Why The FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup Doesn’t Work

I’ve been struggling with this all week.

I don’t know where to start, how to address it, or whether to just keep my personal thoughts to myself or give it to you as it is.

For this reason, I think that this post is best approached from a discussion point of view. Within five minutes of watching the action at this second FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup in Odaiba, I knew that there was no way I was going to embark on a battle-by-battle review of what went down.

This wasn’t the reason I was there.


In retrospect staying in bed would have probably been the wiser choice following an exhausting week at SEMA, but then again there was still a little bit of hope and outright curiosity in me to see what the world’s biggest motorsport sanctioning body was trying to do with drifting.

Last year I approached it all with as much of a positive perspective as I could muster, and believe me, it was extremely difficult as I saw so much wrong with it all.


But this year I’m just going to let it rip.

Screw political correctness, I don’t think anyone that is reading this right now wants to hear a series of hopeful thoughts or me concentrating only on the positives, which I’m still trying to figure out if there even were any at this point.

You want to hear what I thought about it all? Well, read on…


I think Keiichi Tsuchiya’s expression in the picture above sort of sums up what most people were thinking about it.

Most are probably too involved, in that they wouldn’t admit to anything being wrong for fear of creating friction and thus ending whatever involvement or affiliation they may have with this proposed series or with the D1 Grand Prix organisers that put it all together.


So, let me at least try to lay it out with some constructive criticism, because I don’t see the feasibility of a true world championship.

Drifting isn’t F1. Budgets for most competitors are tight to begin with, without going into what they would need to send a team and a couple of cars around the world. Plus, the world’s best drivers are often too busy with their primary series to come to a parking lot in Odaiba and battle it out in front of a global audience. I mean, where were the Formula Drift USA drivers?


Don’t for a second think I’m having a dig at any of the drivers. There was some awesome talent and individualism in the style of driving I saw during the eight hours I hung around the parking lot, apologies, venue.


I came away, much like last year, respecting the Russians in particular. These guys are all nuts, and their driving is seriously on point.


The cars, too, are as always a big part of any drift event for me and among the cool international entrants it was nice to see favorites like Do-Luck’s VR38-powered ZN6 in action. I say this because last year I saw this car materialise in front of my eyes in the space of a week.

I also still need to share the build of it too, now that I remember.


In the year since the car has been built, Pon has learned to really extract the maximum from it, and it was possibly the biggest smoke machine out there. Until the rain started that is.


Malaysian Muhammad Zaiham Hamdan in his furious Altezza was a close challenger in the tire smoke department, likely down to the Valino tires which he runs. They seem to be able to blaze up beautifully, yet still offer high levels of grip and on-the-limit performance.


So, no, the cars and the drivers have got nothing to do with it all.

It’s the way the event is handled. It’s like a recycled tried and tested recipe, mixed up and served up in a faux international setting – except there’s very little of an international feel to anything.

There seems to be as much confusion and miscommunication with media, drivers and teams as there was last year, down to the officially sanctioned FIA Swiss photographers being denied access to the better shooting areas at the event, which were only available to official D1 shooters.


From a photographer’s perspective this was possibly the absolute worst event I’ve ever had to shoot at. There was obviously very little thought given to actual access and vantage points with no openings in the fence that surrounds the course.

There is obviously no interest in insuring that those who come out to an event like this professionally are given help and assistance to make sure they can do a good job. That’s why I, along with plenty others, were shooting from the very top of the bleachers right next to paying spectators.

This is all due to the accident in Nikko which saw a wheel hit and kill a spectator a couple of years ago. As such, all eyes in Japan have been on drifting’s somewhat loose safety standards. Now, all pro events need to be fenced off, and almost boxed away just in case another wheel goes flying. The bicycle/scooter helmets photographers now have to wear should keep you safe and shielded…


Man, I really hate dishing out the negativity. It’s something I really don’t want to do, but at the same time I feel I can’t just keep quiet. Not any more.

Let me at least balance things out with some positive images, so here is a shot of two modern day JDM legends, Smoky’s VR38-powered R32 GT-R and Amemiya’s Tokyo Auto Salon show car.


Ah, I’m feeling a little better already.

The previous day’s D1 Grand Prix round was officially Ken Nomura’s last event. The comical man from Kyushu and owner of URAS has finally decided to throw in the towel. An end of an era for sure, but it’s good that veterans leave space for up and coming talent. If there was ever a time for an injection of freshness in D1, it’s right about now.


The paddock area was a fun place to walk around, with a handful of cars on display as well as well-known brands exhibiting their parts. Like Tomei Powered, who had one of their complete Genesis RB26 engines with a full exhaust system attached.


This is a street oriented product called ‘TiSports’, still made of titanium but with slightly smaller diameter piping and a sub-silencer to quieten things down over the competition oriented Expreme Ti. Cool to see they are using the photographs of my car to showcase this new product!


