“If you make everyone from a four year old to a 75-year-old happy, you know you’ve pulled off something special”. Those were the words I had used in my review of the inaugural Drift City event held last year. Event organiser, Bronwyn Stockenstroom, sent me a pic of her husband, Gary, the brains behind the event, while he was reading my review. He was in tears. “Those words made him cry, Shuds”, she said. Those were true words though – everyone was happy, young and old, car guys and non-car guys. Men, women, black, white, even the destitute frequenting the Grand Parade forgot about the hardships of their difficult lives, and this is one of the aims for Gary and his team, to create a proudly Capetonian event that will bring people together. I recently hooked up with him, and asked him to explain to us exactly what Drift City is.
ME: It is the second year Drift City will be happening, what exactly is Drift City?
GARY: So, Drift City is, in a nutshell, a motorsport event held in Cape Town, and what makes it super unique is the fact that it is the only event of its kind held in the middle of the CBD.
ME: So we’re going to have smoke and tyreshredding on a National Heritage site on Heritage Day?
GARY: Basically, yes. The course is set up as a drift/gymkhana course, so competitors will go head-to-head against each other on a mirrored course, and it will be timed too. They won’t just be judged according skill and tyre smoke, but they’re racing against the clock too, which makes it all the more exciting.
ME: How did the event come about, and why was the Grand Parade chosen as a venue?
GARY: About four years before the event came to fruition, I was in a nightclub on the 31st story, and as I looked down through the window, the Grand Parade was lit up. The rest of the CBD was in darkness, but the Grand Parade just looked so different from the derelict space it had become in recent years, and I had this idea of having a mad motorsport event right there. For months I told Bronwyn about it and she just eventually told me “Why don’t you just shut up and do it”, and here we are.
ME: You say you wanted it to be a night event, what time will it start?”
GARY: Last year we had a day event and as luck would have it, we had to postpone this year because of the water restrictions. We came up with another plan for other sources of water, and the only date available was 24 September, on Heritage Day. Since the next day is a public holiday we’re able to take the event into the night. The event starts at 1pm and will finish at about 21:30.
ME: Being an event that’ll go into a part of the night, do you have any security concerns?
GARY: This year the City has upscaled the event from low risk to medium risk, as we’re expecting about 8000 people through the gates on the day. We have more security personnel than last year, SAPS and Metro Police will be present, and of course the CCID security will be monitoring the streets surrounding the Grand Parade.
ME: 8000 people? That’s a lot. What about parking and access?
GARY: There will be road closures, but the earlier you come, the better, obviously. We were fortunate enough to negotiate a deal with the Golden Acre again this year, and they will be charging a flat rate of R20 for parking for the day, and will probably be the best bet for spectators. Other spots are in Harrington Street and behind the Castle.
ME: What can people look forward to that is different to last year, except the fact that it is effectively a day/night event?
GARY: While we didn’t have much negative feedback last year, we took the positive criticism and tried to improve on aspects of the event. We have a 30-tonne Grandstand with seating for 1000 people, we have a bigger, more secure kiddies play area, and the layout is generally better than last year.
ME: In terms of competitors, how many entries are there, and who are the guys to look out for on the day?
GARY: I don’t want to mention names this early as one cannot predict setbacks or vehicle failures, but we have about 40 entries, a lot local, but some out-of-towners too. Of course last year’s winner, Shane Green, will be back defending his title, and runner up, Izak Van Zyl, is now running a boosted setup on his Lexus-powered Corolla, but I think the likes of the up-and-coming guys like Yaseen Damon has improved a lot, and is always a crowd favourite.
ME: Last year there were a few show cars on display. Will there be a display this year?
GARY: While it is a motorsport event, we as organisers ultimately want to bring every aspect of not just car culture, but Cape Town culture together under one banner. We’d like to bring together drifters, spinners, show cars, stance cars, as one car-loving community. Sometimes people get too divided in terms of which code they support, we just want everyone from all backgrounds to come and have a lekker day.
ME: In terms of ticket prices, how affordable is it?
GARY: We try to always keep it as cost effective as possible as we’d like the whole family to come, it is after all a family event. General access tickets are R80, Grandstand tickets are R150, and VIP tickets are R250 and include Grandstand seating, VIP toilets and access to VIP bar and pit areas. Tickets are available at Computicket and will be available at the gate, but will be slightly more expensive, so it’s best to get them from Computicket, or Shoprite/Checkers.
ME: You mentioned your ideals, and that you want Drift City to become an annual event on the Mother City calendar, showcasing a unique lifestyle. I can imagine that sponsorship would play an integral role. Can you tell us more about the sponsors aligned with the event and any Social Investment opportunities linked to it?
GARY: We’ve been blessed to have Monster Energy with us from the beginning, and this year Nankang and the City of Cape Town came on board in a big way. I am hoping partnerships like this will not just grow Drift City into an internationally acclaimed event, but will help bring Capetonians together, uplift communities, and also help to rectify the stigma attached to Cape Town petrolheads and motor junkies.
I’ve only had great things to say about Drift City last year. It was, without question, the best organised, managed, and entertaining motoring event I’ve attended in Cape Town, EVER, so I might come across as a bit biased. A few things that stood out for me personally, was the work ethic and passion of the Drift City organising team on the day, the fact that I ran into people who weren’t into cars at all, but who said, “This seems like the place to be today”. What impressed me the most was that even after the final race, the place was still packed, after the event had ended, people were still milling about. All I can say is, come September 24, YOU GOTTA BE THERE!!!!!