refers to a driving technique and to a motor sport where the driver intentionally skids the rear tires through turns, preserving vehicle control and a high exit speed. A car is said to be drifting when the rear slip angle is greater than the front slip angle, and the front wheels are pointing in the opposite direction to the turn (e.g. car is turning left, wheels are pointed right or vice versa), and the driver is controlling these factors. As a motor sport, professional drifting competitions are held across the globe.
Keiichi Tsuchiya became particularly interested by Takahashi's drift techniques. Tsuchiya began practicing his drifting skills on the mountain roads of Japan, and quickly gained a reputation amongst the racing crowd. In 1977, several popular car magazines and tuning garages agreed to produce a video of Tsuchiya's drifting skills. The video, known as Pluspy, became a hit and inspired many of the professional drifting drivers on the circuits today. In 1988, alongside Option magazine founder and chief editor Daijiro Inada, he would help to organize one of the first events specifically for drifting. He also drifted every turn in Tsukuba Circuit in Japan.
One of the earliest recorded drift events outside Japan was in 1996, held at Willow Springs Raceway in Willow Springs, California hosted by the Japanese drifting magazine and organisation Option. Inada, the NHRA Funny Car drag racer Kenji Okazaki and Dorikin, who also gave demonstrations in a Nissan 180SX that the magazine brought over from Japan, judged the event with Rhys Millen and Bryan Norris being two of the entrants. Drifting has since exploded into a massively popular form of motorsport in North America, Australasia, and Europe. One of the first drifting competitions in Europe was hosted in 2002 by the OPT drift club at Turweston, run by a tuning business called Option Motorsport. The club held a championship called D1UK, then later became the Autoglym Drift Championship. For legal reasons, the business was forced to drop the Option and D1 name. The club has since been absorbed into the D1 franchise as a national series.
Amateur drifting on public roads is a significant problem in Saudi Arabia.
Southern California has embraced Drifting, and has been a forefront for the drift movement. It has many similar geological features as Japan, from industrial warehouse, many freeway on/off ramps, to shipping docks, and lastly various touge. The grass-root enthusiasts can be seen on a daily basis and are growing exponentially as well as notice from local law enforcement. It wont be long before we see creative response such as the high-grip patches and speed bumps on notorious drift spots.
Drifting competitions are judged based on line, angle, speed, and show factor. Line involves taking the correct line, which is usually announced beforehand by judges. The show factor is based on multiple things, such as the amount of smoke, how close the car is to the wall, and the crowd's reaction. Angle is the angle of a car in a drift, Speed is the speed entering a turn, the speed through a turn, and the speed exiting the turn; faster is better.
The judging takes place on just a small part of the circuit, a few linking corners that provide good viewing, and opportunities for drifting. The rest of the circuit is irrelevant, except as it pertains to controlling the temperature of the tires and setting the car up for the first judged corner. In the tandem passes, the lead driver often feints his or her entry to the first corner to upset the chase driver.
There are typically two sessions, a qualifying/practice session, and a final session. In the qualifying sessions, referred as Tansou (speed run), drifters get individual passes in front of judges (who may or may not be the final judges) to try and make the final 16. This is often on the day preceding the final.
The finals are tandem passes, referred as Tsuiso (chase attack). Drivers are paired off, and each heat comprises two passes, with each driver taking a turn to lead. The best of the 8 heats go to the next 4, to the next 2, to the final. The passes are judged as explained above, however there are some provisos such as:
Points are awarded for each pass, and usually one driver prevails. Sometimes the judges cannot agree, or cannot decide, or a crowd vocally disagrees with the judge's decision. In such cases more passes may be run until a winner is produced. Sometimes mechanical failure determines the battle's outcome, either during or preceding a heat. If a car cannot enter a tandem battle, the remaining entrant (who automatically advances) will give a solo demonstration pass. In the event of apparently close or tied runs, crowds often demonstrate their desire for another run with chants of 'one more time'.
