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Multi-Track Drifting

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That's one smooth operator...
"He once parallel parked a train."

Just your average Hot Pursuit or Death Race. Nothing to see here, folks, move on—

HOLY FREAKIN' COW!! Did you see that car? Only it wasn't a car, but it's tearing up the road all the same?!

Sure enough, that high-performance vehicle is not an automobile, but something else entirely: perhaps a train, or a main battle tank, or a mech even. Alternatively, the speed demon is certainly a car, but not one you'd normally expect to see applying scientifically precise sinusoid pathing to Main Street. But this is an Action Movie, of course we're going to ignore things like friction, momentum, torque, engine efficiency, and so on and so forth. The Action Hero earned his driver's license in Breakneck Speedsters, and it's class E for 'everything'.

In mundane hands, this baby would get twelve miles to the gallon, a horrible turning radius, and Jello Jiggler handling. But with Multi-Track Drifting, our racing pro is pulling hairpin turns, running the slalom around lightposts, ditching the cops (in actual ditches no less), and making a beautiful mess of things in general.

See Improbable Piloting Skills for this trope's airborne counterpart.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Trope Namer is Densha de D, a Crossover Affectionate Parody of Initial D and Densha de Go!, which uses trains instead of cars. Towards the end of one race, Takumi shifts his train to roll down both sets of tracks on a corner at high speed, intentionally spreading his train across two sets of tracks to minimise the risk of flipping over sideways from the forces involved. Prompting a shocked Keisuke to blurt out the infamous line.
  • In anime, the conventional battle tank is often on the losing side. Presenting the "snub tank", the subcompact version, which usually features improved speed and handling, and a short main gun that's no less powerful. Likely originates in Dominion Tank Police.
  • The Tachikoma in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex are very fast spider tanks, so you know they are fast and agile. But some of the stuff they pull off puts Spider-Man to shame.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO and Igloo 2, the Hidolfr and RTX-440 Guntanks are machines that are in scale with the mobile suits they fight against. Given that, they're much faster and more agile then they appear. An example being the Hidolfr pivoting on its axis while moving forward.
  • Mako Reizei tried this trick thrice in Girls und Panzer. Remember, she's driving an actual tank and using this trick as a tactical maneuver, to wit:
    • First, when she drifted the Panzer IV around St. Gloriana's Churchill, before letting her teammate open fire at point-blank range. Unfortunately, the shot did not do squat against the Churchill's armor due to having an underpowered gun at the time
    • Second, in the 6th episode, where the same driver again drifts the tank to dodge an incoming shell from Saunders High's Sherman Firefly; and
    • And lastly, in the finals, (as homage to her previous trick as stated in the first example) where she drifted around Kuromorimine's Tiger I flag tank so hard that she broke the Panzer IV's tracks in the process. This time, the Panzer IV was armed with a gun powerful enough to punch through its target's heavy armor.
    • The Movie goes well beyond "just" drifting tanks, giving us things like tanks making sick jumps (off of another tank in one case), a tank skipping across a river, a tank chase on a roller coaster track, tanks climbing a model mountain...

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Polar Express, the eponymous train gets derailed and begins to slide out of control when the track dips below the frozen-over surface of a lake. The engineer uses the brake and throttle to pull a J-turn, pointing it back on course, and slowly corrects the direction to line up with the rails on the other side of the lake. The entire scene is somewhat of a nightmare for those versed in steam locomotive mechanics; not so much for steering the train with the throttle and brake, but more for the fact that such violent and sudden moving of the throttle and Johnson bar would tear the running gear of any real steam locomotive to shreds.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Battleship manages to do it with... well, a battleship, thanks to creative application of the anchor. This maneuver is called club hauling and was used in the age of sail to turn in a small radius. Using it on a battleship at flank speed would probably just drag the anchor.
  • The Commuter gave us an honest to god Multi-Track Drifting when its train got derailed.
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) shows tanks (or a tank in recycled footage, if you prefer) drifting as they take a hard right coming out of Fort Meade to engage Klaatu's ship.
  • In Fast & Furious 6, the heroes are driving their usual muscle cars when they suddenly discover that their opponent is driving a tank.
  • Herbie in Herbie: Fully Loaded, most especially the final NASCAR racing sequence where the anthropomorphic Volkswagen was seen climbing onto the fence above the wall, trying to avoid being trade-painted.
  • The Italian Job (2003) features some particularly shiny Mini Coopers navigating through buildings like some parkour maniac. The cars used were heavily modified to withstand the highly atypical driving conditions.
  • The Italian Job (1969), with Michael Caine, has even better Mini car-fu of this nature, including a scene where the cars can be seen driving over the roof of the local Fiat factory.
  • James Bond:
    • Inverted with a Mercedes-Benz sans its tires, which have been shot to pieces, in Octopussy, where Bond has to catch up with a circus train. Cue train approaching from the opposite direction. He, naturally, makes the jump before the inevitable collision. Mercedes-Benzes are not frequently made in track gauges, so the special effects crew had to improvise one.
    • GoldenEye: The particularly memorable "tank chase" is one of the stronger examples, with Bond chasing after the Damsel in Distress in a "Model T" (a Russian T-series heavy tank, that is). Extra style points for lifting a memorial statue, sticking it in an overhang, and crushing some cars on his tail. That the guy he's chasing is in a small Soviet-bloc car just makes it even more awesome.

