Simon Michelmore is one of the stalwarts of SA drifting; one of the most consistent and constantly performing drivers Ive seen. He’s Been drifting for years, always out at prac days and comps, both in SA and interstate and always at the pointy end of the field.
Somewhat a rarity in a sport where sometimes it seems like people go as quick as they came
No matter the car, the track or the opponent, the style, aggression and ability never change. And after seeing him unleash his new NEO RB25 powered S14 on SA, and soon to be the rest of Australia, I got the hard word from our Leader Beau, to go off and see exactly what made him tick.
DK: What got you into drifting? What started it all?
I used to do a lot of thrashing on the street as most kids do when they first get their license i actually didn’t even own anything cool when i was on my P’s and it was as soon as i was off my P’s i set my sights on owning a rotor. A S3 RX7 to be exact. It wasn’t long before the motor expired and i ended up getting yet another rx7 with a 13B turbo already in it… it was around this time i was out cruising and thrashing about on the streets and i met a couple of blokes who were sliding all over the place… it was at this point that drift was barely heard of and only a very select few people knew about it from seeing such old option videos in japan. Anyway these two guys i met thrashing their datto 1600 and stock s13 were no less then the now famous Christian Pickering and James Mardel…. needless to say i was hooked on drift from that point on and it would have been around 1999/2000. I then saw the light and sold the rx7 and got an AE86 with a 190hp turned 4age with all jap running gear and TRD coilovers… this car taught me all about throttle control and making do with what little power i had at the time… was such an awesome experience and i sold it because the car was too clean to thrash too much.. i then bought another ae86 with a stock 16V 4age and this became the car that i first started seriously drifting in… in fact my first come and try track day was at Lakeside with no less then the one and only Darren Appleton! it was alllllll downhill from there haha
DK: What do like the most about the SA Scene, and what would you change if you could?
I like the fact that most people get on and when out at a drift day if there is any issues most people are very approachable and more then willing to help…loads of people are more then happy to share their wreath of knowledge also
DK: Any advice to any younger people just starting out?
Start off with a basic set up… keep power levels around stock and just make the engine reliable as hell… do cooling mods and spend the extra on oil coolers and quality fluids on top of that buy a pair of NEW tyres instead of scraps with stuff all tread… this way you can spend more time on the track and less time in the pits sorting issues and changing rubber… Susp set up is the key instead of power so focus on setting your cars up and just keep on hitting the track up for practice. if your not crashing your not trying!
DK: What are your ambitions for the future? Where do you want to go with drifting?
I’d love to drift as a profession but i don’t foresee it happening in Australia for a long time. Im quite happy to keep drifting for fun at this stage as the competition side of things tends to get a little too serious sometimes and starts sapping all the fun out of drift. we should never forget why we started drifting in the first place!
DK: What’s been you’re proudest/most memorable moment so far?
Competing at Drift Fest at Calder park and coming 2nd to Shinji Minowa certainly rates up there. it was an awesome experience to drive with and battle a seasoned Japanese drifter and not only that but to get some feed back afterwards was simply awesome… it’s also the most money Ive ever made from drifting taking home $6000 for 2nd place was mind-blowing!
DK: Anything that really grinds your gears in the drifting scene? What would you do to change things?
Ego’s really get to me…there’s also a lot of bitching in the scene, A select few drivers tend to smile and shake your hand but the minute the battle is over and done with they are quick to stab you in the back afterwards and but if you tune out of all that its quite a good scene to be a part of. The other thing that i can see a major improvement is the way events are run… currently events are too boring and slow to progress… a lot of miss-communication happens and ends up with drivers sitting in form-up or on the start line for so goddamn long… its even more painful when its 40 degrees!.
DK: With the Demise of DA, you looking to head to any interstate events?
For sure! Will be doing as much as i can afford and am planning on going to Winton for drift attack along with a tassie round
DK: Would you like to head to Japan someday? Drive over there?
I would love to go to japan and i have already started planning a trip with my wife as a belated honeymoon to go over and take in the sights, culture and maybe even do a matsuri which seems popular with Aussie drivers atm!
DK: You’ve quite a list of cars, what have you had?
Ive has a few!!! 2X S3 RX7’s, 3 AE86’s, 2X volvo’s, Cefiro, R32 4 Door, KE70 and now a S14 along with a stack of unmentionable shitboxes…
DK: Can you give us a run down of your new whip?
My s14 is prob the best and prettiest car that i have built…. ive build quite a few cars from the ground up usually doing all the work myself or with the help of mates and they have always turned out well but at the same time for cost reasons corners have been cut and they usually turn out to be low budget thrashers. With the s14 the budget was also set low but the focus was on a well built car that has all of the right parts and none of the stuff that doesnt belong or work. Ive got significant help this time round with developing the car into a formidable drift weapon. no suspension part, bush or set up is standard on the car and is a point of constant development. Getting grip at speed and large angles is something were trying to fine tune and hopefully with some fine tuning we’ll get there. Am Performance and myself built a cams approved cage for it along with many other things which have been developed and put into production for AM Performance’s range of products.
DK: What are you into off the track?
Drinking up with mates and helping other people out with their projects/cars etc. drift is an expensive enough hobby without blowing cash elsewhere haha. Ive got my house and my wife which keep me pretty occupied these days.
DK: Anyone you’d like to thank?
I’d like to thank in no particular order, AM Performance for all the fabrication and performance parts on my cars. the range of products and high quality of work from AM Performance is simply mind-blowing. from simple things like a strut brace to a full on exhaust and manifold to roll cages there is nothing that this guy cant do!
Cazman Industries for helping out with high quality suspension parts which are innovative and Australian made. he’s constantly trying to come up with new ways to perfect things and the quality shows!
I’d also like to thank Jeff from The Speed lab for helping out with all my tuning over the years and he’s listened to my needs and wants and tuned accordingly… simply faultless work and the fact that ive never ever blown a motor (touch wood) to date only proves his work.
I’d also like to thank the Buckham family down at All Type Crash for their support and their help over the years without these guys my car wouldnt look any where near as good.
And last but certainly not least, My friends and family who have put up with countless hours of work and projects for helping out also you guys are tops!.
Video from Simon Michelmore
All Pics courtesy of jay019.com