My thoughts on the big D
Where I'm coming from
Drifting is huge. Maybe not just yet in North America, but there's no denying the fact that it's growing quite fast. When the likes of GM are hiring drivers such as Rhys Millen to compete in one of their new vehicles, there’s no way you can simply brush off the motorsport like so many others already have. As with anything popular, there exists an astounding number of misconceptions and half-truths whenever drifting is on the hot seat. I’m one of those guys that just doesn’t like seeing bad info tossed around, especially regarding something I’ve spent so much time to learn about. I’d like to give everyone a wake up call and wave the flag of truth before the consumer-based society we live in destroys drifting before any of us get the chance to enjoy it for what it really is. I’m not sure what direction this article will take but I’m probably going to add and take things away as time passes. I want this to be a grounding factor for anyone interested in taking up this silly activity that I love so much.
That being said, everything from here on in is based on my experience of playing behind the wheels of both FWD and RWD cars. People loooooove to talk about it, but a lot of times they're doing nothing more than passing on regurgitated info that's been passed around the block so many times you can't tell what's true and what's been added just to spice things up. Unlike those people, I’ve put my time in, I’ve made my mistakes, learned my lessons, and would like to share my thoughts for those who are interested. I base my knowledge on first hand experience and absolutely delight in proving popular beliefs wrong. To all of those who feel they’re very-knowledgeable in all things related to drifting and object to the way I see things, the solution is to make your own website so you can talk about it all you like. To everyone else, take my words with a grain of salt. I can’t touch base on every little intricacy that relates to drifting, because if I did I’d obviously be more of a geek than I already am, and it would make for one hell of a dry website. What I'm trying to say is that common sense comes into play here. There may be many things that I'm communicating indirectly or assume without actually saying it. (Like...don't go drifting at two o'clock in front of the old-folks' home, you goof). Keep in mind that I'm also taking the assumption that you, the person that reads my words, understand the concept of driving at his/her proper skill level, and truly believe that drifting is much more than simply hitting the gas pedal and turning the steering wheel.
Learn it before you live it
First and foremost, drifting is a motorsport based on driver skill. The better the driver understands the limits of both his/her skills and his/her vehicle, the better the drifter. There is no such thing as a fast-learning drifter…at least not as fast-learning as what I see most new aspiring drifters hope to be. I’m very sorry, but if you have any intention of learning to drift at the drop of a hat, without breaking car parts, without putting in hours upon hours of practice time, and not going out of your way to understand the concepts and theories behind keeping a car sideways at constant and perfect control…stop reading this and move onto something else. I recently tried out online pictionary. Maybe give that a try? Seriously, there’s enough meatballs running around without any basis or concept of what drifting (let alone driving) is and the last thing the world needs is another “wannabe” wreaking havoc on public streets. Drifting requires patience and determination, and a whole lot of both. Did I mention money? Yeah…it needs that too.
Be careful where you look for info
Be cautious when you try to learn more about drifting. There are plenty of sites littering the internet right now passing on bad information for a wave of would-be drifters looking for a quick 3-step guide to this motorsport. It seems like I can't open up any car-related magazine without coming across an article related to drifting in some way, and at the back there's usually a little tid-bit on "how to drift". It usually goes like this: To bake a cake, first buy your ingredients, put them all together in the oven, then enjoy! Seems like something is missing doesn't it?
You’ll find that many of these resources, when closely examined, have some underlying monetary reason for saying what they do. Somewhere in there, they want you to buy a sticker, a t-shirt, or a whole new suspension, and rarely ever have anything to do with drifting in any other way. That’s how things work these days…just about everything you read is more or less another way to convince you to spend money. Ever notice all the big name parts manufacturers’ logos pasted on every page? It’s all just more marketing, more advertising, more fluff. I can appreciate the fact that those advertisements help to pay bills, but the number of sites out there who are into drifting solely for the purpose of making money make me sick. To those who are around for all the right reasons, kudos to you. There’s a lot of money to be made, and everyone wants to cash in. You won’t find any of that here on my site, as I push the idea of patience, knowledge and safety. Drifting is something I’ve had a passion for before I even knew what the term meant, before the big hype hit our continent, before I even knew what an AE86 was. Forget all the flashing lights, bells and whistles…you want to learn to drift? Take a seat and have yourself a slice of humble pie.
The rookie drifter
Here’s a look into the near future of a rookie drifter: You WILL be discouraged, you WILL spin out, you WILL break car parts, you WILL have people laugh at you, you WILL question your intentions…but at the end of the day, when you finally pull off that perfect controlled drift, you WILL have a smile on your face. In the end, that’s all that really matters. Everyone wants to be the best thing since sliced bread, which is super, but why not enjoy yourself while you work to your goal? Laugh at yourself. Try to understand what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong. Don't be afraid to ask others for their input. Basically, check your ego at the door before you join the party.
What's the rush?
Here’s something I like to preach a lot and which instantly divides the true students of drift from those who are only being drawn in by the hype and extreme factor of the sport…learn to drive SLOWLY…but perfectly. What’s the rush? Why does everyone have to perform long drifts and use nothing but high speeds right off the bat? Sure, the pros make it look like so much fun when they do it, and it's SO COOL, but who among us are the pros? You’re probably not driving a car with upwards of $15,000 in aftermarket performance parts...most of which are supplied for free through sponsorships. Learn the value of patience; learn the idea of increasing your skills and building and modifying your car with TIME. If you can’t pull off simple maneuvers in your car at lower speeds, you have little business trying it any faster. If you hit a curb, a light post, a mountainside, it’s your own fault because you pushed it too hard and or too fast, outside of the capabilities of your skills or your car. Some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my cars has been at incredibly low speeds, doing the silliest of simple tricks. From that basis, I moved up to more technical tricks, at higher speeds, and so on and so forth. This is pretty much how everything in life works…so who are you to try to cut corners and somehow attempt to prove this universal law can be broken? Sure some people can take to certain things rather quickly…but do you want to take the gamble to find out the hard way that you're not one of those people?.
Horsepower is not the see-all-be-all of drifting
Going hand in hand with the idea of driving slowly, is the topic of engine power. The absolute biggest misconception I’ve noticed regarding drifting is the idea that one must have a car with big HP figures in order to drift, or to drift more easily. From what I’ve seen between the US and Canada, the 240sx boys are some of the worst purveyors of that ideal. It seems like every day I’m hearing of another 300+hp 240sx built for someone who wants to learn how to drift. Call me crazy, but shouldn't that be a car built for someone who ALREADY KNOWS how to drift? I even spoke with an individual who’s going to supercharge his S2000 in hopes it will be the instant fix that will take him from rookie to pro drifting status. Right. If you are under that state of mind, give yourself a good kick in the butt, and if you can’t do that, ask a friend to. Relying on power to drift is not only the easy way out, but can be very dangerous for a novice drifter who doesn’t appreciate all the other aspects that have to be mastered. Plus...relying on power IS BORING! Drifting is about balance, weight transfer, vehicle control, traction, skill, and smooth maneuvering. I know I'm probably biased, but the RWD Corolla GT-S is by far the best example of this. Well balanced in terms of weight distribution, size, and power output, it’s one of the most renowned drifting cars on the face of the planet, and boasts a measly 115HP from the factory. Sure a little boost in power can help you out, provided you know how to control the power of the engine before you even modify it, but in most cases the overall power of the engine isn’t the biggest factor when speaking of drifting. Keep in mind that with more power comes the need for more skill to control it.
Wow how time flies. There's so much I still want to say on this topic but I just don't have the time! Like I said...this is always a work in progress...
Last updated: February 13th, 2005 by Migs