The rumble of a V8 racecar engine vibrates the houses on a quiet street in the Western Hills section of Rio Rancho.
This is just a typical Monday evening event for grass-roots drift racer Jeff Osborne, as he prepares to park his ‘95 240 SX Nissan in the garage after detailing the car for a photo shoot.
“I have always been around cars being put together and being taken apart since I was a kid,” Osborne said. “You put your first go-fast part on a car and that’s it — you’re hooked for life.”
He said he progressed through the years, starting off with small upgrades on his first Nissan, then buying another car and pushing the modifications further.
“This is probably the rowdiest car I’ve built yet,” Osborne said with pride. “I’ve had a lot of help on it; it wasn’t just me but this car will get it.”
Osborne’s 240 SX Nissan has been custom retro-fitted with a roll cage, drift rims and tires, a 5.3 V8 Chevy engine and much, much more.
Osborne said, to date, he and his sponsors have spent a ballpark figure of $30,000 to get the 240 to where it is.
“I’ve probably owned 15 to 20 240s,” he said. “I’ve bought them in all types of different stages and I would flip them.”
Osborne said the ’95 240 body style was his favorite, so it’s been his main racer.
A mechanic at Car Crafters by day, Osborne says he uses the knowledge he gains there to work on his own car.
“You can do the same repair on the same car, yet the repair will go differently each time,” he said.
Even if it is a repair he’s done a hundred times, Osborne said, he is always learning.
“Finding good parts can be the challenge to building and owning a racecar,” Osborne pointed out. “Drifting is rough on these cars, so keeping this vehicle in running order can be tough.”
For those who aren’t familiar with drifting, he said, two cars go on the track, a lead car and a follow car. The lead car will drift at a certain pattern and speed, and the follow car has to do the same.
Usually, a panel of three judges will observe the two cars and base their scores on how well the follow car does. The bracket system is set up much like in college basketball, Osborne explained.
He and his friends Jacob Dinwiddie, and Shawn Spencer have spent countless hours doing research and development on Osborne’s 240 to get the edge on the racetrack.
“You can bolt parts onto a car, but it’s not going to make it a great car,” he said. “It comes down to the time you spend tuning it, dialing in the suspension … anything like that, which fine-tunes it to me as a driver, is a lot of investment.”
Other investments into Osborne’s car have come from a few local sponsors, like On the Spot Detailing. Company owner Warren Smith who said he allowed his business name to appear on Osborne’s car because he knew Osborne’s character.
“I don’t want some guy to go out and do things he’s not supposed to do with my name on his car,” Smith said. “Secondly, Jeff has the car that everybody tries to beat in town, so that’s a bonus for me, too.”
Even when Osborne’s car wasn’t running, Smith said, people would crowd around it, knowing it had great potential.
“The main thing is, having a local company that is very small, we want to place our name with someone that is going to represent us well,” he said. “Knowing (Osborne), knowing his car and knowing how the operation works, we are fully on board.”
Osborne wants to make it clear that although he has a few sponsors, his team is very grass-roots, not a professional outfit.
“We -- me and my friends -- do this because of the rush and the fun of it,” he said. “I struggle to get the car to the point where I want it, just like every other working man.”
Osborne said his plans for the future include putting another $15,000 to $20,000 into the car.
“The racing season is over for this year, so we are looking forward to next February,” Osborne said. “My car is just part of a burgeoning drift community that is growing here in Rio Rancho. I just want to get the word out that we are here.”