All kinds of motor sports have their fans, but there’s something very special about stunt driving. It’s not just because of the car chases we see in films, or the staged set-pieces shown on car programmes.
For most people, there’s a huge fascination in watching cars being driven in ways that are not allowed on normal roads. Stunt driving is a way of pushing the envelope to achieve manoeuvres you never thought possible.
The best cars for stunt driving
Almost any type of car, or bike for that matter, can be used for stunt driving. The best choice is usually a sturdy vehicle with a manual gearbox and old-fashioned handbrake. A Jeep or Mini Cooper, for example, will be a great choice for that authentic, old-school feeling of man or woman against machine.
The most amazing stunts usually involve quite a bit of speed. That explains why some expensive models make fabulous stunt cars. One of the most famous stunt driving feats was in the film Casino Royale, where James Bond rolled his Aston Martin through multiple somersaults to avoid hitting a woman in the road.
There’s more to stunt driving than you might think
Stunt driving is not just about speed, however. It’s also all about learning various tips and tricks that you definitely shouldn’t be using on your way to work in the morning. Handbrake turns, 180-degree turns, and drifting are the most common techniques that stunt drivers have to learn.
Drifting just means driving your vehicle in such a way that it glides sideways along the track, often with spectacularly smoking wheels and sound effects to match! If you want to learn how to drift, then there are plenty of courses available on approved tracks, with all the required safety provision in place. It helps if the engine is perfectly tuned to help the driver retain control as the back end of the car drifts at high speed.
A clear head and good feel for the balance of the car are required, as well as lots of nerve to point the wheels in a different direction than the trajectory of the vehicle as a whole.
Inspiration from the land of the rising sun
One figure dominates the stunt driving scene in the Far East: Keiichi Tsuchiya, the so-called “Drift King” of Japan. He’s the star of many films, and his famous drifting style has captivated audiences all over the world.
The Mazda RX-7 Veilside is popular in Japan for this kind of driving, along with some of the sportier Nissan and Toyota numbers, such as the Nissan 350Z and Keiichi Tsuchiya’s early favourite, the good old Toyota Corolla AE83. In this classic car, he showed the world how to drift, and what started out as an underground pastime, has turned into a fully-fledge competitive sport. There are stunt driving competitions these days, making this one of the fastest-growing motor sports in the world.