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July 01, 2006

Get Your Drift On, a Joey Headset Guide to Drift Racing

Drift Racing is the fastest growing sport in the world! Well... perhaps that's an exaggeration. Certainly it's the fastest growing motor sport in the world. At the very least, it's the fastest growing motor sport that doesn't rhyme with ASSCAR.

If you're unfamiliar with Drift Racing, it's the same underground street racing seen in The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift and on the G4 Network's Formula D. Assuming you (like most Americans) haven't actually seen either of these, here's a video clip:

Looking at that video, I bet many of you are thinking "wow, I wish I could do that in my Ford Fiesta!" Good news: you can. All you need is a car, a limitless budget for auto-repairs and an excellent relationship with your local law enforcement community. That last one is very important, especially if you enjoy drifting in a school zone. I know I do.

There are many different techniques used by Professional Drift Athletes. There's the Power Oversteer method, the Shift Lock system and a procedure known as Clutch Kick. Though these techniques have WAY COOL names, they're awfully complicated. They all require a working knowledge of weight transfer and slip differential and BLAH BLAH BOOORRINNG. In reality, you don't need a degree in mechanical engineering to "get your drift on" just like the pros. All they're doing is forcing an automobile into a barely-controlled skid around tight corners at an extreme velocity. How hard can that be?

Through trial and error, I've discovered it's not very hard at all. I've developed two techniques that anyone can use to experience the thrill of drifting for themselves.

Technique 1: 2 Pedals 2 the Metal

Stretch out those calf muscles, you're going to need them! In an automatic transmission vehicle, drift can be attained by accelerating to 85 MPH and then slamming the brakes hard while jamming the throttle to the floor. By braking and accelerating simultaneously, you create what physicists call "drift-mentum" -- a force that propels your vehicle sideways (and, eventually, straight into the repair shop).

Though this technique works fine for automatic transmission vehicles, SERIOUS drivers all prefer manual transmissions. Working the gears manually gives you much more control over the vehicle, though it does make it harder to talk on your mobile phone while eating a seven layer burrito and searching for podcasts on your iPod. Harder... but not impossible.

Technique 2: Tokyo Shift

For manual transmission vehicles, the trick is to engage two sets of opposing gears in quick succession. What I like to do is get the car into 5th gear on the highway, then suddenly downshift into Reverse. This method forces the vehicle to compromise between forward and backward momentum, thereby sliding the car into a lateral trajectory. When you execute this maneuver, your car may produce a soft whizzing or harsh grinding sound, accompanied by an acrid smoke wafting from the gearbox. Don't worry, this is perfectly normal! Even so, I always recommend that novice (and even advanced) drifters practice their craft on rental cars.

With a little bit of skill and a whole lot of disposable income, you'll soon be drifting like grandpa behind the wheel of his 1972 Buick Centurion. Drift on!

Posted by Joey at July 1, 2006 03:23 AM

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its funny you mention drifting.

as you know, i am takahiro akinpo, winner of the 1998 japanese street car championship. it's a feat not even the likes of bill fillmaff have acomplished. to continue, when i returned in 1999 to try for a back to back title, i was run off the road in a horrific accident. when i woke up in the hospital i learned that my brother was dead, killed by the yakuza. after probing around the japanese underworld i learned my brother was in debt to the yakuza, and they ran me off the road so they could win various bets, and killed my brother because he couldn't pay his debts. lots of debts.

after learning all of this, and spending several years recovering, i vowed to avenge my brother's death the only way i knew how...

by racing.

Posted by: takahiro at July 1, 2006 04:50 PM

Street racing is an OK method of avenging your brother's death at the hands of the Yakuza. But you may find that there are more direct and cost effective ways of accomplishing this. Have you considered going on a brutal killing spree, utilizing a combination of gunplay, sword skills and good old fashioned kung-fu? That is a time tested means of battling the Yakuza... and it's more environmentally friendly than street racing. Remember: Think Globally, Act Violently.

Posted by: joey at July 1, 2006 09:00 PM

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