Back before RC drifting become as commercial as it is today, we used to use a couple of tricks to get ourselves sideways, I explore a little drift history and explain how you can make your own drift tires on a shoestring.
As soon as I realized that 1/10 scale remote control cars were almost identical to real cars, I knew they would drift, the only problem was that without an incredibly powerful motor and a huge tire budget it just wasn’t a reality.
At first we tried to change the surface, as there quiet a few places where you can drift really well on rubber tires, underground parking lots for example. It wasn’t until a few months later that we started to experiment with changing the tires to drift, the first thing we did to tape the tires, this involves using insulation tape to leave the tire without any traction, there is a specific way which works the best, you only tape the outside edges of your tire, or what I found also works as taking a strip down the center of each tire, but leaving the edges open rubber.
You need to experiment to find out what works best with your particular car and driving style.
It wasn’t long after we first started drifting that other types of tires started to pop up, Tamiya released a drift tire which was a very hard rubber, this gave a little too much traction, but with a nitro car they are just perfect. Yokomo had a set of tires that included two hard plastic rings, they were replaceable, but at a pretty steep cost, they later retired these for a solid center replaceable ring, that still wares out too quickly and costs too much to replace.
Currently the tire of choice is a completely hard tire made from polyethylene, which give a very nice amount of grip for drifting, these are last much longer than the tape or hard rubber tires. In me experience the polyethylene tires can last well over a year.
To fit the polyethylene tires the best way to do it is to heat up the tire and cool down the rim, I put the rims in a fridge for a few hours and use a hair dryer to heat up the tires, then they slide over each other and when they cool down / heat up the polyethylene tire will fit snugly on the rims.
One of the most important things to consider when choosing a drift tire is what everyone else is using, it’s difficult to compete with people who are using a different type of tire as it will make your car perform differently to the one on the track, if you have too much traction you’ll have too much speed, then you will out run the others, which would be a good thing if you were racing. no enough traction and you won’t be able to keep up with the big drifts.
Taping your tires is a great place to start, but it doesn’t last long, at best only a couple of runs, and it’s not something you can use in a competition and expect to place.