Looking for Modified Car Insurance ? Speak to A-Plan and mention TMS MOTORSPORT for a great deal.
Call 01635 879 910 - Click the link to go to A-plan Website
You might also be interested in our blog about What is a track day?
You might also be interested in our Project Moff Race Car Build
We recently also wrote an interesting read about How to prepare for a track day?
What is Drifting
Before we start, please be aware, that all forms of motorsport are dangerous, including drifting, but we are sure you knew that already !
Drifting to some is seeing a car being purposely made to lose control, to others it is a driving technique where the car is intentionally made to oversteer to lose traction to both rear wheels while maintaining the car control for the entire corner. The car is made to drift by making the rear slip angle greater than the front slip angle to an extent that the front wheels are pointing in the opposite direction to the direction of the rear wheels which is known as opposite lock or counter steering.
When did Drifting Start ?
As a motorsport discipline, competitions were first held in Japan in the 1970`s. Points were awarded according to the speed of the car, angle, showmanship and the line of the car taken though the corner, or a combination of corners.
What is the History of Drifting ?
The exact starting point in history for drifting is not known, but Japan has been named as the earliest birthplace of modern day drifting as a sport. The sport goes back to the 1960`s to the winding mountain roads of Japan were a group of racers called the Rolling Zoku raced the winding mountain roads trying to set times between two points of the road.
As a motorsport discipline it takes its roots from Japan from a racer by the name of Kunimitsu Takahashi for making the drift technique among the Japanese popular. He was a renowned motorcyclist but also competed at the All Japan Touring Car Championship. Whilst competing in the championship he was noted for his skill at hitting the apex of each of the tracks corners at high speeds before drifting the car around the entire corner whilst maintaining the high speed of the car as he exited the corner. His technique of cornering not only helped him win multiple championship titles but it also brought in vast amount of racing fans thanks to the visual feast of watching the cars tires smoke due to the technique. As the professional racers in Japan started to use this technique so did the street racers.
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 organization Option.
Inada, founder of the D1 Grand Prix in Japan, the NHRA Funny Car drag racer Kenji Okazaki and Keiichi Tsuchiya, 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 then since exploded into a massively popular form of motorsport in North America, Australia, Asia and Europe.
Kunimitsu driving technique of drifting around the tracks corners brought the attention of Keiichi Tsuchiya who gained the name of “Drift King” after seeing Kunimitsu use his technique to great success winning titles and started working on his own drifting technique which in turn made him one of the most recognised drifters in the world. With the popularity of drifting growing with the Japanese population and the increase of amateur drifting competitions, Keiichi Tsuchiya with the help of Dajido Inada who was the founder of the Tokyo Auto Salon organised the D1 Grand Prix which was the first organised drifting series in Japan in 2001.
Basic car set up – How to set up a Drift car ?
Any type of rear wheel car can drift. Even some four wheel drive cars that can be switched to rear wheel drive can be set up correctly to drift. A locked slip diff or welded rear diff help maintain the drift around the corner of the track and is one of the first mods done to the rear wheel drive car.
Having a massive amount of brake horse power is not essential unless you are competing in competitions but lightening your car can help like removing your rear seats, carpets and sound deadening material and all unnecessary fittings.
Upgrading the cars disks and pads to fast road or track pads all round will help as the standard discs and pads will take a lot of abuse and produce brake fade as they get to hot. Changing the brake fluid and adding braided hoses will also ensure better braking and reduce the risk of brake failure or if you have the budget upgrade the bigger brakes.
Keeping control of the car during the drift is essential so a soft suspension set up can cause problems maintain the drift through the corner. The setup of the suspension will change from car to car and driver to driver so it is an idea to modify the cars suspension so it can be adjusted to your needs from ride height, stiffness, damper adjustments to camber, toe and caster. To the top of suspension dampers, adding strut braces will help stiffen the car. For suspension arms, and bushes, replacing these with polyurethane from manufacturers such as powerflex, or super pro which will stiffen up the suspension will also go towards having greater control and feel.
Do I need Camber ?
Having the front wheels set for negative camber to gain more grip and will help with the oversteer to start the drift and the rears should be set with a slight negative camber with a view of them being virtually vertical to look at will reduce the grip in the corners for the drift.
Your clutch will get a lot of abuse so a heavier duty clutch for your car is ideal. Twin and triple plated clutches are a good idea, and often used but can be a hassle if you drive the car as a daily or to and from the track. Paddles clutches are also a consideration, but again, if the car is a daily, then it can make the car more difficult to use on a daily basis.
