Learning how to drift equals true fahrvergnügen (Pt. 1)

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Drift racing at the Night Shift event in Chicago, 2007.

Learning how to drift requires that you not fear your vehicle, but respect it and understand highway physics. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Kevin Miller/Wikipedia)

Before you hop into the car and drive to the corner store like a good little consumer, do you ever find yourself wanting to rankle the neighbors by dropping the clutch, smoking the tires and throwing down some big league burnout? Ah, the smell of napalmed tires in the morning – smells like victory for the little man in a suburban box. But some neighbors won’t be so eager to accept your vehicular freedom, which means you’ll need to know how to make a quick escape. Take the corners hard and not-so-safely in order to lose them by learning how to drift like a pro.

Drifting takes lots of practice

You’ll want to practice this drift racing procedure in a safe place, away from other buildings, cars or people you can harm. For good measure, find a safe paved or dirt track to work with so that you don’t wet or kill yourself. Then get down to the business of how drifting works.

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Learning how to drift means learning vehicular physics

In theory, the tires of a car grip the road up to their point of maximum adhesion. Once the limit is exceeded, tires begin to slide. Temporarily pushing past the boundaries – while unsafe for urban outings – is what drifting is all about. The driver must work to control the drifting car by turning the steering wheel just the right amount in the direction the car is moving. This makes it possible to regain control of the drift and not plow into a school of orphans. Catch the drift, throttle the engine and steer out of the drift.

Let’s say you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, ideally with a limited slip differential. If you have some power under the hood, drifting is much more exciting, but it is still possible in low-powered cars. With a quick burst of acceleration at the right moment, tire adhesion in the rear of a rear-wheel drive becomes history. Heavy braking throws the car’s weight toward the front wheels, which makes drifting a bit harder in a front-wheel drive. A saving grace for a FWD when it comes to learning how to drift is that it uses deceleration to lighten the rear of the vehicle, which in turn makes that part of the car swing wide.

Going left tail in FWD

Left tail drifting in a front-wheel drive car begins with speed. Floor it en route to the turn. As you approach the turn, decelerate heavily and simultaneously flick the wheel to the right. After the shock wave passes mid-car, steer into the tail drift. If the tail doesn’t swing out, give a quick flick of the handbrake to help it along.

Next, get the drift under control by gently throttling out and smoothly steering in opposite lock fashion (steering to the right just) just enough to maintain drift without causing a spin or flying in the wrong direction.

CLICK HERE to learn some drifting tricks that the pros know!

Learning Tokyo Drift with ‘The Fast and the Furious’



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