What is drifting? Really, what is it?

The question of what really is drifting is still at stake. Some call it a sport, some call it racing, and others refer to it as entertainment and none of the above. So what really is drifting? As quoted by Wikipedia, "drifting refers to a driving technique and to a motorsport where the driver intentionally oversteers, causing loss of traction in the rear wheels through turns, while maintaining vehicle control and high exit speed." Drifting is quickly gaining popularity but even though this new entertaining sport is relatively unknown to most, it is rich in heritage and history. Discuss this article with CarDomain.com

Drifting history: Drifting started out as a sport in the "All Japan Touring Car Championship" races started over 30 years ago. The original hero or godfather of drifting was actually a motorcycle turned race car driver. Kunimitsu Takahashi coined the drifting technique as he hit the apex at high speed and slid the car through corner all while maintaining a high speed and lap time. Building championship titles and thousands of fans, Kunimitsu started a revolution of tire burning chaos!

Many consider Kunimitsu the founder of drifting, but there must be room for a "king". Keiichi Tsuchiya, a.k.a. "the drift king" noticed Kunimitsu's technique and started practicing on mountain roads. Quickly building himself a name in racing, Tsuchiya found the path to his current fame by releasing an instructional video called "Pluspy" which taught viewers the proper techniques of drifting. Finally all of this work by Kunimitsu and Keiichi led to the first recorded drift event in the United States which took place at Willow Springs Raceway in Willow Springs, California. At this event, drift was officially introduced to the United States and since that time has catapulted itself into a new major sporting and entertainment event. The most popular association of professional drifting today is Formula D.

Video content: Drifting 101 with Keiichi Tsuchiya

Modern drifting: The world of drifting has come a long way since it's inception by drifting legends Keeichi and Kunimitsu. Today, drifting can be found in all forms of events from local to full blown professional drifting. Taking place everywhere from parking lots, intersections, and world famous tracks drifting is the fastest growing motorsport today. The thrill for the drivers and spectacle for the audience are unmatched by other sports. Even though it is spectacular, there is still some quarrel over the true status of drifting. Some claim it's entertainment, and not a sport. Another debate is whether or not it's racing or just entertainment.

Technically, for drifting to be considered a racing event there must be a timed competition to get from point A to point B as quick as possible. Drifting does not involved this type of setup, so technically it can't be classified as racing. Even though it's not racing, it's still a sport because it contains the key ingredients of a true sport. There is an athlete, the driver, who must train for a competition event with other athletes. These competitors meet at a specified event and earn points based on specific rules. Whoever earns the most points, wins. Drifting might not be racing, but it surely is a sport that is of the utmost entertainment value, and that's where the confusion between sport and entertainment begins.

Video content: Stephan Verdier celebrates a win at Formula D 2009

Underground illegal drifting: Just like underground illegal street racing, drifting too has it's dark counterpart. To drift, basically all you need is a car and an obstacle. Obstacles can be found anywhere from a grocery store parking lot to busy intersections. Some drifters known as "Saudi drift" push the limit and drift down interstates at high speeds ducking and dodging through traffic. Drifting is by far the most exhilarating form of automotive pleasure out there, as the vehicle is constantly pushed to the verge of traction facing death in the face many times. Beyond Publix and Saudi drifters, some like to drift through the touge or mountain roads.

Amazingly enough, illegal drifting isn't as high in the totem poll of the law as actual street racing. Despite the fact the cars are constantly on the verge of lost control, street racing still gets all the limelight. This low key profile of illegal street drifting is probably due to it's random occurrence and constantly moving body. When people setup for a street race, crowds form and groups can loiter for hours. This increases the chance of being caught! Illegal street drifters will roll in groups of three to ten people and typically never drift the same spot twice in a single night thus reducing the chances of being busted for their illegal activities and staying in more of a low key position that illegal street racing. Illegal drifting does happen, but it's just harder to find.

Video content: illegal street drifting

Formula D rules: The rules of Formula D are quite simple, but can be fuzzy to some if not properly explained. The video below shows Formula D Championship driver Stephan Verdier explaining the in's and out's of competition as interviewed by four time champion Lisa Kubo. It might just look like cars screwing around to the untrained eye, but this is a totally synchronized and sanctioned event with rules, regulations, points, winners, and losers. Lisa does a great job of asking the questions we all want to know! Special thanks to Itzen Media for the interview with the latest Ignite Racing Fuel sponsored driver, Stephan Verdier.

Video content: What is drifting? Interview of Stephan Verdier by Lisa Kubo

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Source: Tampa Sports Car Examiner

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