Drift Appalachia brings Touge-style drifting to America

J.A.
By J.A. Ackley
Dec 6, 2023 | Drifting, Initial D, Backroads of Appalachia, Drift Appalachia, Touge | Posted in Features | Never miss an article

Photography by Chuck Murray/Drift Appalachia

Initial D”-style touge in the U.S.? Yes, that’s the premise behind Drift Appalachia’s upcoming events for Kentucky and West Virginia.

The idea was sparked at another event on mountain roads in Appalachia–a hillclimb. “A friend of mine, Derek King, went to an SCCA hillclimb at Pineville [in Kentucky],” says Drift Appalachia’s Edgar Sarmiento, who also puts on Drift Indy. “Derek has been on our staff at Drift Indy for years. He said, ‘What if you take drifting to the mountains?’”

[Pine Mountain HillClimb: What happens when helpful people rise to the occasion? Success.]

Edgar called up Brian Eggert, co-founder of US Drift, for his thoughts. The idea of drifting on mountain roads intrigued Eggert, who’s considered one of the pioneers of drifting in the U.S. The two then connected with Erik Hubbard of Backroads of Appalachia.

We got down to Kentucky and spent a whole day with Erik just looking at these roads and my jaw dropped,” Edgar says. “There was this emotional connection. There’s an infinite number of possibilities for motorsport to happen in these areas, from rallies to hillclimbs to touge.”

Edgar and Brian teamed up to create Drift Appalachia. In August, they held their first event in McKee, Kentucky. In early November, they put on their second event in Beckley, West Virginia.

Backroads of Appalachia helped the duo obtain the permissions from the local municipalities to close the roads. In fact, the West Virginia event was the first to take advantage of state legislation that makes it easier for promoters to use the state’s roads for motorsport.

[An easy place to host a race? How about West Virginia?]

Backroads of Appalachia is that bridge between us motorsport guys and that local scene–the Appalachian people and understanding what makes these counties move,” says Edgar. “It takes a whole village to make this happen.”

[Backroads of Appalachia: Using motorsports to boost an economy]

Because road courses commonly lack walls and run-off, a slip-up can quickly escalate while drifting around a mountain. Drift Appalachia places a huge emphasis on safety. To race a Drift Appalachia event, you must be vetted and invited. The cars adhere to stricter safety guidelines, with roll cages required.

There are definitely some areas where you can go off a mountain,” Brian says. “Sometimes we’re sending 10, 15 and even close to 30 cars at a time on track. We want to make sure that one of the guys does not make a simple mistake by inexperience and put the rest of the guys in jeopardy.”

Drift Appalachia is very much in its infancy. Currently, the events consist of what amounts to fun runs. Brian and Edgar believe it will eventually progress to true competitions. Touge in the U.S. is very reminiscent of the early days of drifting, when guys like Edgar hunted high and low for drifting videos, occasionally scoring a VHS tape from Japan. It has reignited interest in drifting for some of the sport’s pioneering veterans.

We’re going from a race track to a mountain road; there’s going to be different challenges for a driver,” Edgar says. “A lot of guys want to experience that. It’s cool to see those guys coming back to motorsport.”

Keeping it fresh is what Drift Appalachia organizers hope to continue doing for its participants.

We don’t have to go back to the same location,” says Brian. “There are thousands and thousands of miles of roads.”

Drift Appalachia aims to put on five or six events across Kentucky and West Virginia next year. Organizers are also looking to incorporate spectator areas in 2024. For more information, including how experienced drivers can be considered for participation, visit driftappalachia.com or the Drift Appalachia Facebook page.

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Comments
Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
12/6/23 11:34 a.m.

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

 

EvanB
EvanB GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/6/23 11:59 a.m.

I'm very excited about all of the backroads of appalachia events, maybe I'll finally do some hillclimbs. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/6/23 1:37 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

Thank you, Colin. :) 

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
12/6/23 1:41 p.m.

I'm really liking all the Fall shots here. What a cool place to do drift events. 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
12/6/23 3:12 p.m.
thatsnowinnebago said:

I'm really liking all the Fall shots here. What a cool place to do drift events. 

Me too. Here are a few more shots that didn't make it into the story:

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/6/23 7:30 p.m.

Was just watching a video on this:

 

 

J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
12/6/23 9:42 p.m.

In reply to EvanB :

Backroads of Appalachia certainly is working hard to make Kentucky and West Virginia motorsport destinations. If you do a hillclimb, hopefully I see you at one of them.

ralleah
ralleah GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/6/23 10:17 p.m.

I love that these are happening. I wish that it were in states that aren't unsafe for me , and my family/crew, to enter.

te72
te72 HalfDork
12/6/23 10:49 p.m.

Wish we had winding roads all over the place like this, but the only mountain roads we have are frequently travelled by tractor trailers, so they're not exactly tight and twisty.

Patrick
Patrick GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/7/23 8:47 a.m.

In reply to ralleah :

I'll be your bodyguard

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