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Braking Drift how-to (and why it works)

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  • Braking Drift how-to (and why it works)

    For a braking drift you're essentially keeping the front tires on the hairy edge of their traction limit and making the rears exceed theirs. The braking drift can be a very fast way to slide out a car that has initial oversteer on turn-in and understeer on sustained cornering. Setting up a car this way is easily done by reducing the effect of the frontal sway bar and lowering the dampening effect of the front shocks.

    The technique is rather simple - you don't brake and turn at the same time, but rather brake hard, release, and while the weight is still at the front of the car you give steering input. Because of the physics of tire load and the characteristics of rubber, a tire is capable of doing more work when it is under a vertical load than if there is no load. This can be illustrated by trying to push a rubber eraser across a table. When the eraser has only its own weight as vertical load, it is quite easy to push around. However, if you were to push down on it with a finger and try to move it across the table it “pushes back” with a lot more force. This phenomenon would suggest that you can make a car handle better just by adding more weight, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth… When a car goes around a turn, the tire is asked to support the vertical load but also to support a lateral load as well. The relationship between added weight and a tire’s added lateral work capability is less than 1:1 – by adding more weight you are asking the tire to support more turning force than you are benefiting it. If it were possible to increase vertical load without increasing the lateral load, then it would be possible to reap the benefits of a tire’s increased capability to perform lateral work without having more weight to do lateral work for. This principle is the basis for how downforce increases grip - increasing the vertical load without increasing weight (lateral load) results in an increase in tire the traction capabilities (“lateral work”, often represented in the Traction Circle).

    At the front:
    Under braking, the vertical load on the front tires has increased, making it possible for the rubber to do more work, but the amount of weight that they are asked to redirect has not changed because the car still weighs the same. The work being done by the tire will be at the edge of the traction circle under heavy braking as it is, so if you kept braking and gave steering input you'd make the tire's load exceed the available traction. However, if you quickly release the braking force and quickly give steering input you might be able to utilize the temporarily enlarged traction circle (thanks to increased vertical load and therefore increased capacity for work) before the re-balancing of the weight causes the circle to return to normal size.

    In short - if you try to brake and steer at the same time, the car will understeer due to frontal washout. If you brake and steer in quick succession, you will have increased load capacity and the car will turn in hard.

    To the rear:
    Now, with a lower vertical load (due to weight transfer forward) and the same lateral load on the rear tires the traction circle has, in effect, gotten smaller. It won't take much at this point to let the break traction back here. If the car is setup to do so, the rear may even break away on its own since you will still have a bit of braking force being asked of the tire in it's small traction circle (especially if there is excessive negative camber resulting in less contact patch before body roll takes effect). If the tires don't break away this easily you are then left with the options of E-brake, power-over, throttle-off, shift-lock or clutch kick to generate a higher load than the work is capable of doing.

    Each technique will operate differently to move the work required of the tires to outside the boundaries of the temporarily smaller traction circle. E-brake, throttle-off, and shift-lock will serve to break traction by slowing the tire down while the power-over and clutch kick speed the rear wheels up (depending on how the kick is executed). Your best bet is to use a declarative method rather than an accelerative method, since by virtue of being a “Braking” drift (braking is the key word here, in case you can’t tell) the rears are being slowed already. At this point there should be a lateral load on both the front and rear tires (car is now post-turn in) with the fronts gripping and the rears sliding slightly. If you are too quick to apply power in the braking drift, you may cause the tire’s location on the traction circle to move the across the vertical axis and back into the center of the circle where it may grip again (also accelerating before the car is sideways will transfer more vertical load to the rear and give the rear tires more traction, causing understeer). You have to make sure that the car is effectively sideways before applying more power. When the rear tires have broken traction, the car is in the early stages of a braking drift.

    From here, the line through the turn that the front wheels will take needs to be smaller in radius than that of the rear wheels, essentially meaning that the rear will have to be traveling slightly faster than the front. Controlling the angle of attack will be a matter of simply putting on the power and modulating the throttle so that the rear line is faster, but not so fast that it incites a spin. Power application should be done quickly but smoothly – too big of a sudden jolt of power and the tires will completely loose all grip and the car will spin, too slow and the rear may regain grip and you’ll loose the drift. The faster the rear goes the larger angle, and the slower they go the shallower the angle. The ability to control the front and rear end speeds is one aspect that gives a RWD-only car an advantage over a FWD (where the rears can only be slowed) and many AWDs (where the average driver cannot control the front and rear axles separately without special modifications).

    I hope this helps clear things up - if not, you may want to consult a book like "going faster" or "high performance handling handbook".


  • #2
    Good thread man. May i add practicing this technique works well at high speeds, but you need alot of room to try it. So find a safe area like a track before attempting...


    • #3
      Ehhh just learn it in the canyons


      • #4
        brake drift, its the only way i drift. Why? because i dont have a hand brake in my truck like a 240 or 86 does.


        • #5
          Yep, my first two cars, a fwd and then a rwd, both didn't have hand parking brakes. Braking drift became very important and a staple of drift initiation...well that and faint. Even with my car now that does have a hand brake, I still stay with braking and feint for the most part. You have a lot of control and the transition into a drift is smooth. E-brake tends to be more abrupt, but it's good for tight corners where feint and braking is tough to do.

