Drift-Rennfahrer Elias Hountondji bei einem Drift-Manöver während der Drift Masters European Championship in Riga. Wir haben Alle Details zum Driftsport zusammengefasst.
© Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

Welcome to the world of drifting

Drifting as a motorsport discipline is booming. But what drifting as a sport actually look like? Don't worry, we've got you covered in this guide.
By Philipp Briel and Alastair Spriggs
5 min readPublished on
With smoking tires and impressive driving maneuvers, the sport of drifting has become one of the fastest growing realms of modern day motorsport. Though the the act of racing through corners sideways is often synonymous with “The Fast and the Furious” films, drifting as a sport has a long history. We summarized everything you need to know about drifting here.
Watch The Red Bull Driftbrothers build the ultimate drift cars in Sideways at Full Throttle.

28 min

The clock is ticking

The Driftbrothers are up against the clock to transform their new stock cars into drift-ready machines.

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The art of drifting



© Akl Yazbeck / Red Bull Content Pool

Drifting or drift sport focuses on driving techniques which are common to rallies or speedway racing series. The discipline uses understeer to coast through corners sideways.
Learn about the basics of drifting in our ‘ABC of’ series.

26 min

ABC of... Drifting

Drift driver Dave Egan gives the lowdown on the motorsport that's all about speed, style, smoke and skill.

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Drifting events

Conor Shanahan (IRL) in action during Drift Masters European Championship in Riga, Latvia on August 14, 2020

Conor Shanahan in the Drift Masters European Championship

© Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

The highly-anticipated Drift Masters European Championship returns on May 7th, 2022, as drivers from 20 European countries are set to battle it out in Ireland — the first race of the six stop series.
Want to learn more about the world of drifting? Read exciting stories, watch impressive videos, and learn about the sport’s culture in our content hub.

The perfect drift car

All vehicles are capable of drifting. However, cars equipped with rear wheel drive are most effective. An ideal drift car should have a manual gear ratio in order to maximize drift potential.
“In drift sport, each driver constructs their car in a way that best suits their personal style,” explained Johannes Hountondji, a veteran drift racer from Germany. “This customization is unique to our sport.”
Johannes Hountondji performing during the European Drift Masters championship, round 3, in Riga, Latvia on August 1, 2021.

Johannes Hountondji

© Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

Professional drift cars typically rely on a special differential that distributes and balances power between the front and rear axles. Additionally, professionals remove all driving aids such as ABS (anti-lock braking system) and TCS (traction control) in order to maintain full control of the car.
Follow Red Bull Driftbrothers Johannes and Elias Hountondji as they compete in the 2018 Drift Masters European Championship.

12 min

A battle between brothers

Watch as the two Driftbrothers go head-to-head in Poland for a tight race.

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Tires are key

Conor Shanahan (IRL) in action during Drift Masters European Championship in Riga, Latvia on August 14, 2020

Conor Shanahan in the Drift Masters European Championship

© Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

A high number of tire sets is key, as drifting demands a lot of rubber.
Rear tires are heavily strained when drifting, so cheap, run-in tires are sufficient. However, professionals use tires with more grip and traction in the front to maintain control in the corners. Tire pressure is also adaptable to each car, and personal preference.

The early days of drifting

The origins of drift racing go back to the 1980s. But as a driving technique in other motorsport categories, drifting has existed since the 1950s.
Japanese racer Kunimitsu Takahashi is often considered the “father of drifting.” The former motorcycle racer, and ex Formula 1 racer, made a name for himself in Japanese touring car racing, where he incorporated drifting maneuvers into his race strategy.
Mad Mike Whiddett posiert für ein Foto für Red Bull Hero Can in Auckland neben seinem Laborghini.

'Mad' Mike Whiddett ist seit 2009 im Driftsport aktiv

© Graeme Murray / Red Bull Content Pool

Drifting is like an extreme ballet on four wheels. It feels crazy in the cockpit.
While most drivers feared oversteering their cars, Takahashi took advantage of his car’s behaviour to drift through corners at high speeds, earning his many national titles.
However, the sport of drifting is closely tired with Keiichi Tsuchiya, otherwise known as the “Drift King.” He became popularized through the “Plupsy” videos published in 1987, where he drifted his Toyota Corolla through the public streets of Japan.

