What is Drifting?

Drifting is a driving style in which the driver uses the throttle, brakes, clutch, gear shifting and steering input to keep the car in a state of oversteer while manoeuvring from turn to turn. Drifters emphasise car control by coordinating the amount of countersteer (or opposite lock) with the simultaneous modulation of the throttle and brakes to shift the weight balance of the car back and forth through the turns. Furthermore, they strive to achieve this while adhering to the standard racing lines (or designated “clipping points” if drifting in competition) and maintaining extreme slip angles.

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Track taditionalists are often quick to point out that drifting is not the fastest way around a racetrack – and they’d be right, but so what? What matters most with drifting, whether it’s at a grassroots practice day or an international competition, is having fun! There is something inherently exciting about negotiating a track with the car completely sideways, quickly countersteering in the direction of the slide while delicately modulating pressure on the throttle to balance the car. Not enough throttle and the car will lose momentum and straighten up – too much throttle and the car will spin out.

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Many drivers really enjoy the fact that practicing the art of drifting at grassroots events teaches them how to safely control a car at its limit, while others simply enjoy the adrenaline rush of throwing a car around a track while completely sideways with smoke billowing from the rear tyres. In its simplest sense, drifting translates to pure driving enjoyment and fun.

Drifting as a sport began on the mountain roads of Japan in the early 1990s and quickly gained momentum before the first round of D1GP was held in 2000. Petrolheads on the other side of the globe quickly picked up on this new and exciting sport as a result of videos downloaded from the internet and decided to give it a go themselves. Two of these enthusiasts were Phil Morrison and James Robinson, whose love for the sport soon led to them setting up Driftworks in 2004.

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What Do I Need to Start Drifting?

This is a question we get asked a lot, and the answer is a very simple one. You will need a rear wheel drive car, preferably with a limited slip differential or a welded differential – these are the only ingredients you need to get started. A car with a manual gearbox and resilient clutch, a functioning handbrake, coilover suspension and a supportive bucket seat will make things much easier again, allowing you to attack the turns with more vigour and confidence.

You can compensate for not having a lot of power by increasing the pressure in the rear tyres. It’s a myth that drift cars need to run poor quality rear tyres in order to drift succesfully – drift cars need as much lateral grip as a regular track car (if not more) in order to attain the huge speeds and massive angles that are often achieved at competition level. However, when you’re learning the basics at a grassroots practice day, cheap and/or part-worn tyres are perfectly suitable for learning the basics.

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What Sort of Cars Make Good Drift Cars?

Essentially any rear wheel drive car is capable of drifting, especially if it’s fitted with a limited slip or welded differential. However, some cars represent much better value for money than others while having readily available upgrade parts, along with easy access to spares. Starter cars to look for include:

Nissan 200SXs/Silvias (S13, S14, S15 etc.)
Nissan Skylines (GTS variants are rear wheel drive)
BMW 3 Series
Toyota Supras
Ford Sierras

Alternatively, it is possible to convert 4WD cars to rear wheel drive simply by locking the centre differential and removing the drive to the front wheels, but bear in mind this will put a lot more stress on components that would normally only be dealing with a fraction of the power.

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Where Can I Practice Drifting?

Drifting has become so popular around the globe in recent years that you can pretty much guarantee that there’ll be a practice day somewhere in your country. In the UK, Europe and the United States, practice days are held at a wide array of locations including purpose-built tracks and large tarmac areas. Drifting can be done pretty much anywhere that you can drive a car, although we do not condone doing so anywhere where members of the public are unwittingly involved or endangered.

You can find information on hundreds of specifically organised drift days on the Driftworks forum. Popular places to practice drifting in the UK include Teesside Autodrome, Driftland, Lydden Hill, Birmingham Wheels and “Drift What Ya Brung” days at Santa Pod Raceway.

