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Student News of Liberty High School


Student News of Liberty High School


Student News of Liberty High School


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What Is Formula Drift?

The art of burnt rubber and shattered bumpers
James Deane chases Fredric Aasbo during FD Long Beach (Provided by Formula Drift)

When most people think about racing, the first thing that normally comes to mind are things like NASCAR and Formula One, where the goal is to push the car to its max speed past the checkered flag and at the same time, try not to lose control and spin out around corners. But with Formula DRIFT, it’s the exact opposite. 

The goal of this sport is basically to purposefully oversteer and throw the rear end of the car inches from the wall and inches from the other car. In Formula DRIFT, there is no room for error, as it is not a race to the finish, but it’s judged. This sounds confusing, so let me elaborate.

Before we dive into the sport of Formula DRIFT, we have to understand what drifting even is. Drifting is the art of shooting the tachometer to its max and watching the tires spin fast enough for the car to lose traction. Doc Hudson in the movie Cars, gives a good and short description of drifting, “If you’re going hard enough left, you’ll find yourself turning right.” 

Basically, if you spin the tires fast enough, and do an action called countersteering, you’ll find yourself making a right turn but turning the steering wheel to the left. Drifting alone is very difficult, cars were built and made to never lose traction and ideally not raise above around six thousand RPM, but drifting ignores all of this and pushes the car to its limits.

So what happens when you not only need to push a car to its absolute limit but are also expected to whip the rear end of the car inches from the wall? Well, you get Formula DRIFT. 

In Formula DRIFT, FD for short, there are normally eight events in the yearly season. For the 2024 season, including places like Seattle, Atlanta, St. Louis, Orlando and more. At each of these events, a Top 32 tournament-style bracket takes place, where two drivers go head-to-head to try to be the last driver standing at the end of the night holding the carbon fiber trophy.

But, if it’s not a race to the finish line, then how do you beat a driver to move on in the event tournament bracket?

Well it’s called a Tandem, Tandems are when two cars drift simultaneously together around a track. Each driver has their own set of objectives they need to complete as they drift. 

The car that’s in front, the lead driver, needs to drift over certain spots laid out on the track, these are called outside zones and inside clips. Not only do they need to drift over these spots, but they need to do it as close to the wall as possible. The judges definitely notice when a driver just barely touches the zones, rather than driving over the zone completely.

The driver behind the lead car is called the chase driver and their goal is to follow the lead driver as closely as possible, and they are expected to put their front tires right up on the door of the lead car, once again, leaving absolutely no room for any error. Once the drivers complete one lap around the track, they swap positions and run it again. Then this is where the judges come into play. They watch replays of both of the runs and watch both drivers chase runs and both drivers lead runs, then they choose a winner that moves on to the next round of the bracket. They have PDFs showing further details like FD Regulations if you are interested. Now there are a lot of other things these drivers need to focus on while they’re competing, but that is the basics of it.

The drivers compete in this highly stressful and incredibly action-packed Top 32 bracket in each event throughout the season, and you can watch these events on their YouTube or on Motorsport.tv and the higher they place in the event tournament, the more points they get to their name, and whoever ends the last event of the season with the most amount of points, gets the title of “2024 Formula DRIFT Champion”.

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About the Contributor
Braden Altrup
Braden Altrup, Entertainment Editor of Broadcast Media
Braden Altrup is a Junior and is the Entertainment Producer for the Broadcast team. He has been editing video since he was 10 years old and earned 5 awards from video contests across the country. He was on the Liberty soccer team for his first 2 years of school, but then focused more on his videos and helping run the Broadcast class. He works for his step-father installing car stereos and speakers into cars, and is into drifting/building cars in his free time.

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