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Drifting on at High Speeds!

Catching the Drift?

…Now everyone knows that the drifters of this world tend not to move that quickly. They were pretty slow when walking to school; they were slow at responding to questions…they even picked their noses slowly. So what does that title mean, ‘drifting on at high speeds’?

Well if all truth be known, we’re talking about a sport that is growing at a phenomenal rate…Drifting. A motorsport that is often thought of as a bunch of smoking tyres in a car park near you.

In fact, this is not so much the case anymore. Events like The British Drift Championship in the UK attract huge crowds and make for a great day out for all the family. They have 6 races that make up the championship so seeing them all is not really practical but catching them at a location close to you for one or two might not be too difficult.

A Drifting History Lesson

UK

The first documented account of drifting dates back to the 1930s when a driver who was trying to sell a lot of sports cars (the Auto Union D-Type racing car), purposefully put his car into a sliding drift whilst navigating a corner. The surviving footage clearly shows the driver putting styling his driving similar to the grand prix drivers of the day.

Japan

Through the 70s it was big in Japan and a few racing and boy racing drivers featured heavily in the popularity stakes, making it a well followed sport.

Outside of Japan

Believe it or not, one of the earliest OFFICIAL drift events outside of Japan was recorded as late as 1993, held at Willowsprings raceway in California. The Japanese magazine ‘Option’ and its editors came and hosted the event, which proved a massive success and has since exploded in popularity.

Drifting – the Science

Officially, one is ‘drifting’ when half way through a maths lesson, ones head starts to gently rock back and forth…No, that’s not it. Well it is but… Anyway…Officially, in the motorsport that is drifting, the angle of the rear wheels to the apex of the corner needs to be greater than the angle of the front wheels to the apex of the corner. Roughly speaking, if you’re kinda going sideways around a bend and there’s a lotta smoke coming off your tyres… you’re drifting!

The perfect drift car

Probably due to the heritage of the sport, so many of the cars used for drifting are Japanese. Popular examples are the Mazda RX7, Toyota Altezza and the Toyota Supra. All of these cars are rear wheel drive which is an essential characteristic of any drift car. If you’re front wheel drive and you try to drift you will likely end up in a bush.

Upgrades?

One essential upgrade for any of these cars to be able to drift well is for them to have a diff transplant to make the rear wheels turn at the same (or very similar) speeds and for there to be no give in the clutch. Some simply weld their rear wheel axes’ together which has pretty much the same effect.

Other than the diff, the only other essential upgrade is a good set of stickers. This makes all the difference and gets the girls round your car (joke)! Oh and the roll cage and the hydraulic handbrake and… Yes, there’s a lot of stuff but the feeling you get when you’re sliding sideways round a corner makes you forget about all the receipts!!

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