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Drifting Competitions

As with any sport, drifting quickly reached a level where drivers felt that they wanted to test their skills against other drifters in competition format. Professional level drifting competitions are hugely exhilarating and will often feature some of the most exciting driving you’re ever likely to see.

The competitors aim to complete a pre-defined course as laid out by the nominated judges while sticking as closely to the judged criteria as possible, earning points for their proximity to the clipping points, their speed throughout the course and, most important, the amount of style with which they do so. Slow drifting with a lack of commitment will get marked down – fast, balls out drifting will rack up the points!

After their individual qualification runs, drivers are paired up against each other for “Tsuisou”, or battles as they are commonly known. Run to a knockout format, the aim is for the chase driver to follow the lead driver as closely as possible, sitting door to door at massive speeds all while sideways and with smoke billowing off the rear tyres. These battles are the real highlight of competitive drifting and provide some of the biggest entertainment available in competitive motorsport.

There are many drifting championships around the world but some of the largest and most prolific include D1GP (Japan), Formula Drift (USA), British Drift Championship (UK), Irish Drift Championship (Ireland), Drift Allstars and King of Europe.

122 thoughts on “What is Drifting?

    1. if you wanna get into drifting all you need to do is get into amateur events and start making your way to Formula Drift. Its a drifting circuit in the USA. The website for Formula Drift is http://formulad.com/. I believe Vaughn Gittin Jr is from Oklahoma or Maryland one of the two. If you have any other questions just email me.

    2. im from oklahoma there’s a event this sunday i think its pass keystone lake ill be out there in either a 300zx or bme 325i or my friends 240sx to watch just come up to us and say wats up

    3. theres a good oklahoma drift scene in oklahoma heres a website nogrip.webs.com check it out for all the oklahooma event

  1. Oh how i long to posses the skill and money to invest in drifting… but alas im somewhat too young to drive 🙁 got another 2 years yet. oh well… one day… 🙂

    1. hi mate i live in scotland, but have been to middlesburgh drifting a couple of times now at the go kart track next to the river hope this helps, jim

  2. OIOI PPL MY MOTTO IS LIFES A DRIFT BUTBUT IN THE NORTH EAST OF ENGLAND ITS LIKE ROCKY HOURSE S**TYOU CANT FIND ANY WERE TO DO IT LEGALLYANY 1 GOT ANY WERE TO LEARN GIZ A SHOUT CHEERES DRIFTERS

    1. hi tom i also live in the north east i live in GOOLE whar are you.
      have you found any where to drift yet ive also being looking for some where do practice ive looked on google maps for shady back street, farm tracks with space etc but not yet found any where yet if i do ill let you know.

  3. Hi im 13 years old and going to 14 for ages i have wanted to drift in cars i think its a whole different sport to racing and would like to know if there is anywere i could start or what age i have to be i live in England, east anglia

    1. Ey up matey 🙂 over in England you’ve gotta be 17 to drive on the roads but I’m not sure if you are allowed to race on a track day before that. I’m doubting it’s possible because places don’t like to do stuff that’s not covered under their insurance policys, you’ll have to keep asking about 🙂

      1. hello there pall am not sure how you get into it but i went to see jdm allstars today at nissan in washington and there was a lad in the event who was only 14 duane mckeever hes called so if he can do it am sure you can try and get into it

      2. hey down in the U.S.A you gotta be 16 to get on the road soon as i hit 16 drifting here i come
        safe drifting though

    2. hey mate im 14 aswell and i live in east anglia and the only places to drift is in car parks like my mates or either snetterton or norfolk arena in kings lynn 🙂 i think to drift legally its 17 but my mates trust me so i drift in their cars in car parks and whatever and its a good laugh 🙂 but the closest DECENT track to drift would be Snetterton which is like 30 mins away from east anglia or Norfolk Arena in Kings Lynn which is bout a 1 hour drive 🙂

    3. if you have the monies its simple to get into drifting, last season (2010) there was a 14 year old drifting in the JDM Allstars, was pretty good, but he got the car for free from his father and therefore had all the contacts to get into drifting! but it can be done! good luck to ya matey

  4. Hey guys and girls im new in the drift world ilive in Alabama in the states , out of all places to be but not a bad place to drift plenty of places to do so lol… I own a 1993 nissan 240 sx special edeition and 345 hp STOCK and a up graded clutch
    much love for drifters every where. Thanks guys for all the links for drifters like us

    DRIFT LIFE!!!!!!!!

