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The art of Drifting – What is Drifting

14 June 2010 6 Comments

What is Drifting? Its a driving technique that involves entering turns at high angles of attack and high speed by intentionally “sliding” the rear tires during the maneuver. The cars are punished around the track, pushing their limits as they enter each corner faster, sooner, and more aggressively. What it all comes down to is maintaining complete control of your vehicle while appearing to have lost control. There is one thing that separates drifting from other forms of high performance driving: Grace. While numbers, lap times, and finishing placement matter in all other forms of competition, in drifting what matters is finesse, showmanship, consistency and flare.

The following are the main drifting techniques and most are used in combination with each other to get the correct drift angle.

Clutch Kick:
To make the car start to slide you dip or kick the clutch suddenly causing the car to temporarily lose traction and starting a rear wheel slide whilst on or entering a bend. Effectively using engine braking – when the clutch is dipped engine speed drops when clutch is released the wheels are moving faster than the lower engine speed requires causing a pull and breaking traction. Alternative a blip of the throttle raises the engine speed so when the clutch is released the driven wheels spin faster than they should so traction is broken.

Dirt Drop Drift:
This technique is banned on most tracks. You allow the rear wheels to leave the tarmac surface into a lower grip one such as dirt, gravel or grass. The cars speed will remain pretty stable through this technique as the rear tyre friction is much lower.

Jump Drift:
Similar to a Dirt Drop Drift again banned on most tracks. The rear wheels hit the rumble strip at the side of the track. The vibration is enough to upset the delicate balance of grip momentum and traction and the rear of the car slides.

Handbrake Drift:
The easiest technique, used by beginners and pros to initate a drift and pretty much the only guaranteed way of sliding a FWD (front wheel drive) car (Its still not a proper drift though!). The handbrake is jabbed on causing the rear wheels to lock up and slide. When a slide is attained the handbrake is released allowing more control of the car and preventing too much loss of speed.

Feint Drift:
Requires a feel for the balance of a car and needs you to sense the shockwave of swing as it flows through the car. Coming up to a right hand bend you steer to the left. Then as the back of the car moves left you steer to the right, the back of the car loses traction and starts to drift, then you countersteer and catch the drift. This is a popular technique and is often combined with other techniques, like the clutch kick, to help break the rear traction. Practice this one in large open areas.

Inertia Drift:
This requires a lot of speed. Approaching a bend you need to decelerate throwing the weight of the car to the front wheels. When the back wheels become light you can steer the front into the bend and let the back wheels drift. Control is maintained with careful steering control and throttle inputs. A good technique to start drifting but requires experience as the speed involved is not very forgiving.

Drifting has become rather competitive over the years and like everything that gets competitive follows a competition of some sorts, we recently did a follow up article about drift competition rules and how the judges score each driver.


  • Antionette said:

    I would like to know the NDS Drifting Rules and points please


    Blair Reply:

    Hi Antionette, Im not 100% sure what the rules are, but i will definitely ask the guys that I know are involved in the drift scene


  • Monstermob said:

    Hi Antionette,

    Drifting in South Africa is still brand new, that said it stands to reason that we couldn’t do it EXACTLY like they are doing at various events Internationally. We had to change some rules to better suit the current situation in SA. Mostly all Drift Series in South Africa, follow D1 rules (http://www.formulad.com/general-info/judging-info.html) or at least use it as a guideline. It may differ from Series to series, but generally it’s a D1 structured event.

    Hope this helps…


  • jomacher said:

    Thanks for the link Monstermob. Great video.


  • Antionette said:

    Thanks for the drifting rules, I appreciate it :D)


  • Blair (author) said:

    Yes thanks Monstermob, nice link.. Very helpful
    I think I’ll have to do a follow up on this article now!


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