Evergreen Drift Park joins the automotive playground in central Waikato district.

Sky Zhao was happy with how the first day of drifting went at Evergreen Drift Park.


Travelling along the dull and narrow section of State Highway One, between Hamilton and Auckland, you'll come across an automotive playground. 


There's Hampton Down Motorsport Park, Meremere Dragway, Meremere Dirt Track and now there's a new swing that can be added to the set - Evergreen Drift Park. 


Smoke sweeps from the track, dousing spectators with the odour of burning rubber. 


Joel Hedges from C's Garage pedaling his Nissan Silvia (Onevia) around Evergreen Drift Park.
RUWADE BRYANT/STUFF

Joel Hedges from C's Garage pedaling his Nissan Silvia (Onevia) around Evergreen Drift Park.


Japanese performance cars line the pit area, surrounded by battered and bruised "drift wheels" with worn out tyres and red tool boxes that have turned a shade of black from grease and oil. 


Toyota Land Cruisers, Hiaces and other big rigs are there too, but they're not there to drift, they're on towing duty. 


It's a sight commonly seen in New Zealand, but this time it's slightly different - March 3 and 4 marked the official opening of New Zealand's first dedicated drift track. 


Nick Tauroa and an unfortunate mishap with the wall along the main straight of Evergreen Drift Park.
RUWADE BRYANT/STUFF

Nick Tauroa and an unfortunate mishap with the wall along the main straight of Evergreen Drift Park.


"So far I think the response from people is absolutely amazing," said ex-D1NZ National Drifting Championship driver Sky Zhao, who started the project three years ago. 


"Some of the drivers, after their first session, came out saying they love the track."


Tight, narrow corners, short corner-to-corner distances, and a large concrete wall along the main straight calls for some complex and exciting driving.


Adam Hedges from C's Garage stomping on the loud pedal around New Zealand's first dedicated drift track.
RUWADE BRYANT/STUFF

Adam Hedges from C's Garage stomping on the loud pedal around New Zealand's first dedicated drift track.


"It's technical." as grassroots drifter Nick Tauroa explained. 


"Usually when you drive the bigger (tracks), you have a lot of distance between corners - this (track) you can go into a corner in second gear as opposed to having to hit third [gear], and moving through the gearbox - just keep it in the one gear."


Tauroa drives a 1999 Toyota Altezza - It is "basically factory" with very few modifications. 

The Altezza has lowering springs, a shorter ratio differential, lock spacers, a racing seat and the interior has been stripped out for weight loss. 

He can "link most of the track".

A minor correction error on the main straight saw Tauroa put the rear end of the car into the wall, but he's not phased. 

"It was my daily driver," he laughed. 


Zhao, who started drifting in New Zealand 10 years ago, took a trip to Japan to experience the sport where it originated from. What he noticed was that many of the Japanese drift tracks were tight, technical and required more driving prowess, rather than letting a big horsepower car navigate you around the track. 


"The unique difference between this track and other tracks is its complex design, which is specially designed for drifting at lower speeds and in relatively factory cars," said Zhao. 


'We are lucky enough to have bigger tracks, but we don't have smaller tracks for beginners to get into the sport, that's why I think a facility like this is good for New Zealand."


Zhao plans to develop Evergreen Drift Park into a facility that can cater for all driving experience levels in a bid to lift the standard of drifting in New Zealand, and to promote drifting in a better limelight. 


For more information about the track, visit their Facebook page.


 - Stuff

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