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.
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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.
Meet Tessa Whittock
Motorsport UK DriftPro Championship competitor and Monster Athlete, Tessa Whittock, shares her story of how she got started in the sport.
How did you get into motorsport and when did you start?
“I have always been interested in cars and one day, many moons ago, I got into a Nissan R32 drift taxi during a Japanese event at Santa Pod. From that point on, I wanted to own a Skyline. I brought one at the age of 21, went to Santa Pod and learned how to drift. I then threw myself in at the deep end and went to Lydden Hill, where I really got the love for the sport. At the time, I worked in London in the investment banking industry and drifting was my release.”
When did you set up the drift school and how does it work?
“I had always been interested in running a drift school and when the chance to buy RDX Drift Academy from some friends came up two years ago I snapped it up. We are based at Three Sisters Race Circuit in Wigan and are looking to branch out to build awareness of the sport. We teach at all levels, from people who just want to try out something new to drifters who want to improve their techniques. We also help normal circuit racers who want to know how to better control their vehicle if they get into trouble and we do corporate team building days, because drifting naturally brings people together and teaches fundamental skills that can be used on the road.”