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Drifting is a method consisting of controlled and sustained oversteer, in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive cars. The purpose of a drift, besides show, might be to negotiate tighter corners faster when the terrain is slick. However, in normal track racing, a minimal or zero amount of oversteer will be the best approach.

Drifting is a great fun, and can teach you quite a lot of car handling, so we recommend for any grip driver to have some drifting practice, to spend quality time not racing or to learn about car control beyond the limits of grip.


Mechanical setup

Basically, any rear-wheel drive, and most AWD cars can be drifted. Any expensive improvements and modifications are not nessecary, although you should be ware and aware of a great mechanicall wear due to consistent drifting.

Everything not front-wheel drive can drift to a certain degree, even trucks and tanks

A drifting car is best a powerfull rear-wheel drive, front-mounted engine and a limited slip differential. However, some sorts of drifting can also be performed on four-wheel drive cars, or on rear-wheel drive with less power, more rear weight or a welded differential. In fact, a drifting car too powerfull, or any racing car too powerfull, would actually make the driver slower, as taming it wil be harder.

In stunt driving, a stiffer suspension will actually provide a more controlled drift. It's therefore advised to install thicker and stiffer anti-roll bars, stiff dampers and springs. Also, you can upset the front to rear bias, by stiffening the rear suspension ever more, while making the front bite less by creating a slightly more negative camber angle. Good drifting cars have a wider wheelbase, to allow an easier and more controlled drift. Japanese cars are considered natural for drifting, but BMW's are also considered very good drifting cars.

Fat slick tires with a thick sidewall will prove best for drifting, especially if you add a few more PSI to the rear tires. Additional add-ons may include a low bottom. and new gearshift and steering systems to enable easier operations. Additionally, it is advised to brace the chassis and engine compartments.


As said, a proper mechanical limited slip differential (LSD) is almost considered essential for drifting. Attempting to drift with an open or viscous differential in a sustained slide is possible, but generally yields relatively less impressive results. All other modifications are secondary to the LSD. Two popular LSD brands amongst drifters are OS Giken & Cusco. The differential is best installed lower.

The most preferred form of LSD for drifting is one with a two-way clutch mechanism, as it is most prone to lock-up under conditions of acceleration and deceleration. Some drift cars use a cheaper, spool "differential", which actually has no differential action at all - the wheels are locked to each other. Budget-minded drifters may use a welded differential, where the side gears are welded to give the same effect as a spool. This makes it easier to break rear traction because it reduces maximum traction in all situations except traveling in a straight line. Welded differentials have an inherent risk involved, due to the tremendous amounts of internal stress the welds may fail and the differential completely locks up leaving the rear wheels immobilized. Helical torque-sensing ("TOSEN" or Quaife) -- available on cars in certain stock trims such as S15, FD3S, MX-5, JZA8x, UZZ3x) -- are also adequate.

The clutches on drift cars tend to be very tough ceramic brass button or multiple-plate varieties, for durability, as well as to allow rapid "clutch kick" techniques to upset the balance of the car. Gearbox and engine mounts are often replaced with urethane mounts, and dampeners added, to control the violent motion of the engine/gearbox under these conditions.

Gearsets may be replaced with closer ratios to keep the engine in the power band. (mistaken for "cross-mission".) These may be coarser dog engagement straight cut gears instead of synchronised helical gears, for durability and faster shifting at the expense of noise and refinement. Wealthier drifters may use sequential gearboxes to make gear selection easier/faster, while sequential shift lever adapters can be used to make shifts easier without increasing shift time.

It is important to install a lighter, however firm, flywheel, to enable easier rev matching and use of clutch and gears to negotiate and terminate drifts. A stronger drive-shaft and differential will also be more resistant to "clutch kicking". This is a particular advantage of mid-engine or rear-engine RWD cars.

Some cars have an injectors and throttle bodies that progressively decrease fuel injection when the power is dissconnnected. This can hinder the ability to perform high-speed drifting, or make the handling of the car in such situations rather unexpected, so investing in a correct car, or readjusting the car's throttle is also something to be considered.


The suspension in a drift car tends to have very high spring and damper rates. Sway (Anti-Roll) bars are upgraded, particularly on the rear. Caster is often increased to improve the car's controllability during a slide. Most cars use an integrated coilover/shock (Typically a MacPherson strut) combination. This type of suspension allows the ride height to be adjusted independently of the suspension travel. There is no perfect height setting or spring/shock combo for any car, but each driver will have their own personal preference. Many suspension manufacturers offer suspension tuned specifically for drifting, allowing many people to enter the sport competitively. Some cars or suspension geometries have the option of adjusting the dampers manually or electronically.

