Are These The Rule Changes That Drifting Needs?

For as much as I love drifting and everything the sport has given me, it’s certainly not without its faults.

In fact, I think it’s one of the most frustrating forms of motorsport to watch, and I would doubt that I’m alone in thinking this. The constant stop/start nature and waiting between each run happening kills the sport for so many people. Then there are the rise in budgets at the top end, which have killed the days when an underdog could beat the big guys despite a significant horsepower and financial disadvantage.

These aren’t the only challenges drifting faces, but there’s one organiser who’s about to implement some drastic – yet very simple – rule changes that might just change the top level of the sport for the better.

2017 IDC Rule Change Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-2

David Egan is the main man behind the Irish Drift Championship, the Irish Amateur Drift Championship, and the British Drift Championship. He’s not your average drifter and has previously described drifting as not being a motorsport, but as entertainment. For the 2017 season, he’s about to roll out a huge draft of changes that aim to tackle the issues discussed above, and more. He, along with his judges and team, have already applied them to the IADC, which runs during the winter months, and they’ve delivered exactly the results that he was looking for.

“There’s too much downtime and time where nothing is happening in front of the crowd. That can’t happen anymore,” he told me. “Last year, we timed one complete Top 32 from start to finish at just over three hours, but with only one hour of action actually occurring. You can’t expect people to sit around for that much time, essentially looking at nothing for two hours. It had to change.”

And change it will.

2017 IDC Rule Change Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-2-2

The respective championships will release the entire list of rule updates to the public in the coming fortnight (the drivers and teams have already been informed), but David has exclusively shared just some of the headline changes which we can expect to see this year…

The Horsepower Rule (That Isn’t A Horsepower Rule)

For 2017, when a driver arrives to the start line for his or her battle, they are not allowed to change tyres until a winner is decided. They must complete the battles, including the additional run if called for, on one set of tyres. If a driver de-beads or punctures a tyre, they must use their five minute rule or forfeit the battle.

The One More Run Rule

One More Time is officially dead. ‘One More Run’ (OMR) is the new sheriff in town. Runs are now individually scored; each judge will score a 10-0, 7-3, 5-5 etc. after the first run and the score will be displayed to the audience on the big screen and live stream. The judges will explain their first run decisions and then that run is locked in, with the same process repeated for the second run. If the scores are tied, the drivers will be forced to an all new One More Run situation, where the higher qualifying driver must choose whether to chase or lead for a single run that will decide a winner. As an example, if Jack Shanahan decided to lead against Mike Fitzgerald, the decision on who wins the battle would be made immediately after this run. There would be no reverse run where Shanahan has to chase Fitzgerald.

A OMR cannot be scored 5-5. There will be a winner. No more fence-sitting, judges.

2017 IDC Rule Change Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-9

The Five Minute Punishment Rule

While not technically a new rule to the world of competitive drifting, drivers will now only be allowed one five minute rule per event. If they choose to use this five minute rule, they will be deducted a championship point. Further to this, you can only call a five minute rule once you have passed the pace cone on the first run of a battle. The battle must be ‘live’ to use it. If you try to call it on the start line, you will forfeit that run.

The No False Starts Rule

Cars will now start one behind the other, with the lead drive in front and chase driver behind. The lead driver must navigate a tight chicane before going full throttle, while the chase driver is free to go full throttle as the lead car drives through the obstruction. This gives a significant advantage to the chase driver and also completely eliminates any false starts. On a similar note, if a driver doesn’t make it to the line in time for qualifying, they lose that qualifying run. If a driver doesn’t make the start line in time for their battle, the other driver is sent on their run to gain a 30-0 advantage.

2017 IDC Rule Change Speedhunters by Paddy McGrath-4

2017 will also see the introduction of ‘Drift Games’, which will be used to fill the downtime between competition segments i.e. between qualifying and Top 32 battles. It’s a novel idea where fans will vote before each event what Drift Game they want to see take place. There will be backwards and big entry competitions, drift limbo, drift parking and some others too. There will also be a Team Drift section, where five teams of four cars will run off against each other. This section has been added purely for entertainment value and ensures that from the minute the track goes live, it stays live all day. The Drift Games will take place before the Top 16 in order to get the crowd hyped, further evidence of the emphasis Egan wants to place on the entertainment value of drifting.