  5. Hi all! I am 14 years old and have been following the drifting scene for a few years now. I love the look of cars pouring smoke off the back end and the drivers are really talented. I am wanting to know if there is any competitions coming to Scotland in the near future, and is there anywhere I can learn to drift at the age I am now. Any help would be greatley appreciated and keep up the good work!
    PS- Is there any events coming up in the near future in Scotland?

  6. good work guys im from the gold cost in qld me and my mates own cars i have got a silvia with a rb25 in it keep ap the good work

  7. FOR THOSE IN JAPAN. THERE IS A BEGINNER PLACE TO DRIFT IN DAIKOKU FUTO IN YOKOHAMA. YOU WILL HAVE TO GO ACROSS THE BAY BRIDGE. GO AS FAST AS YOU WANT DUE TO NO POLICE PATROLLING. BIG LOT TO SHOW OFF CARS AND MESS AROUND. LOUD MUSIC AND TONS OF CARS.

  8. Dear Irish Drifters, I’m a film student in co. cork and need some footage for a short documantry. I know theres drifting at Watergrashill now and again but I can’t seem to find a 2010 event calender. Does anyone know where to get it? Wold love to get some feedback from you guys.

    1. 2010 season is starting in March.
      Practice days are usually held in Watergrasshill the first Monday of every month.
      If you want any info just ask as I’m in Cork too.

  9. ^^^ 2010 season is starting in March.
    Practice days are usually held in Watergrasshill the first Monday of every month.
    If you want any info just ask as I’m in Cork too.

  10. i live in a town called Blanket in texas we have 402 people in the town and i am the only drifter there i have a 2003 ford mustang and i just want to say if u want it bad enough u can do it just dont let anyone see you lol they are not keen to the idea of drifting there a bunch of hicks think its stupid round here so i just do it on rainy days when no ones out and i have a blast
    drift on homies!!!!

  11. where at in pa can you drift race i think it is so awsome and looks fun ive been weanting to drift race for some time but never hear were to do it at in pa can some one please email me.

  12. I hav a rx7 fd 3 got her set up for drifting but all ive changed is to bhp up to 350 bhp and can tune more but dont need all that power at the minute ive roal cage hydrulic handbrake all the norm things done wat im asking is wat other mods do i need to do because they arnt like nissans to drive i hear taking the tank out and re positining it helps so if anyone can giv me tips fire away

  13. Hi every one I live in the North of England and in 7 to 8 years I would like to live and learn to drift in Japan if you know how please Reply soon happy drifting!!!

  14. well im 15 and have a nissian 180 sx can drift but all that well lol was looking till no if any 1 in ireland would help me get betta… peace drift 4 life

    1. you have a 95 honda civic ex?!?!?! wow your a bad ass! fucking stupid piece of shit. have fun learning to drift in that.

  15. im in lafollette tenneessee i been wantin to drift ever sence i was 11 if somebody could help out text me at 865 256 4359

  16. i have a 200 sx ………………who race with me ? I call my car “the BLACK DEMON” ……………have venom nitrogen and the motor power is 320 cv the perfect condition to RACE ! ………..ok……………………who race with me ?¿

  17. Hey my name is jimy…. im 7 year ol and i been drifting for 5 year now…. im pretty…. i own a Nisan skylin R35 GTS T. T stand for turbo.. kk. i wana get better any1 wana help me get beter……

    1. your fucking stupid too/ DUH any one with a clue about cars knows that t stands for turbo. and you dont have a r35 gts. fucking piec of shit.

