Beyond The Turn: Exploring The Differences Between Spinning and Drifting


Post created: 17 October 2023

When it comes to pushing the limits of control and precision in automotive sports, two terms often surface: spinning and drifting. While they might seem similar at first glance, these two techniques showcase distinct driving styles and skill sets that set them apart. Join AutoZone as we dive into the exhilarating world of spinning and drifting, unravelling the differences that make each technique truly unique.

The Art of Spinning

We sat down with spinning icon Stacey-Lee May to get her insights into the world of spinning from behind the wheel:

“Let’s talk about some fun facts related to brake management. We typically avoid using the brakes unless we’re doing a burnout or coming to a complete stop. In drifting, we often rely on techniques like using an e-brake or left-foot braking.

When it comes to the surface we’re driving on, we prefer smooth surfaces like asphalt, bricks, or concrete. We tend to avoid dirt because it can easily end up in your mouth, and trust me, that tastes pretty terrible!”

Spinning, often referred to as “donuts” or “360s,” involves rotating a vehicle on its axis while stationary or in a controlled circle. This impressive display of control requires finesse in throttle modulation, steering precision and brake management. Here’s a closer look at the key aspects of spinning:

Throttle Control: Spinning requires a delicate balance of throttle input. Too much power can lead to an uncontrollable spin, while too little can result in a stalled vehicle. Skilful manipulation of the throttle helps maintain momentum and keep the vehicle in a controlled rotation.

Steering Technique: Steering plays a critical role in initiating and maintaining the spin. Drivers must be adept at smoothly turning the wheel to avoid abrupt movements that could lead to loss of control.

Brake Management: Utilising the brakes selectively helps control the spin’s speed and diameter. Applying the brakes on one side while accelerating on the other creates a controlled pivot point, resulting in a precise rotation.

Surface Conditions: Spinning can be performed on various surfaces, such as tar or dirt. Each surface poses unique challenges that drivers must adapt to in order to maintain control.

The Essence of Drifting

Drifting, on the other hand, is a high-skill driving technique that involves intentionally oversteering a car to make it slide sideways through corners. Drifting is an art form that showcases a driver’s ability to maintain control while the vehicle’s rear wheels lose traction.

Here’s a closer look at the key aspects of drifting:

Initiating the slide: To initiate a drift, the driver deliberately induces oversteer by either abruptly lifting off the throttle, tapping the brakes, or using the handbrake. This shifts the weight balance of the car and causes the rear wheels to break traction.

Counter steering: As the car begins to slide, the driver counter steers by turning the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. This helps maintain the direction of the slide and prevents the car from spinning out.

Throttle Control: Balancing the throttle is crucial in drifting. Applying too much throttle can lead to uncontrollable spins, while too little can cause the car to regain traction and straighten out.

Line and Angle: Skilled drifters focus on maintaining a specific line and angle through corners. Achieving the perfect drift line requires a deep understanding of the car’s dynamics and the track’s layout.

Smoke and Style: Drifting isn’t just about precision, it’s also about style. The artistry of producing a billowing cloud of tyre smoke adds a visual spectacle to the technique.

In the world of automotive sports, spinning and drifting represent two distinct forms of controlled chaos. While spinning emphasises precision in rotation and control while stationary, drifting showcases the art of maintaining a controlled slide through corners. Both techniques require a deep understanding of vehicle dynamics, meticulous practice and a keen sense of timing.

Whether you’re drawn to the circular grace of a spin or the breath-taking sideways dance of a drift, these techniques embody the spirit of pushing boundaries and embracing the thrill of controlled manoeuvres. So, the next time you witness a car gracefully rotating in place or elegantly sliding through a corner, you’ll know that you’re witnessing the mastery of spinning and drifting in action.

INDEMNITY: These hints and tips are for information purposes only. For more details please consult the relevant workshop manual for your vehicle. Neither Auto Parts Distributors Pty (Ltd) nor any of the AutoZone outlets will be held liable for any damage or injury whatsoever resulting from the use of the information contained in this pamphlet.