These new rules are just some of those which are to be announced in the coming two weeks, but even on their own they have the potential to have a huge impact on the motorsport. They are simple and in some ways obvious rule changes, but by limiting drivers to one set of tyres per battle, for example, having 1,500hp will become redundant if you’ve run out of rubber after one run. The rules encourage cars focused on reliability over outright horsepower; they reduces costs for the teams involved, as a car can only use an absolute maximum of 10 tyres during the Top 32. All of a sudden, the underdog might have a chance again.

By replacing OMT with OMR, they’ve introduced really interesting mind games into the equation and certainly an air of unpredictability. They’re replacing rules which contain so many grey areas with rules that are ruthless. They also want to grant drivers from other forms of motorsport temporary licenses to join the grid, to allow them to try their hand at drifting and to maybe appreciate that’s it’s nowhere near as easy as it might look.

Will they work? In the first IADC event, the Top 32 event time was reduced by 50 percent, so that in itself is already a huge positive for drift fans. There’s no more sitting around looking at an empty track for most of the day.

As for the rest, we will have to wait and see…

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos



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Commercialization.... drifting was freedom where are we heading now?
Super expensive tires that will hold those 1500hp/ 3 runs, super reliable and expensive car builds (Mast Motorsports V8 nonsense, driveshaft shop products etc...)
Sideways NASCAR - hurray!


I'm impressed at how you've taken the complete opposite conclusion as to what these rule changes mean and intend to change. They should pretty much guarantee that this doesn't become "sideways NASCAR" and instead puts the focus back on driver ability.


Heaven forbid other forms of motorsport should be as competitive and unpredictable as NASCAR.

Bash it for being Southern and racist (it is), but at least admire the tight competition that spec series create. I do get kinda tired of elitists extolling the virtues of racing that's completely uncompetitive. F1 has KERS and passing zones, fer Chrissakes.

Richard Clayderman

Why is NASCAR "racist"? Should NASCAR bus in an ethnically diverse group of people to attend every event to fill some kind of diversity quota? Would you be happy then? If a sport is "racist" because of the majority demographic of it's fanbase? Ice hockey is RACIST and CANADIAN!


Hi Paddy! That’s true, that you can sometimes wonder how seemingly clear message can be understood in most unbelievable ways...

When reading your article rules what frustrated me most were horsepower rule and 5min rule – to me it is like fighting with Jeannie out of the bottle. Weather drifting is or isn’t pure form of motorsport, drivers who choose to participate in Championship want to fight for victory.

When you have tasted newly declared forbidden fruit like 1000hp, Wise fab angle kit etc., it is nearly impossible to refuse from that and by implementing more rules/boundaries it will only take more time, money and engineering to be able to preserve same performance.

Look at F1 Or WRC. WRC have intake restrictors etc, but teams want power, solution is simple – thousands of pounds worth turbochargers to fulfill their needs – the tighter the rules the greater effort is needed to stay competitive. There comes out double edge sword by implementing limitations we want to level out playfield but in reality that is achievable only in competitions like mono-class racing when guys before race even draw/raffle motor ECU's, other side is WRC/F1 outcome where ridiculous budget is needed. I think neither option is desirable for drifting from regular guy’s perspective.

Let’s bring back for example firewall modification ban – in past times driver in his shed could take his favorable chassis, buy from scrap yard heavy iron engine, cut some metal out and build well balanced, competitive and unique machine. What now – to get well balanced car within rules...more reasonable is to buy certain chassis, put cookie cutter motor in front of your car...or if your wallet allows buy 2JZ billet block from Down Under – in the blink of an eye options have lessen. Look, even Daigo Saito has to dich his Chaser in favor of GT spec Vette, because he wants to retain same drift car characteristic – and what’s with other people who don’t have same resources – they become in disadvantage.