There is some regional variation, for example in Australia, the chase car is judged on how accurately it mimics the drift of the lead car, as opposed to being judged on its own merit. Other variations of the tansou/tsuiso and the tansou only method is the multi car group judging, seen in the Drift Tengoku videos where the four car team is judged in groups.
Usually, drift cars are light to moderate weight rear-wheel-drive coupes and sedans. In Japan and worldwide, the most common drift machines are the Nissan Silvia/180SX/200SX, Toyota AE86, Mazda RX-7, Nissan A31 Cefiro, Nissan C33 Laurel, Nissan Skyline (RWD versions), Nissan 350Z, Toyota Altezza, Toyota Chaser, Toyota Mark II, Toyota MZ20 Soarer, Honda S2000, Toyota Supra (MKIV), Ford Mustang and Mazda Miata. US drift competitions use the same cars, plus Chrysler LLC's Dodge Charger, General Motors' F-Body cars from 1967 until 2002, Pontiac Solstice, Holden Commodore, and Holden Monaro . Drifters in other countries often use local favorites, such as the Ford Escort, Ford Sierra, Ford Capri, Jaguar Cars, Vauxhall Motors(UK and Ireland), BMW 3 Series (other parts of Europe), Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Alfa Romeo 75, Fiat 131,early Opel cars, in Saudi Arabia Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the later Russian market Lada (Hungary) or Volvo 700 series (Scandinavia), modified Proton cars (Malaysia) and the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon in Australia.
As an example, the top 15 cars in the 2003 D1GP, top 10 in the 2004 D1GP, and top 10 in the 2005 D1GP were:
|Nissan Silvia||S15||6 cars||5 cars||3 cars|
|Toyota Levin/Trueno||AE86||3 cars||3 cars||2 cars|
|Mazda RX-7||FD3S||2 cars||1 car||2 cars|
|Nissan Skyline||ER34||1 car||1 car||1 car|
|Nissan Silvia||S13||2 cars|
|Toyota Chaser||JZX100||1 car|
|Subaru Impreza||GD (RWD)||1 car|
|Toyota Altezza||SXE10||1 car|
The Top cars in the 2006 Formula D Championship: DriftLive. .
|Vaughn Gittin, Jr.||Ford||Mustang|
In the 2008 Formula D series, the most frequent nameplate in the top rankings is Pontiac, but at the grassroots level, the Nissan 240sx still dominates in popularity.
FWD cars do qualify for entrance into D1GP events, but are rarely used due to the drivetrains inability to allow the car to accelerate out of a drift. They are not eligible for Formula D events.
AWD vehicles, such as the Subaru Impreza WRX STi, and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution can drift but usually requires different suspension tuning (when compared to RWD), higher amounts of power, and, in some cases, an adjustable center differential. In D1 Grand Prix, these cars are modified to RWD specification.
These techniques do not use weight transition, so are typically the first thing the novice drifter learns. However they are still used by the most experienced drifters, and require skill to execute properly. These techniques aim to induce a loss of traction on the rear wheels, either by locking the wheel (hand brake drift) or using enough power from the engine to break the traction force (power-oversteer and clutch kick).
When learning to drift using this technique it is important to first countersteer and wait for the car to stop rotating and face the right direction to exit the corner, and only then to press the accelerator to give the car more gas to keep it sideways. If accelerator is pressed too soon or too much, the car will spin out.
In low-power cars power oversteer can be achieved by applying excessive amount of throttle at the end of a shift. As you are releasing the clutch during a shift, or immediately before that while the clutch is still depressed, press accelerator all the way to send more power to the rear wheels than is necessary for a smooth upshift. If done during a turn, the car will begin to slide. This technique can be used to initiate a drift at very low speeds in an underpowered car (e.g., when shifting from 1st to 2nd gear), and to enter in a higher gear while accelerating all the way up to the turn (e.g., accelerate in 2nd on the straight and shift into 3rd as you enter the turn).
