Drifting Is Not A Motorsport
A Rocky Relationship

Strong words. I’m sure some of you will be nodding in agreement at my chosen title for this story, whilst others are already rushing to the comments section to defend drifting. As much as I love to stir things up a bit, these aren’t my words. Rather, what might surprise you is that these are the words of the Irish Drift Championship’s organiser, Dave Egan. Why did he say this? Does he mean it? More importantly, is he right?

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Before we get into the thick of it though, I want to give you a little bit of my own background with drifting and where I currently stand with it.

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I can safely say if it wasn’t for drifting, and the Irish drift community in particular, I wouldn’t be here writing this story today. Drifting has played a huge part in my career and allowed me to learn the ropes before turning a passion into a living.

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Some of you may have read my article last year for Drifted where I talked about my frustrations with drifting and why I had to walk away from it to really see the bigger picture.

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To condense it down, I essentially believed (well, at least at the time I did) that pro-level drifting was being held back by a sort of guilty conscience which was tied to the grassroots scene. There are a lot of people putting their everything into drifting and not getting anything even close to the return they deserve on their investment, both on a personal and financial level.

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I think drifting in many regards is its own worst enemy. People within the drifting community spend more time arguing about the varying approaches to the sport than they do celebrating the good and encouraging others to come and join them. After nearly every major drift event, there’s almost guaranteed to be an online argument over a judging decision or a driver doing something that goes against the spirit of the sport. Removing subjective decision-making would go a long way to preventing this, or at least providing the judges with extra data to base their decisions on. Exact proximity to a clipping point, average angle, average speed and exact distance to the leading car would be massive assist to the sport.

There’s that word again. Sport. But is drifting one?

Brothers In Arms
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From a purely technical analysis, I would say that yes, it is. You have motor vehicles competing against each other to win an overall prize or be declared the best at a particular discipline. I don’t think Dave Egan meant it literally when he said ‘drifting isn’t a motorsport’ but rather he was referring to how drifting should be presented to paying public and fans.

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I should add that Dave is not only the head honcho of IDC, he’s still a regular competitor in the British Drift Championship amongst others. When Dave took over the former Prodrift series three years ago he did inherit a solid base, but he has continued to expand the series in quite a successful manner.

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Instead of focusing on just the driving, Dave has taken the interesting approach of focusing on the drivers and people involved in the sport. The rivalries, the personalities and the great sportsmanship and camaraderie that sets drifting apart. He’s aware that drifting is the outsider in the motorsport world, but he’s perfectly fine with that. In his own words, Dave told me how traditional motorsport bores the life out of him. It’s far too clean-cut and there’s only so many times you can watch a car drive around in circles with other cars following processionally.

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I think he has a great point too. Possibly the most interesting story of the Global Warfare weekend was about what happened after Robbie Nishida’s massive accident with the wall during Friday practice. Driving Darren McNamara’s left-hand drive 1JZ 240SX, Robbie entered far too late and far too fast for the second outside clip, completely totalling the freshly-rebuilt Nissan and taking chase driver Luke Fink’s Mosler V8 powered PS13 out in the process.

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It happened in the blink of an eye, but the result was utterly devastating. It was said by many that Robbie was incredibly lucky to be behind the wheel of the only left-hand drive car in the paddock. Had it been right-hand drive, he may not have walked away.

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Whilst the D-Mac 240SX was a complete write off, Fink was able to limp the Low Brain car back through the paddock. As you can probably tell, that’s not a healthy amount of camber at the front…

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It was only when Fink arrived back into the pits, that this story really gets interesting.

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With a bent front coil-over and a shock tower which had been relocated about two inches to one side, it should have been the end of Fink’s weekend. But before the car had even cooled down, fellow competitor and direct rival Jack Shanahan and his father, John, were over to investigate.

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Before the Low Brain crew could even think about what had happened, other competitors, along with their friends and families, were pitching in to straighten the stricken S-body with the help of a winch and the tilt bed of a recovery truck.

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For all the winding up and smack talk before the event, Fink was probably the biggest threat to Ireland’s 11-year undefeated record on home soil. Yet when it came down to it, the Irish wanted to make sure they gave their fiercest rival every chance of a fair fight.

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Before long, Fink was back out smoking tyres, rubbing walls and sh*t talking (it’s all an act, he’s a big cuddly teddy bear), as if the accident never happened.

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This wasn’t something exclusive to the Australian’s pit either, wherever a competitor needed help, you can be sure they got it.

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More often than not, that man John Shanahan was at the heart of it.

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Even when Fink and John’s son Jack fought against each other in the Top 8, John was first on the scene when Luke needed to call a five minute time-out after being sucked into the wall. Whilst he did make it back to the start line for the second run, the impact had damaged the battery and left Fink with no power steering along with a crippled car.

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Jack would push through to the Top 4 in his BMW-powered S14, where he would meet Formula D competitor Dean Kearney in a borrowed S15. Talk about a tough day at the office…

The Invasion
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Kearney was also joined by the previously-mentioned Robbie Nishida and his other Achilles Radial team mate, Daigo Saito.

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The original plan was to have Kearney, Nishida and Saito pilot their own cars, but a delay in shipping meant the cars didn’t turn up until just after the event. However, I have reliably been informed that the three cars will remain in Ireland until Team Achilles can make a genuine assault at the Irish’s undefeated record later this season. That will definitely be one to watch.

