Want to know how to get into drifting? What are the must-do drift mods and what are the does and don’ts of drifting a car? Well check out our guide to drifting…
We flippin’ love drifting, we really do. Basically, it’s an opportunity to go absolutely mental with your car, driving like a total hero on track and not get black flagged for it. People have all kinds of opinions on it, the most common ones are: it’s easy, or it’s boring, or it’s slow.
Bu the only people who think like hat have never tried it, and if they did they’d realise it’s bloody hard, pee-your-pants exciting, and way faster than most people would ever imagine. And because of that, we think everyone should give it a go, even you! So read on and learn.
What is drifting?
It’s probably easier to first explain what it isn’t than what it is. What it isn’t is booting it out of a junction and getting sideways. And it’s deffo not putting MaccyD’s trays under the rear wheels of your Corsa, putting the handbrake on, and skidding around an open car park.
What it is, is oversteering your car around a series of bends without ever fully regaining traction with the rear wheels. It’s achieved with a mix of power, momentum, some pretty handy work with your steering wheel and pedals, and of course being a little bit mental…
So, what cars drift?
If you really want to, you could drift anything, but for proper drifting, the drifting we know and love, you want a rear wheel drive car. You certainly don’t need a big power Japanese drift motor, in fact a crappy old Volvo will do to start with. As long as something’s light and has more than 100bhp, or not too heavy and has over 150bhp, it’s got plenty of power to have fun. Do a few simple modifications and you’re good to go.
What are the vital drift mods?
You don’t need a huge amount of modifications to get out there and drift, in fact having hardly any will improve your skills faster than learning in a big spec car. Here’s the four drift must-haves…
LSD or welded diff
Trying to drift with an open diff isn’t much fun at all, but with a decent LSD or a simple welded diff you will have both rear wheels spinning, giving you far more control when going sideways.
Driver’s bucket seat
Trying to keep your ass in a normal seat while you fling the car about sideways is hard work; even standard sports seats won’t hold you in like a fixed back bucket seat. You won’t realise until you try it, but believe me, your sideways car control will improve hugely with a proper seat keeping you in place.
Standard wobbly suspension does nothing for car control, so it’s time to stiffen it up. With cheap coilover kits cropping up everywhere these days, there’s little excuse not to do it.
Spare drift wheels and tyres
We don’t think you need telling that drifting kills tyres, so a set of spare wheels and tyres to take with you is a wise move. Any will do, especially when you’re new to it; just chuck ‘em on the back, keep your good wheels and tyres on the front, and go for it.
What are the drift do’s and don’ts?
Despite what people may think, you can’t learn to drift by reading a book or watching a DVD, you need to get out there and try. However, here are some important tips to help you on your way…
Do adjust tyre pressures
Drop the front pressure to 25-30psi for maximum grip, raise the rears to 45-55psi to help them spin up easier. All drift days will have a free air compressor to use, so you can adjust the rear pressures to either increase or decrease grip depending how the car feels after a few runs.
Do let go of the steering wheel
At first it feels the weirdest thing to do in the world, but with drifting you do very little steering with your hands; you do most of it with the pedals. When you are sideways it’s next to impossible to countersteer fast enough with your hands, and if you try it you’ll
be spinning out most of the time. However, let go of the steering wheel, and providing the suspension isn’t too cocked up, your steering wheel will self-centre faster than you ever can.
Don’t think you need big power
Even a little 1.6ltr MX-5 can smoke up 3rd gear in the dry if driven right. It’s all about going fast, chucking cars in to corners hard, and learning to drift properly rather than just relying on yanking the handbrake and booting the the throttle to try and go sideways.
Do expect to damage your car
Lets face it, going balls out sideways everywhere on the limit means you will prang your car a bit, especially when you’re learning. So don’t worry about making your car too pretty, as if you do you’ll be too scared to take it to the limits, and that’s where the fun is.
Don’t be scared to try
So many people like the idea of drifting, but they never attend a drift practice day as they’re worried about being rubbish and looking stupid. Well don’t worry, nobody takes the piss, nobody cares if you’re no good; even top D1 drivers were new to it once. And unless you go to these days to practice, you will never get good at it…
See our Top 5 best Drift cars for beginners
Where can I practice drifting?
First things first, the street is a really shit place to learn. Between being worried about crashing, actually crashing, and getting caught by the cops, it’s just not worth it. You can learn more in one drift practice day than years on the street, plus you’re a lot less likely to prang your car, and these days there are drift days almost every week in the UK. Most drift days are advertised on the Drift Works, but one of the most popular drift practice days are the Drift What Ya Brung days at Santa Pod. With coned courses meaning next to nothing to hit, it’s not only good for total beginners, but it’s bloody good fun too.
Where can I find drift competitions?
You can’t expect to be good enough to enter competitions from the start, but it’s something to aim for, and also it’s a great day out as a spectator. The main UK based championship is the British Drift Championship and with events all around the country it’s well worth checking out.
Words Stav Photos various