Women burning rubber at Winton

We join an all-women's drift day with the Drift Cadet crew to see what it's like to get sideways in a Toyota 86.

Words by Leila Khoshoie
Photos by Leanne Wilson


drift hero

The shrieking of tyres, the heady smell of burning rubber…familiar sensations for drifting enthusiasts out there. But, if you were to picture someone behind the wheel of a drifting car, who would that be?

Motorsport can be an overwhelming environment for women, one that isn’t always as inviting as it should be. Luckily, women’s participation in motorsports is on the rise, and with events such as those organised by Linh Dang of Drift Cadet, women can enter an arena where they feel comfortable to strap in and really put the pedal to the metal. Drift Cadet offers everything from drift school for beginners and drift practice to wanting to sharpen their skills, to hot laps in a supercharged 86.

drift queens
drift queens

Drift Queens in the making

I was excited to meet drift queen Linh Dang who organised the event with her partner, Peter. Linh’s path to drifting definitely wasn’t a straight line. She worked as a pastry chef for ten years, working alongside top chefs at restaurants and patisseries across Melbourne, managing to win a couple of awards as well. Her move from hospitality to motorsports and events was in part thanks to Peter – the two would go drifting for fun whenever they had time off together, giving Linh exposure to something that would later become another passion.

linh dang
linh dang

Drift Cadet matriarch, Linh Dang

“I think days like this help women get into motorsports and make it welcoming.”

I asked Linh why she felt it was important to host an event solely aimed at women, and what she thought the community gets out of events such as these. “Motorsport is dominated by men and it can be quite daunting. When you go to events, and it’s just all men and they’re talking cars, you don't know where you fit in. So today's event is great, because it gives women a better understanding that there's somewhere to go – it says they can improve and get confident.”


GAZOO RACING CLUB members Vicky, Steph and Sarah.

The three GAZOO RACING CLUB members who signed up for the club benefit of a free drift day at Winton Raceway were Vicky, Sarah and Steph. They all own a GR Yaris but were all drifting novices. When asked how she felt about being a woman in a male-dominated environment, Vicky responded, “I’ve just got the attitude of ‘if they can do it, I can do it’. I’ve never gone into it worried about what they think, I just give it my best.” Steph said she’s less reluctant to attend mixed events. “Even though I want to go and have the experience, it's always been something I’ve avoided”, she explained, adding how intimidating it can feel to be in the minority.


Vicky snagging all the hot drifting tips

It was incredible to see the looks on the faces of all the women when they got out of the car after drifting for the first time. Steph explained, “it was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. The instructors are really good at explaining how to do it. I've never done anything like this.” She added, “it's just a massive adrenaline rush! And I got a bit giggly in the car.” Sarah noted, “better in the driver’s seat than the passenger’s.”

"Definitely the most exhilarating thing I've done in a long time."


That post-drifting glow

I couldn’t agree more. When Linh asked me if I wanted to have a shot at drifting, it was a no-brainer. Getting behind the wheel of an 86 to drift was not what I had in mind when I arrived to interview women for this piece – it had never occurred to me that drifting was something that I could do, let alone enjoy. And yet here I was, ready to get in the driver’s seat and give it a go.


My briefing on controlled chaos

So, what’s it like to drift? I’ve heard it described as “controlled chaos”, which I thought sums it up quite well. Once you’re strapped in, there’s a delicate balance between revving the accelerator and pedalling the clutch. When you take off, you deliberately oversteer as you begin to feel the loss of traction in the tyres, gripping the steering wheel to maintain control of the car.

"When they give it a try, it just works out."


The perfect drifting duo

Although I already know how to drive manual, I constantly had to battle overanalysing everything; however, once I got the basics down, it wasn’t as hard as I anticipated. It was great sitting in the passenger seat when Peter took everyone for a drift in the supercharged 86, but getting behind the wheel and doing it yourself is thrilling. Nothing beats the confidence you feel when you accomplish something off your own bat.

burn out

Getting sideways in supercharged GT86

"I've just got the attitude of 'if they can do it, I can do it.”

Linh and I spoke about future events aimed solely at women, and she was adamant that this was just the start. In addition to the Drift Cadet events, Linh has set her sights on running workshops to help women with things like car maintenance. And, with the success of Drift Cadet, Linh and Peter are looking to expand their horizons with future projects. “Now that lockdown is over, we're hoping to open a cafe for car enthusiasts, somewhere where people can bring their cars and get together to chat about them,” Linh said. When it comes to drifting, there is a real sense of community if you go looking for it.


Connecting with the community

Linh thinks, while women still make up a minority in motorsports, the tide is slowly turning. “Women just don't know where to start and don't know where to go”. She added, “through our Drift School and drift demonstrations throughout Australia, I've met many women, and when they give it a try, it just works out. I think days like this help women get into motorsports and make it welcoming. Because we're all here together, we can relate and talk to each other.” Shifting attitudes towards women participating in this space is crucial – the more women that are represented, the more others will view this as something that’s within their reach and feel empowered to pursue their passion.


The face of a happy drifter

On the day, everyone I asked about how best to take up the sport said the same thing: give it a go. As Linh explained, “don't overthink it, because it's heaps of fun. And then you'll get to meet lots of awesome people as well.” And as someone who did decide to throw caution to the wind and get behind the wheel, I can confirm that it’s definitely the most exhilarating thing I’ve done in a long time.

"When it comes to drifting, there is a real sense of community if you go looking for it."

toyota 86

It’s great to see GAZOO RACING CLUB members get access to experiences like this, bringing them closer to the action and engaging with the passionate motorsports community to get as much as they can out of their membership.

Check out the Drift Cadet’s Facebook page for the latest drift classes, drive days and meet-ups.