Race Weekend Essentials: Drifter and stunt driver Zandara Kennedy
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If you haven’t heard of Zandara Kennedy, get ready to meet one of the coolest people in motorsport.
Kennedy is a pro drifter and stunt driver, taking part in some of the biggest movies you’ve seen on the big screen. Think the X-Men and Deadpool franchises among some of TV’s top shows.
Kennedy had always wanted two be in Cirque du Soleil until a move to Vancouver introduced her to the world of stunt driving. When she was 19, Kennedy did her first stunt school experience, Rick Seaman’s Motion Picture Driving Clinic at Willow Springs. It started an off-screen passion that drives Kennedy to this day.
“Anytime I would work, I would invest that money back into more driving training,” Kennedy tells Podium Life.
“So I did rally school, and I did race school, and I just always loved driving.”
“And then someone suggested to me, you should go and do this drift training. I went to the drift school, and I got in the car, and I was like, oh, this is the thing I have to do all the time. I loved it.”
Kennedy is the first Canadian woman in Formula Drift, driving her Nissan 350Z that has an ‘LS swap’ (a term given to installing a GM LS engine in non-GM cars like Kennedy’s Nissan).
Being a respected stunt driver/double/co-ordinator at the level Kennedy has reached would be enough for some people, but she’s intent on becoming a star drifter and representing the Racing Pride organisation along the way.
It’s safe to say that she has truly caught the racing competition bug.
“If you have any sort of reason or rationality when it comes to work life balance…Like if we were good at math, we wouldn’t do this!” Kennedy adds.
“But you know how it makes you feel, right? There’s nothing else like it and the kind of community that you’re surrounded by and that type of instant bond, it feels almost like being soldiers. We go through so much so quickly and that really bonds us in a way that, it would take years to have that kind of connection with a person you worked in an office with.”
Podium Life sat down with Kennedy to discuss what’s always in her Race Weekend Essentials bag on a stunt or drift journey.
What do you always pack?
I definitely will travel, depending on what I’m doing, with mouthguard, helmet, I use a Simpson Hybrid now. I was using a HANS device before but my job comes with a high risk of TBI (traumatic brain injury). And I have had a few serious concussions. So that was part of the reason I made the switch and why the mouthguard is so important.
I also usually carry my own tire pressure gauge. As a drifter we deal with tire pressures a lot and as a precision driver and stunt driver tire pressures are the easiest thing to adjust that will affect the performance of the vehicle the quickest. So the number one thing I do with a vehicle on set, like the first thing I do when I get there is check the pressures.
And I always use the same gauge. Because any two gauges may read differently so that’s a piece I always carry with me. I have a larger stunt bag that contains a compressor, a few basic tools.
It’s never something I’ve thought of, but tire pressures are something people in the stunt industry who maybe don’t deal with cars will have considered. It must be really important and helpful for you to check?
Absolutely, very few people check their tire pressure is on a regular basis, and I’m guilty of it in my daily drivers.
But when it comes to my performance, it’s the first thing I check so that if I if I’m having an issue, I already know roughly what I’m dealing with and where I would want to make the adjustment.
Because in a way, dropping the front tire pressure or raising the rear tire pressure, you get a similar balance of traction. One is a lot faster than the other like I will always, at work, if I check the pressures and I’m like, I know what I need to do. I’ll usually just bump everything up. It’s much quicker to go down than to go up again.
It would probably be the headphones and if I’m traveling across borders a lot, my Nexus card. It’s a difference between five minutes in line and an hour in line. Which adds up adds up a lot. Those are definitely the things that I always have with me and of course a battery pack because you just never know.
I think I have a brain that’s naturally wired to look for those things, but I really try to avoid them so that I never don’t have something I need. Because otherwise you’re like, I don’t have my rabbit’s foot. There’s no way I can do this.
Is there anything helps with recovery, you must get beat up doing stunts!?
I’m a big fan of CBD products. A lot of it I do through diet, I try to eat a diet that helps with inflammation. So I do a lot of intermittent fasting I do a lot of cold water. So mostly that for me, I would say it’s the habits more than anything else. I am an energy drink addict. I am like a hippie energy drink addict. Those are the things that I think help the most.
There’s also a device that I used during my concussion that I still use when I can called the Muse, which is a Neurofeedback machine. It’s just a little headset and it reads your brainwaves and so when you do meditation or something like that, it’s sound based and it basically trains your brain to seek the certain brainwave patterns that are good for you. You can pick which states you want to train for.
So that’s something I’ve been carrying just in case I have a spare moment to do it.
What about meditation then, is that something you’re able to do freely or you need an app?
I definitely need an app. I mean, my perfect meditation and if I’m honest is riding a motorcycle. That for me is the number one thing but you can’t put a motorcycle in your carry on, they don’t fit. In which case I’ve used headspace and I’ve used Waking Up as well both of those apps I find really helpful.
Anything so that you can focus, because it is a muscle, right? If you started weight training and just went to the gym and went I don’t know I’ll just lift this I guess, versus having a trainer at the beginning that teaches you the the programme so that then you have the routines you can do on your own.