What Japanese event could possibly be complete without the presence of a Nakai-built 911. It’s cool to see the owner of Rauh Passion continuing to evolve his car, now running color-matched Stoptech brakes up front. This car is street registered but it sees a lot of track action. As it should be.


Doesn’t matter what event, but Toyo Tires always seem to round up the coolest cars.


What better than a selection of deep-fried anything and everything to accompany your dose of JDM?


Most of my fun was spent in the pit section, checking out the cars, chatting to the countless familiar faces I see at many events and just attempting to make sense of it all. I did find it curious that all cars in the pit had to be pushed around with their engines off.It turned out that on the previous day, one of the international drivers drove too fast to get back to his tent and ended up running over a mechanic from the RE-Amemiya team, severally fracturing his leg. Not nice at all, but instead of telling everyone to drive slow, it was now a no-engine area.


And on to the battles we go…

Unlike D1, DOSS wasn’t being used. Instead, there was a panel of judges which would then relay their vote on to the commentators.

The persistent drizzle pretty much put an end to tire smoke, and thus a big part of the show which drifting is. Still, the crowds seemed to enjoy it all, despite the countless delays and generally slow proceedings.


I kept asking myself, how could it not seem exciting, even taking into account it’s the same layout D1 has used for countless years. The answer is that it spans from the artificial approach to it all.

There isn’t a natural progression, with driving talent being mismatched at times. Some international drivers were in borrowed cars, others never drove this track before. It just felt like they were just pushing them out there, telling to put on a good show.


It was the least entertaining pro drifting event I’ve seen.


I didn’t last past the Best 8, and I left with a sour taste in my mouth.

I’ve witnessed D1 Grand Prix at its pinnacle. I recall the great show they used to put together, and I feel that they are just relying on past success to try and re-package it as an FIA international event. The best way I can put it is this: the FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup is D1 Grand Prix with the addition of VIP and hospitality tents.

Oh, and they’ve forgotten a few continents, too.

I think I’ll just hit up Nikko, Meihan or Ebisu for grassroots events if I ever need to enjoy drifting from now on.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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Appreciate your honest review.
This seems to be the definition of 'selling out to the big corporations'

Would it ever be possible to do an article explaining how the doss system in d1gp actually works, even though I know you hate it..?
Have watched a few events recently and I actually like it, without understanding it.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Dino has talked about it before in one of his D1 coverage.

"It’s all based on a scoring system where the course is split up into a series of sections with each section being attributed a maximum number of points. The system relies on in-car telemetry via a Racelogic DriftBox to judge the car on things like entry speed, angle, speed of transition, and even angle smoothness. There are no clipping points anymore, which has really changed how D1 action looks."


Completely unrelated to this article, but I’d like to know more about DOSS too. I understand that it can measure speed and a angle etc, but how could it track the proximity of the cars or a drivers ability to match the lead car?

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

I guess that still needs the human element there for now.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

The human element was in there this time round, but it still didn't work out. The driving skills of a lot of drivers were also not that great, they should have split it up into two classes or something as there was such a visual mismatch from a the viewer's perspective


From my perspective, D1 has tried to go too high-tech with a "data only" approach using the DOSS system. I personally feel that drifting needs to be judged by humans, using clearly specified criteria, clipping points and outer zones. Now, I also feel that using the DOSS system as a kind of "tie breaker" or for analytical purposes. It has a usefullness but it's not the answer to everything. As Dino has also expressed, grass roots is really where drifting will remain "pure". The individual's experience and interaction with other drivers and spectators is what makes it unique and alluring.


"I think I’ll just hit up Nikko, Meihan or Ebisu for grassroots events if I ever need to enjoy drifting from now on."

Yes. It's so depressing to read about this, but it has to be said.


Shut up and post pictures of camrys!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It's not just the FIA, D1 is the same. The driving talent is there but it's just a recycling of so many things. They made drifting loose its magic, while FD proves that a well organized series can still entertain and be cool to watch.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Sad but true. This event just came and went without much fanfare either. Probably because it's still stuck in Japan, not going to other countries for now.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

IMO it's the FIA figuring out how much money is in it. That's it. Nothing has changed in 1 year which hints they aren't really that interested in figuring out a way to make it work.


Dino - you can literally go back to some of my comments where I was saying my thoughts on the FIA taking over would make for a horrible event. I think this will collapse. The FIA isn't really the body to host drifting events...too concerned about money and billions.

They can't even do F1 right and it wasn't broken in the first place.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I think we all knew it. We just had to see with our own eyes how bad it would all be. Ask anyone that's paid to work for them though and it's the best event in the world, they just need to figure out a few "details"


So to conclude: "Yeah, but nah."

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Pretty much!


Come to meihan at Kansai All Star! The best base drift event, still has the classic style with the dantai!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I will!


Who built that beautiful BRZ/GT86 behind that car with the Shark-front show car? I need more photos!(anyone knows what bodykit is on that car?)(also what is the bodykit on the S15 from the first and second picure?)

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

S15 kit is M-Sport.


but...that widebody isnt M-Sport tho isnt it?

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Oh, I'm not sure about the widebody on the red S15, but Team Orange's cars use M-Sport kits.


Big thanks my dude!


I believe the 86 kit is a BN Sports widebody.


And what kit does the orange Altezza have? I have never seen this bodykits before so I'm really curious.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Custom kit, Rocket Bunny-style.


Any idea if its something that could be sold in the future? Im looking for an Altezza Wagon that I might want to turn into a drift wagon at some point and that kit is sick!

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

It is for sale. It's done by a local Malaysian company called "Boone Ae Ro", or B.A.R. Here's their Facebook page.



I went saterday and sunday, and this was my first time ever at a drift event. The rain was a bit of a bummer, but for someone who never visited a drift event before, it was very entertaining.

One thing that dissappointed me, was the payed standing area, it felt way too small and crowded, but i guess visibility is what you pay for, The train/metro station next to the venue almost had a better view.

P.S: the parking lot was of a much higher quality then the bigger car meets that i've visited, quite an eye opener.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I can see it being entertaining as a first event. That's possibly why they sold out all the spots. How many will return to watch a second one though...that's the question


I don't know if it has been remedied since last year's event but another reason I can see why they wouldn't come is due to being at a pretty big disadvantage. Last year's rules(maybe this year's as well) stated that each driver had to use the tires under the rules of their respective series. Formula Drift USA drivers are restricted to street tires while other series abroad use R Compound tires. While street tire technology has made leaps and bounds over recent years, It is still a major disadvantage in terms of grip.


Appreciate the honest review, honestly the cars are the only reason to keep coming back. And since there's only a few you don't really need to stick around too long. Great pics though Dino even if you weren't in the best conditions.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thank you.


The fia events are very poorly ran they need to do away with sunpros all together. The driving talent was questionable at best, most drivers couldn’t even make a full run without losing drift or straightening it was pathetic. There was nobody there that could even be competitive in formula drift pro 1. The drivers at the fia event would be pro am at best in America and pro 2 is above that. At least they got rid of doss and had Ryan lanteigne be a judge. Maybe in the future FD will be heavily involved and show these morons how to run an event and actual have real professional drivers at the events. This event was a very bad representation of pro level drifting as it is today.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah looked amateur hour for a but there...


I hate to tell you so but I wrote to you when FIA took over and said they would spoil the fun.Just return to being what it was FIA is not needed.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Well they haven't taken over anything. D1 is still D1. FD is still FD and FD Japan is still FD Japan. They are trying to make their own thing happen


Please do hit up Ebisu, Nikko, etc for drifting. The grassroots stuff is way more entertaining than this crap. The occasional round of D1gp coverage will be nice, but I feel your better off doing other types of speedhunting rather than shoot a bunch of D1 rounds. And we need another project r34 update !!!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yes grassroots is where it's at...and the damn project cars too haha


Okay, sorry for going off-topic.
There is a photo in this article with the blue RX-7 (I think it's the same one that was displayed in Tokyo some time ago) and white R32.
Could we please get a full feature of that RX-7 one day?

Erik Ealoken Løken

This aritcle makes mi kind a sad.
All the info, all the experts, all the glory and fun that drifting stands for, and this is the first product?

I know there are som big debates around points, judging etc, i like electronics, but it takes away the driving styles, pation and fun. Hope they sort this out.


Why couldn't they just take the Redbull Drift Championship (Long Beach, 2009) format. This event was perfect.


I agree with you, Dino! And I agree with the following of the grass roots events. Since you mentioned Kyushu, when talking about Nomuken and you mentioned grassroots events, I hope you can make it out this way sometime. There are some really great drivers on this side, and they are all super nice.

Just finished my first full year of shooting drifting events in Kyushu, and I can’t wait to expand a bit next year. Would be awesome to bump into you!



First off, what you've done is provide criticism -not negativity! Had you started calling people involved with the presentations, names, or whining, it would have gone down the negative road. This is all constructive.

One of the first things I've noticed about our grassroots-side of this industry (not picking on them, but primarily in the So. Cal area), people wouldn't take criticism and grow from it, only looking at the person providing it as "negative" (been there, done that).

I applaud you not recycling the same ole' "yeah, awesome event!" attitude when, in fact, your heart tells you differently. If you didn't, how would we, as a culture, grow? Why would others in this industry feel compelled to look elsewhere (outside) for growth without this criticism?

As we get older, we cannot expect the up and coming to observe, absorb, and assimilate our message-we've got to go to them! Good on you, Dino!


Wtf, I wrote a pretty long comment and it just disappeared???


Just because you have been around Japanese drifting enough to get bored of it doesn't mean that it's rubbish.


I think if it's gonna be International drift cup, the FIA needs to work with each Pro-Drift orginization from each respective continent to actually push it as a real championship. The problem with that is it will interfere with regular motorsport season schedules unless teams get the similar budget and resources as higher forms of motorsport that are already establish in FIA.


Drifting should always be about fun. This don't look fun.