March 31, 2004 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Car Surfing! A sort of X-Games for cars, drifting is a steadily growing japanese sport that is just now making its way stateside, first via Hawaii and California, and now all the way to the east coast through grassroots groups like the NJ-based DGTrials. "Drifting, in the simplest sense, is the use of an intentional controlled slide to navigate around a turn. can ultimately lead to complex strings of multi-directional slides that use a variety of techniques to maintain extreme oversteer. The pure essence of drifting is to never appear to have control of the vehicle, while always having complete control over the vehicle!" Contestants favor lightweight rear-drive cars that are often the polar opposite of the traditional bling-bling import showcar aesthetic. Lap times are unimportant - competition is style based, much like actual surfing or snowboarding competitions. Though the attitude tends to be somewhat goofy, the results can be dramatic [WMV].
posted by tirade (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've been meaning to make a post about drifting ever since I saw it mentioned on that goofy show Rides. It's kind of amusing, to try and turn the act of doing donuts in your car into a ballet-like sport.
posted by mathowie at 10:41 AM on March 31, 2004

Also, the first thought that struck me when I saw this was how in the hell do you practice this stuff? Build your own parking lot at home? Do it in the wee hours in the middle of nowhere?
posted by mathowie at 10:42 AM on March 31, 2004

Wee hours, pretty much. Drifting grew into a legitimate sport from its start as illegal racing on japanese mountain roads ("touge", pronounced "tow-gay", I think is the japanese word), which is just as dangerous as it sounds.

From C&D: Until recently, drifting in Hawaii was done mostly on a looping public road, Tantalus Drive, that runs along a series of ridges high above Honolulu. When a young driver was killed there a while back, some blamed the death on drifting, although fans of the sport point out that there was no evidence to support that theory.

There really isn't a legitimate way to learn, which I think is a big reason behind more and more events springing up.
posted by tirade at 10:53 AM on March 31, 2004

About a year or so ago, I spent about an hour and a half watching drifting clips on my gearhead friend's computer. At first I was kind of like *meh*, but after about 15 minutes, I got captivated by it all. There are some spectacular shots floating around the net. It'd be a trip to see in real life.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:05 AM on March 31, 2004

I have two words for this: Teen Wolf.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:05 AM on March 31, 2004

Wired ran a great article on drifting last year. From what I've read it'll be in Gran Turismo 4...
posted by togdon at 11:06 AM on March 31, 2004

Wired's lifestyle-intensive look, from November. A reader responded that this style is not without its antecedents -- stylistically it is not dissimilar from dirt track racing practiced by bored urban youth.

Also, while some drivers may enjoy a lofi esthetic, I would argue that this neither typifies the sport nor is atypical of indie racing anywhere. Your local motor speedway's amateur competitions are chock-full of folks looking more towards performance than looks, though having both is still the nast.

As to finding an area to practice: a patient practitioner can find any number of empty lots for a "short jaunt" in nearly every semi-urban environment. This too is a reason for lofi popularity: dumpsters aren't exactly compatible with high-gloss fiberglass.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:06 AM on March 31, 2004

This strikes me as a pretty stupid waste of time, money and tires.

I thought the car surfing the post was about was the idiots who hang out of the car windows at high speed and try to get their body (and heads) as close to the ground as possible. That idiocy seems to have died out (or just died).
posted by fenriq at 11:25 AM on March 31, 2004


Great minds think alike. That what I thought of immediately.
posted by jpburns at 11:30 AM on March 31, 2004

This strikes me as a pretty stupid waste of time, money and tires.

Or a "hobby." And an exciting one at that. Jeez.

I love it. Drift racing is in Need For Speed Underground, btw. It's hard.

Drive Like Jehu as the soundtrack for that WMV! Gotta love that too. I'm just giddy.
posted by redshifter at 11:36 AM on March 31, 2004

The SCCA is currently undergoind some turmoil as it tries to decide to what extent, if any, it will support/sanction drifting events. Most of the old guard find it proposterous, but the old guard is duying off, and alot of amateur racing organziations, including the SCCA, are looking for ways to bring in fresh blood.

Should be interesting to watch.
posted by jammer at 11:55 AM on March 31, 2004

Is the precedent for this not more likely Rally driving where this sort of thing is part of the sport. I know rallying is not so popular in the US but around the world it is very much appreciated.

I know the Speed Channel here shows it . Watching cars going sideways at 100 miles an hour on forest tracks knowing the passenger is reading the directions for a couple of hundred yards ahead is quite a sight.
posted by stuartmm at 11:59 AM on March 31, 2004

Do the back wheels have to be smaller or narrower than the front?
Reminded me the fun being had driving a go cart on a dirt track. Remember "power sliding" on your bike as a kid?...guess I need to catch up with the young crowd in my car. Hope the neighbors don't mind the skid marks, remember my parents having calls about them.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:33 PM on March 31, 2004

anyone interested in drifting should DEFINITELY check out a couple episodes of Initial D. the review I just link isn't the greatest, but the show is choice. you can find a few fansubs to try at your local p2p.

it's like dragonball z + street racing + pretty boy racers + me standing in the back yelling, "This is so awesome."
posted by lotsofno at 1:07 PM on March 31, 2004

The race up Pikes Peak is much like this driving.

posted by thomcatspike at 1:47 PM on March 31, 2004

thomcatspike: The back wheels don't have to be a different size than the front. They're often narrower, however, especially on underpowered cars. The wider the wheel, the wider the contact patch, and thus the higher the lateral grip. It's easier for a low power car to break skinny tires loose.
posted by tirade at 2:06 PM on March 31, 2004

That ThomcatSpike says, check out Initial D. If they showed that on SpikeTV (Major US cable network with a lot of automotive programming) they'd the yanking them out of the ditches all the next day. Nothing has ever inspired me to drive so poorly.
posted by Leonard at 2:20 PM on March 31, 2004

Drifting: the sport for people too lazy and egotistical to take up rally driving.
posted by dg at 3:15 PM on March 31, 2004

Sort of like ice racing, but with right turns. Hate to see the tire budget.
posted by schoolgirl report at 3:35 PM on March 31, 2004

Here are some drifting techniques and other driving tips. Be sure to lookup "drifting" on Kazaa or whatever P2P thingie you're using. InitialD is alright, but like most anime series, it suffers from a great deal of senseless drama (less talkie, more driftie!). If you're very keen, you can check out Shuot Kousoku Trial. As for videogames, Need For Speed Underground is definitely the game to play if you're a heavyweight (the last level is killer). For lightweights, check out Burnout 2 (weaving through traffic and intersections is hella-sweet). If you're looking for something in between, check out Project Gotham Racing 2. It's about time drifting got some attention here... in the meantime, the Fast & Furious franchise can eat my dust!
posted by freakystyley at 4:09 PM on March 31, 2004


I play with drifting all winter. s'fun.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:04 PM on March 31, 2004

as an ex toyota GT-S owner (and a current miata owner) i can definilty say that this kind of driving is both at the edge of excitement and fear...where it should be. I sorta miss the snow for the free floating slides of youth....ah memmories

that said, i'd love to see some of the pros run.
posted by NGnerd at 7:06 PM on March 31, 2004

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