  • The 50,000 ton Land Battleships of the eponymous Bolo series are noted to be able to hit 200 miles per hour on flat terrain. 'Flat' in this case being anything less bumpy than the average mountain range.
  • Ciaphas Cain: One of Jurgen's many talents is driving a forty-ton Salamander scout tank like a sportscar. Pray you aren't in the way if he realizes he's running late, because the Commissar is never allowed to be late.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Due to high crosswinds, the pilots seen in Flying Wild Alaska do this on pretty much every other landing.
  • Top Gear (UK):
    • An episode involved Jeremy Clarkson in a Land Rover Sport attempting to outmanoeuvre a Challenger 2. He failed. The episode showcased the tank's smokelaunchers, manoeuvrability, speed and ability to handle rough terrain. However, Clarkson managed to survive for a full five minutes, by weaving around forests where the tank could not get a good shot on him. And that was with Challenger's crew having the handicap that they could only use it's main gun's sight to draw a bead on Clarkson's Land Rover, not any of it's co-axial, pintle or turreted mounted machine guns.
    • They also did a similar thing with a Lotus Exige versus an Apache helicopter gunship — racing around the confines of the track, trying to get missile lock. They weren't allowed to use the chin cannon or pop up from miles away and use the hellfire rockets, that would have been unfair...
    • The show has also done such wonders as racing piled up cars with the top steering and the bottom accelerating and braking, MPVs (people carriers), camper vans (RVs) and buses. And they were all awesome.
    • Another notable episode featured an attempt to drive a Transit Van driven around the Nürburgring in ten minutes.
    • In the "Lorry Challenge", the three presenters were instructed to drive their eighteen-wheelers to a test track and power slide them (cabs only). All three swore blind that it couldn't be done, so the producers brought out their tame racing driver('s lorry-driving cousin), who proceeded to do just that to general consternation. (Sure enough, none of the three could reproduce the feat.)
  • Top Gear (US) has an episode where the resident Badass Driver, Tanner Foust, is challenged to put a variety of vehicles into a drift. He manages to drift a stretch Lincoln limousine (with Rutledge in the back), and a full-sized city bus. A later episode has the three hosts racing tractors (which they described in terms of cars); Tanner begins to do donuts in his 6 ton tractor after the race.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Crossing over with Post-Modern Magik, this is the Speed Demon Character Class entire shtick in d20 Modern Urban Arcana.
  • Unless you're dealing with a 316-ton super-heavy battle tank, Warhammer 40,000 doesn't have very strict rules governing vehicle movement, so as long as you don't exceed the speed limit your Land Raider can zig-zag around those barricades and pull a sicknasty 180 at the end of its move.