          I like the little "article" lol.

          I somewhat disagree on a tiny part though, well agree totally but add one thing. You can both brake and turn at the same time and still initiate a braking drift. The only problem is that the car needs to be set up more towards a neutral state to allow it with ease.
          Basically, you can turn hard into a corner near your turning limits and then start to apply light braking. You will move a little weight forward increasing front traction and decreasing rear traction. If enough weight moved forward, you will begin to slide.
          In a relatively neutral car, this is pretty easy to do since very little weight needs to be transfered to create oversteer. However, in a stock production car with lots of understeer built in, it may take far heavier braking.
          If too much braking is needed to move enough weight to create oversteer, you run the risk of breaking the traction of the front tires and understeering like you said.
          I'm just saying that you CAN both steer and brake, but you need to be careful with how much of each you do. The tires only have so much traction to work with.

          Still, I do agree, you should brake before the turn in to both transfer weight forward and still have full grip available to actually steer the car. A combination of each may work as well. You may tweak the car's behavior by first initiating a large weight transfer by a quick stab of the brakes, then lighten off and feather the brakes while steering. You may do the opposite as well. Start off light with heavy steering into the corner and wait to see if the rear comes out. If not, a quick jab of the brakes and letting off while still turning hard may bring the rear around.

          It's really a neat technique to play with. There's so much you can do with it that there really is no one true way to do it. You'll change for each corner and situation. You can vary how quickly you intiate the drift, how quickly you slow down into the corner, adjust angle and speed in mid-drift in need be(if you're not going too slow). It's very versitile.


          • #6

            Thank you for posts like this!!

            But I have a doubt: In a braking drift, the weight shifts to the front, but does the rear tires reach the lock point?
            It is possible to get a braking drift without locking the rear tires?
            So, with ABS you can get a brake drift?

            Thank you very much for everything.


            • #7
              Saul, it's good to see a Spanish drifter on here. Let me see if I can answer your questions.

              Regarding the rear tires locking: Yes, it is very possible to initiate a braking drift without locking the rear tires, as the required pressure isn't severe. If the rear tires do lock, you may need to ease up on your braking pressure.
              With ABS, a braking drift is about as easy to initiate than without ABS. In fact, I guess it's slightly easier because you don't have to be on the watch for lockup.


              • #8
                The point of braking drift isn't to lock up the rear tires. All you're doing with braking is to shift weight forward. Depending on the car, this may only require very light braking to do. You're basically trying to make the car oversteer. That way when you turn, the front tires have more grip than the rear. The act of actually locking up the tires has nothing to do with braking drift. In fact, depending on the car's brake balance, this may cause a lock up of either the front tires, sever understeer, or lock up of the rear tires, oversteer(like if you pulled the e-brake). The only purpose of braking drift is to move weight forward. How much weight moves forward depends on the strength and quickness of the braking. The actual act of initiating the drift occurs through steering, not the braking itself. However, I do personally think that braking drift does include tire lock up and controlled sliding via modulation of the brakes. To me, as long as your foot is on the brake and you're sideways, it's braking drift, but that's just me. Note, even with the brakes on and sliding sidways, you can still have either tire lock up(heavy braking) or maintain tire rotation(lighter braking). The purpose is still the same. All you're doing is controlling the front/rear weight balance.


                • #9
                  Thank you very much!

                  It is delightfull to be with people like you!


                  • #10
                    When done right a breaking drift is oh so smooth... silky smooth.. i love them.

                    The rear just glides around the front as traction (from the weight) is shifted laterally across the car.

                    So like mentioned above me no lock is nessisary. Infact is quite easy to apply the gas at that point and hold the drift longer, especialy in a LSD equipped car.


                    • #11
                      wow , i just saw this, good post. i try to teach this to people instead of the usual n00b to n00b idea of "pull the ebrake to start the slide" , this is a good way to drift, you can even drift ff to an extent with this. good post :thumbsup:


                      • #12
                        brake then turn - the fine point

                        Thanks for the specific detail about braking then turning in quick succession. That's the kind of fine point that I enjoy picking up here. It was incredibly specific and will significantly improve my chances of successfully executing a braking drift when I get around to it - I'm working on my heel & toe right now. uh, it's gonna be a little bit, I'm not getting the timing down instantly, ya know....


                        • #13
                          Yeah, I didn't mean to say that the objective of braking drift is to lock the rears, sorry if it sounded that way.

                          Basically, just by having so much weight shifted forward, the decrease in available traction for lateral work is enough to get the rear end out.

                          Thanks for the compliments as well, and I'm glad that this post is still being utilized.


                          • #14
                            Being someone who has only heard of drifting in Australia 6 months ago, i found that the Drift Bible helped me with my braking drift in my big heavy falcon.

                            Works a treat since i have a dodgy dash-mount handbrake and have to lean forward to use it, then it locks on and up a gutter you go.

                            Nice article. Hope everyone else finds it helpful as he is pretty much spot on with the technique here.


                            • #15
                              is the braking method possible in an automatic? if so i will try this method coz at the moment im using the weight transfer method