Drifting has been wonderful place because of loose rules where with mechanical and engineering skill you could fight back money flows, but it seems to me that new rules will only make it harder. I will watch how things develop closely and would like to be proven wrong.


I think you need to read the article again. No one is putting a physical limit on power, no one is banning WiseFab or the like. They're basically creating a situation where having 1,500hp doesn't really make any sense, so a driver or team will voluntarily reduce power in order to increase reliability and reduce tyre wear. In theory, you still could run 1,500hp if you wanted, but if the battle goes to a OMR and you have no tyres left, you're going to get smoked. There's still freedom there, it's just up to the driver or team if it's worth the gamble.


I understand that perfectly and my reaction to this rule is:
- (as a Gulf prince) – let’s call tire manufacturer and tell them to develop new tire that will survive 1500hp for whatever drift rounds and cost is not a factor! I need few trucks with them after 4 weeks. Thank you ;)

Nathan Andrews

Look at formula 1, they spend hundreds of millions if there was such thing as an everlasting tyre don't you think they would have made it? only thing i can say is open your eyes and read the article again.


I would say best of luck to them trying to create a tyre that tyre manufacturers haven't been able to make since the tyre was invented.


Well.... the chinese almost-plastic tires last long.... but with no traction.


I have seen a few pro drifting events but I still and will always prefer drift open days. You see pros and amateurs go out to a track and just have fun. To me thats far more entertaining than pros drifting small sections. I understand the short technical parts show skill and stuff but I just prefer the grassroots stuff


I'm of the same opinion, but rules implemented in competitive drifting don't affect grassroots. They can both exist at the same time so really there's no need to choose one or the other.


Sounds goods to me for the most part. My biggest issue with comp drifting was that it wasn't exciting for long enough, the downtimes. Hopefully these changes address that.


I think it's a step in the right direction at the very least. They're addressing the problems and trying to do something about them, rather than just pretending that everything is fine.


Its been a victim of its own success from what I can see. I'm an outsider, never been drifting and never been too interested in it to be honest. I agree is great to watch and it is exciting but it appears its gone from grass roots to pro pretty quickly and the sport didn't know how to handle the sudden growth. It seems the guys running it are now just getting to grips with what the sport and fans want. The idea of 3 hours for 1 hour of competition sounds soul destroying for me... I get annoyed at waiting 20 minutes between races at a British Touring Cars round.


The drift games is an interesting idea. Reminds me of Monster truck events actually where they filled the time between qualifying and racing with a wheelie contest for those who didn't make the final show.

Keeps the track live and crowd (and kids!) entertained while they deal with logistical stuff.

Some might argue it makes drifting more of a side show sport but it's sort of there anyway.


I've been a big fan of drifting since the late 90s. My buddy would go to Japan for a few weeks every year and he'd bring home tons of Option vids for us to watch on VHS! I kinda miss seeing the lower powered drift mobiles. Do you think that having classes with specific horsepower limits would make anything different about the pro events? Just curious. I really miss seeing the Hachi's and other random, low powered cars out there drifting.


I miss the times when you could bring your almost stock hachi, E30, Sierra, with yourself in a T-shirt,wothout rollcage,on small area or local track. Everybody know each other. Moral is,they should keep it cheap. Today is everything with V8. Guy with Skyline and 300HP calling underpowered is ridicilous.


You still can, in lots of places. That hasn't disappeared.


Luke Fink is trying to bring back that in Australia

Chris Colouryum

Actually sounds a lot better for the higher end competitive style of stuff. Grass roots stuff will always been grass roots but this sounds really well thought out for make competition level events better for the crowd and drivers.


Formula D in the US needs to refresh as well. It's really annoying to just sit around waiting for something to happen while they play the same commercials over and over. It's especially annoying when you realize you paid good money to watch commercials with some car stuff on the side.


they should adapt those tire rule

Garrett Palmer

Hmm the OMR rule is very intriguing and the Drift games thing is a no brainer. Other than those two I don't see much of a change in what the norm has been. I think that tire size regulations could benefit drift series more than anything else.

