The hand brake drift extension is a technique I’ve learned about in recent years. It fills a very particular situation where you need to stretch from one corner to another. Power/clutch kicks will continue to move you in an arc but that would cut the next corner. To fix this, the extension “straightens” your line at the sacrifice of speed.
Notable usage: Road Atlanta
Mike Essa using this at Atlanta for both entry and to extend corner 2 into corner 3.
- Be in drift
- pull hand brake and release
- repeat until you’ve completed the corner
The longer the hand brake is held down, the more the car will want to rotate. To avoid excessive rotation, the hand brake is quickly released then quickly pulled again. This will cause a slow down as you’re off throttle and technically on a brake.
Using Atlanta as an example, here’s what it looks like.
On throttle, the outer zone is reached. To extend to the entire zone, the hand brake is chopped/pulsed until the end of the zone. Here’s an example of Conrad doing it very quickly at ATL
Chopping as an Initiation
Since FD has “initiation zones”, most drivers wind up having to extend the first corner. The concept is the same as a hand brake initiation but the hand brake is repeatedly pulsed or chopped to maintain angle and slow the car down for the first corner.
Dai Yoshihara at Long Beach
Yokoi using this as an entry to the course and entry into the final hairpin
What’s Happening and Why
This is still a theory to me. If you let off on the throttle mid drift, the car will straighten. If you hold up the hand brake for too long, the rear passes the front and you spin out. So pulsing will allow you to mediate between the two. Since you are off throttle and technically on the brake, the vehicle will slow.
On throttle, the car will always be pushed forward. If you’re off throttle, the circle the vehicle will trace no longer has that influence. Therefore, you’re still doing a giant circle, just without the influence of the wheels pushing you towards the center. IE: You couldn’t use this technique to drift a straight line in perpetuity.
The concept is very simple and the “how long do I hold the hand brake up” question will depend on the corner. Longer you hold the hand brake, the more you will rotate. If you look at the video of Yokoi, he chops once, then holds up the hand brake longer the second time to rotate around the hair pin. But in Atlanta, all the videos have pretty 50/50 on to off durations of the “chops”
Beginner Level Usage
For beginners, this technique is useful when you’ve cut into a corner too closely and need to stretch to the next corner. It will likely be more of a saving grace than a main technique. The effectiveness of this technique diminishes as speed gets slower. As with any hand brake technique.
Intermediate Level Usage
When entering pro-am, this technique is useful for switch backs where there may not be enough power to stretch to the next corner or your gearing is incorrect. Again, this slows down the car so tandem situations may not allow for this all the time.
Higher Level Usage
At the pro level, this will be used to fill outer zones or to extend entries while slowing down. This is also a possibility for tandem situations where the car in front is too slow (see final video down below).