One of the Middle East’s most prominent drifting stars, Ahmad Daham was in Dubai for the Red Bull Car Park Drift at Dubai Marina Mall last weekend. We talked to the drifting champion about his journey in drifting, how drift cars have changed over the years and where the UAE stands in the map of the motorsports world.
How did you get involved in drifting and how’s the journey so far?
I started drifting recently, seven years ago. But I’ve been into motorsports since I was 13 years old. I first started in time-attack and motocross, which is a timed race, and then I realized drifting is a big thing, Drifting is evolving in a tremendous way, so I decided to change my discipline from motocross and speed test to drifting when I was at the age of 21. Now, I think, drifting has become one of the biggest sports in the world.
How have drift cars changed over the years?
If you see drift cars seven years ago, when Red Bull Car Park Drift first started, it was a huge difference. The maximum car horsepower would be 500 horsepower, but now, the level has gone up. You find 800-900 horsepower cars with changed suspensions, roll cages and steering geometry. Nothing in the car is stock but the nice thing about the Red Bull Car Park Drift is that you can win in a slightly modified car, unlike any other drift event, because the track is more technical and needs more skills than a well-prepared car.
What’s your take on the Middle East’s drift scene?
It’s evolving now, big time. The first time drifting happened in the Middle East was in Lebanon, which was a Red Bull Car Park Drift. But as everyone knows, the UAE is a hub in the Middle East, so they’re focusing on getting the biggest events and especially motorsport events in drifting. The level of cars and drivers are also evolving.
Are films like Hajwala promoting the Middle East’s car culture the right way?
It’s not the idea I thought it was going to be, I thought it was going to be more about motorsports culture, but it turned out it was more about street culture. It’s a nice step, but I think it could’ve been executed in a better way.
With the establishment of Formula 1 and FIA Rallycross in UAE, how does UAE establish itself on the motorsports map of the world?
I think, what they’re trying to do is to get the biggest motorsports events from the world to the UAE, which is going in a good way to be honest. I’m feeling positive about what’s going to happen next year.
What’s Red Bull’s involvement in the Middle East’s drift scene?
Red Bull started the drift scene. It started locally in Lebanon and then in the Middle East.
Lastly, what’s the road ahead for you?
I’m going to Europe to compete in Drift Masters European Championship, which I think is the hardest drift championship in the world. Next year, hopefully, I’m going to the Formula D world championship. We’re trying to expand more than the Middle East, we’re trying to go international.