Sayaka Shimoda: From Drift Goals to Actuality

A fast-paced, crowd-pleasing fashion of racing that hinges on the continued lack of rear-wheel traction, drift racing has risen in reputation throughout the globe in current many years, spurred on by the Japanese manga Preliminary D and Hollywood blockbusters similar to The Quick and the Livid: Tokyo Drift.

As with most types of motorsport, drift racing has lengthy been a male-dominated area, with essentially the most infamous and profitable drivers having been males for nearly everything of drifting’s existence. However in recent times, the game has seen an inflow of feminine opponents who’re shortly proving that they have what it takes to carry their very own in opposition to their male rivals — and in some circumstances, depart them scrambling to catch up.

One such competitor is Sayaka Shimoda, knowledgeable driver competing within the D1 Grand Prix, Japan’s highest degree of drift racing competitors. Talking with Shimoda, we gained perception into her high-speed racing life and the challenges confronted as a girl on this planet of motorsport.

Life Earlier than Drifting

Rising up in Chiba Prefecture, Shimoda’s future behind the wheel started when she was uncovered to quick automobiles all through her childhood.

“From after I was born, the one automobile in my household was a sports activities automobile, so I grew up being pushed round in it. I used to be not significantly eager about racing, however I did assume that our automobile was cool and needed to drive such a automobile sooner or later, despite the fact that I used to be very younger,” she remembers.

But even whereas spending her youthful years within the firm of quick automobiles, Shimoda’s sights have been nonetheless set on different pursuits.

“I initially needed to be knowledgeable volleyball participant,” she says. “I selected my highschool for that objective and entered as an honors pupil, nevertheless, I used to be affected by accidents, so I gave up on the concept of ​​turning into knowledgeable participant midway by. I had put all the pieces I had into it, so when that abruptly disappeared, I felt like I had misplaced my means for some time.”

Seeking to the Future

Many people have been there, having labored in the direction of one thing we consider in, solely to fall brief and discover ourselves asking what now?

Discovering herself in such a place, Shimoda was left trying to the long run, after which her previous, as she mirrored on her different passions in life and the way she may benefit from them shifting ahead.

“I put all the justifications and circumstances surrounding me to relaxation and listened to the voice in my coronary heart, questioning what I actually needed to do, and I noticed that I needed to be a driver, maybe as a result of I had all the time cherished automobiles. However on the identical time, I assumed that I might by no means be capable of get into motorsport due to the massive sum of money required to begin out,” she says.

Regardless of Shimoda’s issues in regards to the prices related to coming into the world of motorsport, which is notoriously costly whatever the self-discipline, the universe had different plans for the would-be racer.

“Proper round that point, I noticed a poster for the D1 Grand Prix in Odaiba,” she recollects. “Till then, I had solely seen drifting in motion pictures, however I assumed to myself, I wish to see the skilled world of drifting no less than as soon as.”

The remaining, as they are saying, is historical past, as Shimoda’s first encounter with the drifting world was all it took for her to know that it was precisely the place she needed to be.

“Once I truly went there, I used to be impressed past phrases,” she says. “I assumed, that is it. I made up my thoughts proper then and there that I might undoubtedly run right here sometime.”

The Energy of Ambition

Nevertheless, even along with her sights set firmly on a future behind the wheel of a drift automobile, Shimoda’s transition into the game of drifting was not one thing that occurred in a single day. With steep monetary hurdles to beat earlier than she may get began, it took years of sacrifice earlier than she was in a position to even start working towards.

“On the time, I used to be paying off my highschool scholarship, so I had little or no cash left over despite the fact that I used to be working. My buddies round me have been having fun with the school life whereas I used to be working at a job I did not wish to do, day in and day trip, however unusually sufficient, I did not discover it onerous. Life after giving up on my volleyball dream was painful, so I assume you may say that it was simpler for me to concentrate on working at full capability,” Shimoda admits.