    Video Games 
  • Densha de D ended up getting an entire series of fan games based on it (currently five as of this writing, named similarly to the official Initial D games), all developed by JinushiIppa, which naturally include the infamous trope naming maneuver as a gameplay mechanic.
  • In Elite Dangerous the Federal series of ___ships are infamous for their slip-and-slide handling courtesy of their massively oversized engines and a hull that weighs more than the sun. The Federal Dropship is the most prominent, as it is extremely rare to see one not sliding sideways through space at max speed.
  • Forza Horizon 4's first Showcase, "Behemoth", is a downhill race pitting an off-road truck against a hovercraft, which expectedly pulls off a few drift maneuvers.
  • Forza Motorsport 4 features the Hummer H1 Alpha, a diesel AWD truck that weighs eight thousand pounds. With some tuning and upgrades, it's possible to drift the Hummer. Courtesy of the game's sometimes finicky netcode, it's possible for cars to do things that they should definitely not be able do, such as suddenly going flying up into the air while doing a sweet corkscrew before landing on all four wheels, or breaking the sound barrier through a hairpin turn.
  • GoldenEye (1997) has a version of the tank chase; noteable for 007 being able to roll over dozens of guards without affecting the performance of the tank at all. Squish squish.
  • Grand Theft Auto games: especially in San Andreas, where you can use a dump truck, an Abrams, a truck with trailer, and even a train if you derail it in the right place.
  • The 2009 flight-combat game H.A.W.X. gives the player the ability to drift fighter jets in mid-air. However, the ability differs from jet to jet. Slowpokes like the MiG-21 Fishbed can barely hold a drift, while the SU-37 Terminator can flip in mid-air.
    • Note that in theory, with some rather specific modifications and particularly thrust-vector engines (which are currently available technology seen on the F-35 and the F-22, for example), this is entirely possible. It would turn the pilot into paste from the g-force, though.
    • Not to mention the way stalling is illustrated in the game, which has planes dropping like a rock the second the airframe loses stable velocity. Bwha?
      • That's when the flight controls are set to the basic, arcade-like mode. When it's in Advanced mode, the plane pretty much stalls and holds in place in mid-air for a few seconds until speed increases, which is even worse.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, while in the Pride Lands, Sora can drift while sprinting in his lion form. Goofy can do the same as a tortoise.
  • The Chevalier wheeled scout tank in MechWarrior Living Legends is capable of going through absurdly tight turns at high speed, faster than a modern car could do. It's even possible to do drifting in the Chevalier, despite it being a 35-ton tank. Strangely, the Chevy handles better the faster its moving, allowing a Chevy moving at max speed to turn extremely quickly. It's also possible to do donuts the aerospace fighters, owing to their huge thrust and screwy aerodynamic stall mechanics — cut the throttle as you mash the yaw axis, wait a moment, then kick on the afterburners at max power and bam, you're doing donuts in the sky.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3 has a multi track drifting scene featuring the precursor of the Metal Gear—the Shagohod, which can go at high speeds by using two gigantic augers and a rocket booster. It arguably makes less sense than any of the Metal Gears that follow it, but that's okay because it's freaking awesome.
  • The opening cinematic of Metal Saga features a scene where the protagonist drifts his World War II-era 57 ton Tiger I tank. Somewhat justified, since in game you can customize the tanks with more powerful engines, though unfortunately you never get the chance to do so in game.
  • The titular Metal Slug is your familiar anime-inspired snub tank, capable of jumping over lesser military machinery (the bomber pilots certainly didn't expect to be attacked from above), and ducking under rounds from other tanks.
  • In Need for Speed: Carbon, you can take a dump truck or fire truck (awarded via reward cards) to a drift event. Cue the two sliding around without worrying about its weight.
  • NieR lets you drift... while riding a boar. Yes, the hoofed animal. Yes, it is awesome. A programmer spent one of his lunch breaks trying to make the boar drift, and the producers thought it was too funny to not add. This returns in the sequel as well and is just as ridiculous as before.
  • Despite being a game that makes strenuous efforts toward realism to the point where its engine has been used for actual military training simulations, Operation Flashpoint lets you pull this off in any tank, assuming you can reach a sufficiently high speed, due to tank treads apparently having significantly less grip than they do in Real Life.
  • PlanetSide 2 features the Lightning, a one-man light tank. With the "Racer" chassis upgrade, it's capable of doing powerslides. The alternate chassis upgrade, "Rival" improves its turning radius, allowing it to drift once sufficiently upgraded. It should be noted that all vehicles in Planetside 2, no matter the weight or drivetrain have utterly appalling traction, so slides in heavy tanks and 6-wheel-drive armoured busses are no challenge to pull.
  • A drift-racing game Racing Lagoon features a limousine, which is actively driftable using the handbrake like other sport cars. There are also trucks and buses, but they drift poorly due to their enormous sizes and weights, but once you've modified and mastered them...
  • The 1986 strategy game Roadwar 2000 allows the player to modify his street gang's vehicles to turn on a dime, even buses and tractor trailers.
  • In the PC version of Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed, General Winter's land vehicle is a Soviet tank. Like all land vehicles, you can drift it, and it is awesome.
  • The Landmaster from the Star Fox series does the barrel roll too, Peppy.
  • Total War: Warhammer III: Skull Cannons of Khorn are mobile artillery pieces that attack in melee via impressive Spin Attack maneuvers.
  • Accomplished in Train Simulator 2013.
  • The little-known tank racing game Tread Marks is about off-road-racing, heavily-armed, powersliding... tanks.
  • War Thunder Ground Forces is notorious for having all tanks slide around at the slightest bit of turning at speed. Ironic, as it's in most ways more realistic than its rival, World of Tanks.
  • World of Tanks makes it possible with particularly fast vehicles; French light/medium tanks from the ELC AMX on and the US M18 Hellcat are notorious for being able to powerslide. The British Light-and-Medium line from the Tier IV Covenanter to the Tier VII Comet recently joined them.
    • The French ELC AMX to the AMX 13 90 sequence of light tanks is notorious for being able to get air off nearly any size of hill, because of their incredibly light weight compared to most vehicles in the game.
    • Currently the fastest tank in the game is Pz 1 ausf.C, which is also coincidentally one of the most lightweight at under 8 tons. The tank is so prone to drifting and getting air off bumps in the road it routinely damages itself and can even break its own tracks on particularly hard landings.
    • It is possible to pick up a surprising amount of speed going downhill, even in a heavy tank. A 71-ton IS-7 can pick up almost 60kph going down a slope, such as the hill on Himmelsdorf, and pull the handbrake to go screeching around corners nose-first, no doubt providing unpleasant surprises to anyone who thought they would get a free shot into its side as it rounded the turn.
    • The Blizzard variant of the Erlenburg map lets you do this with practically anything: just go racing down one of the hills onto the frozen river, once you're on the ice it's pretty easy even if you're in a huge monster like a KV-4 or Type 4 Heavy.

