What is drifting?
Basically, drifting is getting your car sideways down a road. It refers to the difference in slip angle between the front and rear tyres of a car. When the rear wheels are slipping at a greater angle than the front wheels, the car is drifting, or "oversteering". The rear end of the car appears to chase the front end around a turn; the driver utilizes both front tyres and the rear tyres to control the actual direction of the car. More throttle induces more rear wheel slip angle and the rear of the car wants to overtake the front. The goal is for the driver to achieve opposite lock and use the throttle to fine tune the car's angle and direction. So in essence a good drifter has the ability to take five or six opposing turns without having traction at any point in time.
Drifting is a driving style distinguished by over steering into and completely through the corners. The basic idea is to manoeuvre the vehicle so that the front slip angle of the car is less than the rear slip angle. This requires that the front wheels of the car will be intentionally pointed in the opposite direction of the turn of the vehicle.
Competitive drivingAs a competitive driving technique that started as an underground fad, Drifting has, over time emerged as a competitive sport in its own right. Requiring a high level of skill on the part of the driver, drifting is often employed in high speed competitions around the world, including the D1 Grand Prix in Japan. Drivers compete in rear-wheel drive cars to keep their cars sideways as long as possible. At the top levels of competition, especially the D1 Grand Prix in Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, drivers are able to keep their cars sliding for extended periods of time, often through several turns. Drifting has been part of the professional racing sport for a number of years, commonly employed in such motor sport competitions as rally.
Drifting is an 'extreme' sport. Unlike other types of motor sport it is not just about who is fastest or who crosses the line first. Drifting is a judged sport - just like surfing, snow-boarding, freestyle BMX or motocross, snow-boarding, skateboarding, etc. A drift competition consists of a series of elimination rounds in which two drivers at a time slide their cars, side-by-side through a short course of just 3 or 4 corners. (More about Competitions - link to Drift Competition page)
Drifting may be done informally for fun, in a formal setting where the goal is a mix of fun and building skills for improved car control, or in competitive motor sports. Competitive drifting is a motor sport rated on style, rather than speed around a track or position in a group of cars. Overall performance is judged on four factors: cornering angle, line, speed and excitement/style (tire smoke is one way of judging style).
How did it start?
Modern drifting started out as a racing technique popular in the All Japan Touring Car Championship races over 30 years ago. Motorcycling legend turned driver, Kunimitsu Takahashi, was the foremost creator of drifting techniques in the 1970s. He was famous for hitting the apex (the point where the car is closest to the inside of a turn) at high speed and then drifting through the corner, preserving a high exit speed. This earned him several championships and a legion of fans who enjoyed the spectacle of burning tyres. The bias ply racing tyres of the 1960s-1980s lent themselves to driving styles with a high slip angle. As professional racers in Japan drove this way, so did the street racers.
How do you start a Drift?
There are two ways to start a drift:
1. The clutching technique (primarily for rear wheel drive cars).
When approaching a turn the driver will push in the clutch and shift his car into second gear. Then rev the engine up to around 4000-5000 rpm (it all depends all the model of the car being used) and then slightly turn away from the turn and then cut back towards it hard while at the same time popping the clutch and causing the rear wheels to spin. At this point the drifter has a loss of traction and is beginning to slide around the curve.
Now comes the hard part... You have to hold the drift until the next turn. To do this you must keep your foot on the accelerator while at the same time adjusting your car with the steering wheel so you don't spin out. It's not as easy as it sounds. Then, as the drifter reaches the end of the turn and approaches the next turn which is in the opposite direction he must cut the wheel in that direction and in some cases, if the previous drift was to slow and they start to regain traction, they must pop the clutch again to get the wheels spinning.
2. The sidebrake technique
The second technique is used by a few drifters in rear wheel drives, but is the only way you can really drift a front wheel drive. You have to use the side brake. A front wheel drive can not whip it's tail out because the tyres are being driven in the front as opposed to the rear.
When approaching a turn you pull the side brake to cause traction loss. And the rest is pretty much the same except that it's much harder to take more than one turn with a FWD car.
Drifting requires excellent car control and much practice. Though there are different styles of drifting, there are only a handful of techniques that will get your car sideways. A similarity for all drifting techniques is to be smooth and practice.
- Handbrake/ ebrake Drift - This technique is pretty straightforward; pull
the handbrake to induce rear traction loss and balance drift through
steering and throttle play.
- Shift Lock - By releasing the clutch, the rear tyres will lock up and cause
the tail to slide out.
- Power Over - When entering a corner at full throttle to produce heavy
oversteer through the turn to swing the tail out for a drift
- Braking - Trail braking into a corner so that the car can "set" or shift
weight to cause the rear wheels to lose traction (w/o locking up the rear
tyres), then controlling the drift with proper steering and power inputs.
- Feint - done by rocking the car towards the outside of a turn and then using
the inertia of the car to swing it back to the desired drifting line.
- Dynamic - Using throttle control to initiate a high speed drift