Drifting is a globally recognised motorsport discipline, which involves the driver intentionally oversteering a car to break traction of the rear (or sometimes all four) tyres around a corner.
The art of drifting originates from Japan in the 1970s, whereby enthusiasts, known as ‘zoku’ at the time, would compete in time trials on mountain roads, or alternatively referred to in Japan as ‘touge’. Over time, the discipline now incorporates precision as a competitive factor, which drivers judged upon their following of the defined drifting lines sanctioned.
The very first official drifting event was organised by the inspired Keiichi Tsuchiya in 1988, which received a positive audience of both spectators and auto magazines, later leading to further investment by sponsors and development of this discipline.
From the first event in 1988, drifting has experienced monumental growth, leading to the introduction of the very first drifting championship in 2001, the D1 Grand Prix Series held in Japan. As well as major events, the motorsport is accessible to any level of driver, with opportunities for passionate amateur drivers to showcase their talents in grassroot events.
Drifting events commonly involve two rounds, namely the ‘solo’ round involving the driver to drift against the sanctioned course where they are judged on their speed, angle and overall. This is followed by the ‘tandem’, where the driver must mirror the lead car to secure points whilst remaining as close as possible without making contact. Drivers move their way up the competition dependent on the majority score decided by the judging based on their performance over the two rounds.
Drifting has not only proven popular on track, but also within the virtual and gaming world, with the motorsport obtaining an audience within the PlayStation era, with games like ‘Tokyo Xtreme Racer Drift’ being bought in large numbers in 2003. As well as this, drifting has been featured within TV and film, most notably ‘The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift’, further amplifying drifting to a global audience and various cultures.
This heightened interest in drifting has led to the introduction of motorsport events in the USA, Australia, Europe, and the United Kingdom. The FIA recognised the importance of drifting within motorsport, leading to the introduction of the Intercontinental Drifting Cup in 2017, and more recently Motorsport UK including the Drift Pro Championship in their portfolio of motorsport disciplines, to provide further support, development, and opportunities to the UK motorsport community.