How to Drift Race: A Guide to Drifting Cars

How to Drift Race: A Guide to Drifting Cars

An Overview of Drifting

Over the years, drifting has gained popularity across the entire globe as an extreme motorsport. In drift racing, the drivers intentionally oversteer their car which causes a loss of traction in the rear wheels. The trick (and what makes it so exciting) is that the drivers must maintain control of their cars as they enter those skids. Skill is a major requirement to being great at drifting, period.

The Technique of Drifting

Several things need to happen to control a slide (or drift). A driver needs to coordinate each of these elements simultaneously.

  • Brakes
  • Clutch
  • Gear Shifting
  • Steering Input
  • Throttle

In most situations, the drivers are racing as they drift around the track. Knowledge of speeds, slip angles, and braking is what keeps drifters safe and at the head of the pack.

Drifting Competitions

The birthplace of drifting is thought to be Japan. The motorcycling legend ‘Kunimitsu Takahashi’ was the creator of the present day’s drifting techniques. Outside Japan, the earliest recorded drifting event occurred in the year 1996 at ‘Willow Springs Raceway’ in California. There, this driving technique evolved as a competitive motorsport in which the drivers competed exclusively in rear wheel drive cars.

Each of the cars was judged on several factors.

  • Angle
  • Racing Line
  • Showmanship
  • Speed

Today, the most popular drifting event in the United States is Formula D Racing.

The Best Cars for Drifting

First, you need a rear wheel drive car with a limited slip differential. Also, it would be great if you have the following features in your rear wheel drive car:

  • Coil-Over Suspension
  • Functioning Handbrake
  • Manual Gearbox
  • Resilient Clutch
  • Supportive Bucket Seat

While not imperative, the above-mentioned things will help you attack the turns with more confidence and power.

Gaining the Competitive Edge in a Drift Race

To win a drift race, one must remember few important things. Before the race, the judges will announce the line to be taken through the corners. You will be judged on your ability to do so. Also, showmanship plays a big part. Play up to the crowds by paying attention to these factors.

  • Amount of Smoke
  • Crowd’s Reaction
  • Distance from Clipping Board or Walls

All drifting competitors should remember that the judging takes place on only a small part of the circuit along with some linking corners that offer unobstructed viewing, and chances for drifting.

Passing rules in Formula D don’t encourage drivers to overtake their competitors. Only in certain circumstances are cars allowed to change positions. These circumstances include:

  • Lead car is spinning or going off the track
  • Lead car has stopped drifting or gone off the line far enough that another car could complete the pass without impeding the lead car or any other

Tips and Tricks to Help You Win a Drifting Competition

There are several ways to initiate a drift.

  • Accelerate into a corner and at the same time tap the brake. This action forces the rear of the motorcar to lose grip and begin to slide. Immediately steer to the opposite direction (counter-steer) to initiate a drift.
  • Activate the handbrake before entering a corner to stop the rear wheels of the motorcar and begin the slide.
  • A driver could let off on the accelerator at any point in the drift and re-engage it while turning in the opposite direction. This allows you to continue a drift around another corner.
  • The driver could break the tail of the motorcar on a straight road. This way the driver can be able to link the two drifts together.

Legal Regulations for Drifting in the United States

In Formula D racing, Formula D staff review the cars and their modifications. As mentioned earlier, they do not allow front wheel drive cars to take part in Formula D racing. However, you can transform all-wheel drive cars  into rear wheel drive cars for drifting.

For instance, the Scion tC is being sold as a front wheel drive car in the United States, but it shares the same chassis as the Toyota Avensis, an all-wheel drive car. Therefore, the Scion tC can be transformed into a rear-wheel drive car through modification for Formula Ds. This is accomplished by swapping the Scion tC’s FWD system with the Toyota Avensis’s AWD system due to chassis compatibility.

Another point of interest is that Formula D allows the engines of one manufacturer to be incorporated into the racing cars of another. Furthermore, suspension modifications are allowed as long as the stock pickup regions are utilized. To keep the racing cars in check, the competition applies a maximum tire size according to the total weight of the car.

As a sport, drifting is becoming more and more popular in the United States. It’s less about racing and more about showmanship. Spectators love to see the skill of the drivers as they slide through those fast turns.

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