Forget the Kitchen, Shred Some Tires: Presenting Rathyna Gomer
Words: Taylor Haney Photos: Raythna Gomer, OMGDrift.com and AMDrift.com
If there’s one thing that’s true about following your dreams, it’s that you have to be dedicated. Rathyna Gomer, blogger & creator of the “Not A Kitchen” drift blog, said this, “Fear of failure because this [drifting] isn't something I'm familiar with - I know I can do well in school. I know I can go get a "professional" degree in law or medicine. I'm confident in my abilities to accomplish those things. But drifting has always been a challenge - and that's part of the reason why I love it so much.”
I stumbled upon Rathyna Gomer’s blog about a year ago. After reading her posts, I felt as though, finally, a girl that speaks my language. She writes candidly and eloquently about her experience as a female drift enthusiast, and how she got to where she is today. She tells her story in way that many up-and-comers can relate to.
Rathyna stated, “The phrase, "Not A Kitchen," honestly started as a funny hashtag that just caught on. A lot of people associate me with it, so I decided to use that to brand my program in the beginning phases.” Rathyna has plans to make “Not A Kitchen” separate from her her blog and create out of it a non-profit organization. “I'd like the NPO [non-profit organization] to be geared towards connecting young girls with renowned and accomplished women in a specific career and/or industry. I believe that all women should be encouraged to fulfill their dreams and purpose without ridicule - being a stay-at-home mom should be praised just as highly as a woman who has dedicated her life to racing or even science, in my opinion.”
After graduating from college in 2014 with two Bachelor degrees, one in Communications Theory and another in Management, she decided to push even further to pursue an MBA in Marketing. Currently Rathyna works as a Sales & Marketing Manager at MotoIQ.com, “I get to work with some of the best people in the automotive industry and be around cars all day long, so I definitely can't complain because I have my dream job! I also do some non-profit work on the side and provide some freelance marketing consulting services when I have some time,” said Rathyna. Rathyna aims to revolve her career around drifting full-time through her “Not A Kitchen” inspired non-profit. As a result, she will be able to give back to the community, while pursuing her passion for drifting.
Despite her ambitious and driven spirit in and outside of the classroom, her parents were less than thrilled to find out about her passion for racing. “They hated it back then and they still hate it today!,” she said, “I’m first generation American and was raised in a very traditional home where over 90% of my immediate and distant relatives have settled into careers in the healthcare industry.” Of course, Rathyna hasn’t let her parents disapproval stop her from pursuing drifting and promoting women in the sport.
Rathyna got into cars and racing at a young age influenced by video games, “I was initially drawn to cars when I was 13 and had been playing a good amount of Gran Turismo 3 on Playstation 2.” She was later taken to the D1GP event in Irwindale, California, where she first saw pro drifting. The D1GP was an event hosted in the United States from 2004 - 2007, in which the first round of the D1GP events were hosted out of Irwindale, California. D1GP, or D1 Grand Prix, is a highly popular drift series still today, but is hosted exclusively in Japan now.
These days, she drifts with a 2006 Nissan 350Z, which Rathyna said is her dream car. How cool is that?!
How did you get involved in drifting?
As mentioned before, I was pretty much hooked after seeing D1 at Irwindale back in 2006. A few years later, I began engulfing myself in the drifting community by going to car meets and making a lot of great friends. Those friends went on to guide me on what steps I should be taking to get into drifting. At the end of 2010 I went out to Willow Springs International Raceway and just began practicing. Luckily, Southern California s a thriving drifting hub and there are no shortages of drift events locally.
What (pro driver / car legend / famous car person) would you like to spend a day with?
It would be super rad to be able to hang out with previous D1GP driver Ken Nomura for a day. I grew up watching his crazy antics on many Option2 videos and it seems like I would never be bored around him. He was a badass driver too from what I remember.
What is in your garage right now?
A LOT of car parts, broken transmissions, like 4 body kits, and stacks of stacks of new/used tires. Oh, and my Z shell. My S13 [a Nissan 240SX] is at a shop and my engines are at various places getting work done.
Do you have any pre-race/event rituals?
I always pray. My faith is a big part of my drifting and saying a quick prayer in the driver's seat helps me focus. I also listen to music in between runs so that I don't have much time to think about anything that could be distracting. Music also takes my nerves and turns them into excitement!
How do you celebrate a win?
I celebrate with an Oreo McFlurry with hot fudge at the end of almost any track day haha.
What achievement are you most proud of?
There isn't a specific achievement or moment that I'm most proud of, but I'd say I'm pretty damn proud of myself for being able to fund my racing on my own dime for the last few years. It was challenging making it work while I was in school full-time, but I made it happen and for that I'm pretty excited.
Where do you see the sport (drifting) going in 5 years?
Absolutely growing and thriving! There are a lot of naysayers when it pertains to professional drifting, but none of those perspectives are based on any sort of fact. Formula Drift has had a growing audience every year and I don't see that slowing down anytime soon.
Where do you see yourself going in 5 years?
So much can happen in five years. It's scary and exciting to think that in five years I will be in my 30s! Young Rathyna would have answered with, "I see myself married, with a big house in the suburbs, and two kids." Now that I'm starting to grow into adulthood, I see that life doesn't work that way. To candidly answer this, I have zero clue where I will be in five years. But I prefer it that way. I grew up always having my life planned, and it's quite liberating not knowing what's going to happen next - I live my life frantically waiting to see what's going to be on the next page. Ideally, I would like to have already earned my FD license, perhaps earned a podium, and changed a few a lives for the better along the way.
Any other hobbies?
I love writing; I also enjoy shooting (guns) and playing video games! Recently I've been dabbling in photography as well and it's been fulfilling my creative side I guess you could say. I'm also a foodie and coffee lover, so food/coffee adventures are something I'd definitely consider a hobby.
Do you feel like you are at a disadvantage in a male dominated sport/industry?
Yes and no, it depends which perspective I'm looking at it from and to be honest, I don't think about it too much. I guess there's some added pressure to perform well because many (not all) folks are anticipating for me to fail because I'm a woman. I know many sponsors have been burned by the previous famous "girl" driver (gah, I hate that term), which might make it more difficult for me to get sponsored.
However, I can't talk about disadvantages without talking about advantages too. Whether I like it or not, I'm almost always going to get more attention at the track and on social media than an equivalent male driver, simply because there's some sort of "wow factor” with me being a woman in this sport. I can't really control that, but it does help with my marketability value, which in turn helps with sponsorship. However, I make it a point to not intentionally draw attention to the fact that I'm a lady driver.
Rathyna calls to an important point here about female car culture. There are those who use the fact they’re a woman to market themselves, there are others who prefer to market themselves as a driver, and some women are a mix of the two. However, this is just another thing that women have to deal with differently than men in this sport. Rathyna said, “As a driver, my priority is to be judged as a driver. I am very proud to be a woman and consider my gender to undoubtedly play a large part in my overall identity...In the same regard, when I'm drifting I'm not announcing that I'm a Christian or that I'm Indian, so why announce that I'm a female. And at times it can be challenging to find that balance - I don't want to completely denounce my femininity either because whether I like it or not (don't worry, I like it), I'm still a woman.”