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It wasn’t just the Japanese and Australians who brought the fight either, Phil Morrison of Driftworks was one of several UK drivers.

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And current Formula Drift points leader Ryan Tuerck also made an appearance in a borrowed machine, but struggled to get to grips with the combination of a new car and the always changing track conditions.

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The weather certainly didn’t make things easy.

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From sunshine one minute…

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To sudden and severe downpours…

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To the absolute worst of both at the same time. I’m still not sure if this suited anyone, or was just a leveller for all involved.

The Quiet One
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With all eyes on the brash competitors and the fierce battles, one driver was quietly and clinically dispatching his competition with zero fuss.

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With a star-studded line-up of drivers, I don’t think anyone could have predicted a final battle between two 15 year olds before the weekend. I honestly think their age is the least important thing about either driver, but it’s hard not to be blown away by their talent, and more so, their incredible driving intelligence.

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Tomás Kiely in the Westlake Tires 180SX and his school mate, Jack Shanahan in the other Westlake car. Neither driver is legally allowed to drive a car on Irish roads, but without any doubt both deserved their place in the final.

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In a clean battle that only needed one running, a winner was decided upon immediately.

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With Jack announced as having taken second place, the roar from the Kiely family was all you needed to know about how they felt for Tomás’ first pro victory.

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I always look closely at the drivers after the results have been announced, as often the smallest micro-expression in a split second tells you everything you need to know. I know Jack was disappointed, but his effort all weekend was absolutely immense. His reaction afterwards was that of a professional driver 20 years older. He took his defeat with grace and in proper sportsmanship, celebrated Tomás’ win with him. I’ve no doubt Jack will be on top of the podium in IDC sooner rather than later.

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Tomás took the victory in his stride and with a great amount of genuine respect for his friend and fellow competitor. It was an amazing moment as both families celebrated their sons’ domination of one of the toughest drift series in the world.

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It’s been a long time since I started following drifting and there’s no denying the sport has progressed to a point that nobody could have anticipated 10 years or more ago. Having had the time to step back and take it all in as an outsider, I feel positive about drifting for the first time in years. Sure, it’s not perfect, but what series is? At least drifting is constantly evolving and striving to improve.

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Drifting may not be a motorsport, at least in the traditional sense. But I think that’s a good thing.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos

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It's crazy to think that Tomas and Jack are on their way to being international threats in the pro-drifting world before they turn 20. IDC is one of my favorite series to watch, great article!


Great lookin cars

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Pitty for everyone who had problems, hope you come back hard and fast next round.
Australia is still rooting for ya Finky!!!


Great photos once again. As for the not acknowledging as a motorsport, I get it to a certain extent. Many aren't aware that drifting has become this large plateau of driving competition of style. It's came a long way, cliche I know. I believe drifting should be something that ever driver should indulge in if he or she wants to get into grip racing. Just to get the characteristic feel for a FR car. For those who stick to FF, no shade. I'm still a Honda guy by heart.To make this short and sweet. Long live drifting. Baaaa-Baaaaaaaaa-Baaawwwhh! "Tires screeching".


crispykrem3 Kids today are advancing fast these days at stuff.


crispykrem3 Yup, it's nuts that in five years these guys are going to be even better. As it stands, they're already at the top of a very competitive series.


VWayyyyyyyy crispykrem3 I think it's the complete lack of fear!


@milano To be fair, there are some good looking cars competing here and nearly all are rocking Japanese engines still, which I know appeals to a lot of people.

I still love a good V8 though.


Chris 'Haffy' Hafner Provided it's running and still has wheels attached, you can bet your last dollar on Fink giving it everything. Awesome guy and talent.


Paddy McGrath crispykrem3 If you want to get a lil technical.....it's because were living in the golden age. Our world is changing. The whole consciousness stuff. Don't want to get too deep here tho.


VWayyyyyyyy Agreed, at its simplest drifting is guys and girls driving some very fast cars at the absolute limit. What's not like about that?


VWayyyyyyyy Paddy McGrath crispykrem3 This sounds interesting, I'm listening...


Paddy McGrath crispykrem3 Slam out, I'm going  break it down real short. People are realizing more and more about their purpose on this earth. Becoming more aware of the world and who they re. Not what society should tell us who we should be. Then that's where the drive comes..."no pun intended'


Great article. I was tuned into the IDC throughout the weekend and John Shanahan seemed to keep appearing in background throughout the coverage, helping people straighten out cars. Fantastic to see such camaraderie among the competitors. (On the subject of the Shanahan's, hasn't Jack been 15 for about 3 years now? Does he not age?)
As for the drifting "not a motorsport" argument I can see the point. As you have already touched on yourself the sport is being pulled in two different directions; the Championships that try to retain a grass roots edge appear unprofessional and are "not a motorsport"; those that do try and go for a more professional approach are then deemed to have "sold out".
I'm only a casual drift spectator, but I have been thoroughly impressed with the IDC coverage over the last two rounds. It seemed to straddle the line between the two situations above, something I'm not sure many - or perhaps even any - other drift series outside Japan have managed to do yet.


Great pics! I worry about sensors for angle, aggression, etc. However I do think that proximity sensors are a natural progression, similar to the way the speedgun has been implemented. If drifting was purely measured on artificial intelligence which would 'judge' your run, we would end up with technically perfect runs that might not be much fun to watch. Similar to a ref in a soccer match, the human error aspect is a vital aspect of the sport in my opinion. The fact that the irish judges get picked on by the commentary team to explain their reasoning makes it very transparent. It is a matter of opinion at the end of the day, but nowadays we really can't harp on about the old school 'favouritism' that people loved to moan about. On any given day drivers can cause upsets. 

