Modulation – Clutch Kick


Clutch kicking is drifting. It’s the reason why there will always be a third pedal in every drift car no matter how prevalent paddle shifters become. If you have never clutch kicked, you have never truly drifted. This technique is simple, versatile, and innate to all drifters. Press in the clutch, rev it, dump the clutch. How hard can it be?

 Here’s Masashi Yokoi at Evergreen in Seattle (1:20-1:30)

How To

  • Be drifting
  • Press in clutch
  • Rev engine high (real high)
  • Forcefully release clutch
  • Modulate gas pedal

Mid drift, the car must be revved to a high enough level and the clutch dumped quickly. Too small of a rev and not much will happen. Too big of a rev and the car will spin out. If before the clutch is pressed in, the vehicle is close to redline, nothing will happen. If the clutch is released too slowly/softly, the clutch will simply burn up and the car may possibly stop drifting all together. If the time from the clutch being depressed to the clutch being released is too long, the car will have stopped drifting or significantly lost angle.

To properly clutch kick, the whole process of working the clutch and the gas should be quick and fluid.

What’s Going On and Why

Much like the clutch kick initiation, the difference in wheel speed is what causes the rear to “chase the front” of the car. The only difference here is that the car is already drifting. As a result, if the kick is too hard, you are much less likely to spin out than if you were initiating.

Clutch kicks add angle and a bit of speed to drifts. A hand brake would slow you down too much and sometimes there isn’t enough power to simply “step on it”, so a clutch kick is necessary. Low horsepower cars like stock engine AE86s tend to require massive amounts of clutch kicks to simply hold a drift. Turbo cars also tend to require clutch kicks if their gearing is off or they get too low in the rpm range.

As an example, here’s Mike Essa at Atlanta Motor Speedway clutch kicking a bunch of times to keep his turbo motor in its power band (0:20+)

Key Concepts

The vehicle’s driveline must be in good working order with a decent clutch. Many factory vehicles in recent history have clutch delay valves that need to be removed to properly/consistently clutch kick. Some factory clutches won’t take clutch kicks and will burn up very quickly.

Clutch kicks require high rpm differentials and quick clutch movement. Revving from 2k to 2.5k will not help a drift. Alternatively, clutch movements taking more than 0.5 seconds will likely cause a loss of drift or the car to have a large reduction in angle.

Beginner Level Usage

Anyone with low power should be well acquainted with clutch kicks. This technique should be learned by everyone and used to its fullest extent. It’s helpful in increasing radius corners and simply maintaining a long drift. This technique can also be used while shifting up or down. For instance, shifting from second to third gear may require a strong clutch kick to keep the tires spinning.

Intermediate Level Usage

Pro/am level drivers should use this technique as necessary. Again, turbo cars tend to clutch kick more due to lack of power low in the rpm range. It can also be used to keep smoke levels high to impress judges. This will only work for a limited range of angle. Be weary as gearing becomes very important.

Higher Level Usage

High horsepower FD level drivers seem to rarely use this technique. Rarely meaning not nearly as often as intermediate and below. If they do clutch kick, it tends to be mixed with other techniques like hand braking. Mainly, this is used on increasing radius corners after a large slow down like the last corners in Seattle or exiting the key hole in Atlanta.

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