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Martin Richards-3.jpg


Chatting to one of Drifting's longest-serving members

Published Mon, Aug 17, 2020 3:51 PM

Drifting is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting forms of motorsport to watch. 

With almost 20 years of history behind it, Martin Richards’ Driftworks Skyline is one of the longest-serving competition cars out there and has an awesome story behind it. 


If you’re into drifting (which you should be because let’s face it, it’s badass) you’ll have heard of Martin Richards. He’s a former BDC (British Drift Championship) champion and is a household name amongst the skiddy-go-sideways-make-smoke community. He’s also a thoroughly nice bloke.  
Hailing from a small market town in Worcestershire (if you’re American, please don’t try and say that we can’t be held responsible for any injuries that result), he’s the man behind Richards Racing, one of the big boys when it comes to drift car setup and builds. 

For the last few years, Martin has worked super-closely with Driftworks-the Daddies of UK Drifting. Nowadays you’re more likely to see him piloting their mega spec R32, whilst his other half tames his R33. Unless you’ve lived under a rock, you’ll know who Tessa Whittock is not only is she one of the world’s foremost female sideways drivers, she’s also Martin’s partner, self-titled tea bitch, and spotter. 


Well, it’s his drift car. It’s an R33 Skyline, with a 1JZ in it. It’s been used very, very hard, and bears the scars to prove it. But it’s not just the impressive spec list behind this car that gives us a reason to appear on these pages; it’s the story behind it. Because this car has almost 20 years of history. 

It all started back in 2003 when a then young and sprightly 22-year-old Martin decided to buy his dream car-an R33 Skyline. It was a GTS-T, not a GTR, but we can forgive him. At first, he didn’t really know much about drifting-he actually bought it to go and show off in car parks, which he did. He’d moved into it from an Uno Turbo, which, although being awesome, is about as far removed from a Skyline as you can get. 

He ended up with the R33, which had turned into a body-kitted show car by this point, on the Opie Oils stand at Santa Pod. Whilst there, he had a go at drifting and was instantly hooked. 

The car was built to a relatively basic spec, with a bolt-in roll cage, factory RB25, and numerous bolt-on bits being enough to take Martin to victory in the BDC. But come 2012, it wasn’t enough, and Martin completely rebuilt it from the ground up, with a built 1JZ taking pride of place in 2013. A completely bespoke cooling pack was called for, with Martin moving the radiators to the back, along with a totally reworked suspension setup, allowing for maximum lock and adjustment. The spec list is longer than Donald Trump’s forthcoming “Why I’m The Best Person Ever” monologue. Probably. You can check it out at the bottom. 


From humble beginnings in the mid-2000s with his show standard Skyline, Martin ended up doing practice days and a few local comps, until 2008, when the BDC was launched. In his first proper competitive year he did fairly well, but it was 2009 where he really cemented his place in the history books, when he won 4 of the 5 rounds, taking the Semi-Pro title at the end of the season. 

Bear in mind that at this point, drifting wasn’t the big-budget sport that it is now, at least in the UK anyway. Martin was driving the Skyline to rounds, with his spare tyres filling up every piece of available space, including the footwell-proper grassroots stuff. 

’09-’12 Saw Martin take to the Pro Class, where he never dropped out of the Top-5, competing against one of the biggest names in drift history- Steve Biagioni, or “Baggsy” to the rest of us. It was during that time he was noticed by Phil Morrison, the man behind Driftworks, which led to a friendship and eventual sponsorship deal that still continues to this day. 

In 2012, Martin decided it was time to break Europe and was offered a drive in a 1JZ-GTE powered Soarer in the Drift Allstar Series, which sees the top drivers from across the continent invited to compete against each other. He did well, but following redundancy from his job and being “completely ripped off” by the team owner, he decided to go into business himself in 2013 and founded Richards Racing. He managed to keep the Soarer, with the sale of parts from that funding the business, and the car’s 1JZ heart living on in his R33 to this day.  

It was in 2014, at the first round of Drift Allstars at Westfield, Stratford, that he met Tess, and together they’ve built one of the most formidable pairings in the drifting world, with not only numerous wins between them but some massive commercial deals. 

One of his career highlights came in 2015 when he got to enlighten the Goodwood Festival of Speed crowd to the sport of drifting, with a demonstration of his R33 up the hallowed hill. Proper bucket list stuff. 

2016 saw him return to BDC, with Driftworks offering him the drive in their insane spec DW32, a car he still drives to this day, with Tess now taking the reigns of his famous R33. He finished the 2018 season 2nd in Pro Class and took top honours at the Drift Allstars Championship at Riga in 2019. 


Richards Racing is based in the sleepy market town of Pershore, where nothing remarkable has ever happened, and probably never will happen. It’s a picturesque town, full of pubs and shops. It’s definitely not somewhere you’d expect some of Europe’s foremost drift cars to be built, let alone two of the sport’s biggest stars to reside. 

But in a non-descript unit on the outskirts of town, Richards Racing is a hive of activity. Not only do they build and repair the chassis themselves, but they supply and fit the best drift components money can buy. They’ve been working closely with our friends over at PMR recently, using their knowledge of BTCC and WRC to develop setups and design things to take drifting to the next level. Make no mistake, this will definitely not be the last you hear of Martin, Tess, and Richards Racing. 


1997 Nissan Skyline Spec2 R33 GTST  
Fully rebuild custom chassis fabrication done in early 2012- custom roll cage and chassis strengthening and lightening for drift competition specification. T45 roll cage material

  • 1JZ-GT engine  
  • Stock pistons and rods 
  • ACL Race bearings  
  • Modified ported oil pump 
  • Naprec high response head package (Ported flowed and oversized valve)  
  • 272deg Jun camshafts 
  • Naprec valve springs solid and shimless lifter buckets  
  • Full Greddy TD06 25G turbo kit including manifold and wastegate setup  
  • Custom intercooler and piping  
  • PowerFC stand-alone engine management.  
  • Ogura twin plate 225mm clutch kit  
  • R154 5 speed transmission with uprated Speedtek close ratio gearset  
  • Nismo 2-way limited-slip diff  
  • Custom rear-mounted radiator setup (Koyo Cooper core large radiator) 
  • Rear-mounted fuel surge and pump setup  

  • Full Wisefab front lock kit   
  • Front hubs lower arms and upper arm package with relocated steering rack 
  • 65+ degrees of steering lock and corrected adjustable geometry drift specific  
  • Driftworks Geo Master 3 rear hub setup (drop knuckle and adjusted geometry)  
  • Full Driftworks adjustable rear arm package  
  • Driftworks HSD Monopro full adjustable coilover suspension  

Work Meister S1 3P wheels  
Front 9.5” +22 offset  
Rear 10.5” -15 offset  

Aerokit D1 spec front and rear bumpers and side skirts  
Custom ZP Drift front and rear +70mm over fenders  

Driftworks FIA spec bucket seats  
Driftworks FIA spec 6-point harness  
Driftworks hydraulic handbrake