At any track event, it's common to see a lot of guys driving and wrenching on their cars while their girls wait patiently for the day to finish. But have you ever wondered what it'd be like if the roles were reversed, where the girls put on the show and the guys sat on the sidelines? We were about to find out as we went to check out the annual Summer Gal Run drift event at Suzuka Twin Circuit in Japan.
A little back story first: Hitomi Okada, better known as Hitomi GO, organizes the Summer Gal Run. She's a mini-celebrity in the Japanese drift world who started out driving an AE86 two decades ago. Today, she still drives a blue Nissan 180SX she's owned for 15 years. Her day-to-day includes running her own body shop called Looking in Osaka; however, on the weekends you can find her practicing at local tracks like Meihan Sportsland or giving a helping hand to other grassroots drift events or even the big shows, like Formula DRIFT. She noticed over the years a rising number of female drivers joining her crusade, so she came up with the idea of doing a one-off, ladies-only drift event. Little did she know that the Summer Gal Run would become a huge hit as she hosted her sixth one.
Summers in Japan are typically hot and humid and rarely does it rain, but of course the 18th typhoon of the season had to hit at the same time as Gal Run. Luckily, the drivers on hand were resilient and wouldn't let any wet weather spoil their chance to slide among other girls. It was an eye-opener for us as we saw more than 50 female drivers of all skill levels command Suzuka.
The morning practice sessions started out with some light rain but steadily increased throughout the day. By noon, the rain was coming down so heavily that it created many areas of standing water on the track. To be honest, this amount of rain might stop a lot of events, but not Gal Run...
Knowing that Hitomi has drifted with some of the best drivers in Japan, we asked her if there was a difference between how girls and guys drift. She told us the ladies tend to be a bit more cautious at the beginning than men, and that men may seem to catch on a bit faster but that is mostly due to seat time and the amount of money they are willing to spend. Beyond that, though, Hitomi said there is no difference and that anyone can drift well as long as they have the mental determination, ambition, and motivation—wise words from Japan's queen of drift. We look forward to coming back this September for another exhibition. Catch us on the sidelines.