Better Know A Driver: Riley Sexsmith

Hello and welcome to the first installment of our weekly driver spotlight, where we’ll be showcasing drivers from the Midwest and beyond. This is your chance to get the backgrounds and stories of the talented drivers competing at the pro-am level, who one day you might very well see slinging rubber on the Formula D circuit.

SMASHED: How did you get into drifting?

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Sexsmith: I got into drifting through a few friends in Buffalo, NY. A good friend of mine, Ken Agnello, had met a few other guys who were drifters and after I went to a Club Loose event with them I was hooked. I met Wade Odrey from Suislide through them and he really motivated me to improve my driving.

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SMASHED: Do you look up to/get inspired by any of the Formula D or D1GP drivers? If so, who?

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Sexsmith: There are so many good drivers in D1/Formula D its hard not to look up to all of them. Considering the current mood I’m in if had to pick a couple it would be Alec Honandell because he just doesn’t give a f*ck and shreds. It looks like he’s on the ragged edge all the time and I like that, it’s something I want to emulate in my driving. Frederick Aasbo as well because of his smooth effortless style and his consistency, he makes it look so easy.

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SMASHED: What achievements are you trying to reach in the sport?

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Sexsmith: My goal in drifting is to get to the top, I want to be up there with the household names of the sport. Ever since I was a young kid I used to dream of racing cars one day. I even used to pretend to drive my desk at school. In high school we were told we had to choose a career and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t find anything that suited me or that I was particularly interested in. At the time I wanted to race motorcycles but as I got more involved in drifting and progressed further I decided to put everything else aside and attempt to go pro.

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SMASHED: What’s your biggest motivation to help you reach those goals?

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Sexsmith: My biggest motivation to reach this goal other than the fact I quit school and have nothing to fall back on is to do something my parents can be proud of. I love driving more than anything in the world and at times my parents thought it was foolish to spend so much of my time doing it rather than pursuing a traditional career. Unfortunately my father died a little over a year ago and I never got the chance to show him what I can do. I don’t want to quit until I reach the top so that I know I didn’t let him down by quitting school and spending all of my money on drifting. I want to achieve something my dad would have been proud of.

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SMASHED: What is/are some of the biggest hurdles you’ve had to overcome to get where you are now?

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Sexsmith: The main hurdle I have always come up against is money. Since day one I’ve funded my own drifting and in the process spend every dime I make. Last spring NV Auto approached me with the opportunity to drive a car for them and it really took the financial burden off of me. Up until that point my truck was pretty basic and far from a properly built race car and I feel it held me back quite a bit. Now with NV and all of our other sponsors involved I may be able to fulfill my dream of becoming a professional driver.

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SMASHED: Speaking of hurdles and money, you’ve got a rather unconventional platform for the sport. What’s the story on that? (The silver livery is from 2014)

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Sexsmith: There are a couple of reasons we

[NV Auto and I] went with the Subaru. I had originally been drifting my pickup which got a lot of attention even if my results at that particular event weren’t stellar. I knew I wanted to upgrade to something better for my next car to hopefully allow me to advance further in my driving career. I had toyed with the idea of a Miata, a foxbody Mustang and a Mercedes but a lot of my choices had poor aftermarket support as far as handling upgrades were concerned. That along with the fact that a Foxbody uses suspension designs from the late sixties made it not necessarily the best base for a pro quality car. I had been daily driving an Impreza for a while and it got me thinking about using that as a drift chassis. The cars are relatively modern, very common, and there’s a lot of aftermarket support for them. However, no one really drifts them. I approached NV Auto about helping me build an Impreza drift car seeing as they know Subarus upside down and backwards and it must have got them thinking at the same time. As it turned out they had the car we’re currently using sitting behind the shop after someone’s failed attempt at an engine swap had left it sitting in someone’s yard for some time. They [NV Auto] wanted to build the car but really didn’t have any sort of reason to do so until I asked them about helping me with a drift car. One thing led to another and now not only do I drive the car for them but I’m employed there as well.

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SMASHED: And on that 2JZ swap?

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Sexsmith: The 2JZ swap came more out of our experience with the first season of competition. The original plan was to do a V8 but after some delays over the winter left us short on time we decided it would be much easier to pull the drivetrain from the shop’s current time attack car as it was already proven to be reliable and powerful. The way pro drift cars are these days though 500hp doesn’t really cut it anymore so we wanted a platform that was proven to make lots of power reliably. My boss had already had experience with Supras and the like so it was a natural choice as the next powerplant.

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SMASHED: What advice do you have for those just starting out in the sport?

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Sexsmith: As for advice to people just getting into it I would say not to get too hung up on building a “pro” car right out of the box. I started with a stock KA powered Nissan truck with not much more than a welded diff and the tailgate removed. I feel that spending more of my time and resources learning to drive rather than waiting until I had a 500hp monster was a real benefit. At times I was required to push my vehicle and myself beyond its capabilities and I think that’s the key to becoming a good driver. Get a solid car to start with, do the basics to get it track ready, and then go out and have fun. Spend lots of time at the track or on the skidpad, get comfortable upsetting the balance of the car and then eventually the speed and skillset will follow.

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Quick Facts:

Age: 25

Hometown: Born in Peterborough, Ontario, grew up in Grand Island, NY

Current City: Hamilton, ON

Car: 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

Engine: 2JZGTE VVT-i

Suspension: HSD Coilovers

Wheels: Rota (courtesy of wheeldude.com)

Tires: Kenda Kaiser

Sponsors: NVAuto, Vibrant Performance, Kenda Tires, HSD Suspension, Neo Motorsport, Haltech Engine management, Donkey Power injection, Diebold Autosport, DeadMachine, Ironwrks, Borg Warner Turbos, Competition Clutch, Whiteline Suspension,

Years Drifting: 4

First Drift Car: 1991 Nissan Pickup (Still have it!)

Favorite Track: Shannonville Motorsports Park (so far that is LOL)

2016-10-17T17:46:28+00:00 September 2nd, 2015|Uncategorized|