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Will prize money ruin the fun?

by Adam O'Connor 13th May 2018

2018 will be a landmark year for the Irish Drift Championship. €20,000 for the winner of Round 3 Prize Fight, €140,000 potentially spread across all 6 rounds and numerous free product incentives for on-track achievements. IDC Pro and Drift Games driver, Mike Fitz, may have summed it up perfectly when he states “it simply is a life-changing amount of money”. But one aspect to look at this season, is will the money ruin the fun?

Currently, drifting and even more so professional drifting – like many other motorsports – can be seen as a bank account destroyer, with some drivers resorting to maxing credit cards and even knocking on the credit union’s door to make it to an event. Needless to say, however, it is moving in the right direction.

Long heralded as the friendliest and most open paddock, drivers will go to the ninth degree to help any competitor get to the grid. On any given weekend John Shanahan can be seen under a litany of cars hammering, welding and cable tying components that would take a main dealer over 10+ hours of labour to complete. The Cork father of 2? He does it in under 5 minutes.

There is no other competitive motorsport across the globe in which, for 90 seconds, you repeatedly nudge, rub and push your rival around the course and then high five each other at the finish line. But with all these thrills, come the spills, and sometimes 2 cars enter and 1 car leaves under its own power. It’s the nature of the beast we play with.

At the end of the day, the Irish Drift Championship is a competition; one driver wins, 30+ lose. If you’re gambling man, those aren’t the best odds in a car that is essentially your life savings. This season, with the introduction of cold hard cash on the line, could we see drivers shying away from the sharing is caring mentality?

As human beings, it’s in our nature to be competitive at what we love to do. We want to be the best at what we excel in and it’s no different for our grid of drivers. They enter the competition to win and come the close of the track, they want to be atop the podium doused in champagne. Drift Games driver Peden Nielsen is a man who championed the ironic “Keep Drifting Serious” motto around the paddock, but this year it may become reality as his peers hunt for monetary reward.

Will the money ruin the fun? We don’t think so. Will the money change the competition? Possibly, but in a positive way. The pro grid is lined with drivers that have for years come back for more and continue to risk it all, without reward, for the love of drifting. The money is now the cherry on top that will help provide the sport and its competitors with the longevity it needs.

Winning an IDC event is a life goal, prize money is just a bonus. Who will be achieving both at the Prize Fight?