Drift Races are events that entirely focus on drifting and are featured in Need for Speed: Underground, Need for Speed: Underground 2, Need for Speed: Carbon, Shift 2: Unleashed, and Need for Speed (2015).
Drift races are mainly set on circuits, although they are also featured on point-to-point routes. In Underground 2, they are known as 'Downhill Drift' events, in Carbon, they are known as 'Canyon Drift' events.
Players constantly earn points for performing a drift and are awarded bonus points for tight angle slides, close contact with walls and successive drift combinations between corners. Points are lost for ending a drift by spinning out or hitting an obstacle. Players win a drift race by collecting the highest drift score.
In Shift 2: Unleashed, drivers compete in drift races by beating the top three drivers' scores. Beating a score will gain a podium finish and earn cash. Ebisu in Japan is said by Vaughn Gittin Jr. as the "mecca of drifting". The set "The Final Slide" focuses on Formula D races.
- Need for Speed: Underground/Drift
- Need for Speed: Underground 2/Drift
- Need for Speed: Carbon/Drift Events
- Need for Speed: Shift/Drift
- Shift 2: Unleashed/Drift
- Need for Speed (2015)/Drift Contest
There are a multitude of manners in which players can drift their vehicles:
- Accelerating into a corner whilst tapping the brake will force the rear of the car to lose grip and begin to slide. The player must immediately steer (countersteer) to the opposite direction to initialise a drift.
- The handbrake (E-Brake) can be activated before entering a corner to force the car's rear wheels to stop and begin to slide.
- Players can let go off the accelerator at any point of a drift and reapply it whilst turning in the opposite direction to continue a drift around a different corner.
- By breaking the tail of a car on a straight road, the player can link two drifts together.
- Weight transfer is also a technique to initiate a drift. Rear-wheel cars are capable of weight transferring.
- Nitrous can significantly boost a car's acceleration. This can help players quickly regain speed before entering a corner.
- In Need for Speed: Underground, the player is occasionally challenged in drift races by a voiced character named Dirt.
- Drift race events are highlighted in yellow on the minimap in Need for Speed: Underground 2.