JM | Oct 3, 2022

Red Bull crowns Jamaica’s first-ever Car Park Drift National Champion

/ Our Today


Nicholas ‘Tazz’ Barnes to represent Jamaica at Global Competition in Saudi Arabia, December 2022

Out of a lineup of 20 of the island’s finest drifters, Sheldon ‘Z Boss’ Johnson (R), copped third place, Cleve ‘Cutta Hype’ Ottey (L) took second, while Nicholas ‘Tazz’ Barnes was crowned the National Red Bull Car Park Drift Champion.

Twenty local drifters on Saturday (October 1) battled on the track during Jamaica’s first National Red Bull Car Park Drift Competition, with Nicholas ‘Tazz’ Barnes ultimately being crowned the island’s first-ever Red Bull Car Park Drift National Champion.

Along with his local ‘King of Drift’ title, Barnes is now set to represent Jamaica on the global track at the 2022 Red Bull Car Park Drift Finals set to take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on December 7 and 8 this year.

The national final was held in the island’s second city at the Catherine Hall Sports Complex in Montego Bay, St James, with a panel of three judges, namely Jamaican race car driver, Doug Gore, former sprinter and racing enthusiast, Asafa Powell, as well as Montegonian Rally Legend Richard Rerrie.

Making its debut in the Western Hemisphere, Red Bull Car Park Drift gave local contestants the opportunity to showcase their skills and talent on an obstacle-filled course.

Following a show of car smoke, car sounds, skill and precision, Montego Bay’s very own Nicholas ‘Tazz’ Barnes emerged Jamaica’s first-ever National Drift Champion for the Red Bull Car Park Drift 2022.

Opening its gates at 5 pm, the Catherine Hall Sports Complex was filled with spectators who were on hand to witness the historic event. The competition, which got under way at 7:30 pm, saw each drifter boasting their best through a show of smoke, car sounds, precision and skill.

In efforts to achieve the maximum 300 points, drifters skillfully navigated the nine obstacle courses set by National Motorsports champion from Lebanon, three-time Rally Champion and Guinness world record holder for the longest drift Abdo Feghali. Obstacles included Box runs, Pendulums and Spirals. Points were lost if contestants spun the car, hit obstacles or drifted in the wrong direction. Red Bull Car Park Drift representatives Yussif Basel and Johannes Hountondji, a member of the Red Bull Driftbrothers Team and one of the best known drifters in Europe were in attendance to oversee the competition.

In the three respective rounds, Barnes scored 265, 270 and 270 consecutively, while Cleve Ottey scored 269, 255 and 270 and Sheldon Johnson scored 222, 264 and 207, rounding out the top three positions for the night.

One of the largest drifting competitions, now in its 14th year, Red Bull Car Park Drift was first conceptualised in 2005 following a Red Bull manager’s discovery of drifting fever in a car park in Hong Kong, China.

Drift legend Johannes Hountondji, part of the Red Bull Driftbrothers team which has been active on the drift scene for more than a decade and is one of the best known and most successful drivers in Europe, said: “Red Bull Car Park Drift is something special, it’s very different than regular drifting.”

He added: “I haven’t seen any region where people enjoy driving the way I have seen it here – you really see them doing it with a full body and they’re all in.”

Drift legend Johannes Hountondji

He went on to explain that, “we don’t have high speed sections or battles, but what we do have is a lot of technicality. It’s not about having a $5-million car, it’s about precision and getting the best out of the equipment you have. It’s more about being in tune and enjoying it”.

He added: “I haven’t seen any region where people enjoy driving the way I have seen it here – you really see them doing it with a full body and they’re all in. Now, I did not know about the culture here, the car culture, the motorsports scene. It’s amazing. I’m so inspired by how passionate the people are, how passionate the drivers are.

“After what we’ve seen here tonight, I think some may be pleasantly surprised at the level of talent coming out of Jamaica’s drivers. Everyone on the world stage should watch out. We may see several of the guys from here stirring up the rankings quite a bit.”

With a great community and interest in motorsports, Jamaica has fostered a clear avenue for drifting to grow. The island is now the first western country to host the competition, providing a stage for contestants to display their skills in true athletic form and experience global opportunities as a result of such.

2022 National Drift King Nicholas ‘Tazz’ Barnes sports an enhanced yellow 1986 Toyota Corolla AE86 on the obstacle-filled course.

“We were so amazed and humbled by the turnout. I mean, we had a packed crowd!” shared Gore.

“In talking to Joe (Johannes Hountondji), he was saying that he really had no idea there was such a big motorsport following here in Jamaica and that he was blown away. I think it was really great that he was able to come and see that Jamaica is here, and is here to stay! We both agreed that Nicholas Barnes, Tazz, could really go out and win the event in Saudi Arabia. And that is just absolutely fantastic to hear from a pro Red Bull Driver.”

After finishing the competition as Jamaica’s first National Drift Champion, the 23-year-old Barnes, from Montego Bay, shared: “Adrenaline is still pumping! My goal is always to win and I never settle for mediocrity. It’s such an honour to be named winner. I would like to thank Red Bull for this opportunity and best believe I plan to give a good show in Saudi Arabia to show others that though Jamaica is a very small country, we have very very talented people on this island.”

See here for more on the competition.


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