Is Drifting Worth It? A Risk vs. Reward Analysis

Drifting is a really big commitment, and a difficult pill to swallow. There’s the costs of the car, the fuel, the repairs, and the track fees themselves. On the other hand, nothing comes close to the adrenaline rush of flying sideways at 50, the sounds of howling engines and tires screaming, the smells of exhaust fumes and burnt rubber. The experiences you get drifting are one of a kind, that’s for sure. However, is drifting worth it for you?


The rush you get from drifting varies from person to person. The only way to truly know whether drifting is worth it for you is to get into a drift car. 


Now, this doesn’t mean you need to run out and drop five grand on a drift car. There are different ways you can get into a drift car, in order to find out whether drifting is for you.



1) Finding Out If You Enjoy It


Amateur Ride-Along


Besides being a great Kevin Hart and Ice Cube movie, a ride-along is your cheapest (and easiest) option to get you in a drift car. If you go to almost any drift event, there will be tons of nice people there to drift. If you’re open and honest with them, they’ll almost assuredly let you ride shotgun while they go drifting. Remember, though, that you need to bring a helmet, closed-toed shoes, and jeans. Most drift tracks have a dress code, for safety reasons.


Another good way to get yourself a ride-along is to join an online drifting forum. Most of the members of those forums actively go drifting, and are fairly nice. If you find a drifter in your area, or (even better) a localized forum, you could go to one of their drift events and make some friends. Making friends with other drifters near you will help you immensely in the future. They will help you with advice for any question you have, give you a ride-along, and (if they’re nice enough) even help repair your car.. For the cost of a couple cold ones when the job’s done! It’s still cheaper than a shop, and a much more enjoyable experience.


Professional Ride-Along


There are businesses around the U.S. that allow you to have a ride-along with a professional drifter. These usually cost a large sum of money, and will probably give you the wrong idea about drifting. Their cars are incredibly powerful, and their drifts are aggressive and fast. Your amateur drifter, on the other hand, is slower and more careful. The amateur drifter will give you a much more realistic experience, closer to how you’d be driving. If you could get into the same drift car you’d want to get, that would serve you even better.


Simulation Drifting/VR


This isn’t something all of us have the luxury of trying, however, could provide an idea as to whether you’re interested or not. While VR isn’t cheap, think of it this way: VR is cheaper than a drift car, if you don’t like drifting. And if you do, you’ll be investing that money anyways. Games like Asetto Corsa, Live For Speed, Forza Horizon 4/Motorsport 7, and more have drifting aspects to them. Both Asetto Corsa and Live For Speed have VR compatibility, however, neither Forza game supports it. The online community for the Forza games more than makes up for the lack of VR, in my opinion.


If you’re looking to try drifting in-house, and have a PC, you’ll also need a wheel and pedal setup. Playing a racing game with a keyboard is the equivalent of eating tomato soup with a fork, it’s hard and people will look at you funny. These can be found used for the $250 area. If you have a console, however, you can choose whether to use your controller or to get a wheel/pedal setup. The accessories cost about the same for console as they would for PC. The controller still gives you pressure-sensitive gas, brake, and steering, which are essential for drifting. These games will give you a feel for how cars act while they’re sideways, and hopefully, an idea as to whether you enjoy drifting.



2) Checking The Costs


Now, I already wrote a whole article on The Drift Tax: How Much Drifting Really Costs, I suggest you read that article if you’re considering getting into drifting. However, if you’re short on time, I’ll go over a few of the notable costs, and your total cost for one year of drifting.

  • Car
    • BMW E36 – $2000
    • Oil change – $30
    • Timing service – $50
    • Bucket Seat – $100
    • E-brake – $40
    • Welding diff – $20
  • 1-year expenses, going drifting once/month for 8 months
    • Food and Hotels – $1000
    • Tires and Gas – $1580
    • Repairs – $1000

With this, your car should cost roughly $2240, and your expenses for a year of drifting would add to roughly $3580. That leads to almost exactly a $6000 first year of drifting, which compared to other sports, is fairly expensive. This is why I fully recommend trying to experience drifting in other ways before you commit to buying and maintaining a car to do so.



3) Is Drifting Worth It For You?


Now that we know how much you enjoy drifting, and how much it will cost you, we can attempt to answer our main question, Is Drifting Worth It?


Think about it this way, this is how I decided that drifting was for me; Is there a way I can have this much fun, or more, for cheaper? Would I be happier buying a $6000 boat? How about taking a $6000 vacation? Would these things be able to give me the same or better rush that drifting for a whole year can give me?


And also, keep in mind that while you may be spending $6000 your first year, you’ll only be spending about half of that next year. Drifting is a lot of up-front costs, but if you take care of your machine, you may be able to keep your yearly expenses under $3000. You wouldn’t be able to take the same vacation next year for half the cost!


One final thing that really tipped me over the edge, is that you get better at drifting with time! The fun increases, and the costs decrease, the more time you drift! Every time you get better, you crash a little less, break less things. You also get a better feel for your car, and can start going to tracks for track days, participating in competitions, and even running tandem and drift trains. Vacations don’t get cheaper and more enjoyable, neither do boats! Drifting is one of the only sports with this golden formula, and I strongly suggest you give it a go!


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!

Recent Posts