Drifting is a driving technique where the driver intentionally oversteers, with loss of traction in the rear wheels or all tires, while maintaining control and driving the car through the entirety of a corner. The technique causes the rear slip angle to exceed the front slip angle to such an extent that often the front wheels are pointing in the opposite direction to the turn (e.g. car is turning left, wheels are pointed right or vice versa, also known as opposite lock or counter-steering). The sport of drifting is not to be confused with the four-wheel drift, a classic cornering technique established in Grand Prix and sports car racing.

As a motoring discipline, drifting competitions were first popularized in 1970s Japan, and today are held worldwide and are judged according to the speed, angle, showmanship and line took through a corner or set of corners. The desired line is usually dictated by the judge or judges, who describe their desired line as well as highlight areas of importance, such as clipping zones, clipping points, and touch and go areas.


Japan was the birthplace of drifting. It was most popular in the All Japan Touring Car Championship races. The famous motorcyclist turned driver, Kunimitsu Takahashi, was the foremost creator of drifting techniques in the 1970s. This earned him several championships and a legion of fans who enjoyed the spectacle of smoking tires. The bias ply racing tires of the 1960s–1980s lent themselves to driving styles with a high slip angle. As professional racers in Japan drove this way, so did the street racers.

Keiichi Tsuchiya, known as the “Drift King” (ドリフトキング Dorifutokingu), became particularly interested in Takahashi’s drift techniques. Tsuchiya began practicing his drifting skills on the mountain roads of Japan, and quickly gained a reputation amongst the racing crowd. In 1987, several popular car magazines and tuning garages agreed to produce a video of Tsuchiya’s drifting skills. The video, known as Pluspy, became a hit and inspired many of the professional drifting drivers on the circuits today. In 1988, alongside Option magazine founder and chief editor Daijiro Inada, he helped to organize one of the first events specifically for drifting called the D1 Grand Prix. He also drifted every turn in Tsukuba Circuit in Japan.


Competitors will be judged on the following criteria:

The speed that the competitor maintains…
• entering a corner,
• through the corner,
• through the entire judged area.

A higher point score will be awarded to a competitor whose vehicle maintains a consistent, high-speed drift (relative to the radius of each corner).

How closely a competitor’s vehicle is able to follow the line requested by the Judges during the drivers’ briefing (usually this is the traditional ‘racing line’ but this is not always the case). A higher point score will be awarded to Competitors who can most accurately maintain what the Judges consider to be the correct line. There will be a combination of clipping points and clipping zones on the track, and Judges will be requesting drivers to be within a certain distance and anything outside of that will start to see deductions.

The angle of rotation of the vehicle about its vertical axis relative to its direction of travel, as well as the competitor’s ability to sustain this angle for as long as possible.

A higher point score will be awarded to Competitors who are able to:
• quickly generate maximum angle during entry into corners, from as great a distance possible prior to reaching the apex of the corner,
• link corners using a consistent series of drifting motions,
• maintain a wide angle of drift for sustained periods, and
• control the vehicle when maximum amount of opposite lock is used.

Style comprises the driver’s ability to take all of the judge’s criteria and then translate this into their own individual ‘style’ on track. It takes into account such factors as: fast and aggressive transitions; maintaining maximum angle for as prolonged period as possible along a clipping zone or past a clipping point; ability to transition the car around the section with limited handbrake corrections; prolonged proximity to the lead vehicle in a battle situation; maintaining constant speed throughout the section; and any other specific criteria outlined by judges during driver’s briefing.

Judged Area of Track
Competitors will start their run from Turn 5, with the judged area starting from the entry into Turn 6, then including Turns 7, 8, 9 and 10. The judged area will conclude at the end of turn 10 as competitors continue down the South Circuit towards Turn 11.



Stopping and slowing your car under any condition- that seems important for drifting, right? Indeed, your brakes will take a blow whenever drifting is involved. Start by upgrading your brakes so that they’re flawless, and install brake pads that are specific to racing or fast road driving.

Change your brake fluid, or exchange it for synthetic brake fluid if you haven’t already. Motul 600 and Ford 550 are popular choices among drifters.

If you want an even smoother braking setup, consider upgrading the size of the brake disks. Larger disks are blank, drilled, slotted or dimpled. Each has their own benefits:

Blank: Most surface area, easy on brake pads, most affordable, resist cracking. Drilled: Drilled holes make it easier for gas build-up to be expelled, lighter rotating mass.

Slotted: Similar to drilled, but more affordable and less prone to cracking. Dimpled: Mostly cosmetic, otherwise similar to slotted.

Slotted rotors are exceptional for any street-based car. Combined with composite brake pads, slotted brake disks offer improved fade resistance for reliable, stress-free braking.


You need the best possible control while drifting, so a good set of coilovers is worth the investment. A’PEXi and TEIN coilovers are often found in the most popular drift cars. As for spring rate, you want a good balance without stiffness. Drift cars should be tuned so that they’re slightly stiffer than street coilover spring rates, but not as stiff as a race car.

Ideally, you want a suspension that’s easy to modify on your own, since every driver has their own preference when it comes to control and handling. Coilovers allow you to adjust the dampers easily, so you can dial in the best drift course setting on the track, then revert to a softer setting for the drive home.

Finally, avoid lowering your car below two inches. Yeah, your car may not look as cool, but drift suspension isn’t meant to work at low angles, and this will lead to poor performance.


When it comes to steering, you want to get the most angle from your steering rack so that the car can get completely sideways. Obviously, there are some limits here—wheel well clearance and binding between the suspension arms, for instance. Most drifters can extract a suitable angle by installing tie rod end spacers.


Ah yes, your magical drift wand, the handbrake. The handbrake is your drifting companion and should be upgraded to serve you under the most extreme conditions. It needs to be durable enough to handle the rigours of drifting. Ensure there’s no slack in the handbrake cable, and replace it immediately if it’s even slightly stretched or worn.
When you pull the handbrake, you should feel your rear pads gripping firmly. If not, make sure you beef up your brakes with fresh pads.

Body Work

Crashes are inevitable, and your car will collide with barriers and vehicles at some point or another. More often than not, drifters secure their bumpers with cable ties. This prevents the bumper from suffering irreplaceable damage in the event of a collision, as the bumper will simply break free from the cable ties, allowing you to tie it back on later.


You’ll become quite familiar with swapping worn tyres for a fresh pair. Drifting burns through rear tyres quickly, resulting in multiple fresh tyres being used. While this might seem expensive at first, for the most part, you can use budget rear tyres and reserve slightly higher-end wheels for your front tyres, which won’t wear out nearly as frequently.


Your safety is a crucial component to your success as a drift car driver! This includes a good helmet, a fire extinguisher and a roll cage.

For head protection, any racing helmet will do. Most venues require a helmet, and sometimes a motorbike helmet will work fine. You don’t want your noggin colliding with the roll cage all the time.

Other safety items to check and include: Battery is fastened securely Battery master switch is recommended Front tyres are roadworthy Fitted fire extinguisher Oil and radiator catch tanks All lights, brake lights and indicators must be in good working condition


When it comes to seats, size does matter. You’re going to be spending a lot of time strapped into your seat, skillfully sliding around corners and changing directions on the fly. What you don’t want to worry about is rocking back and forth in your seat, clutching the steering wheel to keep you stabilised. As soon as you can, swap out the driver’s seat for a fixed-back racing seat and harness.


Automobile Racing Club of America
International Hot Rod Association
International Motor Sports Association
National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing
National Auto Sport Association
National Hot Rod Association

Hall of Fame

Chris Forsberg

Ryan Tuerck

Tanner Foust

Vaughn Gittin Jr