Formula Drift driver Chelsea Denofa definitely proved that drifting is a rear-biased sport by running donuts — those painfully skinny temporary spares — on the front end of his magnificent BMW 318ti and proceeding to rip around a track.
He prefaces this drift run by saying that he’s been living with this stupid idea for years, having suspected all that time that front tire grip is not vital for drifting.
Watch the mad man drift on space saver spare tires in the video below:
And I know that the team behind Denofa’s YouTube channel frames this as drifting on donuts, partly because it’s a good excuse to enjoy a few pastries at the end of the video and partly because that’s how a lot drivers refer to the space savers. But when you see the spares in the video holding on for dear life as the ’ti whips around the track, you get a great sense of how thin those spares really are. The wheels look more like pizza pans to me!
The spares just seem woefully unable to do what Denofa is asking of them, and I was half elated and half anxious watching the drifter go. The first portion of the video is rowdy fun and reveals that the spares work fine, but Denofa himself acknowledges they might not work very well as he “slow[s] down for a fast entry.” So, of course, Denofa sets up an entry and guns it.
I was biting my nails thinking that he and his BMW would lose a spare (or both) and come to a violent halt, but the tires held on, guiding the BMW compact around the track while Denofa exclaimed that it worked. He and his passenger even claimed there wasn’t a huge difference between the drive feel of the spares and proper front tires. If you are an E36 driver, you are my people, but please do not take Denofa’s endorsement.
He makes drifting the 318ti on those pizza pan wheels look effortless; it’s not. Denofa is a very talented driver. Recall the Hoonigan video where he drove figure-eights on a loading dock and you can see the red compact come within inches of the dock overhang.
All of this is to say, sure, front grip is optional when drifting — if you’re Chelsea Denofa.