Drift Appalachia II Summons the Nation’s Best Talent to the Touge for a Two-Day Tandem Smoke Show

Photography: Brad Sillars

  • Drift Appalachia was the first-ever legal touge event on a mountain road in the United States.
  • The ground-breaking event brought 30 of the best drivers in the midwest to the Backroads of Appalachia in Jackson County, KY for a day of tire shredding.
  • The second iteration came on the heels of the inaugural gathering, promising two days of drifting with some of the nation’s brightest talent.
  • Aside from a proper grassroots drifting display, Drift Appalachia strove to create a positive impact for the area’s youth through motorsport.

“Drifting is bigger than all of us.” There couldn’t be a more humble assessment of what Drift Indy has done for the sport, but it’s a sentence that Edgar Sarmiento, one of the founders of DI, has said from the beginning. The organization that he and T.R. Scrivener started in 2005 has been pivotal in creating a forum for the Midwest’s best drifting. Its events have become synonymous with incredible displays of established talent and creating a safe space to help beginners grow into their style. The result of this combination is, quite simply, fun. Indeed, this sport wasn’t born from a desire to decimate your competitors; it was created as a form of art that is predicated on enjoying the moment.


The inaugural event called “Drift Appalachia” — a concept dreamed up by Edgar Sarmiento and Brian Eggert — captured that ethos perfectly and, for the first-ever legal Touge event on a mountain road in the United States. The host venue for this smash hit was the Backroads of Appalachia, a 4,500-mile roadway comprised of 52 mapped trails of various lengths across several state lines. Within that snaking stretch, Drift Indy selected a patch called “Pigeon Roost Hill” — a hillclimb/downhill combo course that would test the might of each of the 30 hand-selected pilots. Its aura was heightened by its exclusivity. Even up until the day before the event itself, the details were kept under a pretty tight lid to prevent spectators or other drivers from creating potentially dangerous situations. Indeed, the 30 cars were hand-selected for a reason: the course was treacherous with almost zero margin for error. But each driver had enough talent to keep the shiny side up throughout the day.


Even though the second Drift Appalachia event was only a few months after the first iteration, there was so much more to take in. While the first repurposed a stretch of road in Kentucky, this new event pushed eastward to West Virginia. Day one was lifted straight out of Japanese Touge. The heavily wooded area exuded a serene aura that was accentuated by fresh foliage on the ground and the unmistakable smell of fresh rain. It was near freezing, too, so we were thankful that this was the course for the first day. Since it was nearer to the bottom of the mountain, there weren’t as many life-threatening cliffs to consider. Still, the track was immensely technical and the significant elevation changes from corner to corner gave the drivers plenty to think about as they danced through each section.

The scene evoked a similar sentiment to the first Drift Appalachia chapter. This is unlike anything else the States have seen. The combination of driver talent and incredible backdrop was beyond everyone’s wildest expectations. In a moment, the unmistakable building crescendo of exhaust notes and mechanical noises bounced off every hard surface until the cars came into view. As the smoke faded, the soundtrack reset to its natural tranquility. And so the cycle went throughout the day, staccato splashes of bright colors dancing through the course in perfect harmony.


As I mentioned the first time around, the Backroads of Appalachia is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It leverages motorsports-focused tourism to help drive economic development, job training, and overall opportunity in impoverished areas. Drift Appalachia’s presence here helps Backroad’s cause and this time around, it brought the drifting community right through the heart of the nearby town. 

The effort was designed to do exactly what seeing drifting did for us decades ago: inspire the youth of the region to aspire toward something positive, that there are worthwhile alternatives to getting hooked on dope, which has become a big issue in these communities. This year, Drift Appalachia brought its field of cars straight through the heart of the local town. Although the sound of the drift cars ripping through the mountain pass might have been audible from a distance, there’s something truly special to see and hear these machines up close. The locals were ecstatic to have Drift Appalachia there; even the police, who gave the cars an escort, were happy to be there to support the effort. These kids didn’t think this would ever happen in their backyard and, as intended, is sparking a passion for motorsports in a whole new demographic.


The second day of driving was more of everything. The stage was higher up the mountain, which meant that the stakes were raised, too. This course was more technical and altogether scarier thanks to knee-weakening drops and jagged cliff faces. Guard rails were there for a reason; put a foot wrong and you could pay a big price. Thankfully, the course was dry this time around, which meant the cars could throw up some theatrical smoke shows amidst flexing some serious talent.


Talent has been a crux of both Drift Appalachia events so far. The driver pool has largely returned from the first go, albeit with a handful of fresh faces, including Geoff Stoneback, piloting his Red S15, and Ryan Tuerck, who brought his Toyota Stout and his 2JZ-powered 86 for good measure.


In terms of purity, Drift Appalachia is just about as good as it can get. It has managed to infuse the spirit of the sport with three key ingredients: well-curated exclusivity, the mystical mountain pass, and the philanthropic throughline that will propel this event forward for years to come. Indeed, the temperature surrounding this event is rising, and Sarmiento and Scrivener are poised to use every ingredient at their disposal to make sure that Drift Appalachia’s recipe delivers what drift fans have craved for years. We salute you, Drift Indy, for making this event come to life for us and the future generations that will carry this sport forward.