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Though many may not know exactly how a clutch works or even how a drift is initiated, if you know anything about drifting, we’re pretty certain you have at least heard of the term “clutch kicking.” In short, clutch kicking is just one of many ways to initiate a drift.

“There are multiple drifting techniques, but I would say clutch kicking is the most popular style,” says Dai Yoshihara, professional wheelman and former champion of the Formula Drift series.

Used mostly by beginners, clutch kicking is often referred to as the simplest form and is very predictable once you get the hang of it– clutch, throttle, and steering feel are all learned with experience. We have all felt the shock that immediately follows a stall in a manual car and, essentially, clutch kicking is the same thing, just doing so while under power. Unlike everything else you have learned about performance driving, when clutch kicking, you actually want movements to be abrupt, as that is what upsets traction to the rear wheels.

It’s actually quite simple, though; you kick the clutch, the rear end loses traction, and the rest is up to you. It takes practice, but once you accomplish your first successful drift– well, that’s how it all starts.

“I think the e-brake technique is the easiest, depending on the situation. If you are just starting out in a big area, like maybe doing donuts or a figure 8 in a parking lot, the clutch kick is probably the best technique. It’s a little harder on the close quarters of a track,” said Dai. “Clutch kicking definitely is more aggressive– you’re basically committing– it’s almost like a jump, while the e-brake actually slows you down a little. Clutch kicks are more exciting, though.”

The Path To Professional Drifting & How It All Starts 


Dai Yoshihara now has over ten years of experience and countless championship wins under his belt. But his passion all started back on the streets of Japan, “Learning was a crazy process,” he said. “I don’t remember my very first drift attempt, but I remember starting out with some donuts and, of course, hitting the guardrails here and there.”

After years of practice, back in 2008, he then traveled to the U.S. to chase the life of his dreams. “Back then, drifting wasn’t near as big in the U.S. as it is now,” he said.

Likewise, Geoff Stoneback received the same once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He tells us how his passion for getting sideways first began, “I first experienced drifting when I was in 9th grade in high school. I was instantly hooked. After working hard and saving up for a car, I purchased a ’95 Nissan 240SX. After doing several upgrades I tried drifting in parking lots with my best friends (still to this day) and had no idea if I was doing it right. The adrenaline and quick driving responses had me hooked,” he said. “My first attempt was horrible. I was drifting in an industrial area and I took a turn too fast, ended up sliding off the road and doing pretty decent damage to the car. I wasn’t too discouraged, though. I spent some time fixing the car with my friends and was back out drifting a month later.”

Fast forward to today and, both Dai and Geoff are living the dream with this same positive attitude– traveling the country and competing in dozens of drift events each year. Dai in his 962 horsepower Falken Tire/ Turn 14 Subaru BRZ and Geoff in his nitrous-powered CFR/Hankook Nissan 370Z, capable of 1,050+ horsepower.

As you can imagine, the harshness brought on by such often drifting can take quite a toll on a vehicle’s driveline. Many components on drift cars are upgraded for strength and durability, including their clutches.

The drivetrain takes huge abuse and you need a product that you can always trust. -Geoff Stoneback

“Drifting is the only motorsport where there aren’t many restrictions. The demands are tough. The cars have so much mechanical drift that 1,000 horsepower doesn’t seem like enough,” said Geoff. “When you are in tandem and following the lead car, you must be quick on your feet. You have to adapt to the car in front so there is a lot of times where you have to be on the gas, then on the brakes, all while shifting between gears. The drivetrain takes huge abuse and you need a product that you can always trust. And I trust in McLeod Clutches to always rely on a solid drivetrain. Now the only issue I have is my tires not lasting long enough.”

Upon the release of McLeod’s Tuner Series’ clutches, these two professional drifters had finally met their match. For 2017, McLeod has teamed up with three Formula Drift drivers– our friends Dai and Geoff, as well as Pat Goodin.

What Makes McLeod’s Clutches The Best In The BizIMG_2136 2

To better understand the level of quality that goes into its industry-leading clutches, we turned to McLeod’s Import Sales and Tech Support representative, Joe Macasero. He explained their new research and development program, focused around the stresses brought on by drifting, and how the feedback is used in creating the new street clutches– specifically, the Tuner Series line.

All of McLeod’s products are assembled at its shop right here in sunny Southern California, of course, using only top-of-the-line materials. “We use the best materials around, it’s why we’ve been successful for over 45 years,” explained Joe. “Our organic and ceramic friction materials are able to withstand high heat conditions all while remaining completely reliable.”

The Right Clutch For The Job

Left: Street Power/Supreme, Right: Street Elite/Tuner

McLeod's Tuner Series Clutches

Street Tuner (for street cars with mild bolt-ons)

  • High Quality Matched Pressure Plate
  • Advanced Steel Backed Disc
  • Higher Clamping Load & Burst Strength

Street Elite (for street cars with moderate bolt-ons)

  • High Clamp Load Pressure Plate
  • Sprung Hub Carbon/Organic Disc
  • Superior Holding Power and Smooth Engagement

Street Power (for street/track cars with moderate bolt-ons)

  • High Quality Matched Pressure Plate
  • High Torque 6 Puck Carbotic Disc
  • Higher Clamping Load & Burst Strength

Street Supreme (for street/tracks cars with moderate bolt-ons)

  • High Clamp Load Pressure Plate
  • High Torque 6 Puck Cabotic Disc
  • Superior Holding Power and Smooth Engagement

Drag Mag (for high horsepower and high RPM sport compact cars)

  • Diaphragm Style Pressure Plate for Low Pedal Effort
  • Twin Sintered Iron Discs for Great Holding Capacity at High RPM
  • Includes Performance Flywheel
“Our clutches can be utilized for many different disciplines, whether it be drag racing, drifting or time attack. The Tuner Series has a lot of neat features like our dual sprung hubs, steel backed discs to prevent warpage and promote heat dissipation and, of course, a smooth engagement every time you push that pedal. We’ve always been known to produce high quality clutches that hold power, yet have a really nice pedal feel.”

Geoff explains, “The great thing about running the McLeod Twin Plate Clutch is its capability to hold the high horsepower and abuse we put these clutches through, but with the pedal stiffness of a regular performance clutch. It is not too stiff, which is great considering I spend 6-8 hours in the car for 3 days straight!”

McLeod designed the Tuner Series as complete kits made specifically for Sport Compact and import cars, including something for everyone – for those needing something as simple as a perfect stock replacement, to 3,000+ horsepower applications. Each clutch has its own specific benefits, so choosing the right clutch for your vehicle and your needs a breeze.

Joe encourages, “Always think about your overall goals when you are selecting a clutch. If you see yourself making big power within a year or so, I would recommend going with the clutch that will handle that power now, so you won’t have to worry about it again later.”

Drag Mag

McLeod’s Drag Mag