What were you up to when you were 14 years old? Trying to convince your buddy to trade you for his sick Charizard card? Watching YouTube videos about how to make your Nerf guns shoot further? Writing notes to your crush in social studies? I think my subconscious has done me a favor and blocked out most of the middle school and early high school years for me.
Whatever I was doing, though, I sure as hell wasn’t traveling around shredding tracks in a Miata.
14-year-old Jake Clark, though, is doing exactly that. He joined us for Drift Indy Street League Volume 9 at Kil-kare and, while he came just short of making it through prelims on a soaked and slippery track, he was a ton of fun to watch during practice.
At the end of the day, I took some time to sit down with Jake and his parents for a short interview:
What got you into drifting?
My brother used to drift a lot when I was younger and I'd go to all his events… He's 25 I think, I don't know. 28? I don't know what he is, but he just sold his car. He used to have a Z that matched my car.
What other tracks have you hit this year?
I've driven AMP, CMP, SGMP, Lanier, and Polecat, I think that's it this year. I really like AMP. It's just fast and flows really good.
Cool! So, how does somebody your age even start driving events? You don’t even have a permit yet right? Lots of red tape?
Jake’s dad: There was at the beginning. Some of the tracks wouldn’t let him on track. Till finally we got our home track, Lanier, we have Federico, an FD driver, and he was running a program doing drift nights and at that point Jake was already about six months into it so he was linking everything pretty good.
So they just did a run with him, you know, had him shut the track down, had him do a run, and then after that they were like, okay, he is good. And it kind of started a whole trend thing because now there's a lot more younger kids that don't even have their license that are starting to come in and drive.
I remember a season or two ago was the first time Cash Staub came out to Kil-kare and it was a little tricky getting him allowed on track, I think he was just like 15. How early can you get your permit in Georgia?
I think 15 is the permit and 16 is for the license.
Do you think you’ll pass your permit test pretty easy?
Yeah, I think so.
What are your goals when you’re driving? Like, what are you thinking about?
I don't really think about anything. I just, like, go as fast as I can and look where I want to go and just go.
What about style-wise? A lot of our guys look at Japanese-style stuff.
Yeah. I kind of look at the same thing, like team Animal Style and Naoki and stuff like that. Like N-style stuff.
How does drifting fit into your life? I mean, you’re in high school, right?
Wild. I’m trying to remember what I was doing in eighth grade… definitely not drifting. Do you get out of school to go to events?
Yeah, sometimes I get outta school, but most of the time they're like on the weekend or during the summer and stuff. You don't really have to miss anything.
Do you play sports or anything?
No, drifting takes up all my time, basically.
Plans for after school?
Ah, I don't know. I might go for welding maybe, but I'm probably just gonna do stuff with drifting and driving and cars.
Do you do all the work on your car?
No, not all of it. I help, but I don't do all of it.
Jake’s dad: He's getting better.
I haven't been around cars that much, really know a lot about 'em, so I'm learning while I'm doing it, or watching.
How does the competition around here compare to other events you’ve driven?
The majority of drivers are just better. Like there's drivers near me that are this skill level, but there's a lot less of them. Almost every driver here’s, like, pretty good. Yeah, a lot more good drivers here. There's good drivers down there, but there's a lot fewer good drivers. There's a lot of beginners down near where I am.
Last question, what does drifting mean to you?
It's just about having fun and making friends, but it’s also super competitive. It's a good mix of everything.
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Jake’s NB Miata’s riding on Feal coilovers, Kansei wheels and Destroy or Die angle and rear lower control arms. He’s got an ISR turbo downpipe and “all the turbo bits.” Body-wise, it’s got a Garage Vary front bumper, Bomex side skirts, and a JP fiberglass rear bumper.
Jake's sponsored by Rogue Garage, Kansei, Koruworks and Umai Style, his team.
He also mentioned that he’s building an LS S13 hatch to help him keep up on the bigger tracks.
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It's super rad to see anyone as young as Jake taking an interest in drifting, and even radder to see him already driving and growing into an absolute shredder. Kids like him, with their head in the right place and supportive parents, can go a long way toward growing the motorsport we all love.