Anyone Can Drift (That Means You Too!)

Driting for a lot of us is very difficult. I know for myself, despite being an ex-successful road racer and being involved in Pro Drifting and having a lot of famous drifter friends, I have never been able to drift except through one turn at a shallow angle when on the track.  I am so lame at drifting I could not even do a doughnut properly.

My daughter Christa has grown up on the track and is probably the oldest of the Formula Drift Kids. She has grown up around Formula Drift and has traveled the country on the circuit with me for many years with Team Falken.  Christa has been racing karts since she was little and currently drives a 125cc TAG kart. Last year Christa got her drivers license and is about the only millennial that can drive a manual transmission.  She is probably the only one in her entire high school that can!

So I was super pleased that my good friends Taka Aono and Yoshie Shuyama of Drift School USA offered to teach Christa how to drift.  I was hoping that learning how to drift would help improve Christa’s car control which would help her safety on the street as well as serve her well later as she wants to do track days and road racing.

Christa arrived bright and early on a Saturday to do Drift School USA’s recommended for beginners 2-day course.  Taka and Yoshie feel that a two-day course is best so a person can learn the basics, digest it overnight, then come back for more practice and instruction.  This way bad habits can be caught and corrected more effectively.

Drift School USA has an impressive portable classroom that is air-conditioned and very comfortable. On a day like this weekend at Willow Springs, this proved to be very important as it was well over 100 degrees outside!  Tough for a small girl like Christa who doesn’t have much body fat to store water!

Christa’s day started off in the classroom where Taka gave her a lecture on the fundamentals of driving.  Taka stressed the importance of learning how to weight transfer and how you can use it to both drift and control the car.  I was pretty impressed with this as I have been to several driving schools in my past and this was never stressed yet it is very important for full car control.

After talking about driving theory and how to use weight transfer, Taka played an in-car video on how to do doughnuts.  Although it might seem simple, doing controlled doughnuts is pretty difficult, at least for me!  It is hard to control the size and speed of your doughnut and to stay consistently where you want to.  Taka explains how to do this before Christa even got into the car.


  1. I’m not sure where to start this. I have a story about drifting. I have a story about learning car control. And I have a story about manual transmissions (well more than one)
    I think I’ll tell an abridged story about manuals.
    Me my wife and two children (at the time children aged two and three) went to some picnic /party when we lived in Charlotte NC.
    One of the kids there just got his permit. And he was basically walking form person to person begging to drive their cars.
    Well of course I said yes. So me him and my son (the 3yr old) went to my car. We get in. My son is standing between the front seats (shut up. We were in a closed parking lot)
    Me: Okay, press in on the clutch and push the red button.
    Him: Do you mean the brake pedal? That’s how you start my dads car.
    Me: No the clutch. The pedal all the way on the left.
    Him: (looking in the foot-well) Your car has three pedals. Cars don’t have three pedals.
    My 3yr old: It’s the 3rd pedal all the way on the left. One two three. Gas, brake, clutch. Press the clutch to the floor. Put the sifter in one. One is all way to the left, and forward. Slowly raise the clutch till you feel the car start to move. Then slowly press the gas while continuing to raise the clutch.

    Believe it or not, that kid did great. He stalled a few times. Did a few burnouts (by accident) But he got the hang of it. I don’t know what my children’s generation will be called. But rest assured that at least two people will be able to drive manual in the future.

    As for drifting. I could do the figure 8 pretty easily. (but I could never link corner after corner) I think that stems from a few things. I’m old (44) So I grew up driving 1970s and 1980s RWD American barges. And I learned to drive, and had lived most of my life in Pennsylvania. So 9 months out of the year, its frozen solid. You basically need to learn to drive with the throttle. And for quite a few years, I did (very) armature rally racing and rally-cross.
    I always push rally-cross to teach car control. It’s super cheap. It’s easy on the car. And it’s a controlled environment. Drifting schools are awesome also. But your and daughter might want to check out a few rally-cross events.

    1. Your son is awesome. I hope when I have kids that my kids will be able to do the same when they are 3. My car will never be auto if I can have my way, the problem is going to be my wife’s car which will 100% be auto.

      1. Well that’s a different manual story. On one of our first dates we went rock climbing. Long story short, I run my bell pretty good (20-ish concussions and counting)
        But she had to drive me to the hospital. Not only could she drive stick. But she was revmatching.
        Turns out when she was a teenager, she used to rally race with her father. And when she took her driving test. It was required to use a manual.

        1. Not nearly or even close to being as cool as your wife. I forced my then gf, now wife to learn manual because she didn’t have a car and we didn’t need two cars. Nor did we want the payments of two cars.

          So she learned manual in my fully bolted and tuned Mazdaspeed 3 and drove it every now and then. It’s funny when the car gets spotted, and people in the Mazda clubs exclaimed that there’s a cute chick driving a loud car. She loved the whistling BPV and would do it up and down a street just for shits and giggles.
          She has lots of bad habits from driving it, one of which is that she’s used to being able to pass almost everything in 2nd or 3rd gear. When she got her Mini 1.5t, she tried to do the same and I had to tell her to back off cause it ain’t happening. 280whp != 135 crank hp.

        1. haha, that’s so funny….i was thinking that the other day…does anybody even know how to drive stick anymore? What are we now, like 1% of drivers, if that?

          1. Over here in europe its manditory to drive a stick if you want to drive a stick and auto. If taking your exam in an auto you are actually not allowed to drive stick. Then again: Most cars are still stick over here, but the amount of auto’s sold is on the rise since about 10 years or so. About 35% of all new cars sold compaired to 10% 10 years earlier is an auto over here.

            As for drifting: Same racing experience, so encountered the same problems initially. It’s weird, but I guess we kind of have a radar for what components are designed for and actually have to do to get the fastest lap times. With drifting your kind of upsetting that, which still is counter intuitive to me. Then again: I’m a better engineer then a driver. Winning for me was actually more down to a better setup and having a faster can then being a better driver….

          2. Same with me, I used to podium about 80% of the time but it was due to me having a better engineered car rather than me being the best driver.

        2. I’m the in between generation, I’m 31 this year, but I’ve been a car guy since I was 2. I’m just hoping my kids when I have them will be the same. And also hoping there’s enough left of the car scene for them to be car people.

          The new M3 I bought will be staying in the family for a long time(if it doesn’t break down repeatedly)

  2. Yeah right next to my +5hp blipshift sticker, is the “my car us equipped with a millennial anti theft device”.
    And four TARDIS stickers. Because, nerd.

  3. Well as I’ve said before. People complaining about their millennial children not being able to do something. Are basically complaining about their parenting ability.
    My wife is 36. But she is from another country (Malaysia) and in her country when she took her license test. You needed to do it with a manual. You also needed to change a flat. Add gas and oil, coolant etc. At least know how to change sparkplugs and set timing. You needed to test at night and day. In the rain and what not.
    Now they do let you take the test with an auto. But it says “auto only” as a restriction on your license.
    I took (and passed) the test myself. In my Fiat I have there. And I will tell you the test to drive a car, was harder than trying to get a helicopter license here .

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