Generally a car with 4 wheels will follow the direction of the wheels. When the front wheels are pointed to the left or right the car will turn in that direction with the rear wheels following. This has been the basis for motor sport over the centuries. Grip and control levels and sophisticated anti lock, slip differentials and suspension systems have increased over the years to the point that even a bad driver can corner fast and the car will travel in the required direction in a controlled manner without sliding.
However this is all rather boring. Everyone can do it. In the back mountain roads (Toge) in Japan youths and cars created the venerable art of drifting. Initially they would race down the mountainside against the clock and against each other. Some competitors started performing impressive looking controlled slides, a way of cornering with a higher exit speed before the advent of good quality tyres and traction control systems. This looked cool and they continued pushing the envelope will ever more elaborate controlled slides until eventually the speed became a secondary consideration with the angle, duration and control of the slide. One mistake and the car would plunge down the side of the mountain – impressive but somewhat unrepeatable. The alternative drift story can be found here.
The worlds best known drift driver Tsuchiya Keiichi brought the sport to the attention of the world when in last place in a race he started sliding into the corners getting the car really sideways. The onlookers were shocked amazed and impressed. Tsuchiya called this technique ‘drifting’ when interviewed later.
To perform a drift you require a certain amount of instinct and a great deal of practice. The aim is steady control – jerky throttle control and steering inputs will simply not work if you want to perform a controlled drift. None of these techniques should EVER be performed in public places or on streets as it is dangerous and quite rightly illegal. If you want to learn drifting then join a drift club and get some track time in.