In case you haven’t heard of Netflix’s Hyperdrive, it’s best described as American Ninja Warrior with cars. On an increasingly difficult road coarse, drivers are pushed to the edge of their comfort zone with obstacles involving driving through water, drifting to hit targets, and using their car to literally balance a scale. All for the sake of earning the best time. Competitors from all over the world, with cars and skill levels just as diverse, came to make a name to showcase their abilities and make a name for themselves.

Corinna Gräff and her husband Alex appeared on the show as husband and wife, mother and father, but also came as competitors. With nothing but love, this was their time to establish a champion between the two of them. Back in her home country of Germany, Corinna is known as the “Drift Beast,” procured from her insane and undisputed talent as a drifter. Though, her husband has more experience in the field, so the two were each other’s perfect match. Now, they just needed a way to prove who was the better drifter.

Corinna’s career as a drifter came from a teenage love of mechanics. In an interview for Athena Racing, she says she’s been working on cars (mainly BMW’s) since she was 16. In case you haven’t looked at her instagram, the Mercedes E500 is actually powered by a monstrous BMW V8.

It seems blasphemous to automotive purists, but Corinna has a good reason for the transplant: “Because I’ve worked on BMW engines since I was 16 years old, it seems to be a good decision to work with stuff that I know.”

To this day she does a lot of her own maintenance work on her cars, drift car or otherwise, as a result of her teenage experience. Though, she admits to using Google, YouTube, or asking her husband for help if she’s ever unsure.

With her background and love for the mechanical nature of cars, she became curious about the sport of drifting two years into her marriage to Alex. She says there was a drifting workshop she did with Alex, and discovered her natural knack for the sport. From there, it didn’t take long for her to build her own drifter. In Germany, both Corinna and Alex compete in drifting events — and win. Despite her being among the best in the show and in Germany, she stays humble about her skills. When asked if she felt she was better than her husband, she says:

“No, [Alex] is my teacher and I want to learn everything I can from him. I look up at him, he is a such good driver.”

Interestingly enough, in Germany, it’s not abnormal for women to be involved in Motorsports or mechanics, so it was a bit of a surprise for her to learn how restrictive it is for American women. Though, after being on the same track as a handful of other women who shared her enthusiasm for the sport, she expressed excitement to be involved in female empowerment. Drawing from her own experiences, she says the best thing a woman can do is never give up.

“You have to believe in your dreams and yourself,” says Gräff. “We worked over 10 years for this dream, had a lot of ups and downs but we finally made it and became the best drift couple in the world! Just never give up.”

Unsurprisingly, Corinna kept herself on the top of the Hyperdrive charts for longer than her husband Alex, even after an accident that totaled her car and sent her to the hospital. Driving alongside some of the most competitive drivers from around the world, Corinna made no small name for herself. She stood as such a fine monument of female power, determination, and talent. Her teenage daughter, which also has a love for cars (especially BMW), has Corinna enthusiastic for another strong and talented female driver. 

To the young Athenians coming into the first class, we ask that you aspire to be a woman like Corinna. Fearless, talented, and humble. Never let male domination of the sport intimidate or hush your talents. Show up and be your best self. As Corinna says, never stop believing in yourself.

Photos: Hyperdrive Screenshots

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Kristen Finley

Kristen Finley

Motorsports Journalist

Kristen Finley is a woman who eats, breathes, and sleeps cars. Her love of cars blossomed at a very young age, when handing tools to her sailor of a father underneath his cars constituted as quality time. Eager to learn, it was only a matter of time before her father became the one handing her the tools. Even into college at California State University, Monterey Bay, she's pursuing a career in automotive journalism to allow her the chance to tell enchanting automotive stories.