Reese Marin is taking the proper line. He comes in smooth, carefully massaging the throttle and dabbing the brakes to make the perfect corner entry. In one side, out the other, in rhythmic, fluid motion. Then, in the most challenging turn of all—and not for the faint of heart—he beelines across two lanes of oncoming traffic into a coffee-shop drive-through. In Philadelphia rush hour, in a diesel Sprinter van loaded with tires, this is truly impressive driving.
Reese makes his living by maximizing every inch of tarmac and making it all look easy. He’s a drifting instructor and owner of Drift School Evergreen in Drums, Pennsylvania, where he teaches people to burn epic clouds of smoke in the crisp air of the Pocono Mountains.
In his city garage in Philadelphia, Reese maintains a fleet of trusted cars that get piloted by dozens of drivers, all with varying levels of skill, each week. Reese’s approach to drifting is dramatically different from the typical one-day instruction at major racetracks. Those courses often cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and teach people in groups with multiple instructors. The vehicles are pristine and often late-model sports cars. With Reese, he’s one on one with his students and entirely hands on with his drift cars. To put it nicely, the Nissan 350Z, BMW 3-series, and Infiniti G35 he uses are weathered machines. But no matter how old they look, Reese is absolutely methodical at keeping their 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 a ton of money.»
Why the Right Engine Oil Matters
Reese’s older high-performance cars need a motor oil that protects their engines during aggressive track driving. He’s pouring Valvoline VR1 into his BMW’s inline-6, the original motorsports oil that has proven its durability for decades in nearly every race series on earth. His protocol at the track and to his students who bring their own cars never wavers: Check your oil before and after class. Viscosity can vary after hard driving, which is why he relies on a motor oil that stays consistent from beginning to end. Valvoline is a proven winner in the most grueling motorsports—and it keeps Reese and his students running without fail.
Valvoline’s full synthetic line, including the Extended Protection High Mileage formulation, protects engines from excessive heat and deposits. It’s especially tailored for the sustained, high-revving nature of drifting. Valvoline is the only oil company with a dedicated engine lab in its own facility. The engineers and scientists have one mission: to keep innovating and making a winning formula even better. It’s why three-time Formula Drift champion Chris Forsberg is so successful and why Reese credits him with helping to lift an underground sport onto a national stage.
An Early Initiation to an Unknown Sport
Growing up, Reese didn’t really care for cars. He played basketball and was happiest taking city buses and trains. One day, he caught his brothers watching Initial D, the Japanese cartoon centered around drifting that was styled like his favorite anime series, and he was hooked.
«In the cartoon, these are regular kids driving down the hill with regular cars. I remember thinking, I could do this,» he said.
Reese found the best drifting spots with his friends in the city. After midnight, he’d be sideways somewhere in South Philadelphia, in a Silvia or another powerful Japanese car. Takeovers may be the latest drift rage in the age of social media, but in the mid-2000s, Reese saw drifting in a vacuum. It wasn’t very popular on a professional or competitive level. There was no star driver to admire like in other motorsports series. At that time, drifting was purely thrills and raw adrenaline.
«With drifting, I tell people, don’t look at it as a race,» Reese says. «Look at it as an expression of your personality.»
It took Reese years to turn his passion into a real business. He and his three brothers were tied up helping their parents in the family’s Colombian bakery, where the sweet smells of fresh empanadas, papusas, and pan de bono always brought him home. Reese worked side jobs as a delivery driver and studied for several semesters at a community college. The bakery was a given—it’s staying in his family, no matter what—but none of these vocations stirred his blood. Cars crowded his dreams and most of his spare time. When his parents found out he wanted to make a professional career out of sliding cars around, they weren’t too pleased.
«When I decided to focus more on drifting, I don’t think my parents were really quite happy about it because the sport, understandably, wasn’t unraveled,» he says. «I think it’s just natural for immigrant parents to want what’s best for you, and they’ll get a little scared when you take a path that maybe isn’t traveled as much.»
Schooling the Next Generation of Enthusiasts
In 2010, Reese discovered Club Loose in New Jersey, one of the country’s first drifting schools, which held classes at Englishtown Raceway. He began working the club’s events and teaching—for free—with the reward of personal track time.
«They were trying to get me off the street,» Reese remembers. «I’m coming from the inner city, and these dudes from the suburbs came in. They were killing it. That changed my whole perspective.»
Reese changed jobs some more. In 2016, he taught an auto shop class at a South Philadelphia high school. The following year, he landed an instructor job at Willow Springs Raceway in California. Only in 2018, with a pro drifter as his personal mentor, could he open Drift School Evergreen two hours away from his home city.
Now the nation’s top stunt drivers come to him for instruction, as well as couples, moms, gearheads, kids, and basically anyone willing to learn. In his time off, he travels halfway around the world to teach students in Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Saudi Arabia. Nothing is off-limits—Reese welcomes all types of people looking for a new skill and challenge to tackle. It’s that do-it-yourself mindset that brought Reese from a childhood dream in his parents’ living room to running a profitable, independent business that strengthens his community.
«When the smile happens on their faces, that’s when I know I’ve done my job,» Reese says.