Oh no, not another run-of-the mill ‘Guide to drifting’ I hear you cry? Well no, this is Fast Car, we don’t do ‘normal’, so instead of your usual ‘Drifting is a motorsport where the driver intentionally oversteers, causing loss of traction in the rear wheels through turn’, let’s kick off with some chariot racing, as you do…
1. Driftus Maximus
Drifting’s Japanese roots can be traced back to the 1970s (see Kunimitsu Takahashi next), but the truth is, its origins reach back to the ancient chariot races of the 680BC Panhellenic games. In its basic form, a chariot was a lightweight, 4-horsepower chassis with a fixed rear axle, or in drifting terms, a locked diff. On paper, a perfect drift machine, and if you check out ‘Ben Hurr chariot race’ on YouTube, you’ll also see the earliest form of twin drift. Great Roman days.
2. Kunimitsu Takahashi
Kunimitsu who? Well reader, you’re well within your rights to ask, as not a lot of people know who Takahashi san is. To cut a long story short, he was a former GP bike jockey and racing driver who’ best known as being the Grandaddy of Japanese drifting. Back in the 1970s, race tyre technology wasn’t exactly cutting edge, and Takahashi’s race spec Datsun 240Z was putting out in the region of 270bhp with its triple carbs. This meant lots of rear wheel drive power and not a lot of grip, hence Kuni’s drifting driving style. The Japanese race fans loved him, and he inspired a new age of drivers, including a young lad called Keiichi Tsuchiya…
Keiichi Tsuchiya is best known for his portrayal of Old Fisherman in The Fast And The Furious Tokyo Drift; a role given to him for being pretty much the biggest legend in drifting – ever. You see, Tsuchiya is the Drift King, and in 1977 he went out and shot the first ever drifting video, called Pluspy. We have no idea why it’s called this. All we know is that Tsuchiya’s drive on an empty Japanese mountain road (touge) will have you doing cartwheels of joy. Search ‘Pluspy’ on your favourite internet browser and enjoy.
4. Corolla AE86
The AE86 (Hachi-Roku) generation of the Toyota Corolla was called the Levin (fi xed headlights) and Sprinter Trueno (pop up headlamps) in Japan, and it’s the car that most successful Japanese drifters started their careers in. Thing is, they didn’t reach legendary status for being easy to drift – they got there because they were a good challenge. If you can drift a Hachi well, you can drift anything…
5. Crash! Crash! Crash!
Let’s face it, drifting’s frickin’ difficult at the best of times, and if it’s quite normal for the world’s best drivers to lose a bumper or two in the heat of battle, then you can bet you’re gonna stack your ride at some stage. Real drift cars are 94% metal, 4% rubber and 2% zip ties, and if you’ve not got any crash damage scars then you’re not trying hard enough. Go hard, or go home.
6. It’s all about grip
“Yay, it’s raining, I’m going out drifting!” No my friend you are not. Drifty poos is all about grip. Drifting in the wet means a guaranteed backwards exit into the crash barrier/kitty-litter/hedge. Drifting in the dry, with some sticky, wide, low profile rubber, means lots of grip, and total control. That’s the way to do it, as some old puppet once said.
Forget big turbos, a fly-off handbrake and sticky rubber – they’re all useless without a limited slip differential. How hell an LSD work? Well, on a normal open diff, partaking in drifty poos will send the engine’s torque to the wheel with most traction; so essentially one wheel will be spinning up. With an LSD, when the driven wheel loses traction, a limited amount of torque is sent to the non-slipping wheel, giving the drift pilot control, forward motion and lots of smoke. It’s like science, only without the boring stuff.
8. Drift Graphics
Forget Formula 1, WRC and BTCC; drifting has the bestest graphics in motorsport, and no mistake. For years they’ve been plastering their S15s and RX7s in some of the most lairy, chromed-up, in-your-face graphics humanity has ever seen. Drifty poos graphics are all about creating shape and flow using the power of chi. This lead to a lot of cars running reversed graphics, as the brand names fl owed from front to back, if you get me?
9. Gatebil madness
There’s drifting, then there’s Norwegian drifting. They do it differently over there, mainly because they’re all completely, raving mad. Put it this way, if you turn up to the Gatebil autofestival, held at Rudskogen – Norway’s oldest asphalt track – with anything less than 500bhp, you’ll be laughed out of the stadium by the fanatical power fans lining the circuit. With some of the motors running over 1000bhp, it’s no surprise to find a lot of 4-wheel-drive machines drifting entire laps in a mix of tyre smoke and race fuel. Bonkers.
10. It’s just a bit of fun
At the end of the day, drifting’s all about one thing, and one thing only – having a bit of fun. If you’re taking it too seriously, then your missing the point. Hell, even the best drifters to shred tarmac did it with a smile and a jolly jape; D1 legends Ken ‘Monkey Man’ Nomura and Yasuyuki Kazama were well known for their tomfoolery. To sum it up, Drift King himself says “I drift not because it is a quicker way around a corner, but the most exciting way.” Nice one Tsuchiya old son, nice one.