Finally fans are becoming passionate about drifting, and there are new fans emerging with huge numbers of families coming to all drift events in ireland these days. Merchandise seems to be selling well and people seem to be spending money at the events. It's a great progression that we've seen under Dave Egan's leadership. He speaks of driver risk/reward and practices what he preaches, taking very calculated risks with the Irish Drift Championship that seem to be paying off on the face of it.


Ha, I checked with Jack just to make sure, but he's still 15. His younger brother is drifting as well!


People who don't get drifting project their own lack of understanding on to the sport, using terms like "pointless" or "unintelligent", when in actual fact the opposite is true.  Conventional motorsports all adhere to a simple concept of "car in front wins".  Anybody can understand that, and can happily sit for hours moving their head from left to right until they see who finally wins.  Drifting on the other hand promises to be be all things to all people.  A heady mix of tuner car culture, entertainment, and speed, angle, smoke, risk, bravery, lead car, chase car all judged to determine the ultimate winner.  That sounds quite complex compared to conventional motorsport, requiring more braincells to appreciate it, not less.  Despite this, drifting doesn't take itself too seriously, maintaining a fun element at all times.  Maybe if it pretended to take itself too seriously and everyone in the sport frowned instead of smiled, the masses would attribute more credibility to it (sarcasm).


Best drift writeup since forever.  This is what it's all about.

15 year olds!  How awesome is that?  To be so far ahead in the game before your balls have dropped, lol.  Not hating; that's pretty cool.


From the pics I'm guessing that the weathe benefited at least one person. The man behind the camera. At some points in the weekend the sun was out in such force that it was evaporating the dampness of the clothes that were assaulted with rain 10 minutes previously. But holy crap did the sky look magnificent. I can see from the pics that paddy utilised
the drama enhancing sky as the perfect background


VWayyyyyyyy Paddy McGrath crispykrem3 More and more of my friends are giving up on the corporate life we were told we wanted when we were at school many moons ago and making more time for what they actually enjoy doing. Thats the mentality we are trying to raise our children within too, financially driven dreams only get you so far, and only fulfil you life so far. Nothing replaces Passion and drive - wether its playing MTG or Driving sideways - and the connections you make with peers and your friends through that interest are really rewarding.


Drifting is the skateboarding (or any other "extreme sport" for that matter) of the Motorsport world and is treated with the same kind of disdain by some fans of more mainstream Motorsport as extreme sports are (perhaps with the exception of Snowboarding).

What I will say is that Drifting needs a truly global, big budget series so the top drivers from around the world can truly become professional drivers.


"15 years old..." F**k!! Their parent must be loaded! Good on them anyways. Just wish I had money.... Awesome pics as well :)




Paddy McGrath the Irish Larry Chen! Fantastic article and superb photography my friend.


Damn dude, great photos and great write up. Drifting is just like skateboarding. When skateboarding started it was looked at as a "rebels" sport, a sport for people who liked to do there own thing. and just like in skateboarding when it exploded with x-games etc... there was  lot of backlash from the community, some people didnt like other people monetizing there sport. Drift is the same, its in its explosion period and when we all get older and teach are kids to drift it will be come main stream and a solid slice of just drifters will enjoy the sport for what it is. Drifting is not a race, its a show. The funnest show on earth. and just like skateboarding, surfing, etc... is a sport, drifting is sport. but more importantly it just happens to be one of the funnest sports to watch.


For me having watched it a couple of times drifting is really not a motorsport, it is if anything a sort of spruced up demo.

Nothing wrong with that, but it is part of a whole scene and that scene is more interesting than drifting will ever be, I presonally am more interested in time attack, to see cars doing somehting meaningful rather than going sideways round a parking lot.

I do not really rate the talents of the top drivers in comparison to other people in motorsport, though they are talented clearly, but the cars look great. But theya re massive petrol heads and that counts for a lot.

I did stop using this site for a while when it just became so drift orientated a while back, and since the changes it has lost some of its interest for me due to that and the now rather dull style and harder navigation compared to the original site.

Guys like Mad Mike and Vaughn are great guys but on here in my eyes they are little too over loved. They are not a Jim Clark, or Colin McRae or even  Lewis Hamilton. 

What they are are great showmen like Ken Block or Travis Pastrana, that is more the area they work in, but theya re not motorsport heroes, they are more like stuntmen.


Nope not particularly, they just work hard for what they want and have the right sponsors


And he is a foetus lol


cyberfella Each to his own, but 

  ==> Drifting on the other hand promises to be be all things to all people. <==

Watch a Sprint car race on a 1/4 mile oval dirt track. Round and round they go, drifting though the turns with *open wheels* and the first to the flag wins. 

To me, it seems like the sport of drifting is similar to skating's compulsory figures, in that drifting takes a certain aspect of car racing and hones it to a fine edge. Most certainly fun to watch, but "all things for all people"? Not even close.


Qu1N7 As a skater from the late 80's, and now drifthead for the last 10 years+ (packing my bags for Rudskogen as I write this), I respectfully disagree.
Drifting and skating was never competitive to begin with, it was all about then fun and mayhem.

