This article is provided in collaboration with RS Components
What Do Professional Mechanicians Need to Know About Drifting Industry?
If you were to ask the world’s citizens to name the most popular and famous motorsport, we’d wager that they’d immediately snap back with Formula 1. After all, audience figures grew by an impressive 10% at the end of 2018, with 490.2 million watching avidly across the globe.
However, those of you who are familiar with the ‘Fast and Furious’ film franchise may also be fond of drift racing, with the third iteration ‘Tokyo Drift’ bringing this cult sports screeching into the mainstream.
But what exactly is drift racing, why is it popular and what should professional mechanicians know about this sport?
What is Drift Racing and Why Should you Care?
If you’re looking to qualify as a technician or mechanic and work in the diverse world of motorsport, drift racing may offer a viable market. The reason for this is simple; as drift racing is becoming increasingly popular in Australia and Asia and offers unique opportunities for people to work overseas.
In simple terms, the term ‘drifting’ refers to a specific driving technique, which requires the driver to deliberately oversteer and cause the rear tires (or all of the tires, in some instances) to gradually lose traction.
However, the skill lies in the driver’s ability to maintain control of a vehicle at high speed during this time, and it’s this simple fact that laid the foundation for drift racing to become a recognised sport.
This subsequently became a prominent sport during the 1990s, when drift racing found a natural home amongst the winding mountain roads of Japan. It has since spread to the U.S. and the UK, while also becoming a cult favourite discipline in the heartlands of Australia.
In Japan and Australia, drift racing has even become a professional and deceptively lucrative sport, which requires drivers to maneuver through a series of opposing terms without their wheels ever gripping the road. This is also creating a need for design technicians and skilled mechanics, who can help to modify cars and maintain existing vehicles.
Why is Drift Racing Popular in Australia?
Drift racing is now arguably synonymous with Australia, thanks largely to the exploits of Danny ‘Denzo’ Vahoumis, who’s commonly referred to as the Godfather of Australian drifting.
Vahmoumis stumbled across drift racing during a business trip to Japan in the 90s, and by 1998 he had organised the very first competitive drift competition in Australia at Mallala Motor Sport Park.
After a handful of smaller competitions, a number of skilled drivers emerged as household names, driving extensive media coverage and transforming a niche discipline into a popular, mainstream sport.
What Makes a Drifter Car and Successful Modifications?
To make a turn, a successful drifter car will need to produce higher than normal friction. The force acts centripetally during turns, meaning that it pulls the car in a circular motion and creates a single, fluid motion.
This will require several technical modifications and a number of advanced tools, many of which are sold by suppliers such as RS Components. One of the biggest changes will need to be made to the suspension, which must be adjusted to optimise a vehicle’s height and optimise comfort (and performance) in the process.
From a technical perspective, rear-wheel cars tend to come with one of two types of rear differential; namely either one of the open variety or a limited-slip differential (LSD).
Beyond this, there are also numerous types of LSD which distribute the drive between left and right wheels, with an aftermarket mechanical clutch plate-type arguably the most suitable for drift racing.
These can be applied in 2-way or 1.5 way configurations depending on the vehicle in question, with the former applying a hefty 100% torque to both wheels during both acceleration and deceleration.
Drifting in Australia by Adam LZ