Red Bull Drift Cars Confiscated by Ukrainian Government For Raising Hell Without a Permit

As some may have seen earlier in the week, Red Bull had two drifters in Kyiv, Ukraine, to shoot a drifting film. City officials denied Red Bull’s license request to shoot at a UN World Heritage site. Seeing as how the energy drink people were already there with a drifty Nissan Z car and what looks like a BMW in tow, a little bureaucracy wasn’t going to stop them from raising a little bit of hell. Well, Ukraine has decided to answer back by impounding the Red Bull drift cars. 

Two Red Bull Cars drifting around a track
The Red Bull Drift Brothers | Clive Rose/Getty Images

Red Bull was struck down for drifting without permission

Now, in the grand scheme of things, this may not feel like a big deal, but it was a huge deal to the Ukrainian government. This dismissal of the permit refusal caused the exact outcome that led to the refusal in the first place. 

The Drive reports that Red Bull sent out two of its drivers, Conor Shanahan and Aleksandr Grinchuk, to Sofievskaya Square to film a commercial with Ukrainian rapper Alyona Alyona. However, Kyiv’s City Council denied the request citing the risk of damage to the historic yellow brick outside the Saint Sophia Cathedral by the Red Bull drift cars. 

The smokey PR stunt caused quite the fuss, indeed. The aftermath of the tire squealing event left the site marred with over 2,000 square meters of black tire marks across the ornamental brick pavement. 

Red Bull quickly apologized for the stunt but the cars still got snatched

On the same day that the stunt occurred, Red Bull told The Drive that they apologized to the government and the people of Kyiv for the reckless stunt. One of the two drivers, Aleksandr Grinchuk, also made a point to apologize by throwing the company under the bus a little. 

“I have a contract stipulating that I must take part in projects, one of which was a pair drift in the center of Kyiv with a guest colleague in the Red Bull shop from Ireland, European vice-champion Conor Shanahan,” said Grinchuk, according to a translated article from a Ukrainian news source. “The aim of the project is to promote the brand and shoot a beautiful video for the Days of the Flag and Independence of Ukraine.”

Kyiv officials estimate the cost to repair the 2,000 square meters (21,500 square feet) of damaged historic brick to run $1,766.26 (47,092.14 Ukrainian Hryvnia). Also, the energy drink company was fined $63.76 for disobeying the denied stunt drifting permit. On top of that, Grinchuk and Shanahan’s cars were impounded as evidence on the day of the event, though reports still aren’t clear if the vehicles have been returned or if they are still being held at this time. 

Was the stunt worth it? 

Red Bull has a long history of pulling wild stunts. In fact, it has done so many things like this that it’s easy to forget that Red Bull’s original product is just an energy drink. What was once just badass stunts to promote the energy drink has now morphed into many major, top-tier motorsports teams.

Various Red Bull drivers have ramped a myriad of major world monuments, set world record stunts, and have even become major players in the pinnacle of motorsport, Formula 1. This isn’t the company’s last over-the-top stunt. This is what they do. It’s good that Red Bull has apologized. Pulling rad stunts is inarguably entertaining, but damaging historic sites is an unnecessary outcome.

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