Any real skater would rather read the latest issue of thrasher instead of watching the x-games finals, and I feel like this translates to drifting as well - check out the view count on the Formula Drift videos compared to any touge video.

So for me, it has never been and never will be a motorsport. Maybe a 100% objective score system could change that, but I doubt it. I love it to death though!


Totally agree. I come from a skiing background, and I remember the way tight pants ski racers shit all over snowboarding when it first started to become popular.
Hell, many mountains banned snowboarding outright.
Looking back, snowboarding saved what was a dying industry.


I think when you look at Mad Mike going up Goodwood hill that really brings it home how good he is - no one else has the same confidence placing the car.

To say that drifters are not as skilled is a bit irrational, as it you think about it there are probably as many people doing drifting as there are doing open wheel racing. Therefore probability says the top drifters are likely to be as good as the top open wheel drivers. If you then start talking about the professionalism of F1 as a reason that the drivers are better, then that instantly says guys like Fangio, Moss, Clark aren't as good as the current crop of drivers... Fangio was fat and 46 years old when he won his last race, but you can't doubt the man's talent!


drosoild cyberfella All things to all people probably a bad choice of words.  Drifting is only ever going to appeal to a subculture, just like skateboarding, surfing or any other judged sport based upon style as much as it is based upon competitiveness.  Just enjoy it, or don't.


To me, drifting is to cars what BMX is to bicycles; just another cool way to enjoy something on wheels!


RobertEvery To really understand drifting you need to come from an extreme sports background. It is a sport, and it appeals to the younger generation. I grew up skating and riding BMX, and the format of drifting is setup in a very similar manner. It is judged subjectively by a group of experienced peers, you throw down your best run to make it to the main show, then you are pitted up against the best of the pack.

This being said, I come from a road racing and autoX background. Honestly, they are two of the most boring motorsports on the planet to watch. Sure, when you are on the track, racing against the clock to shave off precious tenths of a second it is exhilarating. But stand on the sidelines and try to stay entertained. You normally can only see one section of the track, and you get to see a few cars go by. About the only thing you can do is say, "That guy looked a little faster than the last guy." 

Drifting, on the other hand, is usually setup so you can witness the entire run. The smoke, noise, proximity on tandem runs and the wild liveries make watching more of exciting. You feel like you are part of the experience, instead of just a fan boy like in "professional" motorsports. I can almost say it is a similar experience as going to a concert. You are connected to the people around you, and the energy from the fans is immense. Every professional drifting event has an open paddock, unlike most motorsports where the "in the pit" experience is saved for the wealthy. The drivers walk around like normal people and are more than willing to strike up a conversation with you.

You sir, should attend a professional drifting event like Formula D or the BDC. You may change your tune. I myself am finally in a financial situation to start drifting at the Grassroots level, and it is more fun than any HPDE or open track day I have ever been a part of. The rush you get from initiating in to a turn sideways at speed is something that time attack will never be able to trump. Try it sometime, I can bet you will have a huge grin by the end of the day.


This year's Global Warfare, and last year's, are amongst the best drift comps I have watched in a very long time.
It's not just the drifting which sets it apart for me. While the drifting is of a high caliber, so is the production value. The transparency of the judging criteria, the knowledge of the announcers, the camera angles...everything was spot on!!
A few "hardcore" drift fans, via various forms of social media, have been pestering FD staff for about a year now that they need to take a very serious look at IDC, and learn a thing or two from them.
Low and behold, now we have judges on the mic in FD.
I really hope IDC continues to get the recognition it deserves, and doesn't become a poaching ground for other drift series.


My problem with considering drifting as a form of motorsport comes in the form of scoring. Drifting is the only motorsport I can think of that scores using subjective quantifiers (smoke, angle, etc.). I think the Red Bull drift event where cars were scored based on how close they could get to certain markers is how drifting should go in order to become a legitimate motorsport. By doing so you shift the focus in drifting even more towards the drivers and maybe then introduce a resurgence of the "classic" drift machines where power and torque wasn't a huge deal.


So you basically think that any action activity which is judges is not a sport?
Skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding, snow skating, wake boarding, surfing, windsurfing, freestyle MX, BMX, dirt jumping, freestyle snowmobile, sky diving....none of these are sports?
You think gymnastics, one of the oldest of the Olympic disciplines, is not a sport?
Not everything is this world can be measured with a stop watch and measuring tape.


Just to add, I don't think your opinion is wrong, I just don't understand it.


Drifting: build a modified road-race car, apply many decals, stickers and energy drink ads, destroy tires, show-boat, destroy the car. The end.


Nick. For the most part, but it should read "...show-boat, have the most fun possible destroying the car."


Drifting: build a modified road-race car, apply many decals, stickers and energy drink ads, destroy tires, show-boat, have the most fun possible, destroy the car. The end.
:( it's too common for them to be destroyed.


We're talking about motorsports, which can be scored objectively. Obviously in other sports subjective scoring is the only option, but in motorsports it's not. If you called drifting a sport, then it would be fine, but as Red Bull showed, drifting can be scored objectively which if that method of scoring becomes widespread I would have no problems with considering it a form of motorsports.


Is drifting motorsport? Yes. Because the car has a motor and it is judged. That's about it though. To compare it to any other form of motor sport is ridiculous. 

I don't really care about it. Without question disciplines like F3, hill climb etc are more difficul. Having said that, I don't really get upset when people call it a sport. When I get upset is when people tell me it's more difficult than something like open wheelers because "you have to have so much precision to tandem drift." 

