One of Ford Motor Company’s SEMA reveals this year was not a car, but a product that promises to make Focus RS sport company even more fun—or perhaps far more dangerous.
It’s called the Drift Stick, and Ford says it’s the world’s first electronically controlled performance handbrake.
Rally drivers pull off those lurid drifts we love watching so much by using a hydraulic handbrake, but the American automaker’s latest innovation instead works via a USB device that plugs into the car’s diagnostics port.
Hydraulic brakes require a serious pull to lock up the rear tires, but the Drift Stick responds to just six pounds of pressure. That light tug commands the clutches that conduct torque to the rear wheels to open up; and the brakes’ anti-lock system to lock the rear wheels, breaking traction and allowing the rear of the car to swing wide in corners.
Ford says the Drift Stick effectively interacts with the car’s electronics as a calibration tool, allowing it to be used to download some diagnostic data and upload powertrain calibrations to the car’s digital controls.
It’s a concept unsurprisingly conceived by the same folks in Ford’s performance division who cooked up the RS’ “Drift Mode.” But Ford also consulted rally driver Ken Block — famous for his series of wild Gymkhana stunt driving videos — on the project and said he was keen on the idea of giving Focus RS drivers “the quickest possible way to get [the car] sideways for large-angle drifts.”
Ford says that, like the RS’ Drift Mode, the Drift Stick is intended for track use only, but at a price of $999, you just know at least a few wannabe rally drivers are going to get themselves into some kind of trouble on public roads with this product.