  18. hi there,i wnt 2 get into drifting and want 2 know the best car and is there a drift school i can go to,

    i live in south london

    1. Buy a RWD car. well and S-chassi car i.e. 240sx 180sx silvia, or a 300zx but heavy. BMW m3, rx7, s2000, supra. have fun!

  19. im 15 jus about to get mi drivers license and i live in vegas the first time i saw F&F 3 i waz addicted to that movie and right wen i get mi license im gettin mi dads old RX-7 and it is in guud condoition

  20. Hi all, i am really intrested in drifting and i really wont to get my self started i live in the northwest and i am willing to travel anywhere. Do you have to have your own drift ar to learn in or is they a learners drift car.

    thanks boys and girls

    1. well if i was fucking rich i would hand you the keys to my car and say hey go drift. then i will watch you whip it into a tree you stupid muther fucker. get your own car. or buy a civic and fuck another cock!

      1. why are you so negative!! these people just want some advice and tips and you just run them to the ground! with the attitude you have buddy…you will never make it to any meaningful level in with your drifting…..’ real drifters are about the advancement and acceptance of their sport, not trying to keep it exclusive’ or run down/mock people who are actually passionate about it and wanting to learn!

  21. Im tryin to get into driftin but i live in kentucky and nobody really knows a thing about it. Is there a good site were i could find the parts i need for any rearwheel drive car, thats all about drifting?Thanks

  22. Hi anyone playing nfsu2?
    can i request make a online server of it i wish it all happen
    i am a drifter at there
    thanks

  23. Anyone live in Mobile Alabama im 14 waiting to get in my dads car and wondering is it as easy as the vids make it look

  24. hey im 15 away to turn 16, from scotland and i would really like to know how i could possibly get envloved in drifin ? can anyone help me out ?

  25. check out japanimportcar from hexham near newcastle antony builds drift cars and drifts in middlesborough…..check out rocket bunny 666 on his web site he built it from scratch

  26. Does no1 know sumwhere where there is an open piece of tarmac that can just be driven on at anytime and mess around in england?

  27. heey boys & girls!

    I wondering if a Nissan s13 silvia is a good choise of a drifting car? and how many hp you need to doing drifting well.
    Thanks for me. Myggan

    1. S13 Silvias are perfect starter cars. Standard power is enough to get started, just increase the rear tyre pressure to 55psi and off you go!

      1. true standard power is plenty in s13s. too much power wen startin and ull just spin and wont be able to handle it 😉

      1. if you Know ho would in a bwd volvo s40 boost up to last fucken horse of a car one of the lads work with was puting it in to a bov shape starlet i say he take E.700for it

  28. here’s one for the book; a group of guys-and-a-girl practice the art of drift in the broken mountains of the tiny island of Puerto Rico. They crave the sport and wish they could compete with more than just themselves, but here in this island the only popular thing is Drag racing and personally i think it’s overrated. Anyways, the drift scene here is close to 10 where 6 cars are FRs, 5 can slide em, 4 of them usually have more control, 3 of those 4 know whats under the hood of the machine, 2 of those 3 know how to tweak the cheap undertuned cars they ddrive and 1 of them really tries to get out and experience more.

    So, if anyone know anything about another drift scene in this island, please speak up!
    BTW: the only “pro” drift team here is as lame as: “to get your car to drift you need to have at least 300+ hp”… somehow my 160bhp NA6C tells me otherwise… -.-

  29. hey i go to quite a lot of drifting events and i love it, i want to start drifting and i no a place which is big and open, im only 15 but all i need is a car and i’m still saving, anyone got any ideas for a good drifting car?

