Top female drifter tells us about life in the fast lane

Kyla Oliphant during a drifting competition. Supplied
Kyla Oliphant during a drifting competition. Supplied

Kimberley’s own Kayla Oliphant finished second in the recent Red Bull Shay’iMoto spinning competition. She chats to us about the dynamics of being a young woman in the largely male- dominated drifting scene. 

H ow did you get into the world of drifting?

I first started spinning in 2015 when I was 14 years old. My dad bought me a BMW 330 (gusheshe) and taught me the basics, and from then on I taught myself the freestyle drifting that I do. I have a signature move — I was the first woman to attempt it —called the Suicide Slide. It’s when you hang out of the car window upside down with your head almost touching the ground while the car is spinning.

What inspired you to get into the world of drifting?

It was my father’s passion at first. He always wanted to drift when he was younger but, unfortunately, he couldn’t pursue it because of financial reasons. So, when I decided to enter the world of drifting, he was so excited for me to do it. He has been my motivation through this journey.

Kayla Oliphant. Supplied.
Kayla Oliphant. Supplied.

What was it like to participate in the Red Bull Shay’ iMoto competition?

It was an absolute privilege — especially landing in second place. It was a bit overwhelming but an exciting moment in my life. The support and advice I received from my male teammates, and how they cheered me on in the competition, was uplifting. The competition gave us confidence and made us realise that we were some of the best drifters in SA. I mean, who doesn’t want to be witnessed as one of the top 16 best spinners?! Although, due to technical difficulties, I was unable to take the winning title, I could see I was the best, despite my being a woman in a male-dominated industry.

As a woman in a “man’s world”, what were some of the challenges that you faced?

As expected, people don’t believe that I am a woman doing what I do — being so young and spinning. My main challenge would be financial more than anything else. There were not many women competing out of the 16 [in the competition], and I think there needs to be more of a balance when it comes to that.

Image: Supplied

How do you find a balance between matric and drifting?

I am completing school at Northern Cape High and am currently preparing for my exams. I mostly focus on school, as drifting is more of a hobby which I get to do during the weekends. I don’t really have a set time of how long I spin; I just do it for fun and compete to enhance my skill. My plans for next year are to study psychology at the University of the Free State because I am more passionate about people’s wellbeing.

What skills and resources are necessary to become a drifter?

Firstly, a car — you’ve got to have that! And bravery and a passion for high speed.

What advice would you give women out there who aspire to get into drifting?

Ifthat’s what you want to do, go for it. No one should dictate what women can and cannot do. One thing I noticed while competing is that I could do the same freestyle drifting as my male competitors. What they can do, I can do. It’s justa matter of proving your full potential andbelieving in yourself.