What is Drifting and How Do I Start?

A Brief History of Drifting

Drifting has become one of the fastest-growing motorsports in the world with it quickly gaining in popularity since its humble beginnings in Japan. While we don’t know exactly where the sport started, it was pushed to the forefront of car culture by a racing driver by the name of Kunimitsu Takahashi.

During the All Japan Touring Car Championship, he used aspects of drift technique to improve his corner exit speeds. This not only helped him win a large number of races, but also gained him a large following thanks to how entertaining this was from a fan’s perspective. The techniques used here soon evolved into the drifting we know and love today. But what is drifting?

What is Drifting?

Drifting is a technique used to balance the car in a state of oversteer, with drivers using a mixture of steering lock, throttle control, clutch technique, and braking to hold them in a constant skid for several purposes.

In a competition, drifting is used to hitΒ clipping points appointed by track coordinators and judges while maintaining momentum, speed, and a high angle of oversteer. While sticking to defined lines and deacceleration zones, two drivers compete at a time, with one leading and one chasing.

The leader does their best to perform the best run within the set parameters, while the chaser copies this as closely as possible and as close as possible to the leader. Once a run is finished, the drivers swap positions and compete again. These runs are then compared by three judges.

What are the judges looking for? Well, there are a number of criteria outlined by the judges beforehand, including clipping points, racing line, and style. But high angle, speed, and bravery is the usual recipe for a win.

But it’s not all competition… There are few things better in the motorsport world than one, two, and more cars if you’re lucky moving faster sideways than you ever thought possible while spewing tonnes of smoke from their rear wheels and slamming door panels together. In a world where Formula cars are more brittle than dead leaves and rally has fallen off the side of the planet, drifting is the remedy we’ve been looking for.

How Do I Start?

The best thing about drifting is how easy it is to get involved. All you need is a rear-wheel-drive car and a drift day at your local track. Start with something cheap, though! It’s likely the car won’t stay as straight as it is when you buy it.

Here are some cars that make perfect cheap drifters:

  • Mazda MX5 Miata
  • Lexus IS200
  • BMW 3 Series
  • Mercedes C-Class
  • Nissan 350Z

You’re going to want to buy a manual variant, and one with either a limited-slip differential, or a welded diff. The majority of these cars aren’t too powerful, so you’ll quickly learn how to use momentum to initiate a drift. But, there’s plenty of aftermarket support when you’re ready for more power.

While this is one of the cheaper forms of motorsport, be ready for some bills as you bang, smash, and tear your car a new one while learning. But hey, someone’s gotta do it.

Written by Alex Harrington

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