Switching Gears: Abdo Feghali Gets Personal

It’s always good to hear that renowned Red Bull athlete, champion drifter Abdo Feghali, is touching down in Bahrain once again. This time, he’ll be taking part in a double stunt, drifting the Bahrain International Circuit Formula One track while athlete Jokke Sommer performs a base jump. With a few days to go before the exciting event, the always-easy going Abdo gave me a moment of his time to answer a few questions.

Let’s get the most important question out of the way, have you ever tried a Malghoom Shawarma?

I’m a huge HUGE fan of shawarma! But no, unfortunately I haven’t yet tried the malghoom shawarma yet. I can’t wait to be in Bahrain because I’ve been promised one immediately after landing!

As a world-class drifter, how do you stop yourself from performing the same tricks over again during every show?

Due to the tracks that I always build for the Red Bull Car Park Drift around the Middle East, and now in Africa and some parts of Europe since 2008, no track is ever the same; every location has a different flavor. I try to differentiate the tracks we use in every country, and that’s what keeps me motivated to keep things challenging and to still perform my own ‘flips’ over them, drifting sideways from one point to the other.

Do you find it difficult to drive straight on normal roads?

(Laughs) Well, actually, the roads in Lebanon are really slippery, so even if you TRY to drive straight, the car won’t let you do it; you have to drift, especially on tight turns! 
But safety is definitely key, in all seriousness, and we always have to show people how to drive safely on all public roads. Thankfully now, in every country, we organize lots and lots of formal drifting events so people can show us their skills ON the track and not outside the track.

What makes a stunt so successful is obviously the huge risk factor surrounding it. In your upcoming stunt as Red Bull athlete for the 6 Hours of Bahrain, what is the one risky element that you’re most concerned about?

I’m definitely looking forward to this project with Red Bull Bahrain inside the Bahrain International Circuit, and honestly I don’t see much of a risk factor there, because we’re all professionals doing our jobs. My only concern is the grid of the Formula 1 track itself; to drift on such a high-level grid track, I need to double the speed I normally drive. This is going to take some practice before the event so I can find the right set-up for the car, in order to complete the drift without losing control.

Do you ever get dizzy or car sick while drifting?

Definitely not! Every time I’m behind the wheel, I feel like it’s my first time, and I thank God for having this opportunity because millions and millions of fans all over the world dream of doing what I do. Every time I drive, I forget everything and all the stress. Even if I eat five malghoom shawarmas before the drift run, I won’t feel dizzy because being behind the wheel means that I’ve achieved my dream. I let everything go (metaphorically) and enjoy the drift itself.

If you could pick one song to play in the car while you’re drifting, what would it be?

For the last five or six months, whenever my kids are with me, they force me to listen to Magic in the Air, the World Cup song, (laughs) so lately this is the only song I’ve been listening to in my car! Otherwise, I prefer not to listen to anything while I’m drifting, unlike many other drivers who prefer to listen to some crazy songs! But while just cruising, Magic in the Air is definitely the only song I’d be listening to.

If you had to be a passenger during a drift ride, which drifter would you choose to be the passenger for? And do you think you’d freak out like the people who ride with you?

Since I started drifting back in 1998, I never got scared when sitting next to anyone. Of course, the person I’ll be sitting next to, whether it’s a rally car, drifting car, or racing car, is someone that I can trust. As you know, I have my own rally and drifting school, which I run in Lebanon and all over the Middle East, that’s why I’m used to sitting to my students - other drivers that I’m teaching - so I don’t freak out.

My dream would be to sit next to one of the Formula Drift champions who complete in the United States like Ken Gushi (Japan), Fredric Aasbø (Norway), or Chris Forsberg (US), who got the championship at Formula Drift this year. These cars are really crazy! These are unlike the cars we use in the Red Bull Car Park Drift, because those guys drift on really high-speed tracks, the speed of 180 km/h or 190 km/h, it’s a big dream. You know what? Instead of sitting next to someone in the car, my next target to drive such a car myself on the drifting track!

- Noor Nooruddin

November 11, 2014

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