Get the drift! RC drifting: The sideways setup
RC drifting: the sidewaus setup
It wasn’t long after Tamiya released its first TA-01 kit (the all-black Nissan Skyline-remember?) that mainstream RC fans got a taste of the Impossibly long, full-opposite-lock slides that are possible with 4WD touring cars. This sort of sideways action is exactly what “drifting” is all about. Drifting began as a niche within the import-tuner-car scene in Japan (of course, the “imports” are domestic cars in Japan), and the scene has crossed over to California’s hardcore tuners-and RC fans. Like the “real thing,” RC drifting is hardcore, tire-shredding, fully intentional mayhem. And damn, is it fun! I’ll show you how to get your car dialed to drift and give you some driving tips for superior sideways showing off.
If you have any RC racing experience, you know that the ideal setup provides you with a well-balanced chassis that sticks to the track without sliding. just the opposite holds true when it comes to a drift machine. The goal here is to de-tune your car to find the perfect middle ground between grip and slide. The following basic setup principles can be applied to almost any 4WD sedan, but as with all setups, these are just suggestions; experiment with shock-oil weight, spring rates and tires to find what works best for your driving style and driving conditions.
Can my car drift?
The most basic element of a proper RC drift car is a light machine. Bulk is bad; you need something strong yet light. A stiffer chassis is also beneficial; you don’t want to flex while drifting. Any 4WD touring car can be set up for drifting, but some cars stand out as ideal drifters. In my opinion, the HPI RS4 series is the best platform thanks to its low weight, durable design, upgrade potential and excellent parts support. The RS4 Pro and Sport cars and the RSp Rally all make excellent drifters. The car seen here is an HPI RS4 Sport 2.
Getting the drift
The easiest way to team to drift is to drive in a straight line (don’t worry, there’s more). Now slowly weave the car back and forth to get a feet for its “grip points,” where the rear tires begin to lose their grip. Note the car’s attitude at those grip points. Now increase your speed, and do it again. Repeat until the tait end starts to come around and forces you to countersteer. This Is exactly what you want to happen. Once you can successfully “catch” the car in both directions and prevent it from looping out, you’re ready to start hanging with the big boys. Now, when you get your car to lose rear traction, try to hold it there! You must maintain enough speed to first get the car sideways and then maintain that speed to keep the tires spinning while you countersteer enough to prevent a loop-out without overcorrecting and losing the drift. Get it? Cool. With practice, you’ll be able to hold the drift as long as you like and even change directions, without ever driving in the conventional straight-ahead mode.
Hey, you got it easy with RC drifting. If you were doing this in a full-size car, you would not only have to do the same things with the full-size steering wheel as you do with the transmitter’s wheel, but you would also have to dance on the brake, accelerator and clutch pedals to maintain throttle and shift at the same time-which means you’d be steering with only one hand!
Copyright Air Age Publishing Feb 2003
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