Bushings can be upgraded with urethane parts. Most Nissan vehicles have a floating rear subframe which is usually fixed in position with billet aluminum or urethane "drift pineapples", to prevent the frame moving during drift.

Positive camber is never desired. There is such thing as too much negative camber. By making the wheel/tire go into static negative camber on a vehicle with a MacPherson strut front suspension, you are going to be counteracting the positive camber change. However, there is a level at which you over-counteract and thus the tire is always in a negative-camber situation. This is not wanted because it will both wear the tires prematurely and decrease contact patch and thus decreasing overall grip. In the rear, less negative camber (if any) is often used and, if it is used, it is usually to tweak the balance of the car. The old-school Japanese drifters used to run oni-kyan ("demon camber") so they could get their tires to spin easily even though they had very little power. It has thus fallen out of favor as a serious performance-minded suspension setup. However, many cars built for show (such as those driven by bōsōzoku) still use this style of suspension setup for its aggressive look. A few degrees of toe-out on the rear wheels (leading edges angled outward) can reduce rear stability, and make setting up a drift a little easier.

The driver may brace and cushion the chassis and exhaust and primarily the engine and gearbox.


Because of the large centripetal force encountered during drifting, drivers find it preferable to be retained firmly by a bucket seat, and harness. This allows for greater stability in the seat, optimizing control and feedback. Additionally, it allows to use the left foot to brake rather than to brace the driver's body, allowing to drift more precisely. The steering wheel should be relatively small, dished, and perfectly round. Driver use sporty steering wheels, that maximize friction with the hands by linking carbon fibers that compose both the rim and typical racing gloves. These steering wheels are also upgraded with a piece of yellow duct-tape on 12O'Clock, aiding the driver in knowing where the wheels are pointing. The locking knob on the hand brake is usually replaced with a spin turn knob, this stops the hand brake locking on when pulled. Another method is to duct-tape the ratchet button to keep it pressed by itself. Some drivers move the hand brake location or add an extra hydraulic hand brake actuator for greater braking force. Many drivers make use of additional gauges to monitor such things as boost levels, oil, intake and coolant temperatures. The dashboard display is best like in the average racing car: a minimalistic, digital, display of important details like speed, gear and revs. Some cars, like the BMW M-5, have a projected display. This is better but not too helpful, since when drifting the eyes often look through the side window.

A onboard G-Meter is also a good accessory. Some drivers fit special GPS-based calculators that check the drifting angle.


Engine power does not need to be high, and in fact if a car has too much power, it can be very hard to handle during a drift. Each driver has their own preference, and drift cars can be found with anything from 100bhp (74 kW) to 1000bhp (745 kW). Typically, engine tuning is oriented towards achieving linear response rather than maximum power output. Engines also must be equipped with upgraded cooling systems. Not only are the engines pushed very hard, creating lots of heat, but being driven at an angle reduces the airflow through the radiator. For turbocharged engines, intercooler efficiency is similarly reduced. Oil coolers are almost essential. V-mounting the intercooler and radiator improves flow through these components, and keeps the expensive intercooler out of harm's way in the case of a minor accident.

The ideal car is a front-engine rear-wheel drive. A rear-mounted rear-wheel drive will have a greater tendency of understeer, but can still be drifted very controllably. Mid-engine cars can also induce very controlable drifts.


Chassis preparation is similar to a road racing car. Roll cages are sometimes employed for safety, and to improve the torsional rigidity of the car's frame, but are compulsory in events that involves the 2+ cars' tsuiso runs in the event of a side collision. Front and rear strut tower chassis braces, B-pillar braces, lower arm braces, and master cylinder braces are all used to stiffen the chassis. The interior is stripped of extraneous seating, trim, carpet, sound deadening; anything that is not essential is removed to reduce weight.

Body kits are often attached with cable ties. When the body kit meets the wall or curb, the cable ties snap, releasing the part, as opposed to breaking it. Aero also helps for cooling while the car is sideways. The exhaust is also braced and stiffened typically.

As drift cars are pushed faster, aerodynamic tuning becomes more important as well. Rear spoilers, wings, side skirts, hood vents and roof scopes usually are useful only in large, open tracks where the cars develop enough speed to create a need for more downforce. Wheel arches are often rolled or flared to allow the fitment of larger tires. Airflow to the engine is critical, so the hood is often vented. The air intake system is also carved in an aerodynamic design.

