Has drifting missed the mark?

Has drifting missed the mark?

I have been drifting casually for a few years now, but I never really gave it much thought as anything other than parking lot bashing.  Indeed, a lot of RCers tend to think of drifting as a fad that has come and gone – a novelty that wore off in 2009, never to be fully taken seriously.  I decided that this needed some looking into, so I headed off to see if I could find anyone who was still interested in this RC niche.

During my lunch hour I headed down to a local shop, Sheldon’s Hobbies, and was quite surprised to find a dedicated full-time drift track set up inside.  And wouldn’t you know it, there were drifters there too.  Well, that didn’t take long.  I started asking around a bit and learned about organized meets, sponsored competitions, huge get-togethers… and that was in the first 5 minutes.  Honestly this was all a bit embarrassing for me.  How could I have overlooked a community of this size that was literally right under my nose?  I suppose in my mind I was just a little too ready to write off this segment of RC, and I know I can’t be the only one out there.

To dig a little deeper, I went and checked out a drifting event last weekend.  There were tons of people in attendance, but it was the wide demographic that surprised me.  There were guys in their 20’s, old dudes, young kids… pretty much everyone.  There were fathers and sons drifting side by side, guys interested in racing, guys interested in monster trucks, scale modelers, and more.  This got me thinking about drifting in general, and what might make it so widely appealing.

For starters, a significant part of drifting is scale appearance.  Think of it as scale rock crawling for people who like on-road.  The cars you see at a drift track are just plain cool.  Sophisticated light kits, detailed interiors, crazy paint schemes, roll bars – they’re all here.  If you like cars even a little bit, you will love watching these guys do their thing.

The act of drifting itself is not unlike stunt flying.  It’s about skill, style, and control.  On one hand, you’re always striving to improve your own skills and hopefully one day be the best, but on the other hand it’s just as fun to watch someone way better than you do their thing.  It’s no surprise then that the environment at a typical drift track is the most similar to what you might find at a model airfield.  Overly competitive types are hard to come by; it’s full of people that simply enjoy being around their favorite type of RC.  Experts are happy to help the newbs, and everyone has a good time.

Drifting competitions are unique and unlike pretty much anything else out there.  Although the head to head trials and playoff-tree-style eliminations are somewhat similar to drag racing, speed has almost nothing to do with winning.  All meets are judged, and so are more like stunt flying events.  Of course the spectators like to join in the action as well, cheering for who they think won a particular round and doing their best to influence the judges.

So then, has drifting missed the mark?  No.  It nailed the bulls-eye.  It’s the perfect “easy to learn, hard to master” RC activity, made from an optimal blend of eye candy, skill, and pure fun.  Drifting has quietly amassed a huge and dedicated community of some of the friendliest people you are ever likely to meet, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

I’m not here to declare that drifting is back; I’m here to tell you that it never went anywhere in the first place.


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Updated: December 9, 2011 — 6:03 PM


  1. great article and I regret that only now I’ve seen and read it. im glad that RC Drfiting has not been forgotten and is in the light for a bit again. we are here and we never left. We just went underground a bit in fact its getting better and more elaborate now. there a lot of crews out there worldwide and more crews forming.

    i am a member of Team SliDeways Hawaii and been in it since late 2007. I have seen RC Drifting growing bigger and better here in Hawaii and it keeps moving forward. Other than Team SliDeways there’s Team Saiko, Team HIgh Society, Team Zig Zag, Hyperdrfit and probably more new teams that we dont know about.

    There periodic Tandem Drift and Body Competitions throughtout the different teams here and competition is getting harder and harder every time. skills are elevated and compettion is still fun…

    Check us out here in Hawaii someday and we may surprise you. I hope to see an article about Hawaii RC Drifting someday and more RC Drifting soon… Thank you once again for this great article and “keep it slideways”

  2. this is a great article on drifting, you must ask yourself how far has the art of drifting your RC car has gone. I will inform you, back in 2007, I got a eyes view of a group called V95 from New Jersey, I liked it so much that I started S.I.RC.C.C. with the help of other RCers – staten island radio control car club out of
    New York, today known as Shaolin Drifters. Today there are several group out here, one known throughout the drift world Team Raikou for there tires. Tires made by Drifters for Drifters as well as The Skavenger Drift Crew known for their Artistic creations of the Rat Pack Series and more. Upcoming Toxic Drift with their creativity on smaller scale garages, stations, track layouts and buildings at our 1:1 car shows and events. The list of drifters go on, THEY ARE OUT THERE!
    Thanks to HYPERDRIFT we the drifters have been able to push and break the mold against many odds, RC DRIFTING is here to stay. Thank you for the Article, keep them coming!

  3. Hi, I am Neil (MCtrlSys) from One Ten Drift Network, I am one of the co-founders. What you saw at Sheldons was pieces of a sibling group called Hyper-Drift. They are serving the bay area (san jose) and we are NorCal and CenCal. Let me know if you need any info, We have been doing this for 3 1/2 years and I am about at your level with the old school cars. My first was the Tamiya Frog back in the days when people were racing the first aluminum tub RC-10 chassis back before anyone had the carbon upgrade. I would love to see articles about RC Drift again out there, the ones I have seen are so far off of the mark it isn’t funny. Let me know if you need any info the blog should record my email and One Ten Drift Net’s URL. Oh BTW thanks for letting the world know we exist again, its going to get bigger, alot bigger and if you want to know why give me a shout and Ill tell you, I just cant make it public yet. Sorry for being long winded. 🙂

  4. I saw you guys mentioned Mini-Z drifting we have a full time indoor 10th scale drift track and a fulltime mini-z track and its all here in the bay area. You should check us out sometime.

    1. Done – I’ll come visit this week. 🙂 You guys are only a few miles from my house!

  5. I agree with hotwheeler69, I like mini’s and I like drifting! I’m saving for a Kyosho Mini-Z AWD and some drift tires, so I can drift in my living room. 🙂

  6. “like” button, please?

  7. I would love to see some real RC smaller 1/16 1/18 Drifter’s, untill then I stuck with my Vendetta SC with 26mm drift tires on it. Too much fun.

    1. Yep, small drifters are great and work remarkably well in tight spaces. I’m really enjoying my HPI Cup Racer – great fun. My Traxxas Rally VXL is also pretty good as a drifter now that I’ve tuned the differentials a bit.

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