Coming from a very well-known motorsport family in Co. Cork and after a decade within the professional sport of Drifting, James Deane showed the world who’s boss in the early hours of this morning.
Following in older brother Mike’s footsteps (who was a very successful drifter himself after a spell rally driving), James started his career in 2006, aged just 15 at what then, was the birth place and unofficial home of drifting in Ireland, Rosegreen in Tipperary.
The Deane’s arrived for the event with James in nothing more than a Ford Sierra Estate with a welded differential and it was this type of car that most keen drifters started with in Ireland at the time to be fair, cheap, cheerful and perfect to see if you had what it took to cut it at the sport.
For James he soon learned that he not only enjoyed taking part, but was rather good with it and within a year progressed into a Nissan S-Chassis and gained his pro licence to the best of my knowledge.
It was this Nissan S14a that got James noticed within the pro ranks and over the next few years he tackled series’ within Ireland and Europe after attracting major sponsorship and demonstrated a professional and mature manner that led him to being the best in Europe.
During this time, Deane crossed the Atlantic a few times with invites to events in the US of A due to his huge dominance in Europe and not only did the quiet big Irish lad get ranked within the top 20 drift drivers in the world, he also took the Formula Drift, Rookie of the Year accolade in 2010.
Since then and until now, James has continued to hone his craft at the helm of an SR20 powered Mazda RX7 as well as the trusted Nissan S-Chassis cars throughout Europe and has remained the ‘King of Europe’ by claiming at least one championship win in every season except for 2012 when he was a fine runner up in the ProDrift series.
With such success James soon became Brand Ambassador for Falken Motorsports and his most famous colour scheme is likely the green and blue one of said tyre maker and worldwide motorsport supporter.
James also started to see more of the world and is heavily involved with drifting in the Middle East via Level One Qatar and something that I have just learned via writing this article is that James holds a Guinness World Record for the longest tandem drift.
In the last year or two, alongside his continued Falken sponsorship, Deane became part of the Polish, Bud Mat Auto Drift Team and towards the end of last year Paddy McGrath announced exclusively on SpeedHunters, news that we had all been waiting for, for years.
Paddy stated – ‘After years of dominating Europe, James Deane will begin a full Formula Drift campaign starting in 2017 along with his teammate, Piotr Więcek, and the Polish Bud Mat Auto team.’
This news was music to the ears of Deane fans across the world, me included, primarily due to the fact that the Formula Drift series is seen as the absolute pinnacle of the sport and as such the now 25 year old from Co. Cork would be able to tango with the worlds greatest.
Being an incredibly humble lad, James never comes across as thinking he is the best, nor that he is above anyone within the sport, despite the fact that he really is one of the best drifters in the world at present.
Deane is nothing but complimentary to all of his fellow drivers and in some ways, is maybe even in disbelief that he is now committed to a full championship in his Worthouse. Drift Team – Nissan S15, alongside those who he maybe see’s as his hero’s within the sport in which he is now at the deep end.
So now you have a reasonable understanding of how James’ journey to Formula Drift Long Beach #FDLB in California this weekend came about and we can get stuck into the event itself and start with qualifying where James set the benchmark.
Drifting is a judged sport where drivers get scored for angle, speed, transition and ability to meet clipping points as well as bravery to ‘rub the wall’ with the rear of the car on certain parts of the track, without upsetting the flow of the drift.
Scored out of 100, Deane set the benchmark in qualifying and highlighted himself as a force to be reckoned with, laying down a near perfect score of 96/100, a score that many of the seasoned locals struggled to get near until Vaughn Gittin Jr managed to bag a 97/100.
Deane commented that qualifying second on his first event of the series was enough to make his weekend and that the top 16 battle the following day was more or less a dream come true and I guess no matter what happened during the main event, it wasn’t going to drown his qualifying achievement.
Michael Essa #101 got shown the exit by Deane in the top 16 and come the great 8 the Irishman faced Chris Forsberg #64 which for me was the battle of the day to see and putting in a faultless drive Deane forced the current Formula Drift champion out.
In the final 4 Deane was to face Ryan Tuerck #411 and after what is now one of his infamously strong lead drives, Deane’s dream was coming true as he progressed into the last 2 against the BMW of Peru’s Alex Heilbrunn.
In interview before the final battle James commented “I honestly can’t put it into words what is happening and it will take while to sink in, especially being my first Formula Drift event in seven years” A smiling Deane continued “Thanks to everyone involved as it’s not just me or my driving, it is family, friends and sponsors that have made this possible”.
A relaxed looking Deane finished by saying “I have no words, I am on top of the world and will try and do my best (in the final) – I think I will just fall asleep after the event as all day I am pumped on adrenaline it’s just incredible and I owe so much to everyone around me and to especially to Piotr Więcek and Worthouse. Drift Team”.
Needless to say, James Deane turned up on the start line and soon showed the world who is boss by taking a convincing win over an overly confident Heilbrunn and stepped onto the top of the rostrum a very proud young man in front of his friends, family, team and supporters across the globe watching live on the World Wide Web.
Having seen James at the start of his career and followed his antics in more recent years online I must say it was great to see this win live as it has put James where he has been destined for a long time – on top of the world.
Words Graham Curry Images Paddy McGrath | Worthouse. Drift Team