What also annoys me is how many people look up to pro drifters like they are somehow at the top of the motor sport ladder. Ken Blocks videos are great for example, but there are a lot of people who can drive like that. I would even throw Global Rally Cross into the same category as drifting. Remember what happened when Loeb showed up?


More braincells to appreciate it? Seriously?! Get yourself to Summernats, you'll be surrounded by genius level intellect. :-P


I generally agree with you but want to point out that Mike had a car built for drifting, and also one that is, ahem, replaceable (not that he is!). Can't expect Moss to be sliding a gullwing with pinpoint accuracy. Drifters are better drifters, racers better racers!




Drifting is to motorsport what synchronized swimming to, well, swimming.  To take it as an insult or a compliment is kind of up to you.


Ok, so up Til recently I had no idea how the fark drift competitions worked (point scoring etc) and I still don't fully understand it, however, after watching most of last years FD championship, it seems that the easiest way to win is be part of the right clique, kind of similar to superbikes in the 'ducati' era... If the face fits and all that...


Saying one is more difficult than the other is a bit like saying oval racing is easier than F1 because 20 cars get within a second of ech other...what you forget is that since it's the same difficulty for everyone, winning is just as difficult!
Personally, whilst I've really enjoyed the small taster that I've had of drifting as an *activity*, I would hate to compete in a subjective *sport* - My wife does dressage, and the scores are all justified and annotated, so you can see on video where there are judging errors or favouritism... I couldn't cope with that! So, going back to Paddy's opening line, I think it's good that the IDC organisers recognise that it's not Motorsport in the conventional format, and embracing that rather than fighting it can only be a good thing.
Oh, and Paddy, you really rocked the article and photography in this feature, great job!


Other sports like what?
BMX, where they have racing, as well as half pipe, big air, park, street, etc?
Skiing / boarding, where they have racing as well as freestyle?
Swimming, where they have racing, and syncro and diving?
I don't fucking get you guys lol. Is boxing not a sport? MMA?
People say drifting is not a sport because the criteria for winning is not objective, yet people fail to take an objective approach to the discussion in the first place...


It looks like a very fun way to bankrupt yourself, but i wouldn't call it a true motorsport, more like a mechanical death match.
Paddy McGrath This quote " I’m still not sure if this suited anyone, or was just a leveller for all involved." reminded me of a saying in motorcycle road racing "the rain gives every bike 100 horsepower", it's a leveller as well as a hindrance!


I can keep going lol.
Baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and hockey are all refereed by humans.
Anyone who really understands baseball knows that pretty much any call an Ump makes is subjective. Strike zones differ from one ump to the next, and can be effected by the Umps mood that day. Same thing can be said for collisions at home plate.
As a Canadian, I watch the majority of my fellow countrymen lose their fucking minds every spring during the NHL playoffs, as people rant and rave that some ref made a bad call, or that the goofs doing the video analysis made a wrong decision.
After every round of FD, there's talk of a conspiracy between the judges and certain drivers (mostly DA). Every time a Canadian hockey team is knocked out of the playoffs, we're 100% sure that Gary Bettman is running a conspiracy to prevent a Canadian team from winning the cup.
I don't understand why all these other activities get passes as "sports", while drifting doesn't???


FFS, any time a racing incident goes before the stewards, it becomes subjective.
C'mon guys!!!


Amazing how emerging the scene is, and how ironic it is that in brazil it seemingly doesnt exist. I mean, there are only a handful of rear wheel drive cars out here anyways. And ever since 1992 they dont fabricate them down here. Ridiculous. 

Drifting started in the same way that the 1/4 mile did. Out on the streets, by the illegal street racers. Out of mere and pure enjoyment for cars and gasoline.


@Chris H, unless you can prove that you have competed in both drifting and various grip racing events/series at a high level, I don't think you, I, or any of anonymous commenters can really say one is more difficult than the other.
What would actually be interesting is to hear the opinions of people who have actually walked that walk. Guys like DK, NOB Tanaguchi, Max Orido, or even guys like Ng and Grunwald.
I would love love love to see a seat swap done between say an F1, LMP, even top level GT driver, and a top FD or D1 driver.
Who wouldn't want to see "motorsports" golden child, Lewis "Hammer Time" (holy fuck is that corney....crusty old British guy alert!) Hamilton try to throw a car at the wall at Ebisu. For a god as gifted as him, it should be a cake walk, no?


Twitch_6 You're missing the point I'm trying to make. I'm not saying that drifting isn't a sport. Like you've pointed out, there are other sports that use subjective scoring so it wouldn't be fair to disqualify drifting as a sport. As a MOTORsport, however, I feel that drifting doesn't count because it uses subjective scoring when it is possible to use objective scoring.


I think I understand what you're saying, but I disagree.
To me, all Motorsports are subjective on some level.
Hell, until the introduction of electronic time keeping, positioning, even who won, could be subjective depending on the situation. Go watch old NASCAR from the 70s and 80s. There were countless situations which were left up to human interpretation.
Like I said, any time a racing incedent goes before the stewards, things become subjective.
Even race announcers are willing to admit that "the stewards room is a mysterious place where strange things happen" (paraphrasing from, iirc, WTCC earlier this year).
I get that F1 is more objective than drifting, but it is far from 100% objective.
No Motorsport is 100% objective. At some level, the rules and criteria are open to human interpretation.
I guess my point is that I don't feel there is a magical dividing line between Motorsport and not-motorsport which is defined by some ambiguous level of objectivity.


