High revving, snap shifting and tire screeching quarter miles have become a way of life for Cheston Pilcher, 26, whose no-nonsense Nissan needs no introduction to the Bay street racing scene.
The Uitenhage resident first pulled up to the line at age 18 with no more than a passion for the sport driving him forward. Since then, Pilcher has built up a reputation of modifying and racing some of the city’s fastest 2 litre Sentras and Sabres – having owned 11 STI’s and GXI’s in his eight years of racing.
Pilcher’s passion for drag racing was sparked long before he reached the pedals, drawing from his father Chesley, who used to tear up the tarmac in his Nissan Skyline throughout the late 1980s and early ‘90s.
“I have never been nervous when I pull up to the start line because I always clear my mind right before and once we’re racing the adrenalin takes over and you just do what you came here to do, win.
“It really is all about passion because regardless of whether you are racing for a year or 10 years, all these racing tricks can be learnt.
“Drag racing is a lifestyle and if you don’t have the passion for it, don’t bother racing,” Pilcher said.
After joining Team SR20, made up of 2 litre STI’s and GXI’s two years ago, Pilcher turned his attention from the street racing circuit to Motorsport South Africa (MSA) timed events, a trend among racers moving from illegal to legal drags.
“The difference between street and circuit is that in street you just race to beat the other guy. In timed events you race your best time.
“It doesn’t matter how far the guy is in front of you, you run hard till the end to better your personal best. My best is 14.7 seconds.
“Timed events add a new element in terms of the lights at the start, forcing you to master your clutch and time your launch. Also, timed events are lot more organised with times recorded and points awarded for national rankings,” he said.
However, the thrill of limiting rev counters comes at a price of several thousands on a monthly basis, according to Pilcher.
“It depends how often you race and how hard you push your car. Which is why I do all my own modifications. Nissan produces it and improve on it.
“It also helps to join a team. I used to race solo but it became way to expensive to maintain the cars on my own.”
-Tremaine van Aardt