Birth of a Drift Team: Team Shade and Its Origins, By Joey Ritter

When I first started drifting, I was going back and forth about whether it made sense to be on a team or not and what being on a team even meant. I’d seen Formula Drift teams and even some other local teams, but what did that mean for me? 

My first “team” I was invited into never drove or planned to have matching cars so I don’t really count that. A year or so later, in 2020, I had a couple of buddies who drove together frequently. We were all named Joe and drove 350Zs, so we named ourselves JoeZCrew. It was corny and we never had matching cars, but it was fun at the time before one Joe moved to the Carolinas and the other to Pennsylvania. Some time passed and then I was mainly driving with Clint Stotts at almost every test and tune and every event. I had also met Chad Stoelting because we both helped as instructors at a Kil-kare event. We ended up having a blast driving together and made an effort to drive together more. Next thing I know, David Whelen approached me at one of the last events of 2021 to start a team with himself, Chad and Mason Faucett. I told him “sure, as long as I get to bring Clint with me.” I drove with Clint more than anyone so I had to bring him along. 

Early days of team shade

Early days for Team Shade at DISL Teams

At the time, we didn’t really know what it meant to be a team, we just wanted to do something cool with the homies. We spent that next winter always talking about the progress we were making on our off seasons and it was awesome. The motivation of seeing your friends make progress really helped to make your own progress happen. We argued for countless hours about what color to wrap our cars, but eventually we chose and made it happen. At the time we were thinking about making our name “Team Shade”, because we figured we would end up with a bunch of different shades of one color, since we couldn’t all agree on something. Eventually we all agreed on one color, then didn’t want to change our team name, because we actually all agreed on the name which was shocking. Our only regret was choosing a wrap brand that was for “experienced” wrappers only. 

Joey's 350Z at 2023 Media Day

Team Shade at Media Day '23

They were right. We wasted plenty of wrap learning the hard way on every aspect, but we made it happen. 

The more time we spent as a team, the more fun we had and the closer we became. Drift events have always been about driving hard for us, but we’ve also been able to sit back and have a good time when not on track.

Team Shade at NSB XII

Team Shade at NSB XII

It’s awesome being surrounded by amazing people who always have each other's back. Our team has lost count on the number of track side transmissions we’ve swapped for Clint. I’ve done countless alignments on everyone's cars. We’ve all swapped countless tires in my garage together. We pulled Chad’s frame straight together. There’s nothing that we can’t make happen as a team and I think that’s really what it’s all about. 

Team Shade

Photo Courtesy of Sam Igel

It’s not about being competitive or being the coolest or best drift team. It’s just about having fun with your bros and always helping the ones in need. Most importantly, it’s a lot less frustrating crashing into your friends than it is random people. You get to heavily persuade your friends to help you fix their mistakes. Also, who doesn’t love a good team drift picture? Just remember: The key to having fun is to keep it simple. Stop building pro cars as amateurs and just go have fun with your friends.