoot for that isn’t just a pipe dream with a lot of debt to follow. Drifting is an expensive sport, and most of that cost is being absorbed directly by the drivers. We are designing our series to give back and to #supportthedrivers.
We see you have 40 season passes for sale now for $800. How many drivers do you have currently signed up and if they don’t get one of the 40 passes will they still have a chance to compete? Are you doing any event by event registration?
Louie: We sold about 40% of the passes in the first week and anticipate that all 40 will be purchased. Because we are building a series, we prefer that drivers compete in all of the events. We are giving them the incentive of a reduced price. The season pass discount almost makes one of the events free! The only way to guarantee a spot at each event is with the pass. We are focusing on driver experience and will not cram individual drivers just to sell extra registrations. Each event will have a capacity between 40-50 drivers, so if season passes fill the event then we will not sell single event entries for that specific event. We designed the season pass to cost nearly the same as attending 3 events, so a driver could miss one event and still get their money’s worth. And those who place in the top 16 essentially get more than their money back for each event!
What about spectators? How much will it be to attend a Turismo Drift event and what kind of access will they have to the drivers/pits beyond the normal spectator areas?
Louie: General admission for spectators will go on sale soon for $15 if you pre-buy or $20 at the door. We will also have pit passes available at each event. There will be kids’ activities too, and each venue will have some unique surprises.
What’s your overall plan with Turismo Drift? Where do you see it going in the next couple years? Beyond that? Do you see it expanding outside of Tennessee?
Louie: We have plans to continue to grow, increase the purse, and expand driver/fan experience. We want to be known for great events and great competition. We definitely anticipate expanding past TN and the Southeast.
Do you have any final thoughts for people out there that are reading or thinking about signing up for Turismo Drift this season?
Louie: If you are considering signing up we will be glad to have you! Our recommendation is running the whole season and buying a season pass to guarantee your spot. We have sold almost half the spots so far! We are excited and expecting an epic season and we can’t wait!
Thank you both for sitting down with us for this little pre season interview! We are looking forward to seeing what Turismo Drift brings to the table this year! For announcements and other details make sure you give them a follow on Facebook!
Photos by : JDR Media
Stay up to date at ManjiCartel.com