[Credit to Melissa Yeo (PerfectEdge Motorsports) for the feature image]
In a sport celebrated and popularised by men, it is a refreshing change of sight to see the opposite gender mixing in the joy that is drifting. Mr. Tsuchiya would probably be very happy to know that more girls are starting to drift in South East Asia these days. Ai San’s journey to drifting is an interesting one- who she learned from, the competitions she took part in, and the stunt driving that she’s performed. Her portfolio is already looking a lot better than mine…
A read through our conversation with Ai San reveals more of her character:
Tell us about your background?
Some guys say i’m not from this planet.. Haha, because girls should not like cars that much, or drive like that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m mostly a very courteous and polite driver on the road.
I’m a stunt driver and a drifter. Broadly speaking, I slide cars and yes, abuse cars. The first stunt driver and drifter to come from Singapore that has boobs and wear a skirt.
How did you get into drifting?
It all started when i saw Ken Block’s Gymkhana on Top Gear. I was absolutely fascinated by how his car moved. It was as if his car was a cartoon character that could slide and fart smoke. How cool is that?!
I did my research and decided to try my hand at a short course in rally at “Team O Neil Rally School” in the States. That’s a great rally school that gave me my first taste of a sliding car- and i was hooked.
Back home in Singapore, I enrolled for a short course with Singapore Stunt Driving because I wanted to learn more about sliding cars.
Jason Tan, my first sifu. i remembered the time when he first met me. He was amused and slightly aghast that i loved to whack cones with the backside of my daily drive Subaru WRX.
Maybe he saw a glimmer of stunt driving potential as he took me on to train as the first female stunt driver on his team. I performed in some of Singapore Stunt Driving Stunts Shows such as the Singapore Airlines F1 Stunt Show & The Changi Airport Show as well as drove for some film projects.
I picked up basic to intermediate drifting under Jason. I bought a road going S13 which i used. It was my first taste of drifting, I found it challenging and interesting but was hampered by a lack of dedicated drift setup in that car. A few months later, I made a commitment to a track drift car which was setup by Rocker Loh and his capable team at YH Autosport. That was a really good decision as that car has withstood all levels of abuse from me and is still going strong.
Rocker, a veteran pro competition drifter in Malaysia, became my second sifu as he took me under his wing to mentor me in drift competitions.
I’m fairly new to the drift competition scene having only done 3 competitions so far:
Ace Drift 2018, Tonnka Drift King 2018 & Touge Drive Team Sideways Battle 2019. I don’t go into competitions to win. What’s important to me is the journey and experience gained during competition that hopefully will help me become a better drifter.
Tonnka was a particularly memorable experience for me as I was suddenly thrown into “battle” with really senior drifters many of whom were running cars which were easily triple to quadruple my car’s horsepower.
I run a stock horsepower 256bhp S15.
Probably the lowest horsepower car in any of the competitions. The average competition car run between 400bhp-1000bhp. It’s nearly impossible for me to chase in tandem, but hey, it’s fun and keeps me on edge trying to keep up with the big boys…
Did you ever do street racing/ drifting?
I’m not for street racing/ drifting. I just think that engaging in such activity on public roads actually put other regular road users at risk. How would the average driver know how to react to a drifting/racing vehicle? Motorsports should be conducted in a controlled environment which does not endanger the public. It is only a responsible thing to do.
Did you always like cars? What kind of cars?
Well, i think I’m more a driver than a “true” car person. I’m mostly interested in how a car feels when I’m driving it versus how it looks. I have a soft spot for manual handbrakes and turbos. Yeah, I actually like turbo lag and good torque.
And a car with a talkative exhaust is sooo fun… Haha, no need to horn people anymore.
Subarus, Evos, GTRs, Porsches, BMWs, Silvias, Lambos are some of the cars that i would love to try though.
What does it feel like sitting at the start line?
Because you only get 2 qualifying runs…
Hmm… Feels hot lah. Car no aircon. It’s like an oven in the afternoon sun. Mostly, i’m just thinking get the qualifying over and done with so that i can go back to the pits to enjoy aircon.
Sometimes, when lining up next to the high bhp competition cars, I know that I would have to “run as fast as i can” off the start line or get makan by their “Noz monsters”
What advice would you give aspiring drifters?
Chill. Lepak… You kind of need that mindset when you take on drifting. Simply because there are so many obstacles that come along the way. Neverending car repair, crashes, tyres. I don’t think TypeA perfectionists can tahan the constant setbacks this sport gives.
To me, the Beauty in Drift is about the Imperfections.
Savour the journey. Take that trophy shot with your car stuck headfirst in a drain, or marooned on top of a pile of tires. Or that shot of your first engine piang, or that shattered gearbox. That to me is the spirit of drift.
A spirit of can do, make do and resilience.
What “fighting words” do you have to say to your competitors in the upcoming Gonzo event?
Hmm. This would be my first Gonzo event, so you guys better “Siam!” …put on your helmets and take cover in your cars. Flying cones and barrels might be the order of the day as Miss Demolition Derby is coming.
What does it feel like going against the boys? Is it different?
Lol, I’ve only ever gone against the boys. So I would not know if there is a difference. But that said, men will be men. All rough and tumble.
Drifting is a very aggressive sport. And it attracts aggressive male drivers. Even the most aggressive girl is no match in aggression compared to the male drifters. It can get scary at times, especially if the men are going all out… Haha, But that said, I think that I am probably scarier to them as they don’t really know what a “Charbo” might do on track…
>What do you have to say to other girls who want to become drifters?
Be yourself. Nothing like some females running “amok” on the track. It’s a very ‘scary’ thing for the men as they have no idea what we may do next… Act cute, do little victory kawaii signs and blow lots of kisses on track. Basically add some “female” to a very manly sport.
-END of conversation-
Those were some words. You boys better watch out for Ai San and gear the hell up for Drift Gonzo Round 1 this 3rd March 2019- you wouldn’t want to see her approaching you with the backside of her drift car!!!