Luke Barker was a name that might not have been familiar with too many people before the weekend just gone. That has now all changed as this young contender entered his first ever competitive drift event at Drift Games Nationals, and ended up on the top step of the podium. He now makes his debut in #BDC2019 Pro Am this Saturday at Teesside. We caught up with him to see how he was feeling about his catapulting start into the competitive drift scene!
So as this is your debut into BDC Pro Am why don’t you let the people know a little bit about yourself and your car?
“Where to start, I am 20 years old, I am from the North West around the Manchester area and I work full time as a mechanic. Motorsport has been a huge part of my life since the age of 8, where I started my motorsport career in Karting up until the age of 13. During my time in Karting I raced against and beat the likes of Lando Norris and George Russel, both of which are current Formula One Drivers in the 2019 season. In 2011 I also was awarded the Bernie Eccelstone driver award whilst competing in the Formula Kart Stars championship, which allowed me to visit the 2012 British GP where I was given full VIP access where I met Bernie Eccelsone himself, along with the teams and the drivers, this was a highlight of my Karting career. When I turned 14, I quit karting and moved on to Rallying, where I competed against the likes of Guss Greensmith a current WRC 2 driver. Although my time in rallying didn’t last long as it wasn’t enjoyable to race against a clock, I wanted to have the adrenaline rush of racing against people.”
“The car that I currently drive is Nissan 350z with a stock 2JZ engine swap which we do plan to open up in the future and aim for more power and reliability. We have had the car for around a year and a half which was bought as a stock road car, which we then stripped and put some bucket seats in and harnesses to learn to drift.”
How did you get into drifting and how have you come to have this crazy build?
“I got into drifting via Mike Lardner who I work with, who is a former winner of BDC Pro-Am at Lydden Hill. With his experience he showed me the basics of drifting and kept pushing me until I could do it on my own, without Mike I don’t think I would be where I am at today and I thank him for taking his time to help me to get to where I am at.”
“Crazy I think is a too nice of a word for the car I would say its more “Savage” with the amount of grip and speed the car can carry it can get scary at times. Originally the car was a stock 350z after 4 months we had a fuelling problem with the stock engine. It so happened that we had just bought a 2JZ engine from Canada that we planned to swap into the 350z but at a later stage. But instead of chasing an issue around we decided to take the stock engine out of the car and put the 2JZ heart into the car which it is now well known for. We have developed the car over the last year with the new engine, where we have continued to add to the build one stage at a time so we can feel what the changes have done to the car instead of changing 5 or 6 things at a time and not knowing which made the car better or made the car worse. I think it has helped me learn the car better as it has developed as I have progressed as a driver. The car is currently no where near where it is going to be, but it is a continuous development to make it one of the best cars on the grid.”
What was it like being the first person to top a Drift Games podium?
“If I’m going to be honest it still feels like I’m dreaming about it. It is a hard feeling to explain to go out on your first drift event and win it against some extremely talented drivers, it is a surreal feeling to the point where I was shaking on the podium. To have hundreds of people cheering you on and wanting to take photos with me and the car it wasn’t something I am used to, it was just out of this world. The amount of support I have been getting over social media since the win has been incredible and it goes to show how amazing the drift community is.”
Do you think you can keep the streak going this weekend?
“It won’t be easy at all to take the top step at round 1, with the amount of talent in the Pro-Am grid it will be a hard-fought battle to get to the top. But if I put my mind to it and drive how I did at Round 1 of Drift Games I think that I have a chance of keeping the streak going and take the top step. The car is more than capable to take me to the top step of the podium. but as I said it certainly will not be easy at all with the likes of Andy Frost, JoJo, and multiple other talented drivers on the grid.”
If you could pick one other driver to go head to head with who would it be and why?
“If I was to pick one driver from Pro-Am it would have to be Jolene “JoJo” McDonald as we have a little rivalry and banter going, it would make for one hell of a battle where any of us could take it.
If I was to get into the Pro’s I would have to choose Oliver Evans as recently he has bullied me around Three Sisters and I feel that its only fair that I return the favour to him, and also the fact that he is regarded as one of the best drivers on the Pro grid, that battle would most certainly be fireworks!”
Do you think Luke has what it takes? Will the streak continue? Last chance to get your 20% off presale tickets for Teeside now, so don’t wait around and come and see what could well prove to be the most exhilarating drift tournament the UK has seen to date!