In the Fast Lane

For senior Diego Yuman, drifting has made him who he is today


Cate Taggart, co-copy editor

Accelerating quickly, he heads down Shawnee Mission Parkway near Johnson Drive and makes a sharp left turn while pulling up the on the handbrake. The tires on senior Diego Yuman’s car screech as his car slides sideways before coming to a slow stop.

The technique, known as drifting, occurs when the driver intentionally oversteers in a specific direction to lose traction in the rear wheels, while still remaining in control and continuing to drive the car.

“The rush of drifting and driving is extremely natural to me,” Yuman said. “It’s a second nature. I don’t know what’s going on around me, I only know what’s going on in my line of sight.”

Yuman’s fascination with cars began in seventh grade, when he started working on small engines with a friend. They used a lawnmower engine to build an automatic bicycle. Later, Yuman worked at his uncle’s auto shop and, by age 16, had a good idea of how to perform exhaust pipe repairs and oil changes. After working in his uncle’s shop for over two years, Yuman decided to take a look into working in a larger shop.

“I decided to work at Morrie’s Auto Shop after gaining more skills from my uncle” Yuman said. “When I work on cars, I do everything. There’s not anything I haven’t done.”

The only thing that prevented him from getting more involved with drifting instead of just working on cars was his mom’s dislike of the activity.

“At first, my mom hated me drifting,” Yuman said. “Then, I took her to an event in Topeka I was drifting at. She sat in the car with me and flipped out at first, but ended up liking it. She realized how hard I was working and why this was important to me. She likes me drifting now because she realizes how much time and money I’m spending on something I’m passionate about.”

Yuman spends countless hours fixing his BMW and has spent thousands of dollars to make it just how he wants it.

“I’ve spent about $9,500 to $10,000 on the car” Yuman said.

Since then, Yuman has become a part of something much bigger than just building electric bicycles. Yuman has connected with the KC Drift Community, an organization that promotes drifting.

“We don’t usually call it a club, but I can see why other people do,” Yuman said. “It’s really just a group of us who drive together and race together. We just hang out and talk. If someone needs help with their car, we all get together to help out.”

Although drifting is considered illegal on public property, drivers can practice on privately owned lots or certified tracks. Drivers can potentially be charged with dangerous handling of a motor vehicle, damage to public property due to skid marks, and endangering the public if they drift on public roads or parking lots or with trespassing on private property if they practice on a person’s land without their permission.

“There is always a chance that something awful could happen, whether one of us gets hurt or if one of us crashes” Yuman said “There is a huge chance that one of us could get pulled over while driving over the speed limit or on private property. It’s a chance were willing to take.”

For Yuman, everything changes when he takes a seat in the driver’s side of a car. Driving goes from being an everyday activity most people have to do, to something sensational.

Nineteen-year-old Brad Barr has known Yuman for two years and first started spending time with him in the auto shop Yuman worked at. Cars were the first thing that the two bonded over.

“I remember when he had his Audi: it was in the shop more than he drove it,” Barr said. “When he got another BMW that he said he was going to fully build, I knew he was going to put a lot of time to making sure it was built exactly how he wanted.”

Yuman’s dedication to cars is unbelievable, his biggest hope is to continue this after high school.

“I most definitely want to do this post-high school,” Yuman said. “But I also know that something might happen. Once you do it, it’s like you can’t stop, you can’t go back. There’s no way to avoid this.”