Due to the nature of the hobby, drift cars are typically involved in many minor accidents. Thus, those involved with the sport tend to avoid expensive or easily damaged body kits and custom paintwork.


With increased steering angle it is possible to achieve greater angle with the vehicle, also aiding in spin recovery. This is often done with spacers on the steering rack, custom steering racks, custom tierod ends, or machining the spindles. In extreme cases increasing the steering angle may come to a point where the tire or wheel comes into contact with other suspension pieces or the inner/outer fenders; in which case additional modifications are required if such contacts are to be avoided.


The cars quite often have different tires on the front and back, and the owner may have quite a few sets. This is because a single afternoon of drifting can destroy several new sets of tires. As a rule, good tires go on the front for good steering. On the back, hard-compound tires are used, quite often second-hand ones tend to end up in a cloud of smoke. 15" wheels are common on the rear, as 15" tires are cheap. As a driver gets better, they will most likely want to upgrade the tires used in the rear for a higher grip compound. Although cheap/hard tires are fun purely for their slipperiness and ease of drifting, they quickly become a hazard for high-speed drifts. More advanced drivers require the most grip possible from all 4 tires, so as to retain control adequately during high speed drifts. Competitive drifters often run DOT-approved tires closer to racing tires, which is permitted, with the exception of some major championships including D1GP which only permits commercially available tires that are approved by them. The grip is required for control, speed, and a fast snap on the initial entry. Generally drifting consumes tires rapidly and multiple sets may be necessary for a single professional event. One way to increase a tire's life spawn is to use tires similar to those used by Rally driver. These tires are not only braced with steel and Kevlar, but are also filled with a spongy mousse that inflates in the presence of air and can help the drivers to drive even on punctured tires.

Some companies, such as Kumho Tires, created tires with special effects for drifting. These tires produce colored smoke instead of regular grey smoke when drifted. Lavender-scented tires have also been developed. They are not permitted in many competitions, as they are seen as giving an unfair advantage to teams with the funding to use them.

In-car tire pressure gages are recommended, however the driver should always keep a personal pencil gage on him, and a dial-gage at the pits.


A demonstration of drifting through a sharp S-Curve
A demonstration of drifting through a sharp S-Curve

Drifting competitions are conducted all over the world, not just Japan. The competitions, which include D-1 in Japan, and D Formula in the US, include several criteria:

1. Speed: Speed going into the first drift and overall speed through the track. This noramlly equalls to 30 points. ' 2. Drift angle: To reach the biggest oversteer angle towards the direction of travel, without losing control or stopping. The bigger is the drift angle, the less speed can be carried into the drift. The normal maximum points here is also 30. Part of the statistics are measured by an instrument called a "drit box", which is installed in the cars and measure G-forces, speed and angle via GPS.

3. Drifting line: In a drifting contest, one must follow speciic lines and clip apexes, intended to allow good drifting, and yet be challenging and generate a certain show, like clipping an APEX or track-out point inches from te guardrail.

4. Impression: This category includes smoke, hand waving, light blipping, agressive changes in direction, neatness during a drift, etcetra, usually worth to a maximum of 10 points.

There are various reasons for the judges to take points from a drifter, mainly due approaching a corner with less than full throttle, crossing the finish line without sliding, not clipping and APEX or using a forbidden provocation such as a dirt-drop or scandinavian flick to initate a drift.

Some competitions include a tandem stage, where two or more drivers battle in drifting together and points are also given for drifting as closely as possible to the lead car and imitating it's moves. The follow car is than moved to be the lead car, and the overall scores of both drivers in both laps are used to claim a winner. Here Oleg shows his amazing drifting skills again. Compare this with the Ken Block Gymkhana:


Drifting is divided into three stages:

  • Inducing the drift: This is done in different methods and timing, according to two creteria: The amount of power thw car has, and, more importantly, it's balance. Powerfull rear-wheel driven cars can perform a "powerslide", while other cars are traditionally drifted along the whole length of the corner. In any method, throttle application must be sharp, apply the throttle hard and sharply (for powerslides) or lift-off of it at once, or even stab the brakes moderatly for a moment (a sustained drift). If you are drifting around a corner, you can try to drift through the racing line, but make you don't run too wide, don't drive too fast, don't turn-in too much or too hard, and aim for the early APEX.
  • Sustaining the drift: very quickly countersteer by steering into the direction to which the rear is breaking to. You should steer quickly and just enough to line the wheels up to where you want to go. It's a mistake to start yanking the wheel down or shuffling it. position the pulling hand to take a large bite of steering. At the same time, the throttle must be heavily threaded. Beginners often manage the power too softly in drifting -- thus not being able of sustaining the drift, so begin with about 80% power. On the wet it's closer to 70%. Mind you than excessive power, especially in slick conditions, might spin you round, so you will need to ease off some pressure. If you want to get around a slick and tight corner quickly by drifting, you will need to obtain the skill of taking off the lock while you induce the skid, not after, so that the wheels are pointing straight through the corner, without a need to countersteer. Remember: Too much steering can either kill the slide, spin you the other way, or slow you down. Put the steering lock quickly and accurately. If the nessecary input is very large, you can let the wheel run through your hands after you make the initial input with your hands.
  • Recovering from the drift: smoothly and progressively easing off of the throttle untill it's only lightly threaded, while quickly putting off the steering. It is crucial in this stage that you don't let the rim of the wheel slip through your hands, and that you are gentle with easing off of the throttle and not leaving it completely.