After years of overwork, which at one level, in Shimoda collapsing and being rushed to the emergency room, she was lastly able to take the leap and depart all of it behind in pursuit of her skilled driving profession.

“After I lastly saved sufficient cash, I went to work and advised them I used to be quitting to change into knowledgeable drift driver,” she says. “The subsequent day, I instantly went and purchased a Mazda RX-7 to observe drifting.”

Climbing to the High

In contrast to standard racing the place drivers usually work to take care of traction and go as quick as they will, drifting requires expertise seldom seen in different disciplines or day-to-day driving. Which means that for many drivers beginning out, drifting and its strategies are completely new ideas, though this didn’t deter Shimoda.

“There was a circuit inside commuting distance from my home, so I began going there by myself on daily basis. I truly spent a lot time on the circuit that folks would ask me if I lived there,” she recollects.

“My present mentor, Ken Sato, ran a drift college on the circuit,” she continues. “On the time, he suggested me to maintain working towards if I needed to get higher, so I practiced solely what I used to be advised on daily basis for 3 months and steadily he got here to acknowledge how invested I used to be. From then on, he started to coach me severely.”

From there, Shimoda honed her expertise behind the wheel and together with college buddies, created a profitable beginner drift staff. Success quickly led to sponsorships and the flexibility to take her racing dream to the very best degree as knowledgeable drift driver.

Paving the Means for Girls

Regardless of the place she finds herself at this time, Shimoda’s success didn’t come with out difficulties, which have been amplified by being a girl in an area that for many years had been dominated by males.

“It is a undeniable fact that the hurdle is at present increased for ladies. Nevertheless, in comparison with different sports activities, motorsport is an space through which girls can compete with males as a result of the ability of the car can compensate for bodily variations. There are issues similar to effort, automobile development and teamwork that may compensate for it,” Shimoda explains.

“Though the variety of feminine drivers has been growing prior to now few years, there are nonetheless many limitations that girls face just because they’re girls,” she continues. “There are lots of occasions when individuals mainly look down on you. Till they really see me driving on the sphere, they do not acknowledge me. In a male-dominated society, there’s a whole lot of strain on girls to reveal outcomes with the intention to obtain what they wish to do.”

Having survived this strain and made it to the skilled world of drift racing, Shimoda understands how daunting it may be for different girls who want to comply with in her footsteps. She hopes to make the journey simpler for future generations of feminine drivers.

“What I can do is to maintain flattening doorways and opening up paths that do not exist but,” she says. “It takes braveness and power to be the primary to do one thing that nobody else has carried out, however I really feel that after somebody has paved the way in which, the problem will lower significantly.”

Dream Staff

As races conclude and championship standings are up to date with the positions of particular person drivers, it may be simple to overlook that there’s a whole staff concerned in making motorsport success a actuality. However that is the facet of her profession that Shimoda values ​​above all else.

“I’m in all probability most fulfilled when the staff is working collectively towards a objective in the course of the competitions,” she says. “The highlight tends to be on the drivers, however there are a lot of individuals behind the scenes. The individuals who construct the automobile, the employees, the sponsors and the individuals who share the identical targets and aspirations are all concerned.”

Drifting and Past

As with every pursuit through which an individual places themselves on the road searching for glory, although, there’s extra to be taken away from drift racing than plumes of tire smoke and screaming engines. It is a world of braveness and hazard through which individuals like Shimoda shine for example of what will be achieved with the dedication to succeed.

“What provides me energy and makes me assume that I can do it too is that even those that are seen as geniuses do not maintain successful,” she says. “They all the time expertise losses and setbacks. What’s essential is the flexibility to stand up from there. By speaking our challenges by drifting, I hope that I’ll change into a driver who can convey hope and braveness to as many individuals as attainable, each inside and outdoors of Japan.”

You possibly can catch Sayaka Shimoda competing all year long within the D1 Grand Prix, streamed reside on YouTube, or get a behind-the-scenes look on her private YouTube channel, Drifting Sayaka.