Have you exhausted all the thrills of the
speedway? Do you feel ready to be the next Ken Block?
Here are a few basics you need to know before you think about customising a car
and preparing yourself for drifting.
First of all, drifting is not something you
should try with the car you drive to work. The modifications would of course
allow you to still go to work, but your modified car would be less safe (more
about this later), while an unmodified car would drift poorly.
In short: your drifting car should be customised for drifting
The second most important thing is that you
need to have access to dedicated tracks. It can be tempting to find deserted
parking lots late at night but remember that a parking lot of a mall is private
property. Out of opening hours, you could end up being charged for trespassing.
Keep in mind that malls have security cameras or private security and that
drifting is noisy.
Drifting is an expensive hobby because
typically you need to customise a dedicated car, change tyres pretty much all
the time, and rent the track.
Choosing the right car
First and foremost, you need a
rear-wheel-drive, which should be fairly light. Remember that drifting is all
about weight transfer, transforming the momentum to rotate the car. A heavier
car will be more difficult to use for drifting. Typically cars customised for
drifting are sedans or coupes.
The Hudson Hornet has now become a legend in
itself. Popular models these days include old BMW’s, Volvo 300 series and Ford
Sierras. MW V8 were able to provide 300-400 horsepower output and BMW ruled for
many years, but the German giant is losing ground to even more powerful
American V8 engines.
Whatever your final choice is, power is key
to achieving the wow effect you need. After all, drifting involves showmanship,
emotions, and skills.
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Good drifting requires … LSD. LSD stands for Limited Slip Differential, probably the most
essential part from the technical point of view. In a nutshell, it is a
mechanical device that allows you to keep moving if, say, your car was stuck
with one wheel on a slab of ice. Without an LSD, the wheel on the ice would get
all the torque and your car would not move.
Using commercial tyres for drifting is
possible, but bear in mind that drifting uses up the tyre exceptionally
quickly. A lot of drifters buy cheap new tyres which, in most cases, are
not intended to last more than one drifting session.
DOT treadwear measures how quickly your
tyres will wear out, and they will resist the specific conditions of drifting.
Proper tyres for drifting, such as the Falken Azenis RT615K, or Yokohama ADVAN
Neova AD08R will have very high DOT (about 200) but also the corresponding
Steering and the hand brake
In most production cars, Ackermann steering geometry allows the wheels
to have a different angle when the car is turning. It is of course essential
for the car to be able to handle road turns without losing control. The
differential completes this mechanism as it allows the wheels to have a
Drifting is about losing control without
losing control so to speak, so you need to get rid of your Ackermann. This is
also why a car tuned for drifting could become dangerous in the hands of a
careless or inexperienced driver.
The hand brake should be modified too.
Commercial hand brakes lock when pulled. In drifting pulling the hand brake
should not force you to unlock it before disabling it. And this is just another
reason why your drifting car is not intended for everyday use.
For the driver
Just like speedway, motocross, rally racing
or Formula 1, drifting is a motoring discipline which puts a lot of stress on
machines and the people who drive them.
Safety comes first so always wear a helmet
– not exactly because your car may hit another car but mostly because you can
bump your head inside your car. Your body should obviously be secured within a
racing seat with a harness.
Drifting involves strong centrifugal forces
and you need to be able to concentrate on driving. Without a harness you would
also find it harder to make the right move at the right moment.
It is also recommended that you change your
steering wheel for a smaller one so that it can spin freely when you release
If you are taking your first steps in
drifting, keep the above tips in mind and prepare everything you need. If you
plan this adventure carefully and ahead of time and remain focused behind the
wheel you’re bound to have a wonderful drifting experience.