Drifting heads West

Drifting in front of the Capitol Building

Drifting in front of the Capitol Building

© Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool

The wave of drift enthusiasm spilled over into the Western world in 1996 when the first drift event outside of Japan took place at the Will Springs Raceway in California, USA.
Over a decade later, the inaugural drifting world championship took place at Long Beach, California, and New Zealand’s Rhys Millen became the world’s first Drift World Champion.

The track

An image of a race car in action at the Drift Masters European Championship.

Drift Masters European Championship

© redbull

In contrast to lengthy, classic race circuits, drifting tracks are much shorter — usually measuring only a few hundred meters long, and packed with as many corners as the possible. The straights in between allow the cars to pick up speed in order to slide through the corners at the highest possible drift angle.

Race scoring

Unlike other motorsport disciplines, neither ranking, stage times, nor placement on the track play a role in the rating system. Scoring is thus defined by a group of so-called judges who evaluate qualifying and final runs based on four criteria:
  • Speed and fluidity: the faster and more graceful a drift run, the more points you earn.
  • Drift angle: the larger the angle, the more point.id a drift runs, the more points you get.
  • Line: before each event, judges inform the drivers about the ideal line through the track. The more precisely you stick to this line, the higher a driver will score.
  • The style: the most important criterion when drifting. How precisely is the drift initiated? How many corrections are made? Does a driver use full throttle? All of these factors go into the score.

The infamous Twin Battles

Twin battle

Twin battle

© Christian Stadler / Red Bull Content Pool

In twin battles — the supreme discipline of drift sports —two drivers race on a single track at the same time. Two laps are driven, in of which one vehicle is in the lead (leader) and one behind (chaser).
During these races, evaluation is based on the four criteria mentioned above. However, an additional proximity rating is added for the chaser. Here, the judges award racers who can stay as close as possible to the leader without touch them.
Watch: Can professional drifter Abdo Ferghali take on forerunner Mohammed Al Attar in a car? Find out in this unusual dual.

3 min

Abdo Feghali vs freerunner

What's faster: a drift racer or a freerunner?


Drifting in public

Drifting in public is completely illegal. It’s an exciting sport that belongs on the track.

Learning to drift

Eli: „Driften ist wie Fliegen, Freiheit pur!“

Eli: „Driften ist wie Fliegen, Freiheit pur!“

© Christian Stadler / Red Bull Content Pool

Canada hosts a number of drifting academies across the country. Check out Drift Academy Canada and Ontario’s Drift School for more information. Here you can familiarize yourself with the basics with an organized driver safety training course.
Good coordination helps, as does a certain level of basic fitness and a healthy level of responsiveness. You can train all of that.

Virtual training

DRIFT21 screenshot


© 505 Games

There are also many games that allow drivers to practice drifting in a realistic simulation.
"In order to initiate a drift, you have to go just over the limits of the car. You have to get used to that — simulations help," explained Johannes Hountondji.
Excellent options include DRIFT21, Asset Corsa, GRID Legends, or CarX Drift Racing Online.

Part of this story

Drift Masters European Championship

Top drivers from 20 countries compete in six events spread across challenging and stunning locations.

26 Tour Stops

Elias Hountondji

Drifting is a family affair for German driver Elias Hountondji, who's a trained aerospace engineer as well as being a Driftbrother.


Johannes Hountondji

Johannes Hountondji – the older of the Driftbrothers – is one of the most best known drivers on the European drifting circuit.


Mike Whiddett

'Mad' Mike Whiddett lives for the thrill and adrenaline of drifting. As a result, he's always pushing both himself and his cars to the limits.

New ZealandNew Zealand

Haitham Al Hadidi

A hugely talented drift racer from Oman, Haitham Al Hadidi was just 18 when he became the youngest ever winner of Red Bull Car Park Drift in 2016.


Ahmad Daham

One of the stars of the Middle East's hugely popular drifting scene, Ahmad Daham is a multiple champion and a Guinness World Record holder to boot.


Abdo Feghali

Lebanese driver Abdo 'Dado' Feghali excelled in the Lebanese Rally Championship before becoming a key player on the Red Bull Car Park Drift scene.


Conor Shanahan

A formidable force in the world of drifting, Irishman Conor Shanahan is a regular winner on the British and European stage.


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