The sequence of actions is as follows:
Depending on how much power the car is making it is possible to keep the gas pedal floored from the shift throughout the entire drift, and in a low-power car this is often necessary.
Clutch kick can also be used during a drift to gain angle at the expense of speed. If the car is about to straighten itself out, kicking the clutch will cause it to rotate more. However since power delivery is interrupted while the clutch is depressed the car will lose some speed during the process.
Note that the actual scandinavian flick maneuver in rally driving is more complex than feint drifting. In scandinavian flick the tires are intentionally locked by braking hard right after turning a little away from the corner. While the wheels are locked, the driver applies steering input into the corner, adds throttle while still braking and then rapidly releases the brake pedal. This causes the car to slingshot itself through the corner.
A proper mechanical limited slip differential (LSD) is almost essential for drifting. Open diffs and viscous diffs cannot be controlled during a sustained slide. All other modifications are secondary to the LSD. Popular drift LSDs include OS Giken & Cusco.
The most popular form of LSD for drifting is the clutch type, in "2-way" form; this is preferred for its consistent and aggressive lockup behavior under all conditions (acceleration and deceleration). Some drift cars use a spool "differential", which actually has no differential action at all, the wheels are locked to each other. Budget drifters also use the welded differential, where the side gears are welded to give the same effect. This makes the car very easy to slide at high speed, but difficult to park, and is hard on the driveline. Torsen and Quaife (available on cars such as S15, FD3S, MX5, JZA8x, UZZ3x) diffs are also adequate.
The clutches on drift cars tend to be very tough ceramic brass button or multiple-plate varieties, for durability, as well as to allow rapid "clutch kick" techniques to upset the balance of the car. Gearbox and engine mounts are often replaced with urethane mounts, and dampers added, to control the violent motion of the engine/gearbox under these conditions.
Gearsets may be replaced with closer ratios to keep the engine in the power band. (Japanese drifters confuse the "L" and call these "cross-mission".) These may be coarser dog engagement straight cut gears instead of synchronised helical gears, for durability and faster shifting at the expense of noise and refinement. Wealthier drifters may use sequential gearboxes to make gear selection easier/faster, while sequential shift lever adapters can be used to make shifts easier without increasing shift speed.
Bushings can be upgraded with urethane parts. Most Nissan vehicles have a floating rear subframe which is usually fixed in position with billet aluminum or urethane "drift pineapples", to prevent the frame moving during drift.
One suspension tuning method, still popular in Japan, is known as "Demon Camber" (Japanese: 鬼キャン, Oni-kyan ). It involves setting the suspension with extreme negative camber in the front to reduce slide. Negative camber on the rear would only induce understeer, making the car more difficult to drift. The front of the car having better grip and less tendency to slide, it is easier to swing the rear of the car around to get a good drift angle. However stability, grip, and overall ability to control the car are compromised. It has thus fallen out of favor as a serious performance-minded suspension setup. However, many cars built for show (such as those driven by bōsōzoku) still use this style of suspension setup for its aggressive look. A few degrees of toe-out on the rear wheels (leading edges angled outward) can reduce rear stability, and make setting up a drift a little easier.
Because of the large sideways forces, drivers find it preferable to be retained firmly by a bucket seat, and harness. This allows the hands to merely turn the wheel, as opposed to bracing oneself against the wheel. The steering wheel should be relatively small, dished, and perfectly round, so that it can be released and allowed to spin through the hands as the caster returns the front wheels to center. The locking knob on the hand brake is usually replaced with a spin turn knob, this stops the hand brake locking on when pulled. Some drivers move the hand brake location or add an extra hydraulic hand brake actuator for greater braking force. Many drivers make use of additional gauges to monitor such things as boost levels, oil, intake and coolant temperatures.
