June 03, 2015

Earnest Profiles, our new series where we stop by, sit down and really get to know some of the most driven creators in the game. Cars and bikes can't talk very well, but the guys using their own two hands day in, day out to build them can. What drives these guys to keep doing what they do, what's their favourite beer and how do they like their eggs? We will be stopping in and really getting to know, what in our opinion are the most earnest workers in the business. The guys that inspire us to make quality workwear clothing

First up, we are in Geelong, Australia to sit down and chat with a man that has built many a machine from the ground up - and were not talking strip down restorations here, but literately mind blowing machines built from the steel on his workshop floor. Sit down and relax as we get to know Nigel Petrie of Engineered To Slide.

quality workwear clothing nigel on a bike

1. What would we find you doing locked away in the shed on any given weeknight?

"Usually I race home at the end of my 9-5 with a head crammed full of ideas, if the weather is nice i'll back the old Econoline up the drive, select any two motorcycles that are currently running, ring Dean and tell him to swing past on his way home, then get lost in the bush somewhere. If its not that then I am working on whatever I have going on at the time, while I was building the Hilux I would do a sold 4 hours nearly every single night, cutting welding, shaping and creating a drift car from scratch. Looking back on that now it was a pretty wild time, I wouldn't call it fun, I had tunnel vision and was so damned determined to finish that thing to the best of my ability."

quality workwear clothing nigel in the workshop

2. How did you find yourself here doing the things you do?

"When I was a kid I was always searching to be involved heavily in something, first it was BMX, then it was skating, then it was back to BMX, then Motorcross and then Cars, then through cars I saw drifting from a VHS tape shot in Japan early 2001, my mind was blown, everything changed from that point on. I wanted to do it so badly, I lived in the country and had an Escort coupe (wish I still had it). I punted that thing round the dirt roads and learnt a lot about driving, I didn't have the power or the diff to do it on the road but I dreamt of the day I could. This VHS video was shot at Sekia Hills, there were S13s and I was in love, they were fetching like $16k in Aus in 2003, so I got a quote from the local Automitive performance shop to drop a 180SX front cut in my Escort, the quote was 18K so I just bit the bullet and got a personal loan for my first import a black 180sx. That was it, I learnt and developed that chassis from my own ideas, translating japanese blogs and then creating my own, the first event in Victoria was in 2004 and I entered and won the privateer class, I was so in love with the sport. At one point I would set my clock for 3am, push my car out past the block of flats I lived in, drift some secluded corners in the industrial estate for two hours, drive home, change the wheels, have breakfast and go to work. From that point on I haven't stopped, I do everything on the tightest budget, I do everything myself to save $$ on labour, I have slowly worked out a few key aspects to this life, you have to believe in yourself enough to make your ideas a reality, you can plan and research all you want, you can draw things up in CAD, talk to professionals all you like but at the end of the day its doing things that teach you the most not only about yourself but what your capable of. I still love drifting as much as I did back then but I have no interest in making huge power, grip, running expensive tyres and needing a full crew to compete in the sport, I love it the way it used to be."

quality workwear clothing nigel in the garage

3. What makes you tick & keeps you doing what you do?

"I think I just have a creative mind that pushes my body to do new and interesting things, I have plenty of ups and downs, whenever I feel like I cant do anything right I just clean the garage and shut the doors, It dosnt take me long to stew on whatever it was I having troubles with and sort out a solution to keep going. I have always relied on myself and no one else, when it all got too much I would grab my BMX and head to the skatepark or the dirt jumps or jump on my motorcycle and clear my head, I think its really important to have a release thats cheap and easy to do. By relying on myself and involving no one else in what I am doing I feel like I have the freedom to just flow whenever I need to."

quality workwear clothing nigel at work

4. Recently, who's work gets you pumped to get back in the shed and grind away?

"Recently it would be the drag racers of the 1960s and 70s, I have just finished a trip to the Salt Flats where I rebuilt my dirt bike into a Land Speed Racer, I was searching for styling ideas and started researching that era of "fueler" drag bikes.

Imagine its the 1960's you are brazing up a hardtail drag frame in your garage, you are mixing a concoction of Nitro and Methanol, drilling out the jets in the carb to be three times as big as they were, welding higher lobes on the stock cam and grinding it up by eye, machining larger and longer bores, drilling everything you can see to save weight, removing every gear in the gearbox and machining a bigger/ wider 1:1 ratio, then taking it to the track and running a 9 second pass with a half track burnout.  

Those guys were the absolute kings, they did it all with so little, they didnt have the machines we have today and they did it in style. These days I look up to the crews of race teams rather than the actual rider or driver, I feel like the $$ in the sports have made the guys who talk the talk rise to the top, its not always the case but its the little guys in the home garage just making do that inspire me."

quality workwear clothing nigel packing the van

5. What other areas do you take inspiration from for your work?

"Its a heap of things at the moment, I try and keep positive all the time, watch inspiring videos, talk to positive friends, the feedback I get from people who are into what I am doing, keeping busy and just getting stuff done.

I get a lot out of what I have done in the past, sometimes ill look back through some old photos and remember the mindset that I had at that time and see how far I have come, its a personal journey for sure and something that I am keen to continue on."

5. What would we find blaring in the background of your shed on any given night?

"I don't have time to download or bother making up a playlist, I just listen to Triple J, its a bit shit because after work they do this talk back crap for an hour, then some nights are dedicated to hardcore heavy metal which makes me work so fast that I forget what I was doing, friday nights are good because they ussually mix together these pretty good sets, oh and I have a television in the garage too, thats for moto GP races and F1 with the occasional V8 supercar race, yea I spend a lot of time in the garage (laughs)."

6. What are you working towards in the future?

"I am that stage where I think my home workshop is a little restrictive, I want to get out into the community, host events, build a space that can house creative friends, build a small workshop, studio and office.

Engineered To Slide never had a set direction and it still doesn't, I dont know what it is or what its going to be, I liken it to the Hilux build, initially that build was to be a 6 month project of a body on an S15 chassis, there were no drawings or set plans I just made it up as I went along, I think the business is like that as-well, there's no certain goal that I am shooting for but I know the direction that I want it to go in."


Nigel's Salt Flat Racer
Nigel's Salt Flat Racer

July 29, 2020

Based off a KTM 350 SX-F, this salt flat racer does most things terribly — most things

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Nigel's BMW Chopper Build
Nigel's BMW Chopper Build

July 29, 2020

Custom BMW chopper, built for the Born Free Show

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Nigel's Drift Hilux
Nigel's Drift Hilux

July 28, 2020

It was only ever supposed to be a six-month build but, as any well-travelled fabricator can tell you, projects as serious as Nigel Petrie’s Toyota Hilux drift truck have a bad habit of getting away from you. 

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