BEIRUT: As a child, Oliver El Kik had trouble fitting in at school or in social settings; he lacked mutual interests with people. That was until he discovered speed-car drifting: a passion that began as a hobby, but later on shaped his personality, career, and life.
From a secluded child to a drifting champion, El Kik fast-drifted his way to the top and started an academy for people with a similar passion.
It all started in 1993 when he used to watch his father compete in hill climbing events.
“The notion of the car attacking the roads at an aggressive pace got stuck in my head and I had to do something about it. My father had already given me pointers about how to handle the car mostly in emergency situations. So, at the age of 13, I started trying some tricks on the road, because at that time we didn't have any competitions or specialized areas,” he told Annahar.
To hone his skills, El Kik contacted drifting champion Abdo Feghali to seek some advice. He then participated in minor leagues to practice what he learned. At that stage, his life revolved around motorsports: hanging out with “motorhead friends,” attending drifting events, and drifting sports cars. His hobby morphed into a quick-driving-drifting lifestyle.
“Watching Abdo Feghali and his brother dominating the roads truly inspired me. I had a hunch that one day, I could become just as good; it all began in my mind,” he said.
Turning his thoughts into actions, El Kik participated in the Red Bull Car Park Drift Jounieh Qualifier, where he clinched third place. To him, that was a great achievement, since he competed against experienced drivers and raced with a stock Nissan 350 z.
As a result, this attainment encouraged him to further develop his skills. At the same time, El Kik was studying architecture at Notre-Dame University (NDU).
“As a child, I was always interested in creating things, whether it was drawing, painting, playing with Lego, or any sort of art. In addition to that, since our family was in the construction and engineering business, I chose Architecture,” he said.
However, this didn’t stop him from achieving his goals in the drifting field. In 2014, he won first place in the Lebanese Drift Championship, street category and second place in the Red Bull Car Park Drift in 2017. He also tried minor league drifting in the United States, where he acquired many sponsors, but decided to go back to his homeland where it all started.
After graduating, El Kik excelled as an architect, still, the older he got, the more his passion grew.
“When I’m sitting behind the wheel in a bucket seat bracing me between a 600 horsepower engine and a lightweight chassis, I feel that the car and I are one. For that brief moment, when I’m on the starting line, I’m isolated from the outside world and all the worries of life vanish leaving me in a state of nirvana,” he told Annahar.
He wanted to merge this passion into a career. So, he started Prodrifterz, the first academy in Lebanon to teach proper drifting. He prepared drift cars, built a drifting track out of the main "gymkhana" components, and provided students with experienced instructors.
“Since practicing motorsports isn’t affordable, due to the expensive equipment, my aim was to provide this experience at a much cheaper price and a safer way to those interested. The result is what I hoped for, Prodrifterz is giving almost everyone the chance to pursue his passion in drifting,” he said.
Due to the academy’s success, El Kik left his job as an architect, and in a sense, drove away towards his infinite passion.
To him, drifting is a lot more than just a sport, it’s even taught him self-control.
“Since drifting is the art of staying in control when the car is out of control, I learned to stay calm in the most hectic situations,” he told Annahar.
Annahar's "Faces of Lebanon" is an occasional series that takes a look at talented young Lebanese. We encourage you nominating candidates and telling us their story. Send your nominations to: [email protected]
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