Drift in RC began by making a touring car chassis slide with plastic pipe tyres and replicating the real car's look with a basic sports car body shell. So has that evolved too?
When real drifting began to be really popular in around 2000 the cars were rear wheel drive machines and had near stock steering components. Most car setup was to do with some engine tune to overcome rear grip and not much else.
Yokomo released the drift package with links to D1 sponsors and the cars and look became quite realistic. Except for the 50:50 4 wheel driving style. The RC bodies had great accessories with detailed sticker sets, wings and lights all matching the current trends. Brushed motors and short life batteries did nothing for the appeal of RC at that time however. But I bought one.
As D1 gained popularity and the cars became more extreme. More power, more angle "kakudo"
The Yokomo drift package couldn't match the look anymore. Full Counter-steer Drift (FCD or KetsuKaki) was introduced. The FCD chassis (also known as Counter-Steer or CS in the english speaking community) became a rear wheel biased machine to replicate the advances in real drift cars.
This style of over-driving the rear wheels to generate burnout / over steer and the inclusion of one-way bearings and shafts to simulate hand-braking are part of the standard FCD Chassis along with increased steering angle. In Yokomo terms, the entry point is the drift package with Imadoki conversion and FCD 2.0x gearset.
This scene has been quite stable for some time and the level of detail for body tuning is rising to the point of rivaling some Die Cast models for detail and the components to simulate chassis style / performance are also available.
They really do look like real cars in stationary position.
In the last few years real cars are achieving 90 degree corner entry and 85 degree steering, full custom tube chassis builds with 1200hp engines as a norm. You street car no longer doubles as a drift car at the highest level.
FCD still performs a decent job of replicating real drifting with large wheel angle and constant sideways motion. Front steering up to 60 degrees is available as well as over-driving a chassis in the FCD 3.0 range has no issue maintaining a drift. But those massive 90 degree entries are still challenging.
So too, RC Drift is searching for more. 2013 saw an increase in people adopting the Rear Wheel Drive RC chassis. Tyre selection and gyro electronics seem to dominate this category, as it is still in R&D stage with only one manufacturers producing a complete chassis purely for RWD application. Two others make conversions. But there is a lot of "spinning out" that still occurs in low speed corners.
The elimination of the front 4wd drive axle has actually helped FCD drift also. It's allowed for the development of many many low scrub radius knuckles to be developed. This keeps the wheel within the confines of the fender arch "like a real car" while previously in RC the wheel often disappeared behind the front fender.
So at the moment. You can build a FCD Chassis or a Rear Wheel Drive chassis that performs similarly and you can build an extremely detailed body with engine detail, interior detail and more.
but.. Here is the killer.
Equality. There isn't really a single standard definition of what RC drift should be.
The more and more variation you have in RC the more the community splits into niches. It becomes frustrating to equalize the styles and this has been the case in real drift also.
Formula D and to a lesser extent D1 is bound by a control tyre grip level. Contact Patch vs Horsepower.
You don't see too many 86 runners using a 2.0Litre NA engine do you? V8s have divided the drift community. The "missile" weekend warriors who can never afford the high power machines and the sponsored competition drivers with high grip tyres are worlds apart.
RC tyres are controlled by the track you visit. Any other tyre will not be accepted. It's one of the few rules that do exist to keep things kind of safe. You can't drive a race car on the road with slicks. you do need some rules out there.
In RC there are 4 main categories.
Beginners are catered for in 50:50 drift.
For the reason of equality, cost, and easy of entry to the hobby it remains. Easy driving for beginners is a given. In some places it is still is used as elite drifting as the progression requires more power and limited setup. But as you can't easily replicate the look of real drifting in this category, sliding sideways with the wheels pointing straight does not replicate the real world and for this reason alone, it is dismissed by many. The fact that manufacturers must cater to the entry level market however keeps 50:50 as the only low cost option for many and also keeps participation levels high. For these reasons it must remain for the hobby to grow.
The smoking sliding image on the Yokomo Drift Package D1 box has a lot of explaining to do. This image illustrates the classic difference between FCD and 50:50 chassis. look at the steering angle or lack there of on the lead car, everyone should know about over-steer if they are interested in drift. But when I was a beginner, the fact that the car was sliding was more than enough to be "cool". I never lacked knowledge of what oversteer was, but lacking knowledge of the capability of RC drift chassis was evident.
For beginner, I recommend investigating if your chassis can be converted to an FCD chassis, Your satisfaction will stay for much longer if you can convert later.
That's why the Yokomo drift package are still a better entry point over the Tamiya tt-01 or HPI Sprint 2.
It's very very very upgradable.
Large "race" track high speed drifters go for low CS ratio but keep chassis capable of high steering angle for initiation. This is usually dictated by large outdoor venues with less emphasis on scale track sizing. Kazama's old D-Link II was an awesome high speed venue and Yatabe arena is another example of this style. D1 Style body shells are more the norm in this category. As speeds are high and corner radius is larger, you don't need massive angle at all. The high speed high power 4 door crews are also favorable of this style and venue. Seeing your tiny car from across the room also negates the need for that much detail.
Big Speeds usually add dollars on asphalt as tyres don't last, run times are reduced and electronics temps are increased. Impacts are big. Damage is to be expected.
Drivers chasing realism like me on smaller diorama styled circuits generally go for FCD drift with at least FCD 2.0 and higher. This could be equated to drifting in the mountains or streets on narrow roads or such. You also find that these people get more personal street car styling with RC bodies and ignore the D1 style liveries. Top Speeds will be lower probably ignored.
Slower scale speed (something I actually like to aim for) creates the opportunity for longer tandem in corners and battle opportunities increase.
Room for error also increases and crash damage decreases dramatically.
Purists will always try for Rear Wheel Drive as it replicates reality. In looks or the driving experience?
This of course should take over as an the norm for elite but at the moment the cost of customised components, difficulty in car setup and use of electronic aids is contradictory to fun and purist mentality.
In the real drift world where car control is the skill to be learned. Driving with a gyroscope that automatically steers the car to an extent has purists in disgust. That contradiction of controlling something on the edge of out of control with an electronic aid means something to many "Drivers". They are the ones not driving a new GTR.
Although beginners could be accepted easily into a Rwd community with gyro usage, there is yet to be that high level distinction of what makes a good RWD "driver".
Gyroscope use in drift is not new. The HPI Drift Box has been out for a long long time but it was neglected as "auto pilot". It really makes things boring. It also means that a skill mastered in FCD drift is to an extent irrellevant in RWD.
Until recently 2014 FCD or CS drift was the norm and created a huge following. 50:50 was the entry level norm.
Rear Wheel Drive was not the death of RC drift and has bcome widely accepted.
Perhaps an evolution to the top.
Rwd has developed and has found mainstream acceptance. There are heaps of chassis and chassis conversions released and numbers may increase.
If we class drift in these categories we start to divide the group, but accepting the differences, strengths and limitations we can all have fun.
I still maintain that for enjoyment in RC drifting, set your car similarly to your friends. They are the ones you will be drifting with. All things equal means the close battles will be many and the fun will remain. Even if you are running in the car park. You can generate tandem and enjoyment.
Enjoy your RC.