As we’ve been regulars at Santa Pod for a few years now, and spend a lot of our time helping new drivers get to DWYB, I thought it would be a good idea to write up a quick guide to all we think you need to know before you come!
Drift What Ya Brung is a very friendly place, and a fantastic place to learn the basics of drifting right through to twinning on the top track. Everyone’s willing to give a hand, hints and tips and stuff, and chatty around the pits so there’s no need to be nervous of being new!
Make sure the car is prepared as you would for heading to the track. You want to make sure you’ve got your coolant and oil topped up, and if the car is due a service soon, it’s best to do so before coming to DWYB. You’ll be working the engine pretty hard so make sure the oil is up to it.
You’re going to want to make sure you’ve got some spare wheels and tires to go on, and bring as many as you can. For your first day in the play pens you’ll probably only get through 2 pairs, if that, but the last thing you want is not to have enough tyres to play on.
I’d also recommend you make sure the handbrake is working well, if it’s not holding the car very well I’d adjust it beforehand so it’s good again.
Make sure the radiator is decent, your coolant hoses aren’t old and weak, and your fans are working properly. Drifting is high heat, low speed, so your radiator fans will be doing more work than they do on track!
Finally, it’s worth making sure your clutch pedal is adjusted right. If you’re right up the top of the travel you might want to set your free play and make sure the clutch isn’t going to slip.
What to Bring
Tires: As said before, a few spare pairs on wheels is ideal, you may well not use them all. For an MX-5 it’s possible to fit one in the boot, two in the passenger seat and one behind it, if you don’t want to carry them outside the vehicle. Mint Tyres are on site and can provide and swap tyres on the day so don’t worry too much if you don’t have enough yourself.
Fluids: Bring some spare fluids with you, oil to top up if needed, and coolant certainly. If you have a really hot run the car may bubble some coolant out of the reservoir so it’s handy to be able to top up if that does happen! If you have Power Steering, it’s likely to bubble over and you may want to top up afterwards, though it’s not a requirement to have with you.
Spares: You shouldn’t need much, I tend to bring things I’ve broken out on track previously, but I do like to carry a set of accessory belts. If one of yours is going to go, it’ll probably do so when you’re working the power steering hard! Bring any parts that you’re worried about.
A full tank of fuel! The MX-5 is fantastically frugal, and unless you’re running Forced Induction you can usually get to Pod, have a full day’s drifting, and get home again on the one tank. There are petrol stations near-ish to Pod, but nothing right on the doorstep.
Driving Licence: You’ll need this to sign on, so make sure you have it with you!
Ticket: Don’t forget the ticket to get in! 🙂
Helmet (optional): If you want to run on the top track with the roof down, you need a helmet. Otherwise having the roof up or being in the playpens it is not necessary.
Some cash! As well as for getting tyres swapped at Mint Tyres, and Sue’s cafe on site, our friends at Blackett Photography are the resident photographers. Ian and his wife will be out all day taking pictures of the cars and the shots they get are fantastic so if you’ve had a good day you’ll want to buy some of them! The cash machine at pod charges, so I would bring about £40 or so with you for all eventualities.
Format of the Day
Give yourself plenty of time to get there, the driver’s briefing is usually around 10am, but it’s worth getting there before 9 to give yourself plenty of time to unload the car, swap tyres over and talk to Mint if you need anything swapping. We’ll often aim for 8.30 to give us plenty of time to chat and hang out with the other people there.
You’ll then get the hilarious brief at 10am from Lex, the DWYB man, where he will tell you the basics of how to DWYB, and at the end you can book on with him for a bit of free tuition and tips.
Drifting then begins until around 4pm, with a half hour break for lunch. This is where you are free to decide what you want to do and where you want to go!
Layout and Tracks
Here’s an aerial view of Santa Pod, with the areas drawn overlaid:
I’ve also labelled each of the tracks and below you’ll find a little bit more information about them. I thought I’d make some videos as well so you can see exactly what kind of thing you’ll be looking at. We don’t tend to use the playpens much any more, but luckily I had some footage of all of them from when Nick brought his RX8 to learn as well, so I hope you enjoy those!
