May 8, 2008

American Cars in Drifting

Drifting in Japan is dominated by Japanese cars but in North America, American Muscle cars are a popular choice and typically fair well in the standings with factory backed drivers like Mopar driver Samuel Hubinette and Pontiac drifter Rhys Millen. Samuel Hubinette won the 2004 and 2006 Formula Drift Championships in a Dodge Viper and Rhys Millen took home the 2005 Formula D Championship driving a Pontiac GTO. So it is easy to see that American Muscle cars play a big role in American drifting.

The United States is particularly car crazy with many forms of motorsports entertainment like stock car racing (NASCAR) and drag racing so it makes sense that American gear heads would think drifting is cool – especially since many American automotive enthusiasts own rear wheel drive cars suitable for drifting.

Popular American Muscle and Sports Cars in Drifting:
Ford: Mustang
Chevrolet: Corvette, Camaro
Pontiac: GTO, Solstice, Trans Am
Dodge: Viper, Charger

In 2005 Vaughn Gittin, Jr. won the (Non Championship) USA vs Japan D1 Grand Prix World All Star event driving a Ford Mustang GT. The Oldest Car to compete in D1 Grand Prix Japan was a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro driven by Ryan Hampton during the 2005 and 2006 D1GP Season.

The main drawback of most American Muscle cars is their lack of balance and heavy weight. Although a big V8 or V10 engine makes plenty of torque to smoke the tires, it also makes for a front end heavy car that lacks responsive handling. The Toyota Supra suffers from this same weight problem and is why you rarely see a Supra at competitive drifting events.

Even with weight distribution problems, American Muscle cars have proved their place in the North American drift scene. Whether or not American Muscle will make its presence felt in Japan is still unknown. Currently, the Nissan S15 Silvia has won more D1 Grand Prix events than any other drift car.

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