No money, no automotive knowledge and without the most important thing support. This is the Queen of Drift Karolina‘s Pilarczyk story. A highly driven, motivated and hard-working Karolina opened a new chapter in the Poland‘s motorsport history.
“I laugh that “it was the love from the first slide”, asked how began her story in Drift says K. Pilarczyk – After doing my driving license, I wanted to improve my driving skills. So, I went to the Driving Academy. On a slip pad, when I was practicing how to control the slide, I felt that this is what I want to do in my life! This is how everything began”.
You started your career from nothing, but now you have one of the most well-known Drift Teams in Europe. How did you start everything? What kind of plan did you have?
Honestly, I didn’t have any plan. I only knew that I want to drift, but I didn’t know where to start. That’s why I did many mistakes in my strategy. From the moment I’ve decided to drive to the moment when I built a competitive drift car. It took to me 9 years, but I did it. I was patient, persistent and found out the most successful method. Meantime, I learnt a lot what helps me in the further work.
You are well-known person in Poland. You are a model, actress, stunt driver, we could see you in television shows. Could we say that you were born “under a lucky star”?
No, definitely not! Everything is a result of hard-work. I studied Marketing and Management and worked for the biggest IT corporations. We can say that the experience, which I gained there, I copied to motorsport. And truly it worked. There are no coincidences here. In the beginning of my motorsport career it was a chaos and I did many mistakes. But later, I was more aware of my activities and results. There was always something that led me to this place.
What does your family think about your career in Drift? Do they support you now?
No, they don’t support me. As you mentioned, no one in my family was into motorsport. No one had any workshops, any relation to cars and nobody even really liked cars. My family and friends think that cars are just the metal boxes which you can use to go from point A to point B. My mom is an actress and dad is an IT specialist. They completely don’t understand my hobby. I will tell even more…
They don’t like it, because drifting destroyed their expectations for my life. My mom was hoping that I will work at a management level for some corporation, I will have a husband, two children, cat and a dog. My dad was expecting that I would get a Nobel Prize in an IT sector.
Honestly, most of the time everything was according to their expectations. I finished the best high school in Poland, I graduated one faculty at the University, second faculty. I was working for IT companies at a management level. But at some point I went to a different direction.
“My family and friends think that cars are just the metal boxes which you can use to go from point A to point B.”
WRC star Ott Tanak in his interview once said, that he always was interested into how cars work, every part of it. What about you? Are you interested in it?
Yes, I am and this is fascinating! I always loved technology. When I was 19, I was a co-owner of IT companies and I assembled computers by myself. Right now, I have amazing experts surround me, who build the cars for me, but I still love to assist them and learn from them.
Investments and sponsorship are the most important things in motorsport. How do you get sponsorship? Are you involved in it by yourself?
Not only I was involved in this process, but I did the whole process, from finding potential sponsors to signing the contracts. As I mentioned, the work for corporations on the management level helped me a lot in this area. I understand the customer’s needs and we operate more as the Public Relations and marketing company with motorsport background rather than only as a drift team.
If you want to race, you must be prepared physically too. How do you prepare yourself for championships?
That’s right. I keep up the diet. Well, it’s not very difficult, because I am vegan. Twice a week I work out at the gym and I’m going for a jog every morning. It’s not very difficult, because I have two dogs, Pitbulls and I have to go outside with them anyway. They are full of energy, so every morning I have to run with them. They are the best personal trainers. I can’t say “No” to them. No matter if there is a beautiful weather outside or rain or freezing cold, I have to go with them.
Your first car in drift was BMW M3 with LS1 engine, but now you are with Nissan. Why did you choose compete with Nissan not with BMW, which is one of the most popular model in Drift?
I think that Nissan is much easier to drive. This is from my personal experience. Of course, my E36 was really terribly prepared for drifting and my current Team Manager told me that we have to completely rebuild the car or build a new car, if I want to be competitive. We decided to build a new car and it was Nissan. The problem with Nissan was the availability of spare parts. In Poland with BMW is easier and cheaper than with Japanese cars. But Nissan is worth the effort and costs.
How did you get to the Formula D? How did you get the invitation to join it?
I asked Formula D owners for the license. And because I was a double European Champion in the women league, I was eligible to get a license.
Is this championship the highest achievement in your life?
Formula D was my dream since 2015, but my highest achievement is the support from a lot of people. I am really happy and honored that people follow and support me on the social media and during the competitions. When I am receiving trophies from the audience, it’s the biggest award.
In Drift everything is decided by judges. Did you have any moments in your career when you had the title in your pocket, but judges decided opposite?
Never, when I was fighting for the title, but yes – there were such situations that I lost the drift battles and no one did know why? Hopefully, in the leagues when I fight for the title, I trust the judges. And in the rest of the competitions I do this to give a good show for the audience.
Many rally fans say that Drift isn’t the sport, it’s more a show. You don’t need to be very talented, but you must have very good skills. What would you tell people who think that Drift isn’t a sport?
It only shows that they don’t know what about they are talking about. They have no idea about drifting and what is it about. That’s true that I’ve heard these kind of opinions few years ago, but right now it looks that people know more about it. From other motorsport disciplines professional drivers are really impressed with the skills of drift drivers. Our cars are more powerful comparing to rally cars. This also shows that you must have a talent and skills to control such machines. Drifting is about precision. All the time you play with limits. If you don’t love it, you will never be perfect in this.
Nowadays, we could see women in rally and even in Dakar, but in drift it is still pretty unusual. Why do you think ladies aren’t interested into Drift?
They are interested. It’s just a relatively new motorsport discipline. When I started drifting many years ago, I was the only woman in drift in Poland. Right now we have 5-6 girls who compete in drift competitions and at least 10 who have cars and practice. Women are just afraid of the competitions and haters. I’m trying to explain them that this is their money, their life and they shouldn’t concentrate on what other people are talking.
It’s not a big secret that sometimes you help even for your opponents. For example, for Lithuanian team “Dynamit Energy Racing”. What kind of impression leaves you Lithuanian drivers?
That’s true. We have the philosophy that we are fighting at the racetrack, but beside it, we will always help if we can. Thanks, to our Sponsor YATO, which is a tool producer. We have a really well equipped service bus. That’s why we sometimes help to fix our opponents during the competitions. Regarding Lithuanian drivers, they are amazing! I think that Poles and Lithuanians are very similar. We are ambitious, creative and put a lot of heart to everything what we do.