Darren D McNamara

IDC already has tire size regulations
max size is 265

Garrett Palmer

Oh okay thanks for the info as tbh I don't follow IDC


I think that the new tyre limit is an absolute game changer.

Patrick Peebles

I like it. This is definitely a step in the right direction.


Win win as far as I can see, drift games, perfect for the crowd AND the drivers to have some fun (helps the nerves ha) loads of times I've gone out and just had some fun at events so the paying public have something to watch between heats etc.


Love articles like these that open up some good discussion. Thanks for the info Paddy.

These rules certainly help the program and seem to be a vital step in bringing the sport up to another level. On the other hand, im still hoping for a horsepower rule to be implemented at some point. It should help newcomers be able to be more competitive while truly separating the boys from the men among the pros. Higher HP car can save you from a lot of mistakes in drifting. For example if you come into a corner to slow you can always power over into an oversteer to start your drift. Meanwhile we all know that if you go slow into a corner with like 250hp you're not getting anywhere. My point in all of this is that id like to see pros show off the skill that truly separates them from us novice drifters. There's not a single time im watching a Drift Muscle competition and see some crazy dude go into competition with 300hp and think i can pull off the runs he does. Never. Thats the level i would love to see from Formula D at some point.

Darren D McNamara

Horsepower rule would be way too hard to police in my opinion
All dynos read differently
And you run the risk of someone winning and then being stripped of the win after
Motorsport is ruined by too many regulations like in F1 etc
There are other ways like these new rule to limit the power. Pro drifting needs high horsepower anyway it adds to the spectacle. For the hardcore fans then maybe a couple of 200hp ae86's is great to watch but the general public would be more impressed by 700hp cars
We are building a couple of 700hp cars for these rules and we think that should be good enough to win any event. A 600-700hp car is attainable to most privateers over the space of a couple of seasons. So it is pretty much creating a horsepower limit on the cars without having to police actual numbers


Get off the internet and finish the Audi, Darren.

Darren D McNamara

looking at parts for it actually


PS Love you x


They seem like some interesting changes, let's see how it goes :-)


I would like to see how this changes who and how many view the sport on a regular basis. I try and live stream as much as I can but a lot of times it is during a down time so I get bored or have other things to do then miss the action.


I was on the first judging panel to have tested these rules in IADC and I can confirm that they work. While they can be slightly harsh, it's what the sport badly needs in terms of spectacle and an increase in action vs downtime. Grassroots will always be there and I love it, just like everyone else. But the pro sport has to progress and that means TV, and live TV at that if the show can be made tight enough, which it can. It's already live in Poland I believe.

There's also another big advantage of this system in terms of transparency to the crowd. If someone who is unfamiliar to drifting decides to go along and check out an IDC event, the new system is much easier to understand and much less ambiguous. This can also only be a good thing.

I just hope I don't have to eat my words as a driver if this system goes against me some day lol :D


Just wondering, what is the black car infront of the yellow S13 by Dynamic Customs. It looks like a R32 with a bodykit, but idk.


It's a PS13 with a Honda Odyssey front end conversion.




Dat looks amazing

Bailey Groutage

This is a good step in the right direction. I wish they would implement a grassroots portion as well. "limited" like Drift Muscle where they have 300-350hp cars and skinnier tires. I think a lot of the so-called Pro's aren't as great as their wallets make them look.


I love driftong comps, not so much. To me, drifting is the free spirit counter culture to the rules and regs of racing, where style is #1.

I have nothing agaist 2 drivers battling it out over a section, but I don't think they need judges...the drivers know who "won" and who "lost". And if you can't tell, go again. Your only as good as your last run.

That said, I know top level comps won't go away, and on that front, the Irish are light years ahead of everyone else, save maybe the Aussies. Hat's off to the IDC for trying something different...let's see how many of these ideas are stolen by FD lmao.


FD get a lot of shit, as it seems to be the in thing to do. They've introduced plenty of rules to combat the horsepower wars (power to weight tyre rules, chicaned start etc.) over the years.