What tyres to use for Drifting ?
As a starter to drifting, using cheap part worn tyres is a good idea to keep costs down but using low profile tyres is a good idea as it reduces the chance of the tyres to roll off of the rim while the car is sliding. The tyre pressure that you run make a difference depending on your technique and car so experimenting with different pressures to see how the handling is affected to match your style and technique is ideal. Please note – If you are using used tyres, please keep safety in mind, and check the condition of the tyres before fitting to make sure they are free from splits and bulges, and make sure they are evenly worn.
The Theory of Drifting – How to Drift ?
The theory of drifting is that the tyres grip to a maximum point of adhesion so when this point is met and then exceeded, the tyres begin to lose grip and slide until it is restored. The aim of drifting, is to do this, but in a controlled manor (most of the time).
When the car has been made to drift the drivers control over the car becomes very important. The amount of steering angle towards the direction of travel, combined with throttle are used to continue the drift.
The main cars used in Drifting are rear wheel drive, because as the car decelerates the weight of the car is thrown to the front wheels and will lock up under heavy breaking. Power from the rear wheels is used as the rear wheels will be moving the car forward, but also be travellingFront wheel drive cars are inherently much harder to drift, as they use deceleration to lighten the rear end to be able to make the car drift.
What are drift techniques ?
There are a few techniques to initiate the car to drift and here are a few to get you started
The CLUTCH KICK is where you dip or kick the clutch to make the car suddenly and temporarily lost the traction of the rear wheels and make them slide while entering the bend. When you dip the clutch the engine speed drops and when released the wheels start moving faster which causes a pull and breaks traction. A quick dip of the accelerator increases engine speed as the clutch is released the rear wheels will spin faster.
The HANDBRAKE DRIFT is the easiest and the most used to initiate a drift. It is done by quickly jabbing the handbrake to cause the rear wheels to lock up and slide. Once the rear car wheels are sliding the handbrake is released to allow more driver control and stopping the car from losing to much speed.
The INERTIA DRIFT is where you carry a lot of speed into the bend and decelerate quickly which puts the weight of the car to the front wheels making the rear wheels become light and start to drift whilst steering the front wheels in the direction of the drift. The driver keeps control of the car by steering and throttle input.
How does the scoring in drifting work ?
Competitions are scored based on the line of the car through the bend, the angle of the car as it goes through the bend, how fast the car is going and the amount of showmanship during the drift. The showmanship is based on the amount of smoke produced, how close the driver can get to a wall or to a designated clipping point, and on the crowds reaction to watching the drift. Judging for drifting is normally done over a few linking corners that are good viewing opportunities for the crowd and judges.
There are typically two sessions, a qualifying/practice session, and a final session. In the qualifying sessions, referred as Tansō (solo run), drifters get individual passes in front of judges (who may or may not be the final judges) to try to make the final 16. This is often on the day preceding the final.
The finals are tandem passes, referred as Tsuisō (chasing race). 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:
- Overtaking the lead car under drift conditions is OK if the chasing car doesn't interrupt the lead car's drift.
- Overtaking the lead car under grip conditions automatically forfeits that pass.
- Spinning forfeits that pass, unless the other driver also spins.
- Level of smoke from the tires.
- Increasing the lead under drift conditions helps to win that pass.
- Maintaining a close gap while chasing under drift conditions helps to win that pass.
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 emulates the drift of the lead car, as opposed to being judged on its own merit, this is only taken into consideration by the judges if the lead car is on the appropriate racing line. 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
What is a clipping point ?
A clipping point is a pre-designated point of the circuit that a driver will be awarded extra points for depending on how close they can get their car to it, without knocking the clipping point over (which might be marked with a cone).
What is Drift Angle ?
Definition of drift angle when applied to boats or air planes.
1 : The angle between the axis of a ship when turning and the tangent to the path on which it is turning
2: The horizontal angle between the longitudinal axis of an airplane and its path relative to the ground : the angle between the heading and the track —called also leeway
In a car, it is the amount of angle of steering lock you have on the car whilst in the drift. The more steering angle, the bigger the drift angle, the more points you can score. For ultimate points, people are now starting to enter drifts as reverse entry drifting, or backwards entry drifting !
What is reverse entry Drifting ?
This is when you have so much steering angle on, that it actually looks like you are travelling backwards into the drift. This will earn you ultimate points !
Where can I learn to drift ?
Where can I watch drifting ?
Please note - This is a basic introduction to drifting, from our own thoughts, please also carry out your own research. If you feel we have left something our, please let us know.