Powerslides and sustained drifts are not the same:

Note that drifting, to begin with, is best performed in medium speeds. Drivers often approach too fast, or turn the wheel too much into the original turn-in, espeically in a normal, moderate speed bend. You are not trying to get a fast lap, so slow down.

The different methods of drifting depend on three criteria:

  • Car balance
  • Engine power
  • Type of corner
  • Driver training
  • Driver preferences

The different methods include:



The term powerslide refers to a drift that is caused by excessive acceleration if a powerfull rear-wheel drive, mid-corner. The car would start to drift around about the early APEX, and up to the exit, where easing off of the throttle with the steering pointing straight will pull the car out of the slide. This method is best with a powerfull rear-wheel drive with a tendency of oversteer. This method is good for beginners in cars with a sufficient amount of power.

This can be done by kicking down the throttle as you turn the wheel or, in slippery surfaces, you can initiate a hard turn-in (use even the Apel contra Apel technique), take off the lock, and than apply throttle. If you are less experienced or in a weaker car, you can turn-in, burst the throttle, and than apply opposite lock while lifting-off of it in a snap and than applying it more sensitively to hold the slide. Another method is to keep the throttle near the top of the powerband, and than burst it slightly and countersteer while easing off most of the pressure. This is a specialist technique that will not induce a serious drift unless performed very accurately.

- More information

"Clutch kick"

This is a method of inducing a powerslide not by the throttle, but with the clutch, and is used in slower corners and sometimes with a higher gear selected:

The classic "Clutch Kick" includes applying power while quickly kicking the clutch in and out to unsettle the car. This method is mechanically harmfull in wide usage, but is very efficient in creating a slide, or sustaining a slide initated by another technique, usually the handbrake (as you need to declutch to use it).

Another technique is called a "Compression powerslide" or "Power-turning", is more straightforward: De-clutch as you turn-in, than rev-up the engine to top RPM's (near the red line), and peel off of the clutch relatively quickly, while easing off of the throttle as you counter-steer to catch the slide. This will create drag which will spin the rear tires from the APEX hence forth. To end the slide, take off the opposite lock, and de-clutch again. This method is usefull for powerfull rear-wheel driven cars with a tendency to understeer. Note you might have to kick the clutch more than once, or even ride it in order to induce the slide in the desired angle.

This can be used to induce a slide in conjunction with the handbrake turn or with a simple powerslide. If you are driving through a slower corner you will need to apply the E-brake. De-clutch, rev-up the motor, and than apply the e-brake to attain the desired angle, peeling off of the clutch and gas and control the slide with opposite lock and neutral throttle.

Sustained drift

Shift lock

This time, the drift is induced not by spinning the wheels, but by momentarily locking them. To differ from the "clutch kick", here the drag is from the wheels, causing them to lock-up. This is created by making a quick downshift so drastic, for engine braking to lock the rear-driven wheels. It might require downshifting by two gears in less powerfull autombiles. Anyhow, don't heel and toe. It is aided by feathering the brakes throughout. The advatange of this method is that it is easy to sustain a controlled drift all the way through the corner, since you are in a lower gear, and able to control the slide with the throttle. This method depends on balance more than on power, and will therefore work on all rear-wheel drive cars that tend to oversteer. Another good thing about this method is includes a relatively small weight transfer, and therefore requires less skill. This is a good method for beginners to perform on the wet. It is typically used when approaching a moderate bend in high speed.

This method can be controlled by throttle and brakes, typically by using left foot braking. If you wish, a further description can be found here.

