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RC Drift Cars

Updated on July 21, 2014

RC Drift Cars

The art of sliding a car.

Miniaturised to a 1:10 scale.

Remote Control Drifting takes the Japanese art of "beyond the limit of grip" car control to a smaller and more outrages level. With the reduction of cost and the ease of entry, this form of car control and art unite to form a spectacle as never envisaged by those who started the craze in the mountain roads of Japan.

A Little History

How Did We Get RC Cars

Radio Control model vehicles were being demonstrated around the turn of the 20th century. Restrictions to early remotes were that they would only operate as a on / off style of control. Development in electronics has seen a great reduction in the size and increased flexibility of the remote control units, both receiver and transceiver. The invention of the proportionate controls gave rise to the real development in RC cars. Cars require adjustable steering and throttle control for best manoeuvrability and control. By the early 1970's several manufacturers had developed commercial Radio Control car models.

Remote control cars became an increasingly more popular hobby in the mid 1980's as remote control system prices dropped and choice of model kits and ready to run (RTR) models began to emerge. Tamiya was in the forefront of this development, with its highly detailed off road models. Though not the only manufacturer, Tamiya has widely been credited with the popularisation of the segment.

Power for these early RC cars were mostly electric, this also was largely driven by the improvement in battery technology. The use of rechargeable nicad batteries reduced running costs over throw away batteries. Running times would largely be restricted to only 5 to 10 minutes. Larger models also featured small nitro power plants with centrifugal clutches to drive the cars.

Today, modern battery technology and a wide range of manufacturers have provided RTR models, complete with remote control gear at very attainable prices, starting from as little as $50. Many segments of the RC car have been specially catered for including Off Road, Rock Crawlers, Large scale up to 1:5, Drift and on road race.

HPI Racing, 1:10 Scale Drift Cars

Some beautiful body options for the HPI Sprint 2 RTR range. These models have full independent suspension and four wheel drive. An excellent package for a beginner, or experienced RC drifter alike.

How To Start Drifting.


To enable yourself drifting an RC car, you will need to learn the basics of car control. First however you will need a car setup for drifting. If you already have an on-road electric RC car, some minor modifications will need to be performed to the car itself. I recommend starting with an electric car, since they are easier to learn to drift with as the drive is direct and traction breaking torque is also high. Alternatively a RTR (Ready To Race) drift package is available in stores.

A standard road going RC car has soft compound tires for grip. Drift cars have hard compound tires to reduce grip so as to more easily induce a break in traction, to commence the drift. Special drift compound tires are available on-line or at your local RC model shop. These tires are generally a hard rubber compounds. I have even heard of some enthusiasts on a budget use PVC plumbing pipe wrapped around wheels to create drift tires.

There are a couple of different compounds of tires available for drifting. The harder compound is used by the beginner for slow, gentle slides. The harder compounds then enable the more experienced driver to perform more high speed drifts.

How To Start Drifting.


Once you have a drift set up for your RC car, you will need to develop the skills required to drift. Getting a car sideways can be easy, maintaining a slide and still controlling your car takes practice and an acquired skill. Some simple training techniques will develop your skills and with practice you will be able to drift like a champion. Set your car up in a large area with a hard surface. Concrete or tarmac, so as not to damage your car.

1. Turn your car to full steering lock. Go to full throttle and see how your car spins. This allows you to determine how your car develops traction, or the lack of it, and watch how it slides. Do this in both directions, being careful not to crash your vehicle into anything

2. Set your car to full steering lock. Take your car to full throttle and gently reduce throttle. Notice how the car slowly spins in a ever increasing circle until it drives away when it gains traction. Now we can start to practice drifting. Repeat the process, full lock, reducing throttle until the car develops a constant circle drift. With practice maintaining a drift is possible. Again practice this in both directions.

3. This time start with full lock and full throttle. Then slowly reduce the steering lock. You will notice that this has a similar effect to the previous exercise. As before, repeat the process until you can maintain a constant drift with only steering control. Practice this in both directions.

4. Set the car in motion with full lock and full throttle. Once the car is sliding reduce the steering to half and control the car with only the throttle. This will generate larger circles and takes more practice to maintain a slide.

5. The final step is to combine steering and throttle to maintain a slide. First initiate a slide, then practice holding the slide in the one position. Maintaining the drift at a constant diameter circle and preventing it from spiralling in any direction can be achieved with just throttle control. To assist in the position use a marker on the ground and circle around it.

Now you are drifting, you can practice larger circles and changing directions.

Watch the video below, HPI have also produced a “how to start drifting” video.

The only real way to learn how to drift is to actually do it. So get out there and have fun with your Drift Car and enjoy yourself. With practice you will be able to drift circuits and with other cars. There are many places where you can drift with others, some are even local dedicated tracks where drifters meet regularly. If you can't find a meet up locally arrange one yourself, you would be surprised at how many people would love to join you to do this.

The Art of Drift - Five Training Techniques

Do You Drift or do you want to learn how?

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