What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear someone mention #grassroots?
I am willing to bet some FREE valve stem caps and a Drift Button for your e-brake, that we do not think of the same thing when we hear that word.
And that is ok.
Each of us have started or just now starting in different driving environments. Drove or are driving different tracks and dealing with different event hosts. So we all have very different experiences.
Let me take you back to where ALL of you came from and forgotten about.
Each and everyone of us started with no car skills and no driving skills at one point or another.
It doesn't matter if you came from Rally to Drifting or from Drifting to Road racing. You started as basic as possible trying to gain knowledge of cars and get an understanding of racing.
I come from a time where I was introduced to Drifting by a friend in a open parking lot late at night next to Long Beach Airport. That same friend introduced me to other guys who lived for this Drifting Lifestyle and invited me to attend a track event.
My first track event, I sucked big time. But the drivers did not criticize my driving. They came up to me and introduced themselves and gave me pointers. They asked about my suspension set up and alignment specs. They looked at the type of tire I was running, yes I said tire and not TYRE.....
By the end of the day I was doing better, but still sucked. I was frustrated by the fact that other guys with similar set ups were out there killing the layout.
All I could do is watch and tell myself that I would one day be able to clear the layout and look as good as they did. As I drifted away with my thoughts, I was approached by a complete stranger and asked if he can go for a ride along with me. I explained that I sucked and he said, "I am not here to judge you, I wasn't any better when I started".
Those words let me know that I was not alone and he was able to relate. After I did two runs and pulled up to line he asked of he could drive my car this time. I said sure. We switched seats and we discussed my set up as we waited for our turn to go. He asked me if I was going to sign up for the next event. I had not thought about it, but since I sucked, I wasn't too down to keep looking like a chump. But I replied "yeah, I will." (My thought was to go learn on the streets or parking lot and come back when I am better)
"Awesome" he said.
We rolled out of the start line and he takes my rpms so high that my car screams for the first time. We are about to initiate waaaaay to fast. I hold on to my seat with my left hand and wedge my elbow against my door panel to help keep me in place the stock s13 seats with a busted shoulder lap belt that is stuck and I manually have to move it to get out of it. Ugh those stupid things, anyways.
He does a faint entry and rips the ebrake with authority, drops the handle and kicks the clutch so hard that the manufacturer felt it at the assembling plant.
I am screaming like a little girl in my car as he is full lock and going into a transition, finishing the sweeper with tons of clutch kicks to keep my rpms up and wheel speed going. We cleared the course and I just wanted kiss this dude in the mouth right about now.
I could not believe he was able to do that in my car.
He was excited that I was excited and then he walked me over to his car. Introduced me to his bros and his gf. I was like "bro, sick cars bro" He wrote down "Battle Version Tension Rods" "Hawk Rear Brake Pads" "Sparco Harness and Bar" as he handed me the list he showed me the items on his car and explained how they made a difference for him.
I asked "what else should I do?" I was pumped up and wanted to come kill it at next event. He gave my his contact info and asked me to call him when I had the parts in hand. I went home and ordered those parts the next day. I took a day off from work to go and pick them up. Hahaha.
I called him up and told him I had the parts and we both laughed on the phone like gossiping girls.
He gave me alignment specs to use and told me to replace the front tires with Falken Azenis if I was able to do so before the next event, but if I couldn't? It was fine. I got the tires because he said they played an "important role". (I am blessed for Zestinotyreusa now)
Next event I went out ready to become the next DK.
But that didn't happen. I still sucked.
He offered more tips and by end of day I seemed to understand it more and learned the feel of the car.
He kept encouraging me and this went on and on for months until I was finally able to clear the layout without a spin or minimal corrections.
I was finally the man. People gave me high 5's and I felt part of the group. I had become a Drifter.
What I didn't know is how that experience in my #grassroots (beginning) stages would end up shaping me today.
You see, like many others, I have never left the "grassroots" I am and will always be #grassroots.
I am that friend who always helps and gives you advice on what helped me. My driving didn't come overnight and I still suck. But the fact that someone took the time to guide me and give me facts and brand names that they used and not pushed a product because they were sponsored but explained their high quality. Those brands I still run on my cars TODAY. Because they work, they last, they are proven.
My #grassroots are not the same as yours. The #grassroots of today have no instructors anymore, have no drive clinics, no one that can genuinely help because they want to someday tandem with you.
There are many factors on why it is no more. But part of the biggest issue in my opinion is that the internet has made celebrities of people who suck at being people to other people, if ya catch my Drift. (Soo cheesy lol)
But seriously, I see all these dudes carry themselves so high that anyone from the nOOb Squad never has a chance at asking a car set up question. Or receive driver basic driving adequate guidance. And so on and so on.
I can keep going. But let me stop here for now. I had to get out of bed and type this up at 2:31am because these things lay heavy on my heart.
How are you gonna claim that you are all about #grassroots when it doesn't play a role in your lifestyle anymore. A few of us have been here, still shaping new drivers and putting them in products that work and driving with them to progress. So that the Elite people on the interwebs don't bash or discourage them.
How about next time instead of complaining about how this new generation of drivers and car builders suck? Why don't you return the favor to the person who taught you by inviting someone to your events to drive with you and give them some guidance.