Driven and energetic, NDU alumna Carine Kai discusses how she pursued her passion for drifting, and the internal and external challenges she faced in pursuit of her goals.
What made you want to become a Professional Drifter?
I’ve always been into motorsports since I was a kid. As an adrenaline junkie, I always loved everything related to extreme sports (note that I am also an extreme sports instructor in a company called Xploriders. It handles everything related to bungee jumping, zip lines, climbing walls, monkey bridges…), racing and of course dancing which is currently my part time job; I teach HipHop in schools and dance academies as I have been dancing since I was three years old.
Most of all I guess it comes from my dad; he used to be a rally driver and taught me a lot of things related to the motorsports community. He also is my biggest supporter, and he is the one who pushed me the most into pursuing what I love: becoming a professional drifter.
What steps did you take to further that goal?
For the past two years I took intensive training sessions and rented a car to enter the championship. When I ranked second place, I decided to buy my own car two months ago to compete in the 2019 season with it, and achieve higher results. I will, of course, be involved with more training till the championship starts.
Do you have a favorite car to race in? One you would like to try out?
Nissan GT-R, I would really like to drift in that car someday.
I also like the specs of corvettes for drifting.
What do you look for when choosing a car for a race?
It should be a Rear-wheel car, preferably light in weight, with good suspension, and personally I prefer a short differential. Of course, it should also include a hydraulic hand brake, nicely picked wheels that would support me drifting (size, quality, smoke…) and it should do the work for a start. After that, modifying the engine and working on other details would push me forward as I enter a more professional category that would require a more powerful car.
Have you ever had any close calls, or crashes? Did they affect your perspective on drift racing? How/Why?
Till now, I haven’t had a major crash in any race I’ve run. Ironically as a dancer, I never have a problem performing in front of thousands of people, but I did face this problem, the fear of a huge audience watching, in my first championship, because there are a lot of people involved in the drift community. That being said, I was really afraid of being judged, because I was one of the very few women who participated in this championship for the first time in Lebanon. It affected my driving skills at first, but now it is the thing I’m working on the most in order to perform better. I am trying to channel that fear into energy and motivation, as I do in dancing, and it seems to be working! I am excited for this year’s championship, to prove to myself and to others that I can do much better without the fear of being judged by a huge audience, and I want to set this example to every woman who wants to perform this kind of sports. I got a lot of positive feedbacks and lots of support from my friends, family, and from people that I met through drifting, and it felt amazing!
How did your time at NDU affect your choice, if at all?
As a Business Marketing student (major) and Food and beverage (minor), I joined at NDU a club called AMC club, short for Automotive and Motorsports Club. I was so happy to find out that there are other students just as interested in motorsports activities as me! As a member of the committee, I got to know these amazing people, and learned a lot from them. The level of knowledge they have when it comes to cars is insane, and their enthusiasm is even better. This club was the only thing that allowed me to share my love for motorsports and express it with the club members by organizing events, workshops, rides…
What was your favorite race to run? Why?
My favorite race was the one I won in the championship, because it was the race where I faced my fears the most and pushed them away. I ended up winning that round, and ended up proving to myself that, without fearing the social judgment, I could actually reach places and rank first. That fear was the only thing standing in the way!
Do you have any words for aspiring drift racers contemplating the decision?
As a woman, I am not going to say that it was easy. I was scared; I wondered what people would say about me being a girl participating in a sport that usually only involves guys in Lebanon. I was afraid of being judged if I didn’t perform well in the championship, and mostly, I was afraid of having people regard me as not being very “feminine.” But I was able to prove everyone wrong. Yes I am a girl, and, yes, I drift, that doesn’t make me any less “feminine.” So for every woman out there, I can only say that one of the most freeing feelings in the world is doing what you love and proving everyone that your passion can surpass any kind of judgment. Your passion, dedication, motivation, and love for what you do will only make you more special, and will make you reach places you never dreamed of reaching! It’s what happened to me.
When is your next race?
My next championship is scheduled to be in sometime in June 2019.