SO THIS IS WHERE I PAY TO DIE TODAY?

It is raining at Sturup Racetrack, yet the smell of burning tires lingering in the air is making me excited like a five year old kid just about to get his favourite ice cream. I grin widely to the two pretty Danish girls at the gates to Nordic Drift Series Championship and Natasha, the blond one, responses with a gracious smirk. I am at the gateway to petrolhead heaven and even the noise is sublime, divine, full of, throttled, deep BWRAH-RAH-RAH-RAAAAHs and GRRR-RRR-RRRRHs. There are several ticket options and ask Natasha, the longhaired blond which one I should purchase to get drifted on the track. “You need to pay two hundred extra for it.” "What do I get for it?” I ask, just to get pleasant conversation going on. “We take all the responsibility off from our shoulders in case you should die” says Natasha. “So I pay to die here?” “Pretty much” and her smile is even wider, both girls laughing at my stupid joke. I note to myself that I knew that the drifters were my kind of people, just to see numerous cars smashed, crashed and demolished into tiny little pieces flying around and being scattered on the track in coming hours. I conclude that the two hundred krones is very cheap price tag for my life. I have after all two annoyingly lovable kids.

Drifting is about living on the edge, because controlling (or rather not really controlling) the edge of life is where you feel like only gods do, invincible, superior, beyond the shitty routine ugly lives we all live, borrowing the effortless petrol injected fix from 700 horsepowers under you, making you a GOD for a moment. The drivers are high on the power, high on the love of the life, high on the fucking fact that it is him who is in control. It is a bullish feeling. It is nasty, unforgiving, yet eerily harmonious feeling that boring people are afraid even to think about, because the feeling takes over and makes you to do silly things like tuning an old beaten down BMW to a behemoth beast of a monster made of 1060 horsepowers (that is about 10x what normal cars have), remove all parts that weights more than hundred grams, including window swipers and then paint it in neon yellow! It is about the deep bass noise the cars do. It is not whining, tiring, bitchy, high pitch noise like F1 cars do. It is grizzly, bearded army general commanding his troops to WIN THE FUCKING BATTLE bass that the drift cars do.

Erik W. Pedersen had invited me after reading the first piece of my portrait article about him (read it here: GROWN MAN DRIFTING) to experience him in his own element and what an element it is! This race track is full of black wearing pilots, neon coloured cars and occasional blond and brunette girls. We are all fifteen years old here, including me, and I feel mightily alive from the first steps on the skid marked asphalt. Erik, the legend and umpteen time Champion, is on the track in his black American corvette (the car from the Disney movie “Cars”). The fact that he is driving a classic muscle car makes very merry, a bit Christmasy, and I expect nothing less than full adrenalin driven macho masochism. I expect him to make me cry and to think about my mother. Moreover I expect him to ride the car without mercy, because that what this is about. A glorious battle between men and their fighting bulls of cars.

The remarkable fact about Erik W. is that he should not be here driving the car. He should be chained in a wheel chair rest of his life. This is what the doctors told him after his hellish bone pulverising, mind and spirit demolishing crash many years ago. This is what the doctors told him. He will not be walking, no more car stunts, no more world championships, no more life as he knew it, not even normal life, but improbable, immovable life for a man who’s life was all about speed, controlled moves and records. But the doctors forgot who they were talking to. A legend whose strength is not his body, but his mind. And here he is in front of me. Rising from matte black car, taking his helmet off, revealing his iconic shoulder long silver hair. This is how legends look alike. It is a face full of deep, regal wrinkles, steely blue eyes, and concentrated eye contact that reveals his strength. Focus.

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I put my helmet on, Erik starts the car, and I am so ready, without knowing what the hell I wanted so bad to experience. I am feeling the engine in my bones. The noise is now inside my head and I let the machine become part of me. Erik has barely spoken, now completely in his own element, not caring about me, not caring about the apocalyptic doctors, not caring about the spectators we pass, forgetting all. He is feeling the asphalt in his veins, and it makes him the titan Cronus, a greek father of god Zeus of enormous strength, power, influence. He is in charge of my life and I feel oddly safe. The first sweep is not mild. The car is free spinning and the track is not in front of me, but on my side, so instead of looking out the front window, I look out of the side window to see towards the direction where Erik commands the roaring wild beast Corvette. Erik spins the driving wheel and I see everything in slow motion and BANG! I hit my head violently to the sidebar on my right side. So I’ve been warned. The helmet and insurance is not for fun. I had forgotten to yell, but now the head banging had awaken me. YEEEEEAAA-HH! SOOO GOOOOD!!!

I look at Erik and I am sure that the exhaustion gasses had made hallucinating. I see him in complete, zen like meditation. His eyes are not blinking, his head is not wavering, unlike mine. I feel like my head is made of scrambled eggs, shaking relentlessly in a thin eggshell of a helmet. I am the little Hawaiian hula dancing figure some people have to accompany in their car, bouncing around, not knowing anymore where to look at and then another car appears on the side. We are stopped on top of a hill by a guy who looks like he is from special forces. After five seconds waiting the car makes my stomach go through my seat and Erik takes the lead effortlessly and throws the car to left blocking the other car, leaving me to look at the other driver directly into his eyeballs while we all three are driving sideways. Everything is in slowmotion and then it comes again. Swift turn to the right and BANG! I hit my head again making me to yell “SATAN!” OOHH YEAAAHHH!! Left, right, BANG again! YYEEASH! The exhaustion pipe shoots now with the big ammos: “TRHRTHRTH” and I look at Erik in awe.

The Legend

The Legend

Erik’s is in complete charge of his body. The only parts that moves in his body are his lower parts of the his arms. He has reincarnated as a boring accountant, looking the latest budget, trying to find the mistake in his excel ark. He is unnervingly focused, the windows being his computer screens and the gear stick his computer mouse. With one steely blink of an eye he has spotted the mistake in his contestants line, with one calculated gear change he has gained the lead, with three well timed wheel turns Erik the Accountant has made the calculus to match and leaves the competitor behind in his tire smoke. I yell, I curse “THIS IS THE SHIT” and forget to tighten my neck again and BANG, I hit my head again. Erik has pushed the curve and the car well, so well that I sink to remember to think about my mom, but my thoughts are taken over by the emotion of speed when Erik commands the car to drive straight line in full acceleration, me yelling “MY BRAIN IS BEHIND ME!!! MY BRAIN IS BEHIND ME!!! I think that this was the only moment when Erik paid any attention to my sufferings, prays or existence. He got what he wanted, me yelling and now he has a satisfied, sly smile on.

I step out of the car where my friends Søren and Rene are waiting for their turns. But my hands are shaking and it takes unnecessary long time to release all the masochistic seat belts, only to find out that my legs are shaking too. Not so much that others would notice it, but still enough to make that this was not a kids roller coaster or carrousel like Thomas, the rookie driver had mentioned to me before leaving me with Erik. This was a religious experience with tire smoke being the myrrh, V8 engine being the high priest messing about the end of the days, me being the innocent virgin offer on the altar, Erik just about to give the merciful, well calculated last hit to my head to release me from the earthy struggles for a better good. I am ready Erik! Kill me now! I have paid the insurance!

Your true and loving portraitor

Max Noble