Based in Japan: SAMMIT

Based in Japan: SAMMIT

The Real Tokyo Drift


In the 1970s, street racers in Japan developed drifting as a way to maneuver their cars around tight corners at high speeds on the country’s mountain roads. Today, drifting has evolved into a professional motorsport with international competitions held all over the world. However, Japan remains the spiritual home of drifting, and it is still considered one of the most important and influential motorsports in the country.

Sam Lucas originally put his passion for cars on the back burner as he instead pursued an opportunity to work in broadcasting in Japan. Eight years later, he has found a way back to his gearhead roots as a professional driver, competing in Formula Drift Japan 2, and through SAMMIT, the largest drift car racing YouTube Channel based in Japan.

To the everyday individual, the concept of drifting likely conjures images of speedy, flashy cars, not unlike that seen in the Fast and Furious franchise or the more local, Initial D anime series. In essence, it’s both the name of the sport and a specific driving technique, wherein a vehicle is oversteered at high speed while maintaining full control of the car. Although drifting is undoubtedly a niche, however, a tight knit community of enthusiasts exists both in Japan and abroad.

“After a couple of years living in Japan, I met the owner of Yashio Factory, which is a full service auto shop,” says Lucas. “He mentored me into becoming a professional driver. Oka-chan is considered an ‘OG’ in the drifting scene. Meeting him rekindled my passion for cars.”

Lucas recalls the first time Okachan took him out drifting. While he had been in the passenger seat of a drift car before, riding alongside Oka-chan was like nothing he’d ever felt. “I was able to experience drifting in its rawest form, the speed and exhilaration, the adrenaline rush. It was a tandem drift so the doors of the cars were tapping against each other. I thought to myself, this is what real drifting is.”

Inspired by fellow car content creator AdamLZ, Lucas decided to launch his own YouTube channel to document his life and passion for drifting. Coming from a production and broadcasting background, filming was second nature to him, although he had to learn to now be comfortable in front of the camera too.

This is what real drifting is. 

“It has been four years since I began pursuing YouTube fulltime. Many of the early years were about reinvesting into my business. I have my own car shop now, with three staff members employed to support me,” he says proudly.

With almost a million followers across social media, it’s clear that the hard work has paid off. A typical SAMMIT YouTube video can vary from vlogs of his drift practice, to coverage at car events such as Itasha Heaven and Tokyo Auto Salon. His recent “Japanese mafia car” series includes several videos detailing the purchasing of a VIP car from a Japanese auction, and uncovering the story behind it. It’s the kind of footage that you don’t often get to see, especially from the perspective of a non-Japan native.


Aside from YouTube, Lucas also has a popular Twitch channel where he interacts in real-time with his community. The instantaneous nature of streaming complements his type of content, and gives viewers the opportunity to feel like they’re in the passenger seat of the car.

One piece of innovation he developed is his own multicamera system, which allows Twitch chat to control switching between any of the seven cameras and mics he has placed throughout his car. From the pedals to the front and back of the car, and even under it, Lucas’ chat can see everything through his proprietary technology.

“My community loves this; they call me the Twitch Drift Daddy. Something like this has never been done before. It gives viewers the opportunity to be producers of the show, as they can decide what they want to see at any point. There’s a lot of potential for this tech to be used for all sorts of streams as well, such as live events and podcasts.”


At the core of his work, Lucas is heavily community-minded. One of the most profound highlights in his career was working alongside track owners and other car creators to support the rebuilding of the famed Ebisu Circuit in Fukushima, following the area’s 7.3 magnitude earthquake in 2021. Through their combined efforts, they were able to raise over $100,000 from a global audience.

“I want to help cultivate the drift community in Japan through running events and bringing overseas content creators to meet with the local Japanese people, “he says.” There’s still a bit of a stigma towards drifting here and how it’s associated with rebellious behavior and being a public nuisance. But times have changed. Drifting was born in the hills of Japan, and we’ll always honor and respect those who carried the craft. We’re on the tracks now, which is safer and more controlled. The professional drifting community actively stands against any illegal practices.”