Engine power does not need to be high, and in fact if a car has too much power, it can be very hard to handle during a drift. Each driver has their own preference, and drift cars can be found with anything from 100bhp (74kW) to 1000bhp (745kW). Typically, engine tuning is oriented towards achieving linear response rather than maximum power output. Engines also must be equipped with upgraded cooling systems. Not only are the engines pushed very hard, creating lots of heat, but being driven at an angle reduces the airflow through the radiator. For turbocharged engines, intercooler efficiency is similarly reduced. Oil coolers are almost essential. V-mounting the intercooler and radiator improves flow through these components, and keeps the expensive intercooler out of harm's way in the case of a minor accident.
Chassis preparation is similar to a road racing car. Roll cages are sometimes employed for safety, and to improve the torsional rigidity of the car's frame, but are compulsory in events that involves the 2+ cars tsuiou runs in the event of a side collision. Front and rear strut tower braces, B-pillar braces, lower arm braces, and master cylinder braces are all used to stiffen the chassis. The interior is stripped of extraneous seating, trim, carpet, sound deadening; anything that is not essential is removed to reduce weight.
Body kits are often attached with cable ties. When the body kit meets the wall or curb, the cable ties snap, releasing the part, as opposed to breaking it. Aero also helps for cooling while the car is sideways.
As drift cars are pushed faster, aerodynamic tuning becomes more important as well. Rear spoilers and wings usually are useful only in large, open tracks where the cars develop enough speed to create a need for more downforce. Wheel arches are often rolled or flared to allow the fitment of larger tires. Airflow to the engine is critical, so the hood is often vented. The popular "whale tail" spoiler is only practical at high speeds (+130 mph), and in street use create drag and/or add weight to the car.
Due to the nature of the hobby, drift cars are typically involved in many minor accidents. Thus, those involved with the sport tend to avoid expensive or easily damaged body kits and custom paintwork.
The cars quite often have different tires on the front and back, and the owner may have quite a few sets. This is because a single afternoon of drifting can destroy a new set of tires. As a rule, good tires go on the front for good steering. On the back, hard-compound tires are used, quite often second-hand ones tend to end up in a cloud of smoke. 15" wheels are common on the rear, as 15" tires are cheap. As a driver gets better, they will most likely want to upgrade the tires used in the rear for a higher grip compound. Although cheap/hard tires are fun purely for their slipperiness and ease of drifting, they quickly become a hazard for high-speed drifts. More advanced drivers require the most grip possible from all 4 tires, so as to retain control adequately during high speed drifts. Competitive drifters often run DOT approved tires closer to racing tires, which is permitted, with the exception of some major championships including D1GP which only permits commercially available tires that are approved by them. The grip is required for control, speed, and a fast snap on the initial entry. Generally drifting consumes tires rapidly and multiple sets may be necessary for a single professional event. Some companies have started to create tires with special effects for drifting. One such company is Kumho. They recently released tires designed especially for the drifting crowd. These new tires produce colored smoke instead of regular grey smoke when drifted. Lavender-scented tires have also been developed. They are not permitted in many competitions, as they are seen as giving an unfair advantage to teams with the funding to use them; now, they are currently expensive, but available to the public.
R/C drifting refers to the act of drifting with a radio-controlled car. R/C cars are equipped with special low grip tires, usually made from PVC or ABS piping. Some manufacturers make radial drift tires that are made of actual rubber compounds. The car setup is usually changed to allow the car to drift more easily. R/C drifting is most successful on 4WD (Four wheel drive) R/C cars. Companies such as Tamiya, Yokomo, Team Associated and HPI have made drift cars and supported the hobby.
Sports Active: On the Skids ; Invented by Japanese Boy Racers, Drift Racing Is the Latest Motorsport to Get Britain's Petrolheads Hot under the Hood. but Forget Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre " Success in This Game Is Strictly for Drivers on the Slide. Martin Klipp Buckles Up and Goes for a Smoke
Jun 19, 2005; There is something utterly masochistic about choosing to slide at 90 degrees while driving round a corner at 60mph. This occurs...