Getting ready for a drift event can be a daunting task. You need your tires, helmet, every tool on the planet, spare underwear, all sorts of things! How are you going to remember everything!? If only there was some really cool guy who could put together a checklist of the essentials for a drift event… Oh wait, there is, and you’re in the right place!
What To Bring To Your Drift Event
- Floor jack
- Needle nose pliers
- Electric Impact gun
- Fire Extinguisher
- Ratchet set with common sized sockets
- Box wrenches in all common sizes
- Tire pressure gauge
- Torque Wrench
- Vice grips
- Crescent wrench
- Breaker bar
- JB weld
- Zip Strips
- Wire Coat Hangers
- At least two jack stands
- Spare Parts
- Spare Axles
- Extra Fluids
- Spare Tie Rods
- Spare Wheels/Tires
- Creature Comforts
- TONS of water
- Plenty of Snacks
- Essential Gear
- Long Pants and Long-Sleeved Shirt
Or, if you’d prefer, here’s an image you can print out:
(Featured Image courtesy of Flickr)
Tools To Bring
Bringing the right tools for the job makes everything much easier on you. Don’t be that guy that has to borrow tools every time they change out their wheels, that gets old quickly.
Some of those tools on the list, including JB Weld, Zip Strips (heavy duty ones, not weak ones!), and Wire Coat Hangers, are meant as creative fixes. Almost all Formula Drift teams use Zip Strips and Duct Tape to hold their cars together until the end of the day. A common use for Zip Strips is to make a “Drift Stitch”, or to drill holes on either side of a fractured bumper, and zip-strip them to hold it together. Not only is this a practical solution, but some people think it looks cool too.
As for the other tools, they’re more for being prepared than anything. If you suddenly rub through a power steering hose, you’ll want the tools to remove the belt from the power steering pump (if it’s run separate of your serpentine belt). If you hit another car and need to replace your tie rod end, you’ll want all the appropriate wrenches to do so.
The golden rule is “If I have it, I won’t need it. If I need it, I won’t have it”. By that verbiage, if you bring everything, you’ll need nothing! Just don’t try to lug around the kitchen sink, I can say with relative certainty you won’t be needing that.
Bringing an extra of everything is important! While you may not have an extra of every part on your car, there’s a few you should always have spares of. These parts are ones that commonly get damaged, bent, or broken during drifting.
Axles are a common part to be bent or twisted, depending on the course and how much power you have. If your car transitions from a slippery surface to a solid one, that’s a very large torque sent back through the axles, and could possibly bend one. If you overcook a corner and run into a wall, you could damage your axle and differential. Having a spare axle would let you keep drifting, or if you’re playing it safe, at least get home.
Bringing extra fluids is absolutely vital. While most events will kick you off if you dump fluids on their track, you’ll still need to diagnose the issue, and have enough fluids to keep your car safe. Coolant is one of the most common fluids to leak or lose. However, check with your track’s rules, as many tracks actually ban the use of coolant, opting instead for water-based cooling for the sake of the track.
Oil is another major fluid to bring, in case you hit something and chip your oil pan, or blow a head gasket, or something of the sort. Power steering is the last absolutely vital fluid to bring, as if you spring a leak and run your power steering pump dry, you have a high chance of damaging it. Unless, of course, you have an electric power steering system, then you don’t have any fluid to leak in the first place.
The most obvious of the list is to bring extra wheels and tires. However, there are still horror stories of people showing up with half-worn tires on their car and no spares, popping a tire, and having their car towed home. Talk about a lack of common sense! Bringing spares that are mounted and inflated is an important step, since the track may or may not have a tire machine. Most tracks will have an air compressor, but it’s better to be prepared and pre-inflated.
Bringing tools and parts are a big part of drift events, but it isn’t just about the cars! The event organizers are also trying to keep the drivers safe, in case something goes awry. In case of a crash, every track requires you wear a DOT-approved helmet. Most tracks also require the helmet be SA2000+ certified as well. Wearing just a bicycle helmet and thinking you can drift is going to get you kicked off the track, and possibly, out of the event. These helmets unfortunately run over $150 usually, with this budget model being a prime example. If you don’t mind an open-face helmet, they can be found for slightly cheaper, like this helmet by the same brand.
Wearing gloves is another safety requirement at most tracks. In case of a fire, the gloves will give you a moment to be able to touch a heated object (taking key out of the ignition, putting the parking brake on, unbuckling your seatbelt, opening the door, etc).
Not only do they provide that safety aspect, but I’ve found that I prefer to drive with gloves on due to the increased grip it gives my hands to the wheel and shifter. I’ve driven my daily drifter in very cold temperatures, where condensation made my smooth shift knob the equivalent of a hunk of ice. Not only does the glove make me feel the cold significantly less, but also eliminates the risk of the shifter slipping out of my hand while I’m changing gears. These gloves are my favorites by far, they fit my large hands and long fingers well. They’re very comfortable, have good grip on the inside, and have a surprising amount of heat resistance. To test them, after making a dinner in the oven, I used these to take the food out instead of oven mitts. I could barely feel any heat from the pan!
Finally, we have long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. The pants are a requirement almost everywhere, but check with your track on the shirt. Regardless, no matter how hot it is outside, these requirements are strict, and for your safety. While drifting, the transmission tunnel can get very hot, and can burn your leg if you rub up against it. Also, getting out of a car with side pipes (drifting something like a C3 Corvette or a gen 1 Viper), you could burn your ankles.
Last, but certainly not least, is keeping you comfortable off-track. While being in the car might be miserable because of your long shirt and pants, out of the car doesn’t have to be as bad. You can generally shed your shirt and roll up your pants to stay temperate, and stretch out to relax.
Make sure you bring sunscreen. This is something tons of people don’t pay attention to, and I didn’t used to care either. That is, until I got 2nd degree burns and sun poisoning on my last day of vacation, and had to fly 7 hours home miserable. I couldn’t go back to school, I couldn’t wear clothes that weren’t under armor or something similar, it was absolutely brutal. It absolutely wasn’t worth the 10 minutes of extra time I saved by not applying sunscreen a few times throughout the day.
Bring towels, too! A picnic blanket would be nice as well, but if you’re working under your car, laying on hot asphalt isn’t very pleasant. A towel underneath you is an easy and quick fix to this issue, and can be used for lying on grass as well. While you’re resting, dig into the TONS OF WATER AND SNACKS you brought. Most tracks don’t sell things like that, or the prices are absurdly high. While supporting your local track is nice, starting drifters may not have the money to afford their snacks. Just bring your own, and water too, so you don’t get dehydrated. You’ll generally sweat a lot while drifting.
There’s two more things you should always bring, and never forget! A camera, and cash. While you’re drifting, you’ll want to remember these moments! Especially if these are your first few drifting events, these are like baby’s first steps!
Not only should you be recording these moments for sentimental value, but you should be watching your videos over again, and learning from your mistakes. Sometimes, your best teacher is yourself. Playing back your own footage can show you whether you’re overcooking your drift, whether you’re steering too much or too little.
Now, the penultimate item to bring is Cash. An overwhelming majority of tracks don’t accept card. This goes for entry fees, concessions, and anything else they have on-site.
Now that you have everything packed, go forth and conquer! Seat time is king, get as much in as possible!