    Web Original 
  • During the Dbagbo Tank War arc of the The Solstice War there's several instances of tanks drifting, however each time they are actually hydroplaning on wet, flat ground, which is a little bit more acceptable.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television in bad weather conditions such as snow and rain. As many of the examples below showcase, even otherwise hard to maneuver vehicles such as armored vehicles and heavy duty trucks can easily slip out of control on snow or wet ground.
  • Averted in the case of hopped up Shawn Nelson, who after rampaging through suburban San Diego, got his stolen M60 Patton stuck on a freeway median when he tried to cross over into oncoming traffic.
  • During WWII, LT. Richard Candelaria was dogfighting in his P-51 Mustang with a skilled German pilot in an Me109. With the German flying circles around him and latched on his tail, Candelaria tries a risky maneuver, kicking his Mustang's tail around so the German would overshoot him. His plane does the equivalent of a short spin in the air and shoots down the German plane. Although he's not spinning in the air per-se, it still qualifies as an unconventional tactic. Eat your heart out, thrust vectoring.
    • Of course, making flying machines spin in strange maneuvers has been around since WWI, with the little Fokker Triplanes being extremely agile for their time.
      • The Fokker Dr.I's agility was situational; like all aircraft that had rotary engines (such as the Le Rhone and Oberursel, which had a fixed crankshaft that the entire engine spun around), the torque from the engine meant that the plane could turn right much more readily than it could turn left. The compact airframe of the Dr.I compounded the effect, making it possible to almost spin the plane to the right without loss of control. The Dr.1 also had the unique "feature" that the entire vertical tail unit was rudder, making waving the tail a snap.
    • In the Dogfights documentary series, one WWII pilot had the trick of simultaneously pitching down and yawing, turning his whole plane into one huge, unstable, airbrake. In the same series, one US pilot in Vietnam had perfected an exploitation of the Phantom jet's flat spin failure mode, putting his plane into a flat spin for a few seconds at a time to WTF his enemies and forcing overshoots by losing airspeed, then quickly recovering to normal flight on their tails.
    • The P-51's maneuver is actually a tactic you're taught in flight school called a slip. It's used in civilian aviation to either drop altitude quickly (like maybe you're too high above a runway to land) and quickly recover, or keep your plane traveling straight in a crosswind. Yes, it also acts as an airbrake and you can recover from it really, really easily (you enter it by yawing one direction and rolling slightly the opposite; you exit by releasing the controls). Pilots during WWI would use slips to strafe targets air and ground, in addition to the aforementioned "let the Messerschmitt pass right by" use during WWII.
    • The Pugachev's Cobra is basically a vertical drift where a fighter pilot points his nose upward suddenly, using the entire plane as an airbrake, before pointing it back down to shoot at the enemy that just flew past.
  • Europeans race trucks. Not pickups, but semis. It is loud and awesome. Youtube clip.
  • In real life, unfortunately, no train driver can pull off the above moves using conventional trams and tracks... ...Or can they?
    • If your car's going slow enough, and you time the switch correctly, and the two tracks run parallel to each other... sure you can. At speed, you'd just derail.
  • The Germans love to show off the mobility of their Leopard 2. Just search for it on youtube.
    • You can cross a 3,5m wide trench by driving into it and just digging through the other side to get out again, but it's a lot easier to just jump over it.
  • The Americans have done a couple of Tank drifting Goodness in Iraq with their M1 Abrams and Canadians tanker have pulled their share of tank drifting in Afghanistan with the aforementioned Leopard 2.