Watch these. Where is the 100% objectivity (videos are of inconsistencies in NASCAR)
Part 1
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JOSygpGk4oA" rel="dofollow" target="_blank">https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JOSygpGk4oA
Part 2
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JOSygpGk4oA" rel="dofollow" target="_blank">https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JOSygpGk4oA


I said I understand, I re-read, and now I don't understand.
You are willing to consider drifting a sport, just not a Motorsport?
Last time I checked, drift cars have motors. You yourself have said drifting is a sport.
Motor + Sport = Motorsport, or no? Is there an invisible "objectivity multiplier" hidden in that equation somewhere that I'm missing?


Twitch_6 I've karted, drifted in the mountains (not anymore) and been an instructor for autocross and karts. While I understand that isn't exactly competing in a pro drift circuit, anything that pulls over 2G (karts, Formula cars etc) is considerably more difficult to do. You do not see 4-5G in drifting for 2 hours. 

The physical stamina you have to have to be able to control a vehicle after an hour of pulling well over 4G in cornering and braking isn't even arguable. You don't have to have experience with both to understand that. 

We have seen many pro drivers (NOB, Tsuchiya) go from the pro circuits to drifting circuits, but how many drifting drivers have made the transition? 

An F1 driver would pick up drifting incredibly quick, incredibly quick. There is no question about that. How many drift stars do you think you could put on an F1 grid? 

Watch how fast Tiff Needle picks it up. Keep in mind this is 1 day of doing the sport. It's not hard guys, sorry. 



I liked drifting a lot better as a secret Japanese ritual. As a beat up LS swapped 240 dude bro fest its horrendous.


He's 15 and winning championships and I'm 20 and ripping the handbrake in an industrial estate


Twitch_6 Motorsports is a sport that can be objectively scored. Drifting is currently not objectively scored. Thus, I don't consider it to be a motorsport. I don't know how much more simple I could put it to you.


Smiggins True, but at least they are not identical cars going around in circles lol... yet


@Chris H Twitch_6 I'd have to agree F1 is harder, esp after seeing Richard Hammond trying to drive one!  He was scared to death the whole time. That said, I'd still watch drifting over f1 any day.


Fair enough. We all find different things entertaining, but there is definitely a hierarchy when it comes to skill in various cars. Doesn't take a world champion to know that.


Fair points. My rebuttal:
The vid. Anyone with as much wheel time as Tiff should be able to reach the level he did. But what did he really do? He failed to qualify at what is the equivalent of an amateur event. Although not entirely his fault, his techniques (or lack of) are partially responsible for damaging the car.
He made one successful pass, and without knowledge of the section, we can't tell whether or not he was anywhere near the qualifying line. We don't even need to get into a discussion about excessive handbrake (not sure where Tiff got that info, as in D1, they specifically ask the drivers to not use the handbrake, and deduct points for doing so...at least, they used to), consistent steering angle, drift angle, speed, agression of initiation and transitions, etc.
I won't deny that the physical strain is much higher in racing than in drifting. However, physical strain on the driver is not the only factor which determine "difficulty" (to be clear, we're kind of arguing over an ambiguous term, so we might just go in circles lol). By that logic, one could argue that LMP1 racing is more difficult than F1....slightly less physical strain, longer periods of time...
Do I think a FD driver could put a F1 car on the grid? I'd never fully dismiss it, but probably not. Conversely though, do you think a F1 driver could qualify for an FD event? One can only guess, but I'm leaning towards no.
Do I think an F1 driver, with limited practice, could qualify for an amateur drift comp? Probably yes. Do I think a FD driver, with limited practice, could qualify for an amateur karting / club racing event? Probably yes.
As far as the transition from racing to drifting, and vice versa, I don't necessarily think it's a fair comparison...yet!! Racing has been around long enough that current race drivers start when they are kids, and are groomed into what they become. Drifting, on the other hand, is very new. Most top level drifters today were not drifting as children...some raced, most skateboarded lol. Tsetchuya started out racing as a kid, then "invented" drifting (open to discussion). The world really hasn't seen anyone yet who started out drifting as a kid, and then moved to racing, because until now, there haven't been many kids who grew up in a drift car
Give it another few generations though. We're already starting to see kids like Jack Shanahan and Thomas Keily making big waves. These kids will take drifting to levels you and I can't get imagine.
Again, I think it's a bit of a pointless endeavour to argue one is more difficult than the other. To me, at the top level, both are extremely difficult in their own way. I like to relate back to skiing, because I grew up doing it....but would you think Downhill/Super G is more or less difficult than Super Pipe, Big Air, or Park?
Anyone can learn to do parking lot skids, and say drifting is easy. Initiating on someone's door at 200km/h and up is a whole different ball game.
Last point (I swear!), in racing, I think you have more margin for error. Not in the sense that if you push past the limit, you have more time to save a devestating crash, but in that if you lose a tenth of two on a lap, you have the next lap to try to recover that time back. In a drift comp, if you make one mistake, (slightly miss a clip, make a steering correction, etc) you're finished for the weekend.
During FDLBC this year, Tanner Foust made a comment regarding how perfect you have to be on a drift run, and how it stresses him out to the max, moreso than when he's in a racecar.


