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Catching the drift

A tyre importer who was raised in a racing environment has had his sports car converted for the demanding drift-driving circuit

Published on February 20, 2008

His parents' business related to car racing and his familiarity in seeing street racing in the past 20 years has inspired him to have his sports car turned into a drift car.

Charnyuth Saengthong is now the general manager of Kanchanakij Trading, a tyre importer.

"I've been crazy about cars since I was young because my father was a tyre importer and street racing was popular 20 years ago, although at that time it was also illegal. So I'm used to fast speed," he said.

His father at that time imported 13- and 15-inch slicks, which have no tread and are used mostly for racing.

"I've been bringing in South Korean Hankook tyres for the past three to four years. Hankook was the world's seventh-largest tyre manufacturer by sales last year. Hankook last year focused on speed activities and this highlighted my dream when I was young to race on the street. But I now can fulfil my dream by becoming a car racer on the circuit, particularly for drifting," he said.

"I'm an extremist. Of course, when drift cars are gaining popularity, I have to have one."

Charnyuth had a Mazda RX7, with a 1.3-litre twin-turbo rotary engine, fitted out in the same way as the cars in the "Tokyo Drift" movie.

"I ordered body parts from Veilside in Japan to decorate all of my car's body. They're made of fibreglass. I picked red, which is the same colour as the car in the film, and I changed my wheels to 19-inch tyres. I really like decorating in my own style, as I want it to be like no other. It won't do if my car looks like another one," he said.

"Even if you're a billionaire, you can't buy it because it's not for sale. I took around one year to complete its decoration. It's always a main actor when I showcase it at all the drift events."

Charnyuth loves drift driving but needs to take an extra course.

"Drift driving doesn't concentrate on fast speed but on negotiating curves. My experience in racing on the street when I was a teenager is useless for drift driving. It must've been hilarious when I ran in a drift-drive race," he added.

Thanadol Rila

The Nation

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