Reese Marin is taking the right line. It comes on smoothly, carefully massaging the throttle and squeezing the brakes to get the perfect angle. On one side, on the other, with a rhythmic fluid motion. Then, in the most challenging turn of all – not for the faint of heart – he navigates through two lanes of traffic coming into the coffee shop by car. At rush hour in Philadelphia, in a diesel Sprinter truck loaded with tires, this is a really cool drive.
Reese makes a living by maximizing every inch of tarmac and making everything look easy. He’s a drift instructor and owner of Drift School Evergreen in Drums, Pennsylvania, where he teaches people to burn epic clouds of smoke in the fresh air of the Pocono Mountains.
In his city garage in Philadelphia, Reese maintains a fleet of reliable cars that are driven by dozens of drivers, all with varying skill levels, each week. Reese’s approach to drifting is very different from the typical one-day instructions on major racetracks. These courses often cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and people learn in groups with multiple instructors. The cars are purebred sports cars and are often modern in style. With Reese, he teams up with his students and takes full responsibility for his drift cars. To put it nicely, the Nissan 350Z, BMW 3-series, and Infiniti G35 he uses are weatherproof machines. But no matter how old she looks, Reese is totally methodical about keeping her engines running in tip-top shape.
“If you’re going to spend money, you have to be smart about it,” he says. “I’m not just teaching people to drift. I’m teaching them the etiquette and lifestyle needed to avoid spending too much money.”
Why the right engine oil matters
Older Reese high-performance cars needed a motor oil that protected their engines while on aggressive circuits. He pours Valvoline VR1 into his BMW inline-6, the original motorsports oil that has proven its durability for decades in nearly every racing series on Earth. His protocol on the track and to his students who bring their own cars is never wavering: Check the oil before and after class. Viscosity can vary after hard driving, which is why it relies on a motor oil that stays consistent from start to finish. Valvoline is a proven winner in the most grueling motorsports – and he keeps Reese and his students running without fail.
Valvoline’s full line of synthetics, including its high-mileage Extended Protection formula, protects engines from overheating and deposits. It is specially designed for high speed sustainable drifting nature. Valvoline is the only oil company with a dedicated engine plant at its own facility. The engineers and scientists have one mission: to keep innovating and making the winning formula even better. This is why three-time Formula Drift Champion Chris Forsberg is so successful and why Reese credits him with helping lift the underground sport to the national stage.
An early start to an unknown sport
Growing up, Reese didn’t really care about cars. He played basketball and was happiest riding city buses and trains. One day, he caught his brothers watching the first Japanese animated film D, a Japanese animation centered around drifting designed like his favorite anime series, and he was hooked.
“In the cartoon, these are normal kids driving regular cars up the hill. I remember thinking, I can do this,” he said.
Rhys found the best spots to drift with his friends in the city. After midnight, he’ll be by the side somewhere in South Philadelphia, in a Silvia or some other hardy Japanese car. Acquisitions may be the latest drift in the age of social media, but in the mid-2000s, Reese saw the drift in the void. She was not very popular professionally or competitively. There has never been a star driver to admire him like he has in other motorsport series. At the time, drifting was pure excitement and raw adrenaline.
“With drifting, I tell people, don’t look at it as a race,” says Reese. “See it as an expression of your personality.”
It took Reese years to turn his passion into a real business. He and his three siblings were tied up to help their parents at the family’s Colombian bakery, where the sweet aromas of empanadas, pabusa, and pan de bono always brought him home. Reese worked side jobs as a delivery driver and taught several semesters at a community college. The baker was a given—it’s staying in his family, no matter what—but none of these calls moved his blood. Cars crowded his dreams and most of his spare time. When his parents found out he wanted to make a professional drift car career, they weren’t too happy.
“When I decided to focus more on drifting, I don’t think my parents were really happy about it because the sport, understandably, didn’t fall apart,” he says. “I think it’s only natural for immigrant parents to want the best for you, and they’ll get a little intimidated when you’re on a path that probably isn’t traveled much.”
Educating the next generation of enthusiasts
In 2010, he discovered Reese Club Loose in New Jersey, one of the first drift schools in the country, which was holding classes at Englishtown Raceway. He started working club events and teaching – for free – with the bonus of personal track time.
“They were trying to get me off the street,” Reese recalls. “I’m coming from the inner city, and these guys came from the suburbs. They were killing it. It completely changed my perspective.”
Reese changed his jobs more. In 2016, he taught an auto shop class at a South Philadelphia high school. The following year, he got a job as a trainer at Willow Springs Raceway in California. Only in 2018, with a professional gamer as his personal guide, was he able to open Drift School Evergreen just two hours from his home city.
Now the best stunt drivers in the country come to him for instruction, as do husbands, moms, gear heads, kids, and anyone willing to learn. On his vacation, he travels halfway around the world teaching students in Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Saudi Arabia. Nothing is off limits – Reese welcomes all types of people looking for a new skill and a challenge to take on. It was the do-it-yourself mentality that brought Reese from a childhood dream of his parents’ living room to running a profitable, independent business that strengthened his community.
“When a smile happens to be on their face, that’s when I realize I’ve done my job,” says Reese.