Handbrake turn

The driver can use the E-brake to lock the rear tires for a moment as he turns in (usually already under braking). This is used in even tighter corners, when the car is reluctant to drive around. It is also the method of inducing a complete spin, or a wild drift ("Arabic drift"), with the defining element being speed. The handbrake approach is the simplest sort for beginners, and is the reconmended way of drifting for beginners.

Another way to use the handbrake while drifting is commonly called "side drifting", and includes turning hard and early, straightening the wheel and nipping the handbrake while applying the footbrake, all in the straight before the corner to induce the slide coming to the corner and through it. It is similar to an old rallying technique called "Opposite lock".

Because the clutch is normally used to keep the engine running, using the E-brake can also be combined with a clutch kick too. The e-brake (and clutch kick) is also widely used to increase the angle and sustaining the slide. In order to switch directions, the accelerator and footbrake provide better handling.

With the drifting leaving it's Japanese hegemony, arguments arouse about the extensive use of the handbrake by some professional drifters, being either Japanese or Japanese-inspired, as being a bit "unfair" in generating big slides. However, one must keep in mind that when applying the handbrake, the clutch and typically brake pedal are being simultaneously pressed down, with only one hand left to reverse the steering input. At the same time, weight shifts forward (also due to the handbrake) and the rear wants to continue sliding in a straight line. It requires feel and multi-tasking ability, especially if combined with techniques like compression slides. So, it is a professional technique and no one should be ashamed of how much he uses the handbrake.

More information:
* E-brake drift
* Side drift

Jump drift

This is a more risky method, involving bumping the rear-inside wheel of the car on the inside rumble line at the APEX, in order to get in unsettled with an additional steering lock and immediatly followed by countersteering. This is normally used to sustain slides during moderate cornering.

The driver can also use a technique called "Dirt drop", where the rear is dropped on a gravel or grassy shoulder which, with the addition of an ubrupt, but not too large, steering input, will induce a slide. Both sorts of drifting are usually banned on tracks. If two wheels have dropped and you want to make a clean recovery, apply light braking, gently apply a bit of steering back to the road. As you recover, slightly countersteer back towards the shoulder. It's used to induce a slide in a weak car, or to sustain a slide, but it requires skill. The dirt-drop is detailed here.

Sometimes, rally drivers sometimes cut through the inside line of the road, using the bump of dense gravel near the edge of the roadway as a "rail" that sustains them in a controlled amount of drifting.

Weight transfer methods

Every method of drifting or powersliding requires a certain amount of weight transfer (normally backwards), but these methods include complex weight transfers from side to side. They are harder to achieve, and are sometimes banned in drifting competitions.

power-snap oversteer

This is the only method in which oversteer can be induced in a front-wheel drive. However, in such cars, this sort of oversteer, albeit powerfull, cannot be sustained, therefore it's not considered a "drift". In a rear wheel drive or all-wheel drive, however, it can be used to induced a sustained slide, anywhere from the turn-in and on. The idea is to brake traction to the rear wheels by peeling off of the throttle very quickely, or even braking moderatly, combined with a sharp turn-in. This unloades the rear axle and sends it skidding. It can than be sustained by opposite lock and immediate re-introduction of throttle, and than by easing of both applications. Mind you, that this is the way used to slide rally cars around tighter corners.

Note that this method can be used in all cars, although will be more effective on balanced, or slightly front-biased cars. It is particularly usefull when going downhill. It's typically used in moderate speed-bends or fast curves. If it does not work, dab the brake. If the engine revs drop, use the clutch to spin the front tires. You can look for more information here.

Braking drifting

The braking drift, to differ from the power-snap drift, is done by stabbing the brake or feathering it while turning-in hard, countersteer while easing off of the brake (the point where you stop countersteering should be synchronized with the moment you go off of the brake pedal) and apply mild acceleration to keep it going.

The difference from a lift-off drift is that here the effect relies more on lost of grip due to a forward weight transfer, rather than on increased deceleration demands to the rear tires by engine braking, which occurs in power lift-off.

Note that, in slippery conditions, you might have to enter the slide a bit faster, possibly in a combination with other methods, and start taking off the lock as you lift-off rather than afterwards. With skill, this will help you to catch the slide and terminate it without countersteering past the point where the wheels are straight, which is slowing you down.

Apel contra Apel

Also nicknamed the "scandinavian"or "finnish" flick, the "pendulum turn", "dual-slide" or simply "feint". It's a method of irritating the car, by flicking it, steering slightly in one way and than sharply the other way, usually in combination with either power-snap (in higher speeds) or handbrake turn (slower speeds), These techniques work best on less powerfull and more stable cars, which are reluctant to oversteer. In cars more prone to understeer, the whole thing might have to be done under light braking. It is used in medium corner, following a straight, with a wide track. Some of these techniques will require great angles and even full opposite lock, so you will have to let the wheel run through your hands.

