Driving race cars seems like a glorified lifestyle or a dream job for many of us.
For those of you who have witnessed a racing event before, you know what it’s like to feel the wind of the race cars whip through your hair, while the roar of the engines rattles your seat.
Some racing events require dozens, if not a couple hundred laps to complete. It allows the driver time to make up for a mistake while they’re out on the track.
For 27-year-old Surrey native Brody Goble, the type of professional racing he partakes in doesn’t allow for such error.
Goble is a professional drift racer, a type of racing that’s grown in notoriety since the early 2000’s.
When he’s on the course, there’s no room for error.
“It’s not like road racing where if you make a mistake, you can make it up the next lap,” he said. “It’s the most stressful form of racing there is out there and one that commands you not to make any mistakes.”
For professional drift racers in the Formula Drift circuit, drivers have two laps to perfect their drift. They are critiqued by judges based on factors such as line, angle, and style. Around 40 drivers show up for every event, but only the top 16 drivers qualify for the main event.
“There’s a huge mental aspect to it,” Goble said. “One tiny error and your trip across the country could be wasted.”
Even other race car drivers give credit to the stress of professional drifting.
“We went out there with an Indy car driver [J.R. Hildebrand] and he admitted to us that it was the most stressful form of racing he’s ever tried,” Goble said.
“He couldn’t believe the pressure that it took.”
Anatomy of a drift driver
Goble’s love for cars started before he could remember.
“I’ve been around cars my whole life. I guess there was no hope for me,” jokes Goble.
His father, Alex Goble, has been involved in the car business throughout his life and his also a gear-head at heart, according to Brody. The Goble’s both run the B.C. Dealers Trade In Centre up in Guildford.
Goble’s love for cars and racing was also influenced by others who are close to him. He mentions that family friends Pieter Baljet, late champ car driver Greg Moore and Tim Brown of Brown Bros. Ford helped steer him down a successful path in motorsports.
Those family friends gave Goble some of his earliest racing memories. Even today, Goble races with Baljet and Brown in racing events.
After being obsessed with cars throughout his young life, Goble quit playing rep hockey and got into racing go-karts as a 13-year-old.
His first foray into racing could be described as nothing less than an unheralded success.
While most of us try go-karting out at the track as a hobby, Goble was presented with the opportunity to travel around North America while still just a high school student.
“Near the end of my karting career at 18 years old was when I first started getting into drifting,” Goble said.
“The best thing about drifting is that everything you are taught not to do in normal racing, you can do in drifting,” he said. “A driver’s skill comes to the forefront in drifting whereas some other types of racing it may not be quite as clear.”
Eventually, Goble started looking for a new challenge. That’s when he upgraded from the karts to the cars when he was 18-year-old, competing in his first drifting competition as a young kid who was fresh off of getting his driver’s license.
He finished third overall in the CoastDrift event out of 19 competitors, showing early on that he had what it took to move up the ranks in drifting.
“That was one of my most memorable races,” he said. “I went in there with no expectations, and to finish third showed me that I had a shot at competitive drifting.”
“We weren’t expecting to have a result like that. It was not only my first time competing but even drifting a car period. I was able to pull a lot of experience from karting and sports car racing but there are a ton of things in drifting that are completely foreign to someone who has never experienced it before.”
Goble got into drifting to learn more about what it meant to be a better sports car driver. He chose drifting because of the challenges it presented compared to standard racing.
“I wanted to learn about the different vehicle dynamics, like how you can push the boundaries of a car.”
“I actually never had aspirations to get into competitive drifting,” Goble admits. “It was a total accident. Opportunities kept presenting themselves as I got deeper and deeper into the sport.”
That accident has led Goble down a thrilling career path that now sees him compete in a sport that’s gaining traction internationally faster than any other motorsport.
Formula Drift foray
When you watch video of Goble on the race course you might think, how on earth does this guy not drive into other cars?
With two cars out on the course, drifting at high speed and competing at the same time, one of the goals of the trailing car is to stick as close to the lead car as possible without hitting him.
“There have been some collisions out there, but usually guys are civil about it,” he said. “It’s part of the sport. Guys aren’t trying to drive into each other, but they are trying to get their car as close as they can to the lead car in front of them.”
For Goble, years of racing go-karts and other cars got him into the Formula Drift Pro 2 Series in 2015, which features four yearly events around the United States.
