21 tire-smoking drift terms for beginners

Chris Stark

For the uninitiated, the lingo thrown around at drift events may lead to more questions than answers. From Formula D to grassroots affairs, a tire-smoking weekend yields a lexicon all to itself. You might hear people mentioning trains with no locomotives in sight or using terms from an entirely different language. So that you may avoid confusion next time you visit one of these competitions, here are 21 terms and definitions that you might hear trackside.

Angle | noun

The slip angle of a car (relative position of the car versus direction of travel) or the steering angle (how much the wheels are turned during a drift).

Hoodstock drift bmw slide action
Chris Stark

Clipping point | noun

A point marked on the apex of a turn, usually by a cone. In a drifting competition, drivers are rewarded for how close they can get the nose of their car to the cone without hitting it.

Clipping zone | noun

A rectangular area of the outermost edge of a corner, marked by two cones to denote the start and end of the zone. In competitive drifting, drivers are expected to place the vehicle up to the outside edge of the corner without hitting the two cones that mark the zone.

Clutch kick | verb or noun

A technique used to initiate a drift and adjust the car’s angle mid drift. By rapidly pushing the clutch in, and then out while applying throttle, the sudden shock to the driveline can initiate a drift or control wheel speed in order to help position the car during a drift.

Hoodstock drift nissan rear drifting action
Chris Stark

Dirt drop | verb or noun

Putting the rear two wheels off the pavement and into the dirt while drifting. While it makes for a dramatic photo, dirt dropping is liable to break axles and suspension components as there are usually deep ruts in the ground where the pavement ends.

Drift stitch | verb or noun

The use of zip ties to temporarily reattach pieces of broken body kits.

Hoodstock drift car rear end
Chris Stark

Initiate | verb

Starting a drift.

JDM | noun or adjective

noun. Japanese Domestic Market

adj. Relating to cars, sub models, trims, parts, etc. that sold originally for the Japanese home market.

Hoodstock drift slide action
Chris Stark

Kit | noun

A body kit, usually made from fiberglass. A kit is an essential aspect of drift-car aesthetics.

Link | verb

Continuously drifting the entire track.

Hoodstock drift rear three-quarter action
Chris Stark

S-chassis | noun

A Nissan 240SX from 1989–1993 (chassis code S13) or from 1994–1998 (chassis code S14).

S-chassis can also refer to the 1984–1988 200SXes (S12) or Japanese market Nissan Silvias (S15) but is less common.

Scrubs | noun

Low quality rear tires, typically obtained via a junkyard, to be sacrificed in the name of tire smoke.

Hoodstock drift tires
Chris Stark

Steers | noun

Front tires.

Straighten | verb

Losing the drift and understeering. The car straightens out when driver overspeeds in the corner and loses traction in the front tires.

Tandem | noun

The act of drifting in close proximity to another car.

Train | noun

A tandem drift consisting of more than two cars.

Wall ride | verb or noun

Grazing the wall with the rear end of a drift car. This feat is seen as a mastery of car control as there is a fine line between riding the wall and crashing your car.

Hoodstock drift wall kissing
Chris Stark

Let’s say you are not just a drift spectator, but you will be participating in the motorsport. Here are four terms that will be used to refer to more advanced drifting techniques.

Manji/Manji Drift | noun or verb

A Japanese term for snaking back and forth on straightaways in a controlled drift. It’s a useful technique for linking the track.

Hoodstock drift chevrolet pickup smoking tire action
Chris Stark

Feint | noun

This is also known as a Scandinavian flick. By quickly turning away from the intended direction of travel, then steering back toward the intended direction, a pendulum effect occurs that can overcome the lateral grip of the rear tires, thus initiating a drift.

Hoodstock drift parallel drift
Chris Stark

Shift lock drift | noun

A drift initiated by downshifting to a lower gear without rev matching. The rear end will break loose as the wheel speed catches up with the engine speed.

Kansei | noun

A Japanese term for a drift initiated by using lift off oversteer. By lifting off the throttle abruptly, the vertical load on the tires shifts from the rear to the front, thus making it possible to break adhesion of the rear tires and start a drift.

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