  • In WW2, Britain's Churchill tank certainly wasn't built for speed. But its engine power and gearing meant it could climb steeper slopes than practically every other tank out. One hilltop defensive position in Tunisia, thought impassible for tanks by its German defenders and therefore lightly guarded by mines or anti-tank guns, was over-run by Churchills climbing a slope the Germans only thought to lightly defend. Churchill tank commander John Foley, in his autobiography Mailed Fist, records that his Churchills crossed wide anti-tank ditches in the Siegfried Line simply by driving into them. and then climbing out of them as if it were a minor inconvenience. Much to the consternation of the German defenders. Foley also records a case where a Churchill skidded off a road in the Ardennes in winter ice and smow, plunging into a ravine. It landed right side up and was able to climb out again, ascending the precipitous slope with little damage to tank or crew.
  • Russian T-90 tank isn't called a "Flying tank" for nothing. Its demonstrations often include climbing high obstacles without losing speed, often flying several meters after that... Firing the cannon during landing is optional.
  • 1 HP drifting. Old-school. No, I mean horse-and-buggy old-school...
  • Scandinavian Airplane Drifting!
  • Unsurprisingly popular with golf carts.
  • In order to land in heavy crosswinds, most professional pilots, especially airline pilots, are trained to fly their planes in at insane angles. See here and here.
    • If you try to fly in a straight line in a heavy crosswind, you end up flying wing-first kinda automatically. The real trick is the landing, as the pilot has to right up the plane immediately as it touches the ground, lest it rolls off the runway.
    • The B52 was designed with this in mind with its gear able to adjust to landings with ridiculous amounts of yaw. A feature that was considered top secret for many years.
    • A slip is an aircraft maneuver in which you turn your plane diagonally into the wind without changing your direction of travel. It ends up looking like a mid-air drift.
      • One type of slip is a sideslip, which is used to reduce height of the airplane without losing speed. It's used mainly by glider pilots, but was used once on a Boeing 767 that lost both engines. The best part? Every other pilot who was placed in the same situation in a simulator crashed the plane - in reality, everyone on board survived.
  • Here, we see the Aircraft Carrier USS Abraham Lincoln drifting. It's useful to keep in mind, that thanks to its twin Westinghouse A 4 W nuclear reactors, a Nimitz class can reach speeds in excess of 65 kilometeres per hour, with it's actual max speed remaining a military secret.
  • Sailing ships stuck without enough room to turn and facing the wind can club haul. An anchor is attached to the lee quarter (rear of the ship facing the shore) but dropped from the lee bow (front facing the shore). The vessel gathers sternway (it moves backwards) and is turned around by the now trailing anchor. The anchor cable is cut, and the ship proceeds on its way facing the opposite direction in a very narrow (for a sailing ship) turning radius.... minus one anchor. Not exactly The Fast And The Furious, but pretty nimble for a 72-gun man-of-war.
    • Do the same setup, but with two anchors, reversing the setup on the other side of the ship. The ship can't go anywhere, but by reeling in and reeling out the anchor cables, the ship can be turned any which way. You now have a 72-gun turret, unlike your enemies, who likely are at the mercy of the wind and currents to maneuver against you. Obviously only works when you are on the defense.
  • The Japanese Type 10 Main Battle Tank is not only extremely fast for an MBT, with a top speed of a 70 km/h, it's also able to travel at the same speed in reverse.
  • A FedEx driver handled his truck "like a boss," taking it down a steep, icy road — without working brakes on the rear trailer.
  • Some amusing miniature model railroad examples, just in case you needed a demonstration of how to drift a train.
  • In the "car that you wouldn't expect to drift, but it can" category, there's a new thing in Japan called "PVC drifting". Small, front wheel drive kei cars (econoboxes with tiny engines) are fitted with PVC rings made from large aquarium pipes. The result is some pretty impressive drifts from cars that have no business doing so.