In his first season, he finished an impressive eighth overall out of 40 drifters from across the globe.
That placement punched his ticket to move up to the Formula Drift Pro 1 Circuit, which features eight events taking place around the world.
Instead of building upon that success, Goble decided to take the 2016 season off from competitive drifting.
“We needed more power in order to stay at the top of the podium, so we needed to start with a whole new motor,” he said. “We needed more time away from the track to create the beast we originally envisioned.”
Goble spent the 2016 season working with his longtime friends over at Frankenstein Speed and Customs in Langley. They stripped every nut and bolt off of his Nissan 240 SX to elevate it from 600 horsepower all the way up to 1000 horsepower.
“The car we had before wasn’t going to be the car we wanted it to be,” he said.”It made more sense to build what we wanted from scratch.”
With the lifespan of these cars only being about four years in competitive drifting, Goble wanted to make sure his newest ride was ready for the international circuit.
Goble going international
For the 2017 season though, it was back to burning rubber for the Surrey native.
Boy, did he burn rubber early on.
Goble finished sixth overall in his first race of the season, a strong showing for him in his new ride. During his second race, he finished third.
Goble needed a top-eight finish in order to move up to the top level of Formula Drift, which features eight events around the world, compared to the four in North America at the Pro 2 level.
That’s when disaster struck for Goble.
Heading into the third race, Goble was firmly planted at second place in the series standings, and even two mediocre events would have sent Goble to the top Formula Drift racing league in the world.
During the third Pro 2 event in Monroe, Washington, Goble experienced engine problems throughout the weekend. He qualified for the round of 16 but bowed out to the series leader at the time.
“It was a tough one to swallow at my home track,” he said.
He was still sitting sixth overall after three events. Then in the final race at the Texas Motor Speedway, the cylinder head in his engine failed before qualifying kicked off, and he wasn’t able to get it fixed in time for the race.
By picking up zero points in the final race, Goble finished 10th in the overall standings.
Still, Goble doesn’t look back on his car’s failures as a bad thing.
“We’ve never wanted to rush into something that we weren’t prepared for,” he said. “It’s about moving up to the next level when the timing is right, and about making a big splash when you do.”
Goble shows selflessness by always mentioning his crew members in conversation. He mentions that his crew, including Tommy Franke, Ramsay Trew, Keith Carter and Clay Beier have become his family on the road as the only licensed formula drift team from Canada.
Another key part of his crew is Ian Stewart, who previously won Formula Drift crew chief ‘mechanic of the year’ award in 2010 when working for another Formula Drift driver.
Goble also feels grateful to have the tutelage of Stewart, who is one of the five members of his crew that travels with him for every Formula Drift event.
“Ian huge asset to have in our corner,” said Goble. “Ian took me under his wing and he continues to mentor me throughout the process of turning this into a full-time career.”
“I’ll be forever grateful for everyone who has helped our team along the way.”
Aside from drifting around tracks for a living, Goble has also had his driving prowess featured on TV.
He’s been featured in many different car and motorcycle commercials, including international campaigns for Audi and Volkswagen. He was also in an international advertisement for Peugeot earlier this year.
Goble also teaches others to drive cars with Tony Morris Jr. of Morrisport. He has spent time teaching people how to drive everything from Ferrari’s’s and Lamborghini’s to everyday economy cars out on the race track.
“We teach people how to drive these cars quickly but safely,” he said. “It also allows them to get out on the track and do things they can’t do on the street.
Despite all the accolades and international recognition, Goble’s next goal is to move up to the Formula Drift Pro 1 series.
“It’s something we’ve been shooting towards for a long time,” he said. “We can move up now, but you don’t want to move up unless you can be competing for the win every weekend.”
“We’re going to stay where we are right now and try to be dominant.”
Now that Goble has a year of experience driving his new car, he expects bigger things next year out on the course.
“We are essentially in the WHL [Western Hockey League] of professional drifting,” Goble said. “We are working through some of the normal teething pains for building a brand new car and will come back swinging in 2018 with a car that now has a full season under its belt.”
“Last year we showed that we are a team to look out for so we are excited to back it up next season.”
Goble has been nothing but dominant at many other levels of racing. The future is bright for the Surrey native as he strives for international stardom in the drifting world as the only Canadian competing on the circuit.