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For a man known as ‘Engineered to Slide’, Nigel Petrie certainly gets how to go seriously fast in a straight line. He also knows a good idea when he sees one. Since 2010, he has used his web presence under the E.T.S. banner to share his ideas, showcase his endless automotive creations and be a place where like-minded creative spirits can push each other to new heights. His latest venture is this Salt Flat Racer based on a 2012 KTM 350 SX-F, but his ground breaking Hilux Drift Ute is perhaps the vehicle that truly put Nigel on the map and spawned a documentary about its build and exploits known as Dream.Build.Drive. So it made perfect sense that as he began this new adventure to concur a land speed record that the cameras would once again be rolling. The results, a movie called Flats, will soon be released. But first, the bike…
Here’s a story that has more twists and turns than a drift racer’s wet dream. You see, we first eyed this bike when it appeared on the front cover of the Australian Just Bikes Magazine all the way back in August of last year. We tried to get in touch with the owner via text message and email, but only managed to get a single reply before the trail went cold. We were was lost. Why wasn’t this guy getting back to us? Frustrated, we went to the owner’s website and began to read up on the bike’s builder – a guy called ‘Nigel’. Then the penny drops. ‘State drift car champion,’ the site says. And V8 Supercar demonstration driver. And TopGear Live demonstration driver, drift racing car builder, and custom bike builder. Phew. Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Nigel Petrie – builder of the world’s baddest KTM café, and quite possibly Australia’s busiest person.
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When you think about it, there’s some strange parallels between drifting a car and flat tracking a bike. First and foremost, there’s the complete disregard for traction. Then there’s the loose rear end. Hell, we’ve been to drunken college parties with less swinging rears than these two genres. So it should come as zero surprise to you that there’s quite a few drift builders out there who are also trying trackers. Our mate Nigel Petrie from Engineered to Slide is one. And here’s another – New Zealand’s Adam Hedges. With his C’s Garage drift shop, he’s teamed up with his brother at Earnest Co. to try his hand at a custom tracker build. And what a build it is.
During our recent trip to Australia’s Broken Hill on Triumph’s Bobber, we were lucky enough to be able to work with Dean Walters, a local Melbourne photographer who seems to have quite the knack with cameras and motorcycles. We got to spend the week with him while bashing around the Aussie desert and trying not to crash bikes we didn’t own. After seeing him in action, we can say that the guy’s definitely ‘got the gift’. Watching him turn two idiots messing around in the dirt into jaw-dropping shots was a sheer pleasure to behold. So we asked him to give us his best-ever shots and a quick interview; this is what we got.
Delaware-based Speedwerks were in an enviable position. They’d been approached by a long-term customer wanting a balls-to-the-wall café racer that could be ridden hard and ridden every day. The customer, local racer and speed boat enthusiast known only as ‘Richie’, had seen a few Deus café racers and wanted something in a similar vein, but louder and better engineered than anything that had come before. Armed with only a Kawasaki W650 engine stripped of its electric start, Speedwerks surveyed the line-up of modern retro motorcycles for a donor frame and found few that could blend traditional looks with modern geometry and stiffness. So they went about designing one. On the back of a beer-soaked napkin at a local sports bar.