  30. hi im after my first d-spec car atm, …but where do i get started u kno… anybody knows about any practice days around worcester west midds? many thnx mat

  31. hey i live in massachusetts and have searched for drifting events and there doesn’t seem to be much of a drift scene around anybuddy know about anything locally

  32. Hi,
    I’ve really been wanting to get into drifting for a pretty good while now.
    I’ve grown up around cars and racing all my life, but it’s always been drag/street racing hot rods.
    but I think it’s time to switch things up and I’ve been thinking of starting on a drift racing and learning how to drift, but I’m not sure what a good first timer car would be or where to come by one. I would really appreciate some help and ideas.

    Thank you.

    1. ive got a 318i bmw wit a welded diff and it always slide on the track when i want it to im only 11 and ive been in the hotrod with 2 years and im sik of it so im goin to my local diff trak and its sum laugh

  33. I love drifting… its very nice to slide on the road :))
    Once i want to drift too but iam from Czech Republic and here its very problematic… 🙁

  34. Hello guys about the explanation of drifting above me I know that a car Basically drift and understeer and keep it on course to be managed or shifting of weight in order to keep all the weight on the front and sometimes a little slow to keep the weight before. At least with the technique of drift during braking that every week I see down the hills of my province. ITALY

  35. hello people of drift works. i am 16 and am just starting out in the drift world and the car i wanted to start out drifting with is a 86-89 toyota supra. I dont know where i can go to find new,long lasting parts (and if there cheap too that helps).That the only thing thats holding back from buying it.If any one can tell me where to go or look that would be help full.

    Thanks

  36. Hey guys, im 15 and living state side, im getting into drifting and want to get my first car, is a nissan 180sx a good car to start with, cause thats one car im realy considering.

    Thanks for the help

  37. Hey all. I’m 16 from Kansas. No I don’t live on a farm. I’m running a 1998 Mustang stock. I plan to put some Toyo’s or perhaps Falkens but what else might I need to drift?

    AND what are some cheap “canvases” (cars) that I could build into a drift car with a very tight budget.

  38. well.. im from clagary canada looking to start drifting but i dont hear or see of and drift events even jus to go watch. also im on a super limited budget and cant find anything rwd at reasonable prices around here and my 91 mustang broke down to 🙁

  39. Hi guys I’m Ross and I loving anything to do with cars and I am just looking at cars for my first car but I’m only 15 any ideas has to stand out from the 106s and the saxos any ideas? Thanks

    1. If you can afford the insurance and want to get a feel for a rwd car i would recommend buying a cheap bmw probably a 316 for starters, but for christ sake dont be a fool and say things like “hey ladies watch this…” because it will only end badly. Word.

  40. im 17 and id like to get into the drifting scene but i dont know where to start or hw muc it wil cost ny help or advise????

  41. I personally believe the video is all an introduction anyone could need.

    Anyone know the best place to pick up a cheap s14/s15 project car????

  42. Hey Im 19 i used to drive a civic but allwase wanted to drift I now have a 82 hilux 5 speed 2wd
    With a 22r single carb,dose anyone have any ideas for basic mods for a dirt cheap budget.

    Sorry about the spelling

  43. HI im 17 and i really want to get into the drift scene what do i need to start like cheep car upgrades and other stuff and ruffly how much

  44. No lie sometimes i have so much passion for drifting that i cry when its too sick, im 18 and trying to get a job so i can sell my 97 accord and get a s14. I live in Los Angeles but i never ever gone to any drifting event or know anyone. i drifted a truck once and a 350z in a big parking lot but thats about it. I really love drifting : ) maybe one day ill get to be in the track with the profesional drifters in formual D. i mean i wish i could help them hahahah so i can learn more.

  45. I have just scanned through this page and noticed a lot of people asking what they need to get into drifting. All i will say is shop around, for a starter vehicle you should find one on here or ebay, check insurance prices too unless you intend on using a trailer. From then on just follow the steps at the top of the page, obviously dependent upon your budget. Once achieved go skidding and learn some hard lessons. Word.

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