Drifting is a motor sport originating from Japan where drivers make their cars to lose grip intentionally while simultaneously controlling the resulting slide, in order to navigate a driving course. The driver must maintain the slide or "drift" throughout the entire course. It was popularized by Keiichi Tsyuchia in the late '80s, mildly spread into the United States in the late '90s, and is presently going through a rapid explosion of popularity in America due to major motion pictures, subculture blogs, online forums, and motor sport organizations that hold events across the country.
Speed, line, angle, and smoke: This is the judging criteria for drifting in a nutshell.
Speed refers to how fast a driver goes before entering the first turn and is measured with a radar gun or similar speed calculating device. During this point, the car is not actually sliding. The driver is building his or her speed so that when the drift is initiated, by pulling the emergency brake, quickly stamping the clutch pedal, transferring the car's weight by jerking the steering wheel, down-shifting, or a specific combination of any of these actions, the driver will still have momentum to carry their car through the first of at least two or three turns.
Line indicates how correctly you follow the predetermined route through the course. Points are awarded for correctly following the instructed line or deducted when the driver deviates. In following with the instructed line, there are also marked "clipping points" where the driver must get their car as close as possible to them without touching. There are two type of clipping points: front and rear. With front clipping points, the nose of the car should be as intimate with the marked cone as possible without touching it and with rear clipping points, you apply the same principle only with the rear bumper.
The angle of the car describes how perpendicular it is while the driver follows the line. This can be measured using a special gauge, but is usually determined by a qualified judge. Angle is difficult to control because the more angle you possess, the less momentum you have. If you slow down too much, the drift will be lost, resulting in a low score. One must find the balance between angle and speed in order to be successful at drifting.
Smoke is one of the most obvious judging factors of drifting and is merely how much tire smoke one can generate while drifting. Generally, using wide, race compound tires backed up by a lot of horsepower is the formula to achieve great smoke. The amount of smoke generated is determined by how fast the tires are spinning, alignment, wheel/tire weight, and a seemingly endless amount of other factors.
In drifting, none of these judging points can be excluded by a driver who aims for a quality score. All of these aspects are dependent upon one another. One must understand, practice, and master all of these facets in order to become an accomplished drifter. Balance is key.
Tandem, the most exciting part of drifting, involves two or more drivers performing all of these tasks in as close synchronization as possible. It is similar to having a running partner who you must keep pace with. This is one of the most dangerous aspects of drifting because of the overwhelming amount of work it takes to adjust to another driver instead, of simply driving with how one is comfortable, but is also the most exciting, due to the margin of error being very small. Picture yourself sliding a car after entering a turn at 75+ MPH with another car right behind you, mirroring your every move, while the driver gives chase with a mission to get as close to your car as possible : This is the art of drift.