These changes are awesome. Going to be great for us in the southern hemisphere. I love staying up and watching the idc & bdc however hard it makes mondays. compacting the event is ideal from a spectators point of view. Also im all for all types of drifting i love it all 200hp or 1000hp as long as its good consistent driving.
The biggest advantage i can see to limiting tyre usage so essentially limiting hp will be bringing in better reliability and more consistent driving. turn better faster entertainment


You know, these don't look half bad.


These all seem like great rules! Harsh, but definitely better for the crowd. It'd be cool to see a follow up article on this with your impressions afterwards.


I'm definitely hoping to get along to couple of a rounds of IDC this year. One is hilariously close to where I live, so I can't really make any excuses.


I'm actually interested in seeing what these new rules make the drivers that have top hp come up with when competing with low hp cars. I'm more interested in seeing what drift is and has always been. A show of style, an exhibition of personality rather than just racing. People tend to put drift in the class of motorsport but it's the only discipline that has a particular taste to it, an expression. Looking at the Wheelz N Smoke contest in Africa, it seems to be a one of the directions in which drift has another ace up its sleeve. But hey, that's just me being a dreamer and believing in drift, and its amazing sea of possibilities while trying not to compare it with anything else. Gonna travel to Ireland for this, see it live, the rest of the european drift championships got me tired with their fake judging anyways.


I reckon Global Warfare or Japfest are the usual great events to attend, although rounds one and two look good this year also.


I plan on going full season..only thing I'm concerned is the insurance policy(for media). I haven't been able to find a company that offers the requested insurance for an Ireland outsider, even the one Cian recommended me. I'm honestly excited for the 2nd round, because I've been to some docks drift events, and they have such a specific vibe. Other than that, Global Warfare/Japspeed should be the Irish trimming through the competition(how fast, depends on the outsiders invited, when Daigo was there it was nice, last year it was Dai) but we'll see what these new rules make the drivers come up with, looking forward to this championship.


Almost forgot about Robbie Nishida...but they had a bit of trouble with the car..


One of the problems I see, is that when there is nice weather with no wind, it will take a while for smoke to clear out between races. Even with todays slow pace, sometimes the smoke has not cleared out before new battle is already on(which is a nightmare for photographers/videographers, in some situations for drivers as well).
Reducing the time between races might introduce the smoke-not-cleared-out problem.
But other than that I think these are some fair rule changes.


If there's no wind, it doesn't matter how long there is between battles. You can't really legislate for things you can't control.


Isn't drift games similar to what D1 does on their down time? For example, when they have extreme sports or other for of entertainment on track.


I stopped following D1 when they switched to Drift Box judging, so I honestly couldn't tell you.

Russell Encarnacion

Hmm. Hope this means more 4 wheel drifts, grass roots street style, (fast in - slow out) and less giant power slide smoke fests (slow in - fast out).


im not gon lie watching cars not race cuz of engine problems is weak, there should be like a 600hp cap or something like that. 1K hp is cool but i doubt its very reliable.


Fair play to Dave and the crew for having the balls to come up with some of these changes - its what the sport has always needed, trouble is you cant please all the people all the time !! Grass roots want no cages, T-shirts, beer and bongs, Motorsport types want Drift-box and technical regs to choke a donkey lol
Personally I think the best rule change that could be made is freedom of chassis/shell use but a small financial cost required to pay for a scrutineer to get such cars properly "certified" prior to the event to meet a safety/structural criteria. This would give us a much more varied paddock and give spectators more to get enthused about and to "buy into" - its what I envisaged with TA and such with inviting all the car clubs to events, they root for their preferred marque and gives you a wider pool of support. Currently we are effectively in the S Body BMW JZ Show with 90% of the car buying world not having anything relevent to cheer on (hurry up with the Audi ffs Darren !!!) There are enough savvy people to build them and scrutineer them properly and it would give people more opportunity to come up with surprise packages to take on the current crop of identikit cars - heck even the Orange is getting a JZ makeover lol
2017 looks to be another interesting year for sure though !!

Richard Clayderman

"Drift games" = more opportunity for cars to break instead of doing the actual competition.