A driving technique that requires the driver to deliberately lose traction and slide their car sideways across the road, drifting is not for the faint-hearted. Drifting requires the driver to use the steering wheel, clutch, brakes and gears to oversteer, losing traction of some or all of the tyres while maintaining control of the vehicle.
Originating in the 1960s, drifting was initially a secretive night-time pursuit enjoyed by illegal street racers (known as hashiriya) on public roads in the mountains of Japan. In more recent times, it’s become a globally-recognised professional sport and enjoyed an expanded profile thanks to movies such as 2006’s The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift.
Kunimitsu Takahashi, considered the “father of drifting” was a successful motorcycle rider – and the first Japanese racer to win a motorcycle grand prix – before he switched to driving cars. He was part of the All Japan Touring Car Championship during the 1970s, an opportunity for aspiring racers from all over Japan to hone their drifting skills.
In addition to capturing the attention of Japanese street racers with his impeccable drifting skills, Takahashi was quickly noticed by Keiichi Tsuchiya. Inspired by Takahashi, Tsuchiya perfected his own drifting skills and quickly became one of the most recognised drifters in the world during the 1980s. Dubbed the “drift king” for his unmatched speed and car control and use of drifting techniques in non-drifting race events, he won many national championships and plays a role in Japanese motorsport through to today. Tsuchiya had a cameo in The Fast And The Furious and served as a stuntman for the film.
Unlike other motorsports, in a drifting competition, it’s not about who finishes first – the most important aspects are line, angle, speed and show factor. Line refers to a pre-set path that the judges ask drivers to take throughout the course. This line includes a number of ‘clipping points’ or ‘clipping zones’ – markers or marked areas that drivers are encouraged to get as close as possible to. Angle measures the slip angle of the car in relation to the direction of travel, with greater slip scoring higher. Show factor is highly subjective, however most drift fans agree that plenty of tyre smoke and noise helps with achieving top marks!
If drifting gets your adrenaline pumping, Plan Japan can organise a VIP drift experience to complement your Tokyo stay. We can take you to the Ebisu Circuit, a race complex with 7 tracks including the famous Minami (South) course which is used for D1 and other professional drifting events for a drifting experience with a professional driver. You’ll have the opportunity to drive your own drift car or get a drifting lesson from the experts on the same course the professionals use.
Designed and built by drift driver Nobushige Kumakubo, Ebisu Circuit is one of the premier drifting-based motorsports tracks in the world. It offers two skidpans for drivers to practice their skills and a tight and twisty track designed to simulate the public mountain passes where drifting was born.
Plan Japan is a specialist travel consultancy that delivers customised, highly authentic Japanese corporate travel itineraries. Our unmatched Japanese knowledge and networks allow us to take clients beyond the standard tourist-friendly attractions to provide once in a lifetime experiences our guests speak about for years to come. From exclusive food, wine and entertainment adventures to VIP treatment at international sporting events, we can work with you to make an unforgettable drift experience part of your next conference, incentive or team building trips.
Contact us for more information about making a high-octane drifting experience part of your next Japanese trip.