Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Elements of Drift

What attracted me to drifting...?

I guess it was all the big elements, but the biggest one was definitely the Style.

This image I took from a visit to Tsukuba Circuit Japan in 2003 was amazing. I was blown away by the cars of D1 Drift and the Style was awesome. Suzuki's FC was a favourite.

Looking back the speeds / angles and style were nothing like today's standards. Cars of 400hp were winners. These days you need 1400hp but the style element of creating something cool is still present.

One my later visit's to Seven's Day at Tsukuba in 2013, I could view the full awesomeness of the drift scene, from high performance street cars to D1SL and Full Tune D1.

Lets take a look at the elements that attracted me to drift.

Straight Line Speed 

This has always been a factor in Drift. The more speed you have, the longer the braking slides are under brakes and simply the more dynamic you can be.

Japan's Autopolis circuit was famous for a very high speed entry, It was a much loved D1 event that raised the skill level of many.

Initiate the drift. 

After building speed a serious flick / feint / clutch kick / handbrake or whatever style you use to unbalance the car will create a dynamic change of direction. Allowing the rear to break loose and the drift to start.

This is always a judging point as the more aggressively the drift starts, the more skill and setup you need to control the car. A car that changes direction slowly will always be less dynamic that one that pivots quickly.

Braking Entry

Usually at the end of a long / or short straight, you can hold the e-brake and or full brakes to wash off speed at angle.

This is one of the harder things to master in drifting. As of course the risk is high braking from full speed.
This photo is braking from around 160kph.

On smaller circuits, don't be afraid to throw the car at any corner, locking up the rear gives us one of the defining style elements of drift. That locked rear wheel, car sideways and front wheels rolling into the apex. 

Power Over-steer

once the beast is at the apex point of your drift line. Simply stand on it! Then balance the power for the length of the corner.

Whether a slower corner or high speed one. Drifters always tend to head for the outer edge of the track far from the fastest line, to the most dangerous or enjoyable line.  

 If there is an in clip. you can be sure the drifter's are all over it. Balancing the throttle to generate that all important....


Angle is something we need to watch in these images. About 45 degrees on a regular car is about all you need while in most drift situations.  Only under huge braking will you get it up to 90 degrees for a very short time. Back entries are realistically limited unless you can build enough speed and have enough distance for it.

Constant angle will rarely be more than 45 degrees to the direction of travel. New machines have 75 degree steering capabilities mainly for spin prevention and big entry situations.

But in any case. We should watch as much content as possible and replicate what you like.

Track Limits. 

 As stated above, Drifters love life on the edge. The edge of the circuit, one wheel on the grass, the wing over the wall,

 Slight contacts are proud scars and this dynamic agility to control something that is near the dangerous edge or crosses over to within inches of crashing defines a great driver.


This is the skill that makes a great driver an amazing driver. To do all of the above things within inches of another car is what drifters live for.

Tandem competition is about replicating or bettering the opponents, Speed, Line, Angle and Agressive Agility.

Group drifting takes a little of the agility away with the need for car preservation, About 2 feet compared to 2 inches of proximity will keep you lapping for the full tyre life.

This style embodies the keep drifting fun mentality. So it does loose some of the absolute dynamic styles that we may see.

 So whether you like full competition style or just playing. Drift will always attract attention. If you are missing some elements, start to try to build some different driving styles into your RC drift.

 Try all the elements.

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