By Mark Vaughn, Crain News Service
LONG BEACH, Calif. (Feb. 13, 2014) — Who knew there was a future in driving sideways?
Jim Liaw, and business partner Ryan Sage, that's who.
A little over 10 years ago, fresh from college and running their own marketing and promotions firm, Slipstream Global Marketing, the duo were looking for business.
“We'd seen drifting, and it piqued our curiosity,” Mr. Liaw said. “It wasn't until [Japanese drifting sanctioning body] D1 said they wanted someone to organize a U.S. event that we thought about getting involved in the sport.”
The sport, as it's evolved in the decade since, is the graceful art of sliding a car sideways through a prescribed course, door to door with another car, in a tire-smoking automotive ballet. Ten years ago, drifting had already taken off in Japan, and D1 wanted to hold an event here. It chose Slipstream to market and promote it.
In August 2003, Slipstream gathered eight of the most promising U.S. drifters and pitted them against eight top Japanese drivers at Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, Calif.