Can you provide a link or some type of source for the definition that "motorsports is a sport which can be objectively scored" ????
Is the 100m dash a Motorsport?
Wikipedia disagrees with you


Did you even read your own link? Where is the 100m dash listed under motorsports? I stated my opinion in that I believe that in order for drifting to be considered Motorsport, it would have to be scored objectively like every other form of Motorsport. Turn the fanboy goggles off for a couple of minutes and actually read what I've been saying. If you look at pretty much every form of Motorsport, whether it's F1, drag racing, rally racing, NASCAR, etc, there is some objective metric used to judge who wins and loses. In drifting, it's up to a group of judges to score you based on a couple of subjective metrics like some other sports (in general). Other forms of racing use objective metrics such as who crossed the finish line first, who set the fastest lap, etc. Drifting is mostly scored on who put on the best show. The amount of tyre smoke you generated, how aggressive you attacked a corner, how much pressure you put on the leader, etc. All things that are subjectively measured. Majority of people enjoy drift competitions, and I'm not saying that I wouldn't (I have yet to go to one), but me personally, I have a hard time accepting it as a form of Motorsport with it's subjective scoring and I've presented why. You seem to have a hard time accepting my opinion, and that's just something you'll have to get over.


The spirit of drifting is having fun. But I don't really like how it become nowadays. Just like a war of weapons: who have more power - that have advantage. It's wrong. And that's one of the reasons why Tsuchiya and Inada quit D1GP and started Drift Muscle.


tbtstt You're right. the scene is full of hipsters thought. People who think they're too cool to lose themselves in the moment. They spend 100euro on a ticket to see a comedian and split their sides laughing for 90 minutes and talk about it for months.

Then some of those same people go to IDC, spend 20-35euro for 2 DAYS of  interactive entertainment and bitch about the price, the decisions, or whatever. The fact that there are judges means that everyone automatically feels that they are a judge. It's a bit like X-Factor if i'm honest.

Drifting is awesome... It is what it is... It will never be the 'same' as other motorsports. That makes it so good.


Yes in the broadest sense, that there is skill is undeniable but as others have said it falls into the same category as figure skating, diving etc. as it relies on judges which makes it subjective.

I imagine it is great to have a go and to some degree is dramatic and therefore good for spectators but - this is only based on the BDC series - it often feels that by the time we have reached the final 8 (sometimes 16) people have already had enough and it can feel a bit of a drag to the end.

I think drifting could have a good future as long as it finds the right direction. For me at least and once again only based on the BDC the cars can feel a little bland, it seems the rules limit which cars can be made competitive to a few options - obviously there are a few odd cars in there which is a good thing but not enough and just being able to run the same car as everyone else under a different skin wouldn't be a good thing either.


If you're judging difficulty by G force, surely flying a stunt plane is twice as difficult to driving a formula car?


Bonus pictures are basically an entire album lol. Someone in here used the term 'beat up ls swapped 240 dude bro fest'. Personally I am inclined to agree that it's just lame with that lot around. Usually people like that take something good, and then f* it all up by completely missing the point. Point here being to have fun. Trying to make a sport out of something born purely out of fun? I don't think it's possible here. Professionally speaking, the fact that there are judges makes it more of a pageant than a motorSPORT anyway. 

So, no, I don't think it's a motorsport. The part that we're calling motorsport is a misinterpretation of what drifting should be about. Cover more grassroots events, and street drifting (if that's possible). This discussion wouldn't be relevant then.

my $.02


JosephStitt Subjectively judged events are hard to call sports imo. Judges aren't like referees that enforce rules of an objectively scored sport.


AirLift_Lucas RobertEvery  I have been to a pro drift event (well as pro as it gets in the UK), just the once and never again, sorry fella but was bored out of my mind as a spectator. The scene around it all, tuning, modifying, car clubs etc is great, I do love that. But drifting to watch, as a fan, once you have seen it you really have seen it, there is no variation really. But you would say the same about a motocross event, a rallycross, a drag race or a stock car race, so we are all different. I tried it and would never go again, sorry.

As for Mad Mike, he is at Goodwood to put on a show not compete, his car is not priceless and he is a showman for his sport and sponsors, same as the CORR guy, if you want to see someone quick up there, let's get some of the pro hillclimb guys, In fact scratch that the day was won by a time attack car driven to within an inch of its life.

I love Mike and what he does but he is a stuntman, a extreme sportsman, not an athlete per se.


You're entitle to your opinion, but you're making up your own personal definitions of words in order to justify it.
You said "Motorsport is a sport that can be objectively quantified"
The 100m dash is a sport that can be objectively quantified, so by your definition, it qualifies as a Motorsport.
You've also said drifting is a sport, just not a MOTORsport. Dafuq?
I guess in Latin, motor means objective, or something??
It has nothing to do with fanboy googles. It has all to do with taking an objective approach to the discusion, which I don't feel you are doing very well.


Twitch_6  Thats the thing, Nob is a top road racer and has been for years. But you have to understand theya re only doing drifting coz they are paid by the big tuners and teams, if they were't being paid would they be doing it or moving into other things, in Japan this is huge motorsport, second prapr only to SuperGT. SO big money for drivers, aswell as TA.

Sorry chap but being able to lap Le Mans in traffic in the middle of the night when you have been in the car for 3 stints, or lapping traffic at the 24H Nurburring in a McLaren lapping Astra's and old Ascona's makes doing sideways between a few tuff blocks in a car park look a little lame.


