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Drifting and Drifz Wheels Slide Into Popularity in the U.S.

There is an old joke around racetracks that has been around since the Model T was considered sporty.:“You wanna know how to make a small fortune in racing? Start with a large one.” It’s true, racing is an expensive sport, but no drivers can appreciate this quote as much as drifters.

Originated in Japan, the art of drifting is literally the practice of controlling the uncontrolled.  By entering a turn at a high rate of speed, drifters flick their cars into a controlled powerslide that can be best described as a car dancing sideways around a curve.

Drifting has had a cult following in Japan for years, but it recently picked up popularity in the United States with the introduction of Formula D, the professional drifting circuit. Judges and fans rate the drivers on their entry speed, amount of tire smoke and control of their slides around a course. For the past decade, drifting has continually gained larger and larger crowds in the U.S.

Wheel and Tires

For amateur drifters, the only thing necessary to practice drifting is a rear wheel drive car, a safe track to work on slides and a few different sets of tires. For professional drifters, it is common to go through a few sets of tires in only a few hours. In fact, drifters go through more tires than any other racers.

Since drifting is judged on skill, style and finesse rather than speed and horsepower, it should come to no surprise that drifters take a bit of pride in their rides. Shiny exhaust pipes, carbon fiber hoods and low-offset wheels are all apart of the drifting culture.

Alloy wheels are usually the best compromise between strength and weight for drifters. Drifz Wheels, a newer wheel company that has hit the racing world, has recently released a set of wheels that are inspired by the drifting world. Their new Vortex Wheel is woven mesh alloy wheel that is polished to a chrome finish. The wheels are also wider than most OEM wheels, so drifters are able to run a wider tire to have more controlled slides.

The Most Popular Cars for Drifting

For most drifters, it’s possible to have fun driving any car. Even front wheel drive cars can enter a controlled slide with the proper use of the E-brake and wheel spin, but of course there are some cars that just do it better than others. Because drifters often slide into cones, off the course and occasionally into walls, it is important that their rides are easy to work and affordable to repair.

Since drifting originated in Japan, it should come to no surprise that the majority of racers choose import rides for their slide machines. Below are some of the most popular cars for drifting.

Nissan 240sx: The 240sx is by far the most popular car in the drifting world. A peppy 4-cylinder engine and a rear wheel drive platform make this a great machine for beginners getting into the sport.  

AE 86 Toyota Corolla: A long time ago these Corolla were one the cheapest cars you could find on the road. Today, drifters have picked up most of them and they can be hard to find. The ’86 Corolla is the featured car in the popular drifting cartoon, Initial D.

Mazda RX7: Originally the RX7 was a bit of an outcast in the drifting world because of its unconventional engine, but with nearly-perfect weight distribution, it’s hard to find a drift event that doesn’t have a rotary powered Mazda sliding around it’s course.

Pontiac GTO: For drifters that prefer a naturally aspirated V8 instead of a turbocharger 4-cylinder, the new recent Pontiac GTO is a great choice to drift around corners. Fitted with a powerful engine, sport tuned suspension and limited slip differential; the new GTO’s are a gaining serious popularity with drifters.

However, even if you don’t have a RWD ride, it’s still possible to enjoy the culture that drifting brings to the racing world. Formula D drivers demonstrate their moves all over the world. The events showcase some of the best drivers in the world as they smoke their tires around a course in hopes of being champion. Watching a Formula D driver handle their vehicle at high speeds can be one of the best ways to learn new moves for novice drivers to practice.

If you think you may be interested in watching drifting live, you can see this year’s Foruma D Schedule HERE.

By Sean Bowes

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