Grassroots Drifting: Tennessee Based & Battle Tested
Grassroots drifting or automotive racing in itself already creates a sense of camaraderie through sportsmanship and love for the sport. If you add in being a military veteran on top of that, you create a strong melting pot that resembles more of a family than a team. The Clarksville, Tennessee-based drift organization Battle Tested Motorsports did just that with 15 out of 16 members being military veterans, active duty or reserve. The closeness of this group is unprecedented. “(T)he military makes us closer, said Rob Aponte, co-founder of Battle Tested Motorsports, “Anyone in the service will tell you wearing the uniform makes us family. That is the way we function. We share holidays, good times, bad times, basically a lot of our free time.”
As an organization, Battle Tested has been around for three years, and was founded by Rob Aponte, John Elrod, Marco Martinez, Mark Rodriguez, and Ernest Street. Rob told us most of the founding members met while they were in the service, but others met through a local car meet hosted by a group called Ridiculous Couture. After that, the guys were involved with Slide Faction Motorsports, and eventually branched off into their own group, which became Battle Tested Motorsports.
“At the time there wasn't a big drift scene in Clarksville besides your usual guys drifting back roads. I knew there was an autocross event at the Clarksville Speedway regularly. I contacted Misfit Toys and asked if it was ok for people to drift at the autocross event. After speaking with Kyle Botero we came up with a way to have frequent events at the Clarksville track. Now we are on our 3rd season and it has been a blast,” Rob said.
Battle Tested has had a huge hand in growing the grassroots drift community in Clarksville, TN giving the drivers somewhere to go to practice their skills instead of on the streets. “When I talk to people and they say that our events are keeping them off the street is very satisfying to us as a group. It's too easy to get hurt, hurt someone else, or destroy your car out on the streets,” Rob pointed out. “If they are coming to our events then at least we know they are being safe about it.” Let this be a reminder to keep your drifting on the track, and off the streets!
Battled Tested hosted a February Night Drift event this past Feb. 25, which was a great example of their efforts in growing the drift community. This particular event netted 20 drivers just in the novice class, with many new faces to the Battle Tested events.