Drifting is a technique where a driver intentionally controls an oversteer, causing the rear wheels to lose traction and consequently throw the car sideways. A technical definition of a car drifting is when the wheels of the rear slip angle is greater than the front slip angle to such an extent that often the front wheels are pointing in the opposite direction to the turn.
Drifting all started in Japan where motorcycling legend, Kunimitsu Takahashi, created the earliest drift techniques during the 1970’s. From there, Japan started to hold drifting competitions. Two decades later the international market caught on to this trend. During 1996 Willow Springs Raceway in Willow Springs, California held the first ever drift event outside of Japan.
Drifting is now a competitive sport all over the world, where vehicles are modified to specialise in drifting. Famous events include the King of Europe, British Drift Championships, the World Drift Series in China, Formula Drift Asia, NZ Drift Series and Australian Drifting Grand Prix.
Competitive drifting is scored according to the driving line the driver takes, the angle of the drift and the speed of the car. The final factor is showmanship. Racing often happens in pairs, so a good show includes lots of tire smoke and the following car being as close as possible without touching the lead car.
Although drifting has no real advantage to on-road racing except the cool factor, drifting is still a technical technique to master and is so much more than just flooring it around corners.
To see more, check out this highlights video from Australian Drift GP!