Red Bull Drift Shifters: The Best Seat In The House

If you made it along to last weekend’s Red Bull Drift Shifters, then I’m sure you’d agree that no-one had a bad view.

With the action running almost right up to the safety barriers, it’s the closest that tens of thousands of people have come to professional drifting in person. The sights, the sounds and the smells of high horsepower and decimated rubber were inescapable – if you can’t get the people to go to the racetrack, then bring the racetrack to the people, right?

Red Bull Drift Shifters Liverpool by Jordan Butters-7438

While the crowd was five to ten deep in places, with pretty much the whole perimeter of the circuit open to spectators, there was plenty of viewing options, along with the two huge jumbotron screens to take in when the action move to the other end of Liverpool’s Maritime Mercantile City.

Red Bull Drift Shifters Liverpool by Jordan Butters-7028

Although it’s safe to say that the best seat in the house was, inevitably, from within the Mersey Tunnel, strapped into a 680+hp drift car, sat on the start line, and ready to fire out into the daylight onto a city-block-sized pinball machine.

Forget everything you know about drift competitions. Drift Shifters – the brainchild of Mad Mike Whiddett – takes the subjective, sometimes inconsistent and often confusing format of traditional ‘judged’ drift competitions and turns it on its head with a short, concise and fan-friendly version, complete with weird obstacles, flashing lights, smoke and pinball-machine noises. It sounds silly, it is silly, but then so is drifting, right? Above all, Drift Shifters is about having fun, putting on a show, and giving fans a taster of what drifting is all about, in bitesize form.

Red Bull Drift Shifters Liverpool by Jordan Butters-7662

That’s not to say that the drivers last weekend weren’t in it to win it, and through all the banter and lighthearted nature of the event, you could see some serious thought was going into how to go about maximising points during each run. Too much time wasted on one obstacle or combo and you missed out on valuable points elsewhere.

As the event progressed it was clear to see the drivers figuring out the most profitable route around the course, and their scores started to climb. First, Fredric Aasbø broke through the 5,000,000 point mark in qualifying, setting the standard. Then, Forrest Wang took it up a notch to 5.5million in the quarter finals. Three out of the four semi finalists knocked on the door of Wang’s top score.

Red Bull Drift Shifters Liverpool by Jordan Butters-7715

Ultimately, it all came together in the finals for Kiwi Gaz Whiter, who eked an impressive 6.9million score out of the tight inner-city circuit, outclassing second place Forrest Wang’s 4.75million points in his final run.

Want to relive it for yourself? Turn up your speakers and jump on board with Whiter in his supercharged LS3 S14 Silvia during his winning run, courtesy of Red Bull and GoPro.

Now tell me, how good does that car sound?

Jordan Butters
Instagram: jordanbutters
jordan@speedhunters.com

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1

I prefer this to the other drift competitions, simply because it is much easier for me to see the relationship between a good run and a high score. I found that it also had a much quicker flow of progression as the event went on. Even with the lack of tandems, the open format of a run made things exciting as it was interesting to see what strategy the driver was going to go with. Hopefully Mike gets a chance to bring it to more cities in the future.

2

How quickly the event ran was a real eye opener, and something that I've been praying for at drift events for a long, long time.

3

Unfortunately, other drift events will never run that quickly. There are too many issues to handle in a regular drift event to speed them up too much. To this point i think that Formula Drift has them running about as fast as they possibly can. The reasons that are slowing them down:

1. the size of the field, even just running a top 16 takes several hours because there are 16+8+4+2+2 = 32 total runs to get through without even worrying about the extra time for judging, resetting for the second run, competition time outs etc etc. If im not mistaken there were only 8 competitors in the final, 6 from qualifying and 2 from the LCQ

2. Tandems, having the cars go and then have to switch places and run again takes time and it also increases the likelihood for a competition time out as there are now 2 drivers who can screw up instead of just one.

3. Judging, how many times have you seen the judges needing to watch a replay on the FD livestream? I know there is the championship that uses the driftbox instead of judges but i think that sensors external to the car are a much better idea as it allows the organizers better control of what the event will look like (unless they some how manage to get the driftbox to measure proximity to walls and clipping points)

So drift events as they are run like Formula drift can never really be sped up to speeds like there were at redbull drift shifters. Im ok with that and would personally like to FD get with the ages and start incorporating sensors, at the very least in qualifying as it would be easier to standardize qualifying scores and take away the hint of an un-even playing field (whether or not one exists)

4
Pádraig MacCraith

IDC made some changes a few years ago which they have abandoned since (to bring themselves inline with FD & Drift Masters) but I felt they were a step in the right direction at the time, and drastically reduced the time required for a Top 16. No tire changes, no OMT etc.

I much prefer Drift Shifters proximity sensor system to D1's Driftbox setup.

5

Now tell me, how good does that car sound?

So so good!

6
Pádraig MacCraith

The 8-into-1 manifold was a work of art in itself.

7
Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Ayy. As evidenced with Tanner Foust's drift VW Passat as well!

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