In the world of motorsports, drifting or drift competition is relatively a new sport. This refers to a driving technique where the driver intentionally oversteers the car and causes a loss in traction of its rear wheels while maintaining control from going in and out of a corner on a race track.
The car is said to have drifted when the rear slip angle is greater than the front slip angle, which is shown that the front wheels are already pointing in the opposite direction to the turn. In competition, the race drivers are judged and scored according to the speed, angle and line as it takes through a set of corners on a predetermined track.
Drifting started out as a racing technique made popular in the All Japan Touring Car Championships.
Japanese perfects drifting
Motorcyclist Kunimitsu Takahashi perfected this technique as early as the 1970s, allowing him to win several championships. Later, this technique was caught on by Japan’s underground street racers, and among them was Keiichi Tsuchiya, aka Dorikin or “Drift King.” Tsuchiya would apply this on the treacherous winding mountain roads of Japan. In the late 1980s the Drift King teamed up with Daijiro Inada of Option Magazine to organize drifting competitions dubbed as D1 Grand Prix.
West catches up
This caught on in the West by 1993 when Willow Springs Raceway (California) saw the first drift competition outside Japan also organized by Tsuchiya and Inada, together with NHRA Funny Car drag race driver Kenji Okazaki. Among the pioneer Caucasian drivers were Rhys Millen and Bryan Norris. Aside from D1 Grand Prix in Japan and Formula D in the United States, other competition series followed suit—Kings of Europe and the British Drift Championships, Formula Drift Asia (in Asean countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia) and also the NZ Drift Series in New Zealand. Locally, Lateral Drift Productions organizes the Lateral Drift Pro-Am Championship series.
Today, it’s not just racing enthusiasts who are getting attracted to the growing popularity of drifting. Last week, Lateral Drift drivers Gio Rodriguez, Ralph Tan, and Alex Perez were invited to be part of this year’s top-rating Pilipinas Got Talent on ABS CBN Channel 2, allowing their drifting talents to be put to the test on screen and power sliding their way into the national television consciousness.
Among the cars used in the highly popular TV show was a highly customized Hyundai Genesis Coupe drift car that won the Best in Body Kit in the 21st Transport Show and Best Drift Car in the 2012 Manila International Auto Show. In the United States, the Genesis Coupe became popular with its 2011 TV commercial debut in Superbowl Sunday with a spectacular drift maneuver by Pikes Peak Hill Climb world record holder Rhy Millen. His highly modified Genesis Coupe was also put on display in the 2012 Chicago Auto Show. Millen was in Manila to perform for a stunt car video for Red Bull last year.