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Cindy McCain doesn't remember all the details. It might have been six years ago. Maybe seven. But this much, at least, McCain recalls with perfect clarity: She was watching television with her oldest son, Jack, when footage flashed across the screen of race cars skidding sideways as though they were on ice.
Looks kind of cool, McCain thought to herself, but how'd they do that?
For most people, the curiosity probably would have ended there. But McCain, the wife of the Republican nominee for president, Sen. John McCain, is anything but ordinary. Although a wide swath of the public views her as reserved and distant, she is actually quite the opposite in private. When Cindy McCain, 54, encounters something that intrigues her, she embraces it with the zeal of a toddler on Christmas Eve.
And so McCain began to learn as much as possible about this mysterious driving technique. It turned out it was called drifting and had origins tracing back to the mountains of central Japan in the early 1990s. Months after first seeing drifting on television, McCain traveled to Japan with Jack, now a senior at the Naval Academy and an avid fan of motorsports, to take drifting lessons with a top instructor.
"I love it," McCain said, though she described herself as a below-average drifter. "I'm probably a little too cautious with it because it is abnormal from what you're taught when you're taught to drive. You're taught to keep control of your car. Everything you were taught in driver's ed, forget. That's what drifting is about."