Dai Yoshihara’s 2018 Formula Drift Rebuild Conclusion


After a leading publication recently came out with a terrible article on drift car aerodynamics, we have to make a few comments on the subject on our own.

In our opinion, drift car aero is very superfluous and mostly limited to cosmetics. When you look at smoke patterns around the rear wing of drift cars, it is apparent that when sideways, the flow is very turbulent around the wing, making it almost totally ineffective.

Basically, in a drift car, the wing does not really make much downforce due to disturbed and angular airflow, but it acts more like a stabilizer as the drag it creates moves the car's center of pressure rearward, like the fins on an arrow. 

The APR swan neck rear wing mounts on Dai's were strengthened over the previous year and FD required tethers hold the wing in place in case it gets broken off by contact. For 2018, FD has changed the rules, banning wings from all courses except Road Atlanta and Texas. At these tracks, contact with a wall is unlikely. The ban is due to fears that flying broken wing parts could injure a driver, course worker or fans. 

For all the tracks where wings are not allowed, Dai will be running a bigger rear deck spoiler. For this team, the wing is mostly cosmetic as there is not much of a technically measurable advantage.


The APR front splitter makes a feelable difference in reducing understeer, mostly in the fast ovals like Irwindale and Seattle.

However, the splitter is not even close to being as effective as it could be because of air leaks between it and the bumper and a lack of a belly pan. These things would make the front of the car too difficult to repair, especially in a 5-minute competition timeout. 


The lip on the bottom of the side skirts and the side skirts themselves probably are the aero parts that actually work on a drift car, but not in the way that they traditionally work. In this case, they work more like a spoiler and a splitter. 

The bull-nosing details around the rear of the front wheel openings are purely cosmetic on a drift car. 

The rear scoop for the radiators and the engine oil cooler are totally ineffective on a drift car due to the sideways nature of the airlfow.

In addition, the pumping action of the rapidly spinning rear wheels is considerable to the point where they reverse the airflow through the heat exchangers, despite the huge electric fans sucking air through them. 

We know this because high volumes of tire smoke pour out of this scoop when the car is at speed with the wheels spinning!  Aero is not intuitive! 


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