    1. Double Slide: Steer slightly away from the corner, and now steer sharply into the corner, while lifting off of the power and/or braking. This should unsettle the car enough to start the slide. Done during sharp corner after a long straight.
    2. Feint: A more popular method. The driver stays on the power, flicks the wheel, like in the traditional flick. Used in moderate bends after a long straight. This method is decribed here.
    3. Sway: A feint used in the straight before the corner. This allows to throw the tail from side to side and sustain the slide between corners. This is called "Manji Drifting". It's also used to build up momentum during a straight, in order to make a large slide at the end.
    4. Chuko Dori: A small feint combined with another technique of drifting, normally a slight handbrake application to induce a small drift angle. Used for long and fast drifts into bends and even fast curves, after a long straight.
    5. Over-sway: A Manji or Chuko-Dori which is done while utlizing the width of the track as well. The driver drifts the car from one side of the track to the other back and forth.
    6. Schikane/S-Curve drift: The driver uses a feint to drift into a chikane, and than chages direction again to exit the chikane. The driver must reapply countersteering very quickly, because it will be very hard to hold the second slide.
    7. Switch-Side swing: This technique is used extensively in the Japanese D1 competition and is very similar to inertia (Feint) drift. It is often done on the first entry drift corner, which is often a long double apex turn just before a very fast straight-way. If the straight-way before that double apex is of a downhill orientation, the driver keeps driving on side of the track that is closetest to the corner. Then with correct timing in mind, the driver abruptly changes the car onto the other side. This movement has the car momentum to be altered causing the rear wheels to lose traction. The car is in a drift motion right now. Then the drift is carried over into the corner and through it.

Advanced techniques


Sometimes, a drift can go bad, for you points and personal safety alike. In these cases, the driver must use the different means of car control: Use the E-brake to rotate the car, the brakes (locking-up the wheels) to neutralize the slide or straighten the car, and than select the appropriate gear (in many cases, it can be reverse gear), de-clutch and power out. This can make a potentially embarrassing spin-out, into a nice 360.

Kanji drifting

"Kanji drifting" is another group of methods used in professional drifting with weight transfers. In these drifting competitions, drivers have to be fast, and clip APEX points as they drift around corners. For this, they would access corners at racing speeds, brake moderatly before them, and use the feint, side, clutch and power to induce and sustain slides. One of the more popular methods, for an example, is to de-clutch as you brake, rev-up the motor, not quite as high as a normal cluch kick, but closer to 6000RPM (instead of 6-8 thousands), and than use additional kicks and E-brake applications to increase and control the angle.

A harder method, used in successive turns, is to combine this with the shift-lock, shifting down by one or two gears (according to road surface) while the clutch is depressed as you brake before the corner. Turn-in hard, possibly feint slightly, and than take off a substantial amount of lock and pop the clutch. The slide is than controlled with left-foot braking or, less favorite, with Heel and Toe. As the driver reaches the end of the corner, he de-clutches, rev-up the motor to 5000rpm and pop to exit the corner.

The Arabic Drift

This is a unique method of "drifting" used in all sorts of cars, popular in Saudi-Arabia. It involves driving in high speeds, and normally high revs, and than upsetting the car extremlly (by incorprating three or four methods at once, like braking, feint and E-Brake). The driver normally rides at over 60mph, high revs, flicks the wheel, peel off of the throttle (possibly even after a downshift), partially stabbing the brakes and operating the E-brake (nicknamed the "oversteer lever"), sending the car into a complete lost of control or into wild spinning, preferably on the wet, even with slick tires. In less stable cars, the danger of tipping over also exists. This method can even overcome some of the more sophisticated stability controls.

The 360 spin

A more controlled version of the Arabic drift, is an intentionl and controlable 360 degrees spin. For this, about 70mph are good. High revs. Flick the wheel, slightly turning it one way, and than quickly and sharply turning it the other way exagerratly. As the fraction once you begin to steer back, nip the E-brake and lift off of the throttle. Now, grab a lower gear. Retract the steering and begin opposite lock. Now, hammer the brake pedal for a moment, to lock the tyres, which will pull the car back to where the inertia is pulling it. Take off the lock and power out. For this stuning manouvering, you will need to stay focused on where you want to go. For this, you will need to pick out a far visual target and focus on it, by looking through the windshield and than the sidewindows, and than the rear-view or sideview mirror.

