The Chemistry of Drifting


Drifting is a purposeful loss of traction during a turn. It is harder to control and those who can pull off a good drift are known as some of the best drivers. I chose the chemistry of drifting because I like to drift, but I wanted to know what actually made a drift. Every time I drift I get this feeling of pure adrenaline. This is how it affects my life it’s like a hobby.

Composition of ...

Drifting is made up of two main components:

    • Asphalt: which is made of 80% carbon, 10% oxygen, and 10% hydrogen
  • Tires: which are made of 40% carbon and 60% hydrogen

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

Asphalt is primarily used to pave modern roads, it is made up of 80 percent carbon, 10 percent oxygen, and 10 percent hydrogen. The first asphalt road was constructed in 1824 and is still used today as a smooth road surface.

Tires are used on vehicles and allow us to transport goods as well as travel faster and more comfortably. Tires today are used everywhere because we have yet to come up with a better way to affordably transport goods. The first synthetic tires were invented in 1937 by John Goodrich. The formula is C(CH3)

Chemistry's Role

Asphalt is a man-made substance made up hydrocarbons, carbons and petroleum. It is a hydrocarbon mixture that is heated until it has the consistency of tar, it is then used to provide a cover for our highways and city streets. Tires are man-made as well. They are made up of the outermost layer of tread or rubber, then the side wall, the cap plies(optional), body plies, inner liner, steel belts, edge cover(optional) and a bead bundle. These components are all made up of rubber, copper wires, fabric, and steel. Steel is an alloy made up of mostly iron, with small percentages of carbon, silicon, chromium, nickel, and tungsten.

The final product is naturally occuring, even though both of the main components are man-made. The final product is made when traction is lost, the tires and asphalt create friction. This creates water vapor or the smoke you see coming off the tires.

Background Research

Drifting is essentially exceeding the limit of the tires lateral adhesion. Basically this causes you to lose traction. If the rear end of your car has ever swung wide during a slippery turn and you’ve struggled to regain control, you’ve drifted. You can make your own drifts by using a variety of drifting techniques. You can pull the ebrake on a slippery surface(best for cars with front wheel drive), or you can oversteer and give it gas( best for cars with rear wheel drive).


I found the composition of asphalt on this website

I found the composition of tires on this site

This website contains the information on when, where, and why asphalt was made. Also when and where tires were created.

I found out what a drift is on this site

this website told me how and where a drift is made.

About the Author

Dale Turner is a junior at Billings Senior High. He enjoys running track and drifting, he plans to attend college at Montana State University Bozeman to pursue a career in engineering. He is on the Honor Roll, he participates in STEM society, as well as the National Honor Society. He is also the unofficial, self-proclaimed DK or Drift King of Montana.