D1 Grand Prix
What is drifting?
Drifting is a motor-sport which requires a high-skill level in which the driver has to control his car as it slides from side to side (80 to 100 mph) through a set track. It is about the same as Rally racing on ice barn, but is done on a paved course, known as tarmac. The competition is judged on speed, angle the car takes at the turns, execution of turns and style rather then who just finishes the fastest. Drift cars are in general compact to midsized, rear wheel drive sport cars. The goal is to apply enough power to the rear wheels to allow the tires traction to be broken and initiate a slide while accelerating the car forward, or “drift”. Once a drift is initiated, it must be held through out the turn using nearly full power, a tap of brake pedal and precise counter steering.
How and by whom is drifting judged?
Since professional drifting events are judged on implementation and technique, it is made mandatory that the panel of judges are thoroughly familiar with the capabilities of the cars and the complex driving techniques employed by the competitors. D1 Grand Prix judges are typically ex- professional drifters or racing drivers. These professional D1 judges evaluate speed, angle of attack, showmanship and vehicle control. All drivers make solo runs before Best 16 heads-up eliminations start. The competitors who make it to the Best 16 run door handle-to-door handle, going alongside one other car on the track at the same time. As fun as the solo runs are, these drift showdowns really ignite the crowd and bring them to their feet.
Factors such as slowing to the point of hindering the other driver, running into another car or spinning out mean an automatic loss of the run. To move on to the next round, drivers use strategy such as putting stress on an challenger throughout a more hard line drift angle, carrying a higher speed through a corner, and showing good strategy. Judges are meticulously familiar with the capabilities of each competitor's car and if the driver is not pushing the car to the limit, they will be eliminated from the round.
Where did it all begin?
The Japanese towns of Hakone, Irohazaka, Rokkosan, and various hill climbs in Nagano are all steeped in folklore of the origins of drifting. No one can really pinpoint drifting's actual birthplace but the movement started in the mid 1960s. Like many forms of professional racing today, the present interpretation of drifting evolved from a form of illegal street racing held on windy mountain roads called touge (pronounced toe-geh). Touge was practiced by tremendously devoted enthusiasts known as rolling zoku (pronounced zoe-koo) whose only goal was to trim costly milliseconds off their time between two points. Finally, some of these rolling zoku began to adopt driving techniques used by rally drivers, techniques to clear a corner rapidly without sacrificing too much momentum. As touge drivers started to imitate the rally racers techniques, they discovered that not only did their driving performance and times get better; the rush was much more intense. From touge, drifting was born.
How Drifting Evolves
Around the same time touge evolved into drifting, a few of the rolling zoku came off the mountains to bring their new sport to the urban jungles of Japan. The urban drifters added their own flavor to the sport with their showy driving style and outrageous vehicles. Eventually, word of the spectacle spread and fans began showing up to witness drifting's amazing drivers and machines. But as popular as drifting had become, it was relegated to underground status by the risks and image associated with illegal street contests.
In time, the attractiveness of drifting propelled the sport into the mainstream and competitors started to arrange and take their home-grown trials to the track. The gatherings were initially just for fun until the cars and driving skills became so sophisticated that things started to get competitive. From the earliest organized trials, regional drift contest opened to the community and professionally judged, known as ikaten (pronounced ee-kah-ten) produced by Video-OPTION, were began all major cities of Japan. The Drivers Search events allowed local drivers of all backgrounds to show off their skills and battle with each other. For a time, Drivers Search events pleased the thirst of drifting fans and drivers but as skills and techniques enhanced, and manufacturers started producing drifting-specific components, it was clearly time to raise the bar.
It was the dream of a car fan and magazine publisher that brought drifting to mainstream motor sports in Japan.
Daijiro Inada (Pronounced dye-jee-ro ee-na-da) , creator of Option Magazine and the Tokyo Auto Salon, knew drifting and the Drivers Search events represented only a small part of the potential of drifting to the global motor sport subculture. Daijiro felt a strong need to bring drifting to a professional level.
In 2001, with the help of longtime friend Keiichi Tsuchiya (pronounced kay-ee-chee soo-chee-ya), a professional Touring Car driver and the person considered to be the father of modern competitive drifting, Daijiro formed the D1 Grand Prix. Today, the D1 Grand Prix is so trendy in Japan that D1 drivers are celebrities. True to Mr. Inada's vision, the D1 Grand Prix represents the highest level of competition in the sport and provides the best-of-the-best to fans all through Japan. Now he brings that enthusiasm and innovation to North America. Throughout D1 Drivers Search events, the D1 Grand Prix series and D1 Grand Prix in the United States and with events designed for Europe and Korea in 2005, drifting is on the brink to take the world by storm.
Since its modest beginnings only a short time ago, the D1 Grand Prix events have grown from fairly small contests with 50 or so teams and 3,000 to 4,000 spectators to today's shows that normally host over 100 teams and, by the end of the 2003 season, were attracting upward of 20,000 spectators.
Prior to 2001, fairly few tuners focused in drifting set-ups. With the unbelievable success of the D1 drifting series in Japan, the amount of drifting-specific shops jumped to over 200, revitalizing the tuning industry in Japan.
Here are some comments from known magazines:
- "Just like drifting itself, the event proved to be a stunning spectacle."
- "This could be The Next Big Thing"
- "For the Japanese drivers, the event was as emotional as it was for the US fans, finishing
at the top of the historic event in front of the largest (drifting event) audience ever... "
Import Racer magazine
- "It's official: Motorsport history was made August 31, 2003, in Irwindale, Calif.,as the inaugural D1 Grand Prix was the largest event ever to be held at Irwindale Raceway."
Import Tuner magazine
- "It's like the last lap of the best road race you ever saw repeated over and over again."
SportsCar (SCCA) magazine
- "America's love affair with drifting is on."
Sport Compact Car magazine
- "..the D1GP USA will be remembered as one of the most thrilling events of the year."
Super Street magazine
- "More than 9,000 fans attended the sold-out Irwindale (D1) Grand Prix, widely considered the event that put drifting on the radar screen for U.S. companies."
- "A sold-out crowd of 10,000 hardcore fans showed up at the Irwindale (California) Speedway tournament. In the parking lots, there were cars with Oregon, Illinois and even Florida license plates."
Wall Street Journal
- "At its most refined, a stylish drift is a thing of balance and beauty.” "Like skateboarding, drifting is starting to look like the next pop fusion of consumer culture and rebel aesthetics..."