What is drifting?
Drifting is a sport of control. The brakes, throttle and steering are manipulated in such a way to keep the car in an oversteer position while maintaining absolute control and shifting the weight of the car between corners. Some of the professional drivers can place the rear of the car inches away from barriers while maintaining speeds of 80 mph at angles of oversteer of 45 degrees and upwards. A good drifting driver can swing the weight of the car placing it precisely through 5-6 six corners without gaining rear-wheel traction at any point.
How did it start?
Drifting was first made popular in Japan and was quickly adopted by the west in the late '90s. It was started by a Japanese racing driver called Kunimitsu Takahashi who started his career in motorcycling but turned his hand to the car racing in the All Japan Touring Car Championship. Takahashi's techniques were adopted by street racers such as Keiichi Tsuchiya who started using the mountain roads in Japan to test his skills. Drifting has become very popular in Japan and is often practised in places such as mountain roads and docks late at night. The Japanese normally leave the drifters alone as long as they are not putting people in danger, ignoring them unless the drifting takes to the street.
Drifting has now grown to a worldwide sport, although it still does not have an official status for the FIA and competitions such as D1 Grand Prix have events across the world. It has become undeniably the fastest growing Motorsport and we expect it soon to have official professional status.
How did it become popular?
It became extremely popular in the car scenes of the UK and other countries following media interest and the film and game industry really taking notice of the style. Films such as The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in 2006 showed a view of the underground street races in Japan, and although fictional and overdramatic, the film brought drifting to expecting eyes of young car enthusiasts and cemented it as an aspirational sport. Drifting is different from other types of Motorsport and is more about style and skill accompanied by lots of noise and smoke. Something which looks undeniably fun. People have taken to drifting on the streets all over the world and is now a serious problem for police forces. However, thanks to the popularity, bring your own car drift events on circuits throughout the UK and specialist learn to drift experiences has allowed this to continue in a legal way (the only way you should be drifting)
The UK car enthusiast scene has taken hold of drifting and embraced it turning to the Japanese car market for a lot of the enthusiast cars. Popular cars include Nissan Skylines, Nissan S13 and S14's, Mazda RX-7's and European rear-wheel-drive cars such as BMW's 328I and M3. It has become a big business with almost all popular racing games including drifting as one form of competing or another and this embrace to popular culture has made it explode even further. With drivers such as Ken Block and Mad Mike gaining cult icon status and ken Blocks 'Gymkhana' videos gaining millions of youTube views within hours of release.
Where can I learn to drift?
Learn to drift tuition is available throughout the UK through providers such as learn to Drift bookable through the Trackdays website. The locations they operate at are Bovingdon Airfield, Birmingham Wheels Raceway, Brands Hatch, Teeside Autodrome, Skegness Stadium and Lydden Hill.
Lydden Hill and other such tacks have a bring your own car drift even that you can participate in and learn to hone your drifting skills. The requirements for a drift car is simply rear-wheel drive so anyone can go along and give it a go under legal supervised and safe circumstances.