Fair point. I'm not out here trying to say drifting is more difficult from racing, far from that. I'm saying they're both difficult in their own ways.
Drifting is a lot more than sliding between a few toughblocks in a parking lot as well.
Drifting is one of those thinngs that each person can make as difficult as they wish to. Mastered a section that you now find easy? Move on to something gnarlier.


whar for the fia regulations then


Twitch_6 Dude all of your points are on the money. To add to the whole whats harder.... Nascar is primarily ran on ovals so it's supposedly easier(lack of opposing turns and varying elevation). Yet many F1, Kart, Indy and V8 supercar racers can barely contain one. Many drivers from different disciplines actually say they're scary as f*ck. Does that make Nascar the "hardest"? No. It's all about what you are comfortable with. I know a few top tier sprint car and dirt latemodel drivers that have a hard time transitioning to asphalt and vice versa. To have an argument state whats the hardest or best is honestly irrelevant. F1 is the most advanced and highest form of circuit racing in the world, but to say the hardest is subjective just like you stated above.



Great drivers are just that great drivers.


Would be nice to see a feature of the E36 Estate


Everyone is bitching about drifting...
^ lol, This guy just wants to see a bimmer.


If you haven't pulled major g in a vehicle you don't understand. It is the only thing when after 15 minutes your body wants to give out. Drifting is a motorsport, but it will never be equal to something like open wheel cars.
Drifting is the figure skating of the car world. It has its place, but it's not objective and because of that can't be taken as seriously as other forms. Doing 7 corners sideways and slowly can not compare to doing miles and miles at well over triple digits for hours.


Great article! Very thought provoking and engaging. Irish drifters are worth looking out for, always enjoyed watching videos from prodrift and idc, looking forward to visiting someday and see these guys drift in person.


NEED TO SEE MORE OF THE SILVER SPOTTED 240!! please tell me its still beating a nissan heart!


JonathanW Are you aware of how many people are qualified to run in the red bull air race compared to people qualified to run in F1? 

You are aware that pilots in that series pull 15G right? They had to put a limit on how much G force the pilots were pulling. They also have to worry about a third dimension that isn't present in motorsport. So in a lot of ways yes I do think piloting one of those is harder than a Formula car. By a long shot.


Nothing to do with drifting, but the Loeb GRC comment has been used in so many places and it's not really a fair comparison @Chris H. Loeb showed up in a superior car (arguably the best rallycross car in Europe at that time), his biggest rival (Gronholm) was hospitalized during practice and the only other person in a comparable car (Block) suffered a puncture early in the race.  
Loeb raced in European Rallycross a year later: he didn't even make the final!


Chunder commenting on drifting, now I've seen it all RobertEvery! I've attended a handful of pro drift events in the UK and, in terms of organisation and entertainment, I've found the standard VERY variable. 
The last Drift AllStars event I attended I (along with others) left well before the final, yet last years event in London seemed to get nothing but praise. I did a BDC event in the latter half of last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I'm really not a fan of the revised event structure they have employed this year, so I doubt I'll bother with it again. 
As an aside to this topic - and it's something I've said in the comments section on both this site and others - I don't think the perception of drifting to the wider world is helped at all when it is needlessly shoehorned into events as filler.




interesting article.. there are 2 things which make drifting appealing to me above all other "motorsports" 1 is the expression, the ability to run whatever blend of vehicle and engine you please, from low powered n/a 4 cylinders right up to 1000+ hp beasts with turbos big enough to suck in anyone without a firm footing. Secondly its the comradery, as you explain in your article the people on hand to lend a hand when needed to extend a fellow competitors day is unheard of these days in motorsport, however it used to be the case in many forms of motorsport. I have read and watched various forms of motorsport that have in past days helped each other out in many ways similar to what you have described here, however no longer is that the case unless it is at the true grass roots of these forms of motorsport. Drifting seems to still be in the process of forming a barrier between grass roots and professional which other motorsports have had decades to form, I believe it is up to those new to the sport to continue the legacies of the big names of drifting right now! And not let grass roots and pro drifting become worlds apart. Guys like Jack and Tomas should form there careers on modesty and being approachable and give back to grass roots drifting. 
The future of drifting is in there hands, its up to them whether it becomes a "true" motorsport, or remains a "questionable motorsport" which excites us all and remains what drifting should always be... FUN!


interesting article.. there are 2 things which make drifting appealing to me above all other "motorsports" 1 is the expression, the ability to run whatever blend of vehicle and engine you please, from low powered n/a 4 cylinders right up to 1000+ hp beasts with turbos big enough to suck in anyone without a firm footing. Secondly its the comradery, as you explain in your article the people on hand to lend a hand when needed to extend a fellow competitors day is unheard of these days in motorsport, however it used to be the case in many forms of motorsport. I have read and watched various forms of motorsport that have in past days helped each other out in many ways similar to what you have described here, however no longer is that the case unless it is at the true grass roots of these forms of motorsport. Drifting seems to still be in the process of forming a barrier between grass roots and professional which other motorsports have had decades to form, I believe it is up to those new to the sport to continue the legacies of the big names of drifting right now! And not let grass roots and pro drifting become worlds apart. Guys like Jack and Tomas should form there careers on modesty and being approachable and give back to grass roots drifting. 
The future of drifting is in there hands, its up to them whether it becomes a "true" motorsport, or remains a "questionable motorsport" which excites us all and remains what drifting should always be... FUN!


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