Brittany Williams, 28, is a drifter who drives with Lone Star Drift in Texas. She is currently competing in Netflix's "Hyperdrive," a 10-episode reality competition series, executive produced by actress and car enthusiast Charlize Theron, in which drivers (and their vehicles) take on obstacles to see who can finish in the fastest time. The series starts streaming on Wednesday.
You have to leave everything at the starting line. This goes for any motorsport -- whether it's drag racing, drifting, autocross -- anything. Leave the doubts and stress behind. You have to be in a blank state of mind. I'm almost in a state of meditation before I drift.
People think that if you're in motorsports, you have to have a screw or two loose. I didn't get into car-[culture] until very late, and never in a million years would I ever think of competing on a show like [Netflix's] "Hyperdrive." They keep promoting the show by saying it's "American Ninja Warrior" meets "The Fast and the Furious." They weren't joking about that.
I grew up playing with four-wheelers and dirt bikes, boats and jet skis. Drifting was a natural progression. Cars were the next step. And from the start, it came easy to me. I guess that's why they call me a natural. I am able to feel out the car and control it. I don't know how or why. The feeling you first have when you throw a car sideways and you don't smash into something -- it's the most amazing feeling I've ever experienced. I was instantly hooked, and two weeks later, I bought my own drift car. The rest is history.
Drifting is something you have to experience to understand because there's nothing else you can compare it to. People are like, "Does it feel like riding a roller coaster," or this or that. And it isn't. It is so much more awesome.
Being in the seat is enough to prepare you both mentally and physically. The more time you have behind the wheel, it becomes just muscle memory and instinctual to the point that you could be driving and you might not even have to think about what you're doing. You're already physically doing it. Becoming faster and better is all about seat time.
If you think about motorsports, it's one of the very few sports where women can compete on an equal level with men. You don't have a separate women's motorsports team or anything like that. You're on the same track with all the boys.
And I never felt like an outsider -- at least not in drifting. I've been drifting for more than two years, and I've been met with open arms. Lone Star Drift, the Texas-based series I compete in, is amazing. If you break your car on a track, you have 20 people helping you. People are like, "Oh, I've got this spare part that you need. Let me either loan it to you, or you can have it for super cheap." And then you've got six people in your engine bay helping you fix your vehicle. It's like an extended family.
All it takes is that first step. But, the first step is what everyone is afraid of. Women are especially afraid because motorsports, like many other sports, is very male-dominated. Some are afraid to hear things like, "She's a girl" or "girls can't drive." (Which by the way, I would beg to differ.) You'll see plenty of females tearing up that track if you watch the show.
It's one of those things where you can't let that fear of making a fool of yourself stop you from following your passion or chasing your dream. And you have to remember that everyone started somewhere. My husband (Kevin Williams) is a phenomenal driver, but there was a point in time where he was just as terrible as I was the first time I got behind the wheel. It's not about being a [man or woman].
But "Hyperdrive" pushes you. This is a dream for a driver. We're talking about multi-storied teeter-totter [tracks]. We have these obstacles that you've never really attempted, and some of them we never even got the chance to practice on. And then on top of that, you've got six cameras shining on you and all these lights. And eventually, you're going to have millions of people watching you, too. So that was a little bit more stressful than my regular competition.
And I've been getting a lot of people asking about the car we use in the show. It's my car. It's my baby. This is the car that I've spent years building and creating. It's my pride and joy. And you had to risk it all on some of these obstacles, literally.
My car (a 2008 Nissan 350Z) is built for drifting. Others are competing in like drag-racing cars or stock cars. Autocross vehicles are meant for gripping, mine is meant not to have grip. Everything was built for something different. [On the show] we all had to do our best to get around these courses. Many of our cars are meant to perform at full throttle for maybe 15 to 30 seconds. Most of these tracks take about five to seven minutes to finish. So, it takes some adjusting.
Drifting has gut-wrenching moments. I've T-boned a wall, gone about 50 miles an hour sideways. But, I'm always prepared -- I'm fully caged in, I've got a fire extinguisher in there, I'm harnessed in. So, yes, it's scary to hit a wall, but I know I'm fine. Besides the feeling when I drive is priceless.