After fifteen years of his rough journey from rookie to blue-chip, Adeel Yaqoob – a Pakistani pro drifter – had to pinch himself to know he had come so far.
Most professional drifters in the country can only fantasize about hailing a Pakistani flag on international tracks, but Yaqoob is en route to living it up with his consistent devotion to the sport. He grew up as a kid who helped repair and wash his father's Suzuki Mehran since he was twelve. Four years of car washing revved up his passion for motorsports, and today, the world knows him as a top-shelf pro drifter in Pakistan.
Yaqoob, a middle-class rookie from Multan, came up trumps by lead-footing his professional drifting career in just two years. His next goal? Take it up a notch and get the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) license to participate in international drifting competitions.
"I had an interest in cars since I was a child, unlike anyone else in my family. We only had one car back then, so I spent my whole day working on it."
His journey wasn't easy – while a handful of lucky people are financially dressed for success, Yaqoob had to start making a living at a tender age.
"I have five sisters, and we weren't financially sound back then. I had to start a business to run daily affairs. When you have responsibilities on your shoulders, you don't get time to think about anything else. Yet, one thing was always at the back of my mind – sports cars," said the 34-year-old drifter.
At 16, Yaqoob started his small real estate business in his hometown to run daily affairs and later moved to Karachi in 2002.
His transition from the City of Saints to the City of Lights wasn’t easy either. In Karachi, it took him fifteen years to settle down, establish his business, and take care of his family. "From the time I moved to Karachi till 2017, I did nothing but focus on settling my business. When you have responsibilities, you have to cater to those first. You can follow your passion when you have some savings."
"I had to do everything but always had the goal to start building my own sports cars one day. As soon as I met all my major obligations, it was time to follow my passion finally. I started buying and building sports cars."
Adeel bought and built his first sports car with Mark X back in 2017, and so far, he owns an exclusive range of both 4x4s and low-profile automobiles. With time, he built his own garage and workshop at his home, where he makes high-end drift cars along with friends and professional workmates.
Karachi is known to have the best drifters in Pakistan, and the sport sticks out like a sore thumb. When a friend introduced drifting to Adeel, it was bound to strike a chord. "I had the passion for building cars, and that is what I was doing. I didn't know what I was really made for until a friend of mine introduced me to drifting in 2019."
Adeel was fascinated by everything about drifting. He decided to travel all the way to Dubai to give himself a leg up.
"Most of the racers think that performing donuts is drifting, and that is what I thought too until I decided to dig more into this sport. I searched and found a Pro Drift Academy in Dubai, and immediately decided to go and get professional training."
The two years of training played a significant role. During this time, Adeel kicked the habit and shifted from comfortable cars to congested ones. He took it one day at a time to work on his skills and skyrocketed as the best drifter and trainer in Karachi.
In these two years, he bought and built five drift cars, went to Dubai, got training till level 6, and came back to Pakistan.
"I love drifting, and my experiences changed everything. The drift cars that had no AC or comfortable, spacious interiors became the cars I wanted to drive all the time."
After gaining level 6 training, he returned to Karachi and started building his drift car. Even so, browned off by the absence of formal tracks in Pakistan, he soon realized that he was up against another challenge. Adeel Yaqoob was against the unsafe practice of informal road drifting, but he decided to keep up with his endeavors anyway. Call it beginner's luck, but by the time he was done building his car, the Omni Karting Track for racing, karting, and drifting was inaugurated in Karachi.
"I was lucky that Omni was built by the time my car was ready. I went there in my car and made some videos; that was when I gained some popularity. The audience was on the edge of their seats, and the nail-biting car enthusiasts started recognizing me as a professional drifter. I was doing some real drifting, not just the donuts."
He calls the time he spent at Pro Drifting Academy “priceless”. It allowed him to learn about real drifting and meet international champions that encouraged him to pursue this sport.
Starting from a basic, low-maintenance Mehran, Yaqoob today owns a Nissan 350Z, BMW E46, Nissan GTR, Nissan Silvia, E63 AMG, and a Porsche Taycan as his racing cars. His next goal is to go back to Dubai, continue his training till level 10, practice more, gain an FIA license and represent Pakistan in international drift races.
Adeel Yaqoob bagged PKR 300,000 as the winner of the recently held competition, The Open Drift Day at Vroom Racing Track in Lahore. An overwhelmed Adeel shared that it was his first competing in a drift race in Pakistan. “It was beyond my expectations. When I decided to take part in the event, I thought it would be a beginner level event, but when I arrived there, it was organized on an international level.”
Adeel also looks after all the import and sales of Tony Karts, and has partnered with the veteran rally driver, Nadir Magsi, to start BHP Sports for importing karts to Pakistan.