Pushing boundaries is something only few people dare to do. To seize your dreams is the most noble cause we can pursue as human beings; and even more noble, is being able to centre gratitude the more that our dreams become a reality. Few spaces express this as perfectly as Cape Town’s street-drifters - as a culture, drifting is founded on the precision and style involved in car modification and racing - intermixed with a dedication to forward-thinking, evolution and team-building. Driving may be an individual act, but drifting takes an entire community.

For the celebration of ‘The Year of 23’, the release of the Air Jordan ‘GRATITUDE’ 11 could only align with one person; Quinton Robertson, a drifting-master, pioneer of Air Suspensions in South Africa and the owner of Q-Beams Suspension. As a legend in the car scene, Quinton faced numerous challenges sourcing affordable parts for older cars accessible to the younger generation. Without formal education, Quinton invested in equipment to independently produce his own air suspension components, eventually realising his automotive vision - this earned him the recognition as a pioneer of air suspension in the country and successfully established a business from the ground up. Q-Beams Suspension and Body Workshop is a birthplace of dreams, and expresses the creative grit and determination of the Cape Flats; a region in Cape Town that is rich with culture, as powerful shapers of South Africa’s creative expression.

Quinton explains that “when I started in the car scene, there wasn’t much accessibility - and there were no hand-outs - I had to figure out my own way to do what I wanted to do with my vehicle. It was tough, the resources weren’t there, and I had to make do with whatever I had. That determination paid off though - today, I’m a business owner and I was one of the first people in South Africa to build air suspension.”

For Quinton, gratitude is made manifest through drifting - and his team and friends are people who are willing to take risks to be free. Q-Beam’s body workshop is centred on car modification and community, and he explains that “the drifting community is an intriguing space. I feel grateful to do what I do - my shop has inspired a younger generation to come up, and I think we are going to see even more growth of the scene in Cape Town, for years to come.”

The DIY ethos involved in the car enthusiast scene speaks to a fine-tuning of one’s own life. Specifically with drifting, this subculture is part of a profound and long, intergenerational lineage that maps across South Africa’s Coloured community, in which traditional mechanic craftsmanship and evolving technology have grown in tandem with one another; passed down through the decades.

On the experience of drifting - using skill to counteract an intentional loss of control - Quinton says, “once you pull away from the line, your adrenaline starts pumping - suddenly, there’s nothing on your mind anymore. It's just pure muscle memory and it's just you, your feet, your legs and your arms on the steering wheel. It's pure freedom.”

Although the car scene is traditionally understood as a man’s world; there are women who have risen through the ranks, often spurred on by the support of their fathers, brothers and uncles. Aqueelah Sasman is known as the ‘spinning Queen of Cape Town’ and has driven since she was in grade eight. As Aqueelah explains,

“My uncles were part of a spinning team - they would help raise funds for schools through spinning, and I was always either a passenger or spectating on the side. I grew up in this community. I told my father that I wanted to get into it myself - at thirteen years old. He said I could, but that I had to work for it - the condition was that I had to make top 10 in my grade that year for academics. Needless to say, I made it into the top 10! So, I held up my end of the bargain, and so did he.”

As part of a handful of women across South Africa establishing themselves in the spinning scene, Aqueelah describes her passion for the sport, “I’m so grateful for this experience. It's the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done or been part of. A lot of people might doubt you - but I’ve always had people supporting and backing me. I was encouraged to do my best from day one.” Aqueelah’s story is testament to the community-forging power of street-drifting and spinning saying that “as a woman, it's very important to show that you can do it - whatever it is. I’m actually very introverted - but spinning has given me so much confidence. Once I’m in the car, I’m in my world; I’m free. I hope I can show that women can be part of whatever we want. This sport brings people together - men and women and I’ve seen us grow so much as a community.”

Celebrating the AJ11 ‘GRATITUDE’ iteration is a milestone for us at Lemkus. When we can see bridges being made between Nike, Air Jordan and a community so embedded in the hyper-local history of Nike as Cape Town’s community -

and specifically the drifting scene - we know we are participating in the birth of dreams. The only way we can express how this feels is through thankfulness; to tell the stories that matter the most, for those that have eyes to see and ears to listen.

This is the power of culture - creativity -community; our mantra. We know how much South Africa has to offer, and we are grateful that we get to share it with you.