STILL FANGIN'

Fanga Dan Wool­house is a heavy­weight of New Zealand drift­ing with more than 15 years of ex­pe­ri­ence to his name and his Vortech-su­per­charged war ma­chine is the per­fect me­chan­i­cal reflection of the man

NZV8 - - 2010 HOLDEN COMMODORE - WORD: CON­NAL GRACE / MAR­CUS GIB­SON PHO­TOS: ADAM CROY/ RICHARD OPIE

Watch­ing ‘Fanga Dan’ Wool­house shimmy his Holden Com­modore side­ways at 200kph (322mph), you don’t no­tice what­ever shriek the tyres emit as their hold on the tar­mac is torn away. All sound is dom­i­nated by the hard-edged scream of a fire­breath­ing L98 push­ing all eight cylin­ders to the up­per reaches of its rev limit. The Pukekohe sweeper is a bitch of a cor­ner if you mess it up, but Fanga gives the im­pres­sion that he could do it in his sleep. He probably could — he’s done it plenty of times dur­ing a drift ca­reer span­ning close to 15 years. As Dan grew up around high-per­for­mance Ja­panese im­ports, a fu­ture be­hind the wheel was guar­an­teed, al­though even he is un­likely to have pre­dicted just how far he’d get. How­ever, as Dan and his mates avidly fol­lowed drift­ing cul­ture in Ja­pan, they were at the fore­front as drift­ing in New Zealand evolved from il­le­gal late-night mis­sions to an or­ga­nized form of mo­tor­sport. The Drift­corp drift team was founded not long af­ter, and Dan be­gan drift­ing com­pet­i­tively in 2003, be­hind the wheel of a Nis­san Lau­rel that has since be­come an icon of the lo­cal drift scene. His ag­gres­sive style of driv­ing earned him the ‘Fanga’ nick­name — and he cer­tainly mer­ited it, fin­ish­ing third in the 2005 D1NZ Na­tional Drift­ing Cham­pi­onship in his first year of full com­pe­ti­tion. Fanga’s next year of com­pe­ti­tion saw a move to a Nis­san Sil­via, and, by the time the D1NZ sea­son ended, he had emerged on top — the new cham­pion, in only his sec­ond year. The leg­end of Fanga Dan had be­gun. While Drift­corp and its iconic liv­ery even­tu­ally faded, Fanga didn’t. At the fore­front of the lo­cal pro­fes­sional drift­ing scene, he’s had to stay com­pet­i­tive as times have changed and as pur­pose-built drift cars have be­come in­creas­ingly se­ri­ous. This hasn’t al­ways been easy, es­pe­cially with his switch to a Holden VZ Com­modore in 2008, but it’s what keeps him go­ing.

“To be hon­est, if I had stayed with the [Nis­san] Sil­vias, I still probably would have gone V8, but I would be bored of it by now and [have] stopped,” Fanga says. “At a time when most peo­ple were go­ing to shorter wheel­bases, for faster switch­ing, we went the other way.” De­spite the rel­a­tive lack of af­ter­mar­ket parts and knowl­edge for the VZ chas­sis in drift ap­pli­ca­tions, the Com­modore proved a suc­cess­ful base, help­ing Fanga to gain recog­ni­tion over­seas, and, on lo­cal soil, to take the 2013 D1NZ ti­tle. How­ever, af­ter four years in the drift taxi, Fanga be­gan to feel the itch to build some­thing new. Since the team had amassed a wealth of knowl­edge, and the Com­modore plat­form was still push­ing his ca­pa­bil­i­ties as a driver, it made per­fect sense to make the step up the then-new VE. “I had seen what Holden did with the older chas­sis, each year re­work­ing the guards and lights to cre­ate a new model, so the VE made sense, as, in a way, it would fu­ture-proof it for me. This was al­ways meant to be a car in which, if I gave up drift­ing, I could go and do other cir­cuit events or some­thing, so we went about the build in a slightly dif­fer­ent way to what we would nor­mally,” Fanga ex­plains. The team be­gan piec­ing the build to­gether in 2013, based on a shell pur­chased with a bunch of se­ri­ous de­vel­op­ment al­ready done. With an ex­ten­sive roll cage, ad­justable blade-type sway bars, and V8 Su­per­cars–spec AP Rac­ing six-pis­ton front calipers and four-pis­ton rears, Fanga had the bones of an all-out race ma­chine be­fore the team had even started. Just as with the VZ chas­sis, the VE meant a whole lotta trial and er­ror in de­vel­op­ment, no­table in the cus­tom-de­vel­oped steer­ing lock kits.

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