Warren Lees, 34, recently had his modified BMW 3 Series car seized by the police after he was caught drifting on public roads for a YouTube video. For those unfamiliar with the term, drifting is a driving technique that involves intentionally oversteering, causing a loss of traction, while still maintaining control of the vehicle throughout a corner.
The police have labelled Mr Lees a ‘nuisance driver’ and have expressed concern about the safety of his actions. But Mr Lees vehemently insists his driving is safe and that he and his fellow drifters in Kent are not “hooligans.”
According to him, they are responsible individuals who simply want to pursue their passion in a suitable and controlled environment.
Mr Lees has been vocal about the lack of suitable locations for him and his friends to enjoy their hobby safely and responsibly. He argues there are no designated areas for drifters in Kent, forcing them to travel long distances to access tracks in Cornwall and Yorkshire.
Mr Lees feels frustrated that the authorities have shown little interest in sourcing a suitable location for their activities.
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He said: “I know it might look bad to some people, but I always pick a time and place when it’s quiet and back off if other cars are around. The fact is that the drift car scene is huge in Kent, but we have nowhere to go and councils aren’t interested in helping us with our hobby.
“We even approached Manston airport as the old runway would be ideal, but they weren’t interested either. You can do track days at places like Lydden and Brands Hatch, but they don’t allow drifting and you get black-flagged.
“Somewhere just to go once a month is all we need and we have the money to pay for it. Right now, we are having to travel as far as Cornwall to find a drift track.”
Mr Lees recently had an opportunity to raise awareness about the lack of facilities available to drifters like him when he was approached by the YouTube channel Motor Addicts for a feature about his drift car. He said: “I thought it would be a way of getting the message out there that we need somewhere to go for our hobby.”
In the video produced by Motor Addicts, Mr Lees can be seen drifting his souped-up 450bhp BMW car sideways around Kent roundabouts in broad daylight, with screeching tires and billowing smoke, as other drivers watch.
However, his heart-pounding performance was short-lived, as the police swiftly pulled him over. They informed him he had previously been cautioned for his ‘nuisance’ driving and warned him that his car would be seized.
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True to their word, the police impounded Mr Lees’ beloved BMW, issued him a traffic offence report for careless driving, and left him awaiting another court date.
Dover District Commander DCI Keith Taylor expressed his concerns about Mr Lees’ actions, saying: “Nuisance driving of this kind has an impact on other road users and residents and I am aware of concerns in the Sandwich area about the issue.
“I hope the seizure of this vehicle and the further proceedings the driver now faces sends out a message to others who might drive in this way – your behaviour won’t be tolerated and we will take action against you.”
Despite the fines and court appearances, Mr Lees, who also runs a car-modification business called E46 Drift Builds, remains undeterred. He believes the penalties he has faced are a “price worth paying” to pursue his passion and raise awareness for his campaign to establish a drift track in Kent.
After retrieving his car by paying for recovery and storage charges, Mr Lees took to social media, posting on Facebook to announce that he would be ‘out tonight if anyone wants to come and watch’.
While Mr Lees’ daring drifting exploits have gained attention, some viewers of the Motor Addicts video have expressed concern about the dangerous nature of his driving on public roads.
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One user commented: “Someone will be hurt or worse, with a group of speeding idiots screeching around roundabouts.” Another local resident pointed out: “There are always lorries coming along that road at the same time.”
Mr Lees, however, argues he is an experienced driver who knows what he is doing and if the facilities were available he would drift on a private track.
He said: “I understand that to other drivers it could look alarming and I don’t want to encourage inexperienced drivers to try it as it can go bad in the wrong hands.
“But we are not hooligans. My car is fully insured for its modifications and mechanically sound.
“I’m also respectful and cooperative with the police when they stop me.”
Although Lees has managed to retrieve his vehicle for now, there is a possibility that Kent Police could apply for the confiscation of his car at his upcoming court date.
A spokesman for the Margate-based Motor Addicts team said: “We understand how frustrated Warren is with the lack of tracks in Kent for drifters like him to go out and do what they love in a safe environment.
“Drivers who live here have to travel hundreds of miles to places like Cornwall or Yorkshire to access suitable facilities.
“However, we would never condone driving on local roads in that manner.”
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