If you’ve ever been on the sidelines watching your favorite drifters, you might have wondered how to compete in Formula DRIFT to see your dream of becoming a professional driver come true. While the road to getting there takes hard work, there are a handful of things that you need to know before setting off. The road is long and requires a lot of discipline, time, money, a trusted team, and perseverance.
In this short guide, we introduce you to how to compete in Formula DRIFT by each level (Pro AM, Pro 2, and Pro 1), and then offer guidance for the major steps that are needed to be taken to get you driving, drifting, and competing.
How to Compete in Formula DRIFT Pro AM
At the Pro AM level, you can expect to be doing a lot of the grunt work: entering competitions in different regions of the country (sometimes in different parts of the world), waiting for approval to compete, and most likely putting together your own car, unless you have a dedicated team behind you. Luckily, at this stage you are mostly judged by your driving skills, not by your car. If you perform well, either in a one-off event or by winning a season competition, you are awarded a license to compete at the Pro 2 level, moving you a bit closer to the top tier.
How to Compete in Formula DRIFT Pro 2
In this stage, it’s easy to get a little power crazy with the horsepower. The focus here is being sure you’re able to rank in all point categories so that you can prove you’re a well-rounded, professional driver. As a competitor, there will be four DRIFT events instead of the eight main events that happen at the Pro 1 level. At Pro 2, the prices for entry and maintenance start to increase, but it’s still more affordable than Pro 1.
How to Compete in Formula DRIFT Pro 1
This level has the highest caliber cars and highest caliber drivers. This is where the real pros hang out. At this level, it’s no holds barred. Take it to the max. Most drivers have a solid team behind them at this point, as well as several sponsorships to financially support the driver, team, and vehicle. Remember, this is still a competition—one that comes with a whole lot of glory for the winnert.
How to Compete in Formula DRIFT: Starting From Scratch
Now that we’ve established the levels of competition, you’re probably wondering how to compete in Formula DRIFT if you’re starting from the very beginning. Whether you’re a fan and you need to know where to start, or you’re an experienced driver looking for that next step into competition, read on to learn more.
1. Set a Budget
While drifting is one of the less expensive motorsports, there are still a lot of expenses to account for, including tires, maintenance, body and framework, suspension work, and more. Some of these expenses end up being unseen, so it’s important to set a realistic budget and develop a contingency plan when things inevitably cost more than you expected. If you do this from the start and stay disciplined, you can avoid the stressors of money.
2. Find a Drift Car
Once you have a financial plan in place, it’s time to find the right vehicle for you. Remember that, especially with your first car, you’re going to crash and you’re going to break things, so it’s important to get a vehicle that’s durable. Because you’re going to be having so much fun, it’s also important to stay safe, so be sure you’ve got a helmet, racing gloves, full suit, and racing boots. Your vehicle will also need to be modified with the appropriate suspension and tires for drifting.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
This is perhaps the most important point of all. As they say, “seat time is king.” Find a track that has open practice days and plenty of room so that you can get comfortable and allow yourself to make mistakes. Start out small by doing donuts before moving on to figure-eights and drifting corners. From there, build up your speed and confidence. Then practice some more.
4. Vehicle Maintenance
This goes back to your budget. Once you’ve gotten a lot of practice, you’re likely to need to make adjustments to your vehicle. Be sure to pay close attention to the steering lock, suspension, tire alignment, and the accessories to make sure the car is working well. Remember, these things cost money, so have back-up funds for maintenance if necessary.
5. Check the Race Regulations
Once you’ve practiced long enough to have fairly advanced driving skills, it’s time to start looking into the competitive drifting events. First, you’ll need to check the series’ regulations. The minimum safety requirements of almost all series include a race suit, bucket seat and harness, and a full roll cage. Keep up mechanical maintenance so that there are no fluid leaks. The last thing you want to happen once you’ve trained and paid the entry fee is to fail to meet the safety standards.
6. Get Licensed
If you can prove yourself in competition, you can compete in a licensing event that allows you to acquire a license to compete at a more professional level. At these licensing days, a panel of judges will create a course that you must compete in so they can judge you on your competence and whether you’re ready.
7. Get Sponsored
If you can prove yourself well enough, you might be able to land a sponsorship. Though it isn’t easy, sponsorship is a mark of true professionalism in that you’re able to show a brand or company that you’re good enough to represent them. In most cases, you will need to approach them letting them know what you can offer and creating a proposal that offers them a return on investment. ORACLE Lighting is excited to continue its sponsorship of Dean “Karnage” Kearney and his Dodge Viper.
How to Compete in Formula DRIFT with Style
When it comes to being judged in competition, drifting isn’t just about the driving skills, it’s also about looking good. At ORACLE Lighting, drivers can find the best materials on the market for professional racing cars, show cars, and your everyday ride.Check out our inventory of products online or contact us today!