What Is The Scandinavian Flick and How Do You Perfect It?

The motoring world and motorsport in particular is full of daring and dangerous driving techniques. While each have their merits, few are as satisfying as the Scandinavian Flick, arguably the ‘coolest’ maneuver anyone can master.

Otherwise known as the Pendulum Turn, this tactic originated in – you guessed it – Scandinavia.

A series of rally drivers hailing from Finland, Sweden and Denmark perfected a new take on drift across the 1960s and 70s.

Amongst their number were four-time World Rally Champion Juha Kankkunen and fellow Fin turned MEP Ari Vatanen. No one person however is credited with inventing ‘the flick’.

The move was about far more than showmanship, though all who accomplished it were immediately bracketed as cool - admired and envied in equal measure.

Instead it was quickly apparent that a well-executed Pendulum Turn could allow drivers to carry more speed through corners where it would otherwise be lost.

It required (and requires) skill and patience in equal measure. To attempt a Scandinavian Flick is to appear like you’re losing control when in fact the opposite is true. Mastering it is to master the track.

How To Perform A Scandinavian Flick

Scandinavian Flick - MAT Foundry

So how does one execute it correctly?

The aim of the Scandinavian Flick is to use a car’s weight shifting and reduced traction to achieve the right kind of drift.

If approaching a right hand turn a driver should position the car on the right-hand side of the track.

Before entering the turn itself they should then counter-steer away from the corner. In doing so they will facilitate the first weight transfer of the process.

When handled correctly, the back of the car will proceed to swing around, loosening up the rear end.

It’s at this point a driver must act fact, readjusting the wheel and counter-steering the same way they would in a typical drift. This action will promptly shift the weight back in what’s known as an exaggerated weight transfer.

This additional turning will eliminate the need for excessive braking into a corner.

Through the process of sliding, the car will actually have achieved most of the stopping you require.

How Difficult Is It To Master The Scandinavian Flick?

Scandinavian Flick Rally - MAT Foundry

Easy enough, right? Wrong.

The Scandinavian Flick can make a fool of the most experienced driver, leading to understeer, oversteer or worse still… a corner that’s completely missed.

Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond famously overturned a van when attempting one on their test track in season eight of the hit show.

Contemplating one in a high sided vehicle is frankly insane.

Indeed, the best conditions for a Scandinavian Flick are icy ones. The name rather gave it away, didn’t it? Sadly however few of us get the chance to go racing in the alps.

Closer to home, wet grass and gravel also lend themselves to a good Pendulum Turn given they too are low grip surfaces. Yet there is no denying snow-covered tracks make for the best environment. That or highways where a moose is likely to be found wandering. Unintentional Scandi Flicks have prevented much roadkill in the region.

Practicing The Scandinavian Flick

It’s worth noting the flick is achievable in all of front, rear and four-wheel drive cars.

Marrying a good vehicle with a good driver - and maybe even a good co-pilot - is the surest way to realise what has become a hallowed move. The latter can kindly remind he/she behind the wheel about the importance of pointing the wrong way into a corner, then pointing straight on when exiting it. Just in case they’ve forgotten.

As mentioned, a well executed flick relies on great patience. Many attempting one for the first or even the umpteenth time tend to catch a slide and hit the throttle prematurely. Not doing so feels alien. You therefore have to fight a natural impulse and trust in the slide.

That may be easier the younger you are. Formular 1 driver Carlos Sainz is on record as saying he has practiced the art to improve his overall racing technique. He did however start young…

“There is a video of me when I was 2½ years old in a battery car, and I was doing 360s and Scandinavian flicks where you do a perfect sideways corner”, he said. “No way my father taught me that, but when I look back on those videos I feel there was something inside my body that knew how to drive, even at 2½ years old. I was born to drive, you can see it in the video.”

For all the reasons stated above the Scandinavian Flick has become somewhat of a cult thing in motorsport. It’s represents a Holy Grail for many competitors and a spectacle for fans.

Could you pull it off?

Read more articles from our driving tips series:

What Is Engine Braking? (And Why You Should Do It)

What Is Double Clutching (And Should You Do it)?

What Is Regenerative Braking and How Does It Work?

What Is Oversteering and How Do You Correct It?

What Is Trail Braking and Why Do Racing Drivers Use It?

What Is Hypermiling and How Safe Is It?

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