Physics of Drifting
By Nicholas Brazier

Physics 211X Fall 2016
Professor Newman


The Physics
Video Explanation

 The Physics of Drifting

   Drifting is a very difficult skill to learn when it comes to knowing how to control a car. The picture to the right represents how to go about initiating and maintaining a drift. As a concept overview, a brief explanation is relatively simple. The red arrow represents the direction of motion along the conceptual road. When approaching the turn, steer into it to start the drift, and then quickly steer the tires into the drift in order to control the angle at which it travels around the curve, and requires a delicate balance. In order to drift any follow-up turns, the drift must be maintained through the straight and then repeating the previous action for the first curve to drift the second curve ( Finally coming out of the last curve, the driver can either straighten out their car, or instead, maintain the sideways drift for as long as possible before straightening out, which is often done in professional racing events for maximum points.
        When a drift is done properly, the result will be similar to what is shown to the left,             where the car travels at an angle around the curve. Often, as such is shown, in competition events many drivers will be on the course at one time, requiring a high level of skill and  control over the vehicle. Now, let's take a look more in depth of the driving forces behind what allows a vehicle to controlled drift around a curve. Generally, the major force that  affects a car's drift is friction. Friction is one of the most basic and important force known, which makes everything in our lives work. Without friction we could not walk or drive our precious cars.
        When going around a turn, without friction, the car could not change direction. Instead, it would                 continue at a tangential direction relative to the curve
. This derives from Newton's 2nd Law, where
    ΣΣ F=MA. However, rather than the conventional notation for acceleration, the proper form would be where Σ F= MV^2/RΣ due to the fact that radial, or circular acceleration, is the velocity squared over the radius. Frictional force can be calculated by Fr=μNFr=μ⋅N, where μμ  is the static coefficient of friction, and N is the normal force due to gravity. So by assuming that friction and gravity are the only forces acting on the vehicle, we can then calculate what force of friction must be overcome to make the car drift at a constant velocity around a curve of a given radius. By overcoming friction, the wheels slip, and thus the car is allowed to drift.

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