The Pens (Self Marshalled, ~4 minutes at a time)
The Donut Pen
This is the starting point for someone who is new to drifting. It’s a large square box with a couple of cones in, designed to give you a space to get used to sliding the car and controlling it on the edge. We suggest you start off by just doing some donuts around a cone until you can keep the car sliding comfortably. Then, work on widening the donut until you can slide all the way around both cones in a wide arc, and then back to tightening the circle again. Try this in both directions until you feel comfortable. Most people find that they can do it better clockwise than anti clockwise… (I wonder why that is? 😉 ) so make sure you practice both ways as the top track is mostly anti-clockwise corners.
The Playpens (x3)
The next step up from the donuts, these are all the same, though slightly different sizes and shapes, a longer stretch of tarmac with a pair of cones in each. Here, you can move up from donuts to practicing figure of 8s, getting in some transitions and a few basic entries dialled. This is where you want to spend the majority of the day practicing as there’s a lot you can learn here, in your own time, at your own pace and without the pressure of a crowd watching on. Once you get the hang of it, if you don’t feel up to the kidney just yet, try mixing it up and linking together lots of different kinds of slides, do a couple of little donuts then try to hang it out wide and take both cones in one, just have a play and get comfortable with sliding! In these pens you will mostly be using 1st gear, though it is possible in 2nd.
The Kidney Track
Bigger again than the playpens, this track is a little higher speed. Here you can really get into dialling in entries, transitions, handbrake entries and scrubbing off speed. This is a good goal for the end of the day, to try and feel ready to get a run in the kidney! There tends to be a queue for this one, it is sometimes marshalled but mostly left to self-marshal. It’s not high speed, but you can do pretty much every technique you want to in this track, still on your own without the pressure of other cars. I like to run this track in both directions, doing a few runs clockwise, then spin the car around and do some anti-clockwise. Trust me, it’s very different in the other direction! I mostly run this area is 1st gear, though more powerful cars can do this in 2nd.
This is the last stop on your drifting tour at Santa Pod, 4-6 cars run at once here, and you’re out with a mix of experienced drifters and newbies together. As a first timer you probably don’t want to be out here unless you’ve brought a missile or are feeling super confident in your skills. If you want to run and give yourself some space, hang back at the start and let everyone else disappear into the distance. There’s a mixture of slow and fast corners with a variety of lines and techniques possible, and the marshals are always on hand to give some tips to you. All of us are drifters too, and we’re happy to help out new drivers. 🙂
One thing to note is that the very fast corner on this track has a nasty bump on the inside that can cause the car to grip up and veer off towards the wall if you’re not experienced enough to compensate. I suggest you don’t drift this corner until you feel you’ve got everything else nailed, as we’ve seen a few cars written off here!
I’ve picked a nice wet lap for this video, as everything in the wet happens in slow motion, so it’s a lot easier to take in and will give a good ‘tour’ of the track. Also I use a few different techniques in the video, there’s a clutch kick near the start of the onboard, a mini flick at the top hairpin and some handbrake action too.
Help and Tips
We’ll be around all day with a view to helping you guys out! Seriously, I can’t stress this enough, don’t worry about asking questions, asking us to come out with you to watch and teach, or asking to jump in with us for some runs. The DWYB days are there for you to learn, and that’s why the marshalling team works hard to run them. All of us are drifters as well and are there running these days for your benefit, they’re always willing to help out if you need anything and will be happy to give you advice. We’re ourselves are not Championship level Dori Kings, but we’ve been where you are and want to help everyone out! There are also Drift Cup and BDC drivers in the team, so there is plenty of experience on hand.
Myself (red MX-5), Matt (green MX-5) and Milton (black MX-5 with Panda Graphics) are at most of the DWYBs and are very friendly.
Blackett (the photographer) is also an MX-5 pro running with the Underdog guys, so if he sees you in the pens and gives you some advice, I’d trust him, he’s very good with an MX!
We really hope you enjoy your day at Santa Pod, and look forward to meeting you!