Note: If you have lost control completly during oversteer, drifting or spinning, take off all of the steering lock. Now, turn the wheel just slightly in the direction where you want to go, and slam on the brakes to lock-up all four wheels. This will pull the car back to where the force of inertia is pushing it, which is usually the direction of intended travel.

Drifting transition

As we said, the greatest danger of all sorts of oversteer is the pendulum effect, which might create a skid in the other way. It can also cause a fishtail, where the tail is constantly being waved from side to side. However, while drifting, especially through successive turns or an S-Curve, the driver may induce a slide one way, and than switch directions by keeping on some of the opposite lock, skidding the tail over to the other way with a sensitive application of throttle. The key here is to be smooth with the throttle and with the initial input of steering, and than almost immediatly and very quickly countersteer quite a lot, so the tailwhip in the opposite direction is substantially smaller than the original slide. Many people believe they could control the fishtail, but end up doing an embrassing 360. For beginners, one of the ways to do this is not to powerslide. That is, use a shift lock, or preferably lift-off in order to induce an original skid or, alternatively, generate a power slide, sustain it for a while, allowing the car to wipe off speed. During a medium speed corner or an S-curve, this could be achieved by combining the powerslide with a feint, in order to begin the slide before the corner and aim for a late-APEX while drifting through the corner. Additionally, put in a bit more opposite lock to begin with.

As said, once the initial slide has been induced and sustained, take off a bit of the opposite lock you initially applied, but keep the wheels aiming sideways, in the direction in which you want to drift. Now take off a bit of throttle, and reapply.

Oval drifting

Another sort of a spectacular drifting stunt, is to lap around a medium size circle, drifting all around it. To practice, take a broad circle, set another circle, wider, around it, with cones. Mark a cone for the turn-in point. Now, enter the circle at a medium-high speed, turn-in with a decent amount of steering input, induce a powerslide by threading the power as you take the steering off. When you are about 180 degrees around (half a lap), the steering should be off almost completly and re-applied, to complete a 360.

Now, you can perform this in a tighter radious by countersteering. The idea is roll into the circle at a medium speed, induce a powerslide, normally a "compression slide" as you turn the wheel to rotate the car around the circle, and than apply a generous amount of countersteering, though not enough to arrest the slide. Now you need to apply and maintain hard acceleration, taking off lock graduatly as you slide around the circle. To begin with, you might want to mark the points where you turn-in and catch the slide with cones, since you will have to tighten-up the steering half way around (180 degrees, when the countersteer cone is on the other side of the circle) and put other cones all around, to enable you to stay focused on where you want to slide to (around the circle) and not what you want to slide around (the center). Being smooth with the accelerator will help you avoid oversteering (spinning) or understeering during this.

This can be combined with the transition, in order to form spectacular "chains", "loops" and figures of eights. The idea is to look into the next center point, identify a turn-in point, and let the hands take off the lock and the feet ease off of the throttle as you line up towards the next circle. Reapply some of the opposite lock and reapply throttle to turn the car around and apply opposite lock to rotate it.

The four-wheel drift

This is a manouver of inducing a high amount of slip to all four tires. In an all-wheel drive car, you need to thread the throttle, turn-in, lift-off, immediatly take off a bit of lock and re-apply the throttle hard. If the car tends to understeer, you will have to use the brakes and/or the feint. Once the slide was induced, take off all of the lock, keeping the front pointing only slightly sidways, and now use the accelerator carefully (according to the slide and original steering input) to power the car through and drift all four wheels slightly. This can be perfected with left foot braking to sustain the slide with weight shifts and slippage rates. To recover, wait or apply a bit of countersteering, and stay lightly on the accelerator.

Reversed Drift

Once the car is driven in Reverse, it is possible, by turning the wheel sharply or even flicking it (a reversed feint), to cause the rear tires to lose adhension, and spin the car around quite a lot. This can be technically considered drifting, even in a Front-wheel-drive, but it cannot be made to be very impressive, because the speed reached in reverse gear is generally slow. The only method is to use an extremlly powerfull car or a car with a reversed gearbox. Another trick is the J-Turn, which is (typically) a 180 degrees from reverse to first gear.

The Tea-Tray Drift

Powersliding is not possible in a front-wheel drive car. It is possible, in the more sporty ones, to achieve a short oversteer by braking, lifting off or using the E-brake in relatively extreme conditions. It is possible to use reverse to negotiate a small, but consistant drift angle in slow speed, or do a J-Turn. This, however, does not yield particularly stunning results due to the slow speed of engagement. Even so, some cars might resist and not provide you with the result you want, while others will produce a momentary oversteer that will either be immediatly corrected or will cause a spin-out. Moreover, a modern FWD, with Stability control, EBD (and therefore both ABS and traction control too), a clever suspension and brake bias, will never get to oversteer without the E-brake.

