Formula Drift Insider Episode 6 [VIDEO]

Posted on Jul 13, 2012 In Formula D Video

Formula Drift Insider is Formula D’s behind-the-scenes web series, and this week’s episode dives into the controversy behind FD New Jersey. Ryan Sage helps explain some of the controversial decisions, including the Tyler McQuarrie vs Chelsea Denofa top 16 matchup as well as the Daigo Saito vs Conrad Grunewald Top 8 matchup. Interesting to note that Ryan Sage suggests that perhaps the amount of allowable mistakes in the interest of proximity needs to be clarified more since all three judges decisions. Realizing that Ryan Sage is the Vice President and co-founder of the series, this is a pretty powerful statement. Watch the episode, let us know what you think about the driving errors vs proximity.

Watch the video:

Jacob Leveton

Freelance Drift Correspondent at JacobPhoto
Jacob Leveton has worked as a freelance journalist for 12 years, specializing in drifting since the first professional competition landed on US shores in 2003. Leveton has worked with more than twenty print and online media outlets to provide unique drifting content.


  1. lifer says:

    The description from Ryan just brings up more questions then answers, but if you don’t understand well to what I got from Ryan’s excellent phrasing is that…well too bad. Its just bizarre how the judging changes from event to event with rules surfacing when they are suited to favor a result. People are not stupid who watch this. WE ALL got drifting from the same place. Its just hard to accept what the Judges call is a defined winner when they are CLEARLY overlooking the same error done earlier that day by another driver. Proximity? How about INCONSISTENCY. I like Jarod and Formula Drift, but how about getting into the Judges face on camera to hear why they made the calls, rules, and cases, when It seems clear to a large number of experienced drifters who the winner is. Sharing info from the drivers meetings would be of great help too, since rules seem to change from round to round. Perhaps Justin Leveton and EOS can sit in then fill us in on the meeting. better yet have driftstream broadcast in the meeting as well. This I think will help clear up the majority of understanding what is going one and what the drivers are being told they need to do to win. Overall The drivers and events have been awesome. Great talent and greater people in this sport, pros and non pros alike. Lets clear this bump in becoming the best, and keep drifting fun.

  2. Kids Heart says:

    This episode is some serious bullshit.

  3. rhys millen says:

    Dear Ryan……, i did not straighten up off the bank, what was dia’s speed off the bank in our match vs his qualifying speed – I believe he was slower – consider this before posting comment. Then at the finish line I make contact again, yes, but while surfing with dai on Sunday as we do as friends after the race I asked him what happened at the finish line in our run ? Dai’s reply was that he lifted out of the throttle and turned away because he thought I was going to hit him as he was watching the outer clipping point and didn’t know I was there. Which explains how his car could swerve off line with out my car being anywhere near his front wheels……

  4. Jason Cancio says:

    ^Even Rhys Millen thinks the judging is corrupted! It’s a sign!

  5. Wrecked Magazine says:

    Rhys Millen drove like a badass in New Jersey! A+++
    He took Dai Yoshihara easy on that one. He might be my new favorite driver after those runs.


  6. going to go with Joey on this one, Rhys was a mad man in Jersey!

  7. SteveO says:

    Probably one of the better Insider episodes, I really like the playback commentary, rather than…”ya, there was an event this past week, it was cool…blah, blah, blah…”.

    IMO…judging in drifting is different wherever you go and at any time, there really isn’t any definition to drifting, never will everyone will be happy about a call- so stop wasting your time arguing about it. If you want a sport with consistency, go do autocross or some lame shit like that.

  8. YOitzJDM says:

    if you don’t like judging, you can always go race GRC which is a ‘timed’ motorsport. Oh wait, they make up new rules every race and waive red flags when a driver who they don’t want to win the race is leading. Sam Hubinette isn’t marketable, let’s red-flag it so Sebastian Loebb can win!

  9. lifer says:

    Judging is different to a degree. The core fundamentals of what makes a winner out of a tandem battle still apply. This is the same for every pro drifting series actively running today. These core rules are what is starting to be pushed out in favor of “proximity”. I’m starting to see why Bebop has had issues with similar arguments like this in the past.

  10. SteveO says:


    Of course it is different to a degree, but just like Ryan Sage said in the video above- it’s more exciting to watch a door to door, wheel to wheel tandem battle rather to watch a driver follow a car length behind with the same exact line; only the nerds with their shin-high socks would think that is exciting, but to me and the rest of the like-minded fans, we absolutely wouldn’t be in this sport if it was about watching consistency.

  11. lifer says:

    I get it Steve. You take what you can get, but don’t misunderstand what I am saying. When I’m talking about consistency, I’m referring to the judging. I just don’t see why we