How To Drift Around A Corner; Showing Off Made Simple

Being able to drift around a corner is one of the simplest, and most flashy, ways to show off in your car. Making your engine roar, the tires squeal, and leaving two black trails on the road, what’s not to love? However, this can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.


If you aren’t paying attention, or aren’t prepared for how your car handles, you can easily hurt both yourself and those around you.


Hey, why did the Mustang cross the road? It saw a crowd. Mustangs are generally the butt end of these kinds of jokes. With a high horsepower, limited slip diff, and a very low cost, a lot of inexperienced drivers crash these cars. Another way to look at it, there are tons of Mustangs made. If 1% of all drivers are bad, then a lot more mustangs are bad than Ferraris, of which less are made.


(Thumbnail courtesy of Flickr)

This video right below will be referenced in the article. If I say “Timestamp XX:XX”, it’s in reference to this video.




1) What To Avoid Doing


When you’re going to drift around a corner, you need to stay calm about it. If you start to panic and freak out, you may make the wrong move and hurt yourself, or worse, a crowd. Just picture the direction you want to go, and make sure you know which way your front wheels are pointing. If you’re pointing too far out, you get snap oversteer, and will head towards the center of the road.


On the other hand, if your wheels point towards the inside of the turn too much, you’ll do one of two things. First, if you’re applying too much throttle, the back end will step out too far and you’ll spin. Second, if you’re applying the proper amount of throttle (with the wrong angle still), you’ll drift right into the inside curb. Timestamp 05:30 This driver here was able to stop himself before he went into the curb. However, had he stayed on the throttle, his car would’ve went straight into the barrier.


Don’t Be That Guy



When you’re leaving Cars And Coffee, you don’t have to do a burnout at all. All the cars that leave probably get filmed. You don’t need to embarrass yourself by stalling your car, or worse, throwing it into a wall. Leaving normally is perfectly acceptable, and you can put some power down once you’re in a straight line to make noise. Even if you’re in a drift car, that doesn’t mean you need to drift it around.



2) How To Avoid These Mistakes


Really, the biggest factor in sliding is practice. Every car is different, and having a feel for your particular car will give you much better control over it. Finding somewhere that there’s nobody around, and bringing a few cones along will help with this learning process. This way, you can simulate obstacles with the cones, while having little to no risk of damaging your car, or other people. I learned to drift this way, actually. The drift pad near me has a cone setup that we can drift around, in order to get used to how our cars handle.


Another thing you need to keep in mind is that you can always just let off. This is something most people don’t understand, is that letting off the throttle is really one of the easiest solutions. Locking up the wheels with the brakes can do more harm than good in some scenarios, but letting off the throttle, the engine does all the braking for you. As long as you’re vigilant, and know when you loose control, letting off the throttle is a very likely way to get your car back under control.



3) Tips To Execute A Proper Skid


While I really should just say “don’t” here, for your own safety, you’re reading this article because you’re gonna anyways, and want to do so safely. So, here’s how you should do it to have the least risk of hurting someone.


  1. Come to a complete stop. This may sound odd, but starting from moving is much harder.
  2. Get your wheels pointed just outside the apex of the turn. Where your wheels are pointed now will decide how far the tail should slide out before you countersteer. Aiming just outside the apex gives you the most room for error.
  3. Start up a first-gear standing burnout. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make, is they try to do this in second gear, and then loose control.
  4. Slowly let off the brakes, until you’re at roughly 20% pressure. Your car should start moving forward with the wheels still spinning. Having the brakes a little bit on makes the slide much slower, and thus, easier to control.
  5. The back end of your car will step out now. Once you’re pointed right at the apex of the turn, then start to countersteer. This way, the wheels are swung out, and you’ve got your drift started smoothly.
  6. Countersteer until your car is moving sideways, instead of forward. Once you have that, then start to steer in to get your car to turn towards the exit.
  7. Keep this up until your car is facing straight towards the exit, then slowly let off the gas and turn the wheel back straight. This is another place where lots of people mess up. Some try to keep the car sideways too long, and then the car snaps the other way. Others let off the gas too fast, without straightening their steering, and crash that way.




That’s it! It’s pretty simple, when you break it down fundamentally. The most important part of the whole process is to be ready to bail. Keeping the drift going is not worth crashing your car. Just let off the gas, save your car, and try it again another day. Once you’re comfortable with how your car feels going sideways, you can try it in motion. When you’re just starting, using the handbrake to start a drift is easiest. It’s a very similar process to the standing burnout initiation, with a small modification.


Starting at maybe 10mph is a good idea. Approach the corner, and where you’d do your burnout to start, pull the handbrake and turn in. Turn in so your wheels face just outside the apex. Once the rear end comes around, let off and get on the throttle and the brakes immediately. Not too hard on either, or you’ll lose control. At the same time, start your countersteering. From here, it’s the same as above. Just make sure nobody else is in harm’s way when you do this, and to practice in a large, empty space.


Once you’re done practicing with the handbrake, you can try these other 6 ways to initiate a drift as well. With time, you’ll be able to do each initiation fluently!


Remember, practice makes perfect!


As a drift enthusiast, if I've owned the car, you can bet it's been sideways! Honda S2000, Chrysler Crossfire, 1987 Porsche (only once, *never again*), and my babies, my 1995 Notch-top SR 240SX and 1991 Red-top SR 240SX. I've had a ton of fun, and I'm looking forward to sharing my experiences, tips, and recommendations with you all!

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