Red Bull Drift Shifters: Watch It Live

Back in December 2012, Speedhunters’ own Mad Mike Whiddett brought a long time event dream to life. With backing from his principal sponsor, Red Bull, a downtown city street in Mike’s hometown of Auckland, New Zealand, was shut down and transformed into a giant pinball-inspired drift arena. Red Bull Drift Shifters became a reality and its first champion – former US Formula Drift driver Matt Powers – was crowned.

This coming weekend it’s happening all over again in Auckland – bigger, faster, and with a larger line up of internationals. If you’re not going to be there in person, you’ll probably be happy to know that there’s a free livestream happening…


A new location right on the city’s waterfront is making way for a street course that’s some 311 metres long and 19 metres wide. Running a unique single-car freestyle format, there are 12 obstacles to negotiate in total – including the return of the Undertaker from the first event (above). Drivers will have 70 seconds on the clock to accumulate as many points as possible through a custom, computer-controlled mechanism that scores angle, proximity and speed, and an eliminator style competition will knock down the 16-strong field until the event’s overall winner is found.


Three overseas drivers headlined the first Red Bull Drift Shifters, but for 2014 that’s been increased to seven. Along with Mike and eight other Kiwis, US drivers Chris Forsberg, Ryan Tuerck and Tyler McQaurrie will be facing off with Australia’s Jake Jones, and Japan’s Daigo Saito and drifting icon Ken ‘Nomuken’ Nomura. Of course, Matt Powers is back to defend his title too.

A huge amount of preparation work has gone into the planning of the event, including full-scale testing at an airfield a couple of months back. The tech clip above should give you a good idea of how it will all play out on the day, and you can find more videos, including driver intros here.

As for the live broadcast, that’s set to kick off from the quarter final stage of the event at 1.30pm local NZ time this Saturday December 6 (4.30pm Friday PST, 7.30pm Friday EST, 12.30am Saturday GMT). Red Bull TV is where you’ll find it.

Otherwise, stay tuned for post-event coverage on Speedhunters next week!

Brad Lord

Photos: Red Bull



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

What's the latest on Radbull, haven't seen any posts in a while?


Robo_No1 is he debuting it this weekend ?


Wow... This is going to be great. That line up looks spectacular! Maybe I'm biased but I expect a "good ol' Murican' to take home the crown again lol. Also, if you watch the video, maybe the use of those little mechanisms they featured, will be the future of judging in other drift events around the globe?
Regardless, I'll definitely be tuning in Friday to watch this *thumbs up*


Boo! sensors and computers?...WTF let the PEOPLE decide put them boys on the track and let em eat!!


LavarBowers the toint of all this is to eliminate pepole from adding points and let computer do the work so they all have equal chance to wil


LavarBowers  Yeah, sensors and computers. Take the human factor out of judging. Let's make drifting again fun, take the politics out.


zbelic i get that but also EFF that i didnt get hooked on drifting because a dell spat out some numbers saying so&so did well i fell in love with the style and skill involved. Show me a computer that can judge that.


It's great to see a completely objectively judged drift event. This looks like it's going to be really cool.


LavarBowers zbelic "Style and skill" are completely interpretative traits, especially while drifting. One may find a driver to possess "more skill" because he can get closer to clipping point, while another would say another driver has "more skill" because he's more consistent than the other. 

Just as greenroadster said, "... Take the politics out." Anyone with a pulse can see sometimes there have been questionable calls during some of these events, which may or may not lead to ruining a driver's season. These sensors and computers will make this motorsport even more fun, because let's be honest with ourselves, you see a "heavy-hitter" like Chris Forseberg going up against a "nobody" glorified grassroots drifter, and you expect Chris Forseberg to take the win. You already have it ingrained in your mind that he has the advantage and will more than likely take the win, hence, "biased" calls. This will make the sport A LOT more honest and true. Now there should be no hurt feelings or feelings of biased-ness at all. It'll be concrete, like the score at the end of game. You can NOT refute the end result, just go back, watch the tape and figure out how to improve in the future :)


Most importantly, this is not drifting but far closer to gymkhana.  Sexy cars and technical driving, sounds like a winner to me.  I love this concept and the way it was executed, props to Mike!


From last year! looks so cool and pretty tech layout,and with computer-judged sensors its all about how and where you put your car.


I'm totally stoked to see this event happen again, I think its a fantastic idea. I would like to see this as a series :)


Auto-play?? ... What were you thinking!!!!


Love it! The whole concept sounds like a winner, take out the human element with the sensors and computers. 
Nothing against judges but there are times where they DO miss a few things out there. 
Can't wait to see where this event goes.


I love it! Its so exciting to see the rx8 competing again :)
I love your se3p mike! Very inspirational. I love the kit you have on it and the 20B is amazing. Good luck to everyone competing


Naaa, Think ill watch it in person instead :P


Robo_No1 I have heard he had a falling out with TBR, so now PPRE will be completing the build on RADBUL,


Formula D needs more rotary MIKE WHIDETT !


turbin100 seriously.  wtf


love drifting!


That is hands-down the COOLEST-LOOKING RX-8 I've ever seen, and I must say - the giant-ass wing makes it.


kphillips9936 Yeah, ask the ref if you can pet his seeing-eye dog.


ModGuy Robo_No1 They just dropped the new build episode yesterday,nothing suggests a falling out,the car is simply going to PPRE to have the engine setup built (like they have done for all mikes builds),TBR were never doing the engine side of things.


WeAreDying ModGuy Robo_No1 Yeh, i knew PPRE would doing the engine build. It was just hearsay the grapevine. Thanks for clearing it up.


My eyes are getting red already. Sucks to be in EU sometimes :)


Maybe I'm the only one here, but I found this event to be absolutely awful... I am a huge fan of MadMike's & I liked this idea of taking the subjectivity out of judging through infrared sensors, but this event just didn't deliver. Some of the highest scoring runs were attained by drivers just dragging their cars along barriers in bids to get closest to these sensors, resulting in choppy runs with inconsistent angle & varying speed. Conversely, I think Daigo Saito's last run was one of the better examples of a clean, precise run with no hope of winning because he avoided touching any obstacles intentionally.
This event was more gymkana meets demolition derby than drift event, and there's nothing wrong with that, but I think it'd be a lot better if it was judged the same way except you lose your combo if the car touches a barrier at each judging zone.


returnity You're not. I saw this a while ago and thought it was one of the stupidest things I've ever seen.  It misses the mark on so many levels. Now personally, I went to the first ever D1GP event in the US and since then have fallen out year by year with the drifting scene. It's not real motorsport and this is a prime example why. Total crap from a spectators perspective.