Drifting is one of the biggest automotive sports and still growing amongst many automotive enthusiasts. A once unknown and unpopular sport is now becoming generalized to the public and seeing the stands of a track filled with audiences is not an uncommon scene anymore.
Going to many drifting events and keeping up-to-date with videos and stories, I've noticed the constant massive attention to already well known drifters. There's nothing wrong with it, but I realized one crucial component that was lacking the most in the sport of Drifting; Recognition. There are tons of grassroots trying to achieve the status of current professional drifters and even when placing on the podium, it's that one moment that becomes a spotlight to the driver and no attention is placed after.
Today, I want to share a story of a professional drifter, a talent of speed that was passed down through generations and with that talent, became a professional drifter in a matter of time. Let me introduce you to Aurimas Odi Bakchis.
Meeting Odi took some patience and time. During my visit to XDC @ Irwindale a few months ago, our editor, Edgar Lozoya, came across a company called Forged Racing. After doing a short interview (will have our separate Special Coverage of this company), the owner told us they had a sponsored car and was willing to put our decal to rep. It was Odi's S14. With his record of past winnings at several events and placing 2nd at XDC Irwindale, his entry into Formula D was a breeze.
Since then, Odi was preparing for Formula D and after his successful performance at the first round of championships, placing 25th overall, we finally met up with Odi at his warehouse and did an interview to hear his life story.
Night-Import: How's it going Odi. Well to start things off, tell us when, how, and why you got into drifting.
Odi: Wsup guys. Well I started about 2 years ago with a 240SX I found during Valentines Day. I first started my life with Motorcross and gradually got interested in drifting. I personally think it’s one of the automotive sports you can get a lot of time practicing and performing without spending too much money. There are a lot of tracks to practice at and it’s fairly inexpensive compared to other automotive sports.
Night-Import: Any surprises once you stepped into drifting?
Odi: I think this applies to a lot of different types of sports. Drifting was a lot harder than I thought and it was challenging which is why I loved it. It took a lot of practice and still, I’m learning. There are quite a few techniques and one is that every single type of discipline in driving needs to be all summed up to drift. Once you start drifting competitively, you can’t drift pretty all the time. It’s tough, but it’s a lot of fun and trust me, it isn’t as easy as you see it.
Night-Import: Which event was your first and how did you prepare?
Odi: My first event was actually the Pro-Ams. Before, I was pretty much drifting by myself. There wasn't an instructor or anything when I first started drifting. I fixed my own flaws and as time went by, I started to compete. I placed first in Pro-Ams and then went to XDC @ Las Vegas placing 1st, XDC @ Irwindale placing 2nd, and finally Formula D.
Night-Import: Let's start talking about your car and current sponsors supporting you. So you already told us how you got the car but why a V8? and tell us more about the suspension your running on.
Odi: It’s really expensive to build a 4-cylinder, for example a SR20, to perform as well as a V8 which is mildly built. V8 just made more sense; bigger investment initially but in the long run, a better choice. Suspension wise, I'm running on Feal coilovers, my own design, own company. I started this brand way before drifting. It established in 2007 and mainly catered to Motorcycle Suspension. We still continue this and have been doing a lot of promoting stuff as well.
Night-import: What made you decide to expand Feal suspension from Motorcross to Cars?
Odi: You know what, it’s obvious when I started racing cars, I developed passion for it and I started working on my own suspension, own cars and I noticed that some of the aftermarket coilover system, shocks, weren’t valved properly when it could be improved, so I started doing that on my own car, friend's car, and to the public.
Night-Import: Who are your current sponsors and how did you meet them?
Odi: Forged Racing Radiator and JDM Sport. I met Chris from Forged through a mutual friend. He told me to give Chris a call because he was trying to brand a radiator out here and needed a driver, so our friendship happened from then on. JDM sport was met through Forged and as you can see, JDM Sport hooked me up with some seats and a steering wheel.
Night-Import: Is there a specific sponsor you want to hook up with later on?
Odi: Tires. I’m pretty much paying for tires with a discounted rate from Nexen and I'm really appreciating the help by them. Most expensive part about this sport is tires. The more help I can get, the better. It would be nice to prove myself as a driver to get sponsored.
Inside the office was filled with plaques, awards, and photos. I was a bit surprised to see the amount of space he had to work on not only his cars, but suspensions he was getting from customers. Having to take this massive amount of work load, Odi was still smiling and enjoying the moment.
Night-Import: How was Formula D? I'm sure the competitiveness was a step higher from the other events you've been through. Was there anything you learned new out of it?
Odi: The Pro-Ams series prepared me really well. There were more Pro-Am events I stressed over and made me more nervous than Formula D. I feel like that year of intense competition amongst other drivers was really helpful. I learned so much during the first event, such as different driving techniques and also a lot about car setups. I saw a lot of flaws after I ran up against some of the guys who had very well built cars. That one event was a huge change and I’m hoping to learn more throughout the rounds.
Night-Import: Right now you're pretty much your own team. Would you ever consider driving for a much bigger team?
Odi: Defintiely. If there is an opportunity to drive with better equipment, I would be up for it!
Night-Import: What’s your next event?
Odi: Formula Drift at Georgia. I’m actually planning to take a road trip to Atlanta on Monday night to drive cross-country. Hope I can perform well!
Night-Import: Lastly, Any advice to grassroots who are planning to take drifting as a career.
Odi: First of all, nothing is wrong with just staying in the Pro-Ams. If you become really competitive and want to stay in the Podium all the time, then go ahead with the competitive series. You’ll learn a lot from it and would be a stepping stone to learn even more.
I want to thank Odi again for his time and sharing his life story with our site. He is currently on his way to Atlanta, GA. Night-Import will be hoping the best for Odi and a safe return.