However, a brand new way of actually "drifting" a front-wheel drive car, even with ESP, has came up. This creative idea, was to log metal tea trays under the rear wheels, locking them with the handbrake, and using the power and steering to turn the car round. It results in a very unique sort of a drift. The driver powers away, than turns sideways, and now keeps neutral throttle and opposite lock, and the car skids endlessly. Take off some lock and power, and it might pull itself back straight for you, which enables the third phase (ending the slide) to be made too. This enables even to do sorts of doughnuts or transition drifting, making it a legitimate method of drifting.

It will also work with an ESP-equipped four-wheel drive, but not with a rear-wheel drive fitted with the system. For this, you will have to turn the stability program off.


You need to start with basic racing techniques, lines and car control and car dynamics (appearing in this race driving guide). A skid-car is very good as an introduction to understeer and oversteer. Other important points you need to remember are:

  • Seating position: If you do not seat properly you explicitly will not be able to control the car, period! You also need to learn how to lean over your left foot, since otherwise you are going to be dangling over the wheel.
  • Steering techniques: Drifting includes great steering inputs. As you corner, you keep the hands in a position of readiness (9 and 3) by using the correct steering method, and than you need to quickly make a large countersteering angle. This is sometimes done by letting the wheel slip through your hands and than gripping it again with the hands at 9 and 3. As you progress, you will learn to turn the wheel with the hands to begin with, and than let it keep revolving slightly and only than catching it with the hands again in 9 and 3. When you straighten the wheel at the end of the drift, do not let it slip and undo it quickly.
  • Visual field: Your eyes looking in the right direction determine whether you control the slide or not.
  • Threshold Braking: If the drift does not go well (a fishtail or pendulum skid), you need to stop the car and not try to control it with the steering. The way to do this is to brake as hard as possible as quickly as possible. Surprisingly, this action has been found to be rather counterintuitive, and you need to learn and practice it before you go sideways.

Now, practicee a handbrake turn around cones in angles of 360 (let the car spin), 180 (a handbrake U-Turn) and 180, in sequence. These stages can be even performed in a FWD, but it's better to do them with a RWD too.

A good starting drifting car will have a locking differential and an engine that is strong enough (nothing fancy, just powerful enough to smoke the tires). standard BMW's often do the trick, but other cars do just as well. If the car does not have an LSD it can still drift, though! Do not use your road tires on the rear. As you come up to your drifting location, replace the rear for cheap tires, and put your road tires and you finish. Keep spare, cheap tires just in case.

Initially you will need a large piece of empty tarmac, not necessarily a track. As you progress into drifting through corners, choose a track with tight corner sets (Sliverstone, Loheac) and start with an isolated corner followed by a straight, progressing into corner sets and long drifts. This is not an obligation and if you have no such track in your vicinity any track would do. A wet track equals less tire wear, more reachable limits and usually less traffic, and is better. Keep spare (cheap) rear tire set just in case.

Having done that, try donuts. Than, simulate a slow corner followed by a straight with cones and do a powerslide. Set reference points (colored cones) for a turn-in, geometric APEX and a far and noticeable visual target after the corner.

Coming up to the corner, brake to a slow speed (you are trying to powerslide out of the corner, so you might as well crawl through it), turn-in normally (not too much steering not too sharp) and pull the wheel to apex with the hands at 9 and 3. At the geometric APEX, hammer the power for a moment and than come completely off of the power while allowing the wheel to slip under your hands (which should be in the 9:15 position) and quickly apply the power again about 80% and grip the wheel again (it should be about 1 revolution to the opposite direction). If you run out of steering, you are applying to much power, if you run out of joy (stop powersliding) you are too slow or too gentle with your applications. As you feel the drift running-out, start peeling off of the throtle gently without lifting-off completly and straighten the wheel quickly with your hands.

Having mastered this, try navigating the wheel with your hands. Than, try and make a longer drift or a greater angle. Having mastered this, move on to transitions. You will have to let the wheel slip quite a bit when you do transitions because you will have to apply a bit amount of steering from side to side: Make a hand movement and let the wheel continue moving after it, and than grip it with the hands in 9 and 3 again. Now, place a cone or two and try to drift around them (ovals) or in front of them. Ovals require smooth throttle application, clutch control and slight wheelslip.

External links

1. Theory

2. Video demonstrations