The Europeans and drifting

Photo credit; Sebastian mazur


This might come as news to some, but the Europeans are taking drifting very seriously and it’s time the American drift World noticed.

This year’s formula drift championship winner James Deane, is from Ireland. In fact; all of the top three drivers in the championship are European. Second place went to Frederic Aasbo, who’s from Norway and third went to Aurimas “odi” Bakchis, who is originally from Lithuania.

This may perhaps be due to the economy and the view of credit, in much of Europe. What I mean is that in Europe, due mostly to the cost of living and the fact that the credit system isn’t used nearly as much there, as it is in the states; most people can’t afford to build, drive, or field a drift car in their teens, or twenties. European drifters tend to establish themselves in a career, buy a house, or start a family first and then get into serious drifting afterwards. 

As a result of these slightly different economic and social practices; the majority of European drifters are in their 30s, 40s and some in their 50’s and most of them will stay in it for years. In America, kids get into it in their teenage years, or early twenties; before they have any real money saved, rack up a mountain of debt trying to make a name for themselves in the drift world and end up fading into obscurity, just when people in the scene start to hear about them. If they’re lucky, they might make it a season or two as a pro and those drivers hang their hopes on sponsors making contracts with them, before the debt surpasses their comfort zone. 

Although this gamble has paid-off in the past; it’s much harder now than it ever was before. As the popularity of drifting grows, so too does the pool of talented drivers and a formula drift season seems only to become more expensive, as the years pass. Suffice it to say that the odds are stacked against any driver, who might try to establish themselves in this particular manner. 

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise then, that Europeans tend to perform so well in formula drift; most of these drivers are coming over with tons more seat-time and a much stronger financial (and by association; mental) position. Being able to compete without the concern of being able to afford to, would be hugely advantageous to any driver by itself! Add to that, the amount of seat-time said financial stability brings and the mystery behind why they do well, begins to dissolve rather rapidly. 

Know what else there’s a lot of in European drifting? BMWs. As a European car enthusiast, a drifting enthusiast and a bimmerphile, watching European drifting is a special treat for me. Contrary to what we see in US, or Japanese drifting; BMWs are chosen much more typically as a chassis for European drift-car builds.

If you check out the King/queen of europe/touge/nations, drift Allstars, the bdc, or really any European drifting circuit’s livestreams, you’ll see tons of e30s, e36es, e46es and even a few more modern bimmers absolutely killing it, at pretty much every event.

Interestingly; it’s not just BMW cars that are used more, but also BMW engines. There, teams who use BMW chassis aren’t swapping out BMW engines, as we tend to see here in the states. These teams are opting to use bmw engines even when they have access to other engines and it’s not uncommon to see BMW powerplants in non-BMW chassis, or non-german chassis for that matter!

Sure, one could chalk this up to BMW engines being a cheaper option because there are simply more of them around in Europe. That however, doesn’t do much to explain why the no-expense-spared teams, whose engines would share little, to no part commonality with the BMW guys they’ll likely end up pitted next to, choose these engines to start with.

Whatever their reasoning may be, you can be sure of this; when I start building my s52, I’ll be contacting my European buddies to help me spec it out! They’ve been able to reliably get good power from their builds and I gotta know what they know!

Photo credit; hybridz forum.