Going sideways at top speed: A reporter's ride in a drift car

Last updated 10:56 02/12/2016
Hamish McNeilly/FAIRFAX NZ

Inside Darren Kelly's R35 GT-R Nissan at the Demon Energy D1NZ event at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium

A drift cars leaves Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Darren Kelly and Hamish McNeilly inside Kelly's Nissan R35 GT-R at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Darren Kelly checks over his vehicle.

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You think you're already sitting back in your seat, and then Darren Kelly suddenly accelerates.

As my back moulds into the passenger seat, Kelly's Nissan R35 GT-R hits the first corner.

And we are going sideways. Sideways!

We are just inches from where the students support the Highlanders in The Zoo at Forsyth Barr Stadium, and their vocal support has nothing on the wall of sound created by the car's engine and squealing rubber.

READ MORE: Watch: Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium transformed into covered drift track

A few corners later and the first lap is done, much to the delight of the fans eager to catch the two-time national drift champion in action.

And if I thought his first lap was fast, his second was like comparing a footrace between Aaron Smith and Waisake Naholo.

The Auckland-based driver and his custom-built car will be one of the drawcards of the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship held under the roof on Friday and Saturday.

"We've built this car to be the next thing, and we will take it international."

But first there was the small matter of the stadium's "tight and technical track where you are just millimetres away from the concrete".

One of the major difference in drifting inside a stadium was for those watching.

"It changes the atmosphere completely for the fans."

Kelly said when drifting started gaining attention over a decade ago he took his streetcar to a track and "just loved it".

And it's clear to see what all the fuss, smoke and burning rubber is all about,

More than 200 racers, including D1NZ competitors, NZ Silver Fern Rally racers, Stadium SuperMoto Cup riders, and karters, will test the temporary racetrack.

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