For Bashers, By Bashers!

Drift Itch – what makes a drifter a drifter?

So by now you guys know that I love RC Drift. I get all loopy and excited when I see shifts in the segment or innovations in the established platforms. It’s easy to forget when you’re so wrapped up in something that some people are still on the outside looking in wondering what it is that us drifters are all worked up about. That is the basis of this weeks Drift Itch. Big Squid FaceBook fan page member Dean M asked the question “What are the biggest differences between a touring car and a drift car?” That is a great question Dean, lets go down that rabbit hole a little bit.

So in the beginning of RC drift there was no difference at all. Just like in the full size world all 1:1 drift cars start life as a normal run of the mill street car. Granted there are all kinds of mods to make a car more suitable for drifting, but under all the burnt rubber, wings, canards and livery sits the chassis of a car you can buy second hand…sans a few hundred horsepower.

RC drift was no different in the beginning and there are still plenty of people who run converted touring cars as their preferred drift platform, though they are getting fewer and farther in between. Most of the must have drift car mods are all taken from RC touring car racing that were never intended to help you get sideways. So I guess the short answer to that question is that the combination of mods and what kind of setup you run is what defines the cars purpose. Tires are the easy differentiator. Early drifters were putting electrical tape on their touring tires so they could drift in between heats at the local carpet track. Then some innovative mad scientists figured out the 2 inch ABS plastic pipe made perfect cost effective drift “rubber”. Today RC Drift tires are a very complicated affair and compound choice is probably the most important setup decision you can make on your car.

As RC Drift gained momentum however manufacturers began to design purpose built All Wheel Drive drift chassis that were only intended to drift. They boast 50-70 degrees of steering angle and have options like selectable drive ratio in the form of different gears or pulleys that you can swap out to change the torque split on the rear of the car. Doing this mod will make the car more prone to stepping out and staying in a slide longer. This is what is known as a Counter Steer car or simply what is referred to as CS. This is all ground I’ve covered before in my evolution of the drift chassis piece that you can check out here.


Rear Wheel drive appears to be the next big direction for RC Drift. Just in the last few months of writing for this publication I’ve seen RWD progress from a small little spark to full on wild fire. This is really where the RC drift chassis makes a big departure from its race car roots. Defining attributes on a RWD chassis are that it obviously lacks front drive train, usually has a signature Y shaped front lower control arm allowing for more steering throw and the steering lock allows travel well beyond what a front universal would be able to achieve. Also most RWD drifters have a pillow ball style front suspension design lacking a C-hub so you have more flexibility with caster adjustment and more steering throw. The latest generation RWDs are incorporating different handling philosophies as well. Instead of the low slung and fast stance that most racers go after the drift crowd are opting for high CG setups called “weight transfer or weight shift”. These setups usually have the motor well elevated off of the chassis and even the battery in some cases giving the car immense amounts of body roll in the quest for scale realism and traction while in motion.


Speaking of Scale Realism that brings me to my final and favorite part. If you see a picture of an on-road RC car that looks real it’s probably a drifter and not a tourer. Racing circles have done some more scale oriented things in the last few years like VTA (Vintage Trans Am) to try and bring a bit of a scale element back into it, but for the most part touring cars only vaguely resemble their full size counterparts. Drifters on the other hand have gone more and more into scale model territory. Sporting wheel designs from the likes of BBS and Volk. Fully licensed bodies that are spitting images of vintage Datsun’s, tricked out body kitted Nissans or Toyotas. If it has been drifted you can most likely buy a scale replica body of it complete with engine bay with the correct engine in it. Full car interiors, lights, wings you name it; its all on offer in the drift scene.


This is the huge draw for me in this segment. It is also the most notable element that defines RC Drifting today. You can go under the hood and point fingers at innovations in chassis design and fads and crazes, but the one constant through all of this is that RC drift has only become more and more scale realistic. So I hope I have given some of the curious onlookers to the drift scene a bit of a peek of what is going on inside our little corner of RC. I invite you to seek out some of the groups on Facebook to find local clubs who are having meets in your area. RC Drift has a lot to offer the RC enthusiast and it’s only getting more exciting.



I would like to thank the members of the World-wide Drift RC Facebook group for sharing these awesome pictures for you to enjoy.

And thanks to you the reader for stopping by and be sure to check back for more Drift Itch on BigSquidRC.

Catch you next time!


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Posted by in Featured Posts, RC Drifting on Monday, November 16th, 2015 at 7:07 pm