Good day, Ørjan. Thank you for joining us. Let’s begin with a formal intro. 🙂
Hi! I’m Ørjan Nilsen. I’m a 21 year old guy from Bergen in Norway who works hard to achieve my goals and dreams! I’m a former Junior Drift Champion and have 3rd place in the Semi-class. I also have some 3rd place finishes in the PRO-class to winning round 2 of Gatebil Drift Series at Mantorp Park.
You are very young and have already made a serious impression. What’s the background story?
I was lucky to grow up in a family that has passion for cars. For me it started on the go-kart track when I was like 6-7 years old. That was the highlight of the year for me; each summer during our vacation, mom and dad would let me drive go-kart on my birthdays. I had so much speed throughout the corners (not letting of the throttle) that the go-kart would oversteer. That feeling bit me deep. Going sideways in the corners!
Thereafter, when I was 9 we were introduced to this crazy Gatebil festival over at Rudskogen by dad’s colleague. The next summer we attended the main festival! I was ecstatic by all the cool cars. However, what caught my attention was the guys throwing their cars sideways like maniacs, producing lots of tire smoke.
We made it a tradition to visit Gatebil each summer, and there has never been a year that I didn’t attend. At the age of 14 I discovered that I could start drifting, hence I started to look for a suitable car. A BMW E30 or Nissan S13 was on my mind, but a couple of months passed and I got a text message from someone who knew about a Soarer chassis with engine/gearbox missing. My brother and I took the time to convince mom and dad, and that was the start of this crazy journey!
What happened next? Or the more appropriate question would be; what did you do with it? Tell us about your drift build.
We started from scratch in 2011 with the Soarer and have conducted everything throughout the years. It had an OEM 1JZ-GTE back then with 280 Hp. Competing on used tires, we actually won the Junior championship on that setup! It now has a 2JZ producing 637 Hp and 835 nm at the hubs. Fun fact; I’m still using the modified OEM steering setup (the so-called ‘’Aasbo-spindles’’. The name arose after Fredric Aasbø, who used the same setup on his Supra back in the old days. It works great!
Winning Runs Initial Rounds Gatebil Mantorp Park, June 2017
Modifications and the reasons behind the mods.
Being my one and only driftcar, the Soarer has gone through some modifications throughout the years.
Two years ago, I got lost in the smoke behind the great Norwegian driver, Petter Eriksen (also called Mr. Smokey). I smashed my left rear end into a concrete block and damaged the chassis in rear quite bad. Surfing through the internet I found inspiration to build a complete tube frame with crash bars and radiator setup in the rear. I spent several months in the trunk of the car, seam welding, strengthening and fabricating. The trunk now features:
- Super lightweight firewall/hat shelf
- 60L Aeromotive fuel cell mounted directly over the wheels
- Dual pass Griffin Radiator with dual Derale fans with easy serviceable mounting
- EMP Stewart 208L/min electric water pump
- Opel Corsa B electric power steering pump
- Fuel cooler and power steering oil cooler with fans
- Independent crash bars, easy exchangeable
And each body panel around it is made of fiberglass. Cooling is not an issue anymore and the car feels better in transitions with the better weight distribution. Bigger gearbox tunnel for easier service of clutch/gearbox, oval exhaust for less back-pressure/more ground clearance, front crash bar. Those are some of the modifications to the car.
It must have taken some time to make it what it is now, no? How did it feel to drive it for the first time?
Although the passion for cars in the family is great, no one has experience in motorsports. Hence, it has been a learn by doing style. There’s no doubt I have spent quite a few hours online reading and have been learning from other people in the community. It’s really hard to estimate how long time we used to build the car, but it has been 4-5 months each winter for 4 years..
The feeling I had the first time I tried it on track was really great, but we actually blew the engine on the way to the track for the first drift.. A real setback, but we bought a new engine. The first drift was actually not very different from my car simulator back home, where I’ve actually drifted online for 7 years! I still use it when I find the time to practice on tandems.
I am sure you love your drift build and its every feature but what is your favorite thing about it?
That must be the gear and engine setup. Just love how I can throw it into the gears with no fear for mis-shifting. Together with a great tuned engine where I can go on/off throttle with minimal clutch kicks. it’s a dream to drive.
Sounds of performance – How do you define the performance sound of your car and how do you experience it?
Oh, a pure high hp 2JZ with straight pipe exhaust gives me the chills, and combined with an open screaming wastegate it’s like that extra cream on top of the cake. However, nothing really beats the sound of Mad Mike’s RX7! Hard to find words for that one. Perfect, perhaps?
Beautiful answer, almost as if explaining a composition with musical instruments involved.
Tell us about your team and people who help you chase your dream.
The team mainly consists of me and my brother Mads. Being 8 years older than me, you would think that he had better things to do! But this guy doesn’t. He stays just as long as me at the workshop, uses his vacation days to travel with me to races and really puts a good effort in the team. A more supportive and fantastic brother I could never dream of, and it’s hard to find the words for how grateful I am for him.
Two other pieces in this puzzle are my mom and dad. I have great gratitude for the support from them, who also let me use their garage and all their free space around the house to store parts and tires. My dad has played a big part in engineering and finding solutions for the car, and has a unique knowledge that he has passed along to my brother and me.
A big thanks to my drift family in Bergen; Bergen Drift Team. The biggest and greatest drift team in Norway. The team is all about supporting and helping each other out. I would also like to thank RFS Performance for a rad tuning job.
Samsonas Norway for a great gearbox.
Last but not least are my great sponsors. Some of them have been there for me since the beginning, and some have joined the journey later on. Montera and Buen Partner Vest are the main sponsors for this year, and I’m very proud to have them on board.
Among the rest of my sponsors:
Bilverksted AS | Sprinkler Vest AS | Bergen Eloksal AS | Westlake Motorsport tires Norway | Espeland Rekvisitasenter AS | Ingeniørfirmaet R.Torgersen AS | Design Studio AS | J.E Aasebø Maskin | Turbofun garasjen | PSW Power & Automation | Trigger Jobb AS | Inst. Håkon Olsen AS |
Thoughts on the recent Gatebil Mantorp Park?
Yes! Winning round 2 of GDS was the coolest experience for our team so far! A track that I have never before driven or seen in real life. At first, it seemed like the track will not suit me and the setup. To be honest, I had never really expected to climb on top of the podium this year. So many great drivers and the level is very high.
Full Edit Gatebil Mantorp Park, June 2017
Passing through to the final four my spotter told me; ”Everything beyond this is nothing but a bonus.”’ I lived through the moment, calm and pumped in the car while my brother swapped tires like a hero. After crazy fun battles with Mikael Johansson in the final, I was ready to celebrate the 2nd place. It was a surreal moment when they announced me as the winner. What a victory for the team after many setbacks last year!
That’s it folks. Make sure to follow Ørjan on Facebook – Ørjan Nilsen Drifting & Instagram @orjan.nilsen
Petter Aamodt Photography