The stimulating adventure of drifting has become a popular teen sensation. Kids love to find abandoned parking lots and test out their lightweight cars by drifting in doughnuts and skidding around curves in barren areas.
Drifting is the driving technique in which the driver makes the back tires skid through a turn, allowing the vehicle to maintain a high speed while sliding around a curve under control. Drifting started in Japan, when motorsport driver Kunimitsu Takahashi discovered a new technique that eliminates the need to significantly slow down before a turn.
“In order to hold a drift you have to break the rear end loose and keep the back wheels spinning,” amateur drifter senior Robbie Emerich said.
There are multiple ways to drift, each method depending on the driver and the type of car. More experienced and professional drivers use a much more difficult technique than teens do.
More experienced drivers, such as racecar drivers, use a combination of the throttle and steering motions to control and maintain a drift. Professional drivers don’t pull their emergency brakes but rather down shift before a turn causing a sudden power surge to spin out the back wheels.
Drifting has some racing positives. If done properly drifting allows the driver to control their car when the tires no longer have grip on the road. The driver can pass by other cars when on a turn at a much faster speed. However most teens aren’t drifting to out race someone in the hills; most teens are drifting for the exhilarating rush of losing control for a few seconds.
“I like drifting because of the adrenaline rush,” Robbie said.
Drifting has a beckoning appeal to it. With its popular uprising since the movie “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”, teens believe that they can try drifting and still remain in a safe environment. In reality, drifting is quite a dangerous maneuver. It is not as simple as slamming on the brakes and taking a sharp turn. The driver must take into consideration the car’s structures and durability. The risk of wrecking the car is quite high according to Robbie.
“If your car has a high center of gravity like a truck or an SUV going sideways, it changes the way force that’s being applied,” Robbie said. “You can risk rolling.”
Not just trucks and SUVs but any type of car has a risk of rolling. When drifting, the car is losing complete traction with the road in the back wheels, so being able to steer the car is astonishingly difficult. That’s why most kids try drifting in secluded, vacant regions rather than on neighborhood streets.
Teens know the risks of drifting and understand it is illegal on an amateur level, so although it is a fashionable activity, it still hasn’t caught on mainstream yet. Its enticing appeal is quite evident to high-schoolers, yet many remain on the fence about actually trying it out.
“Drifting looks pretty fun, I’d like to try it someday,” senior Gouichi Tanaka said.
It is a myth that teens drive uncontrollably and drift at any opportunity they have. Teens primarily choose to drift to show off this adventurous skill to their friends and classmates. Because drifting is quite difficult, it is an accomplishment that kids to like to boast about if they can pull off this maneuver.
“It is all about the show,” senior Matthew Byington said. “Having other kids check your car out and watch you drive, it’s tight.”
The kids that find drifting adventurous can’t wait to try it out on their own. It is the opportunity to defy regulations and recklessly drive without getting caught that has teens yearning to try.
“As soon as I get a car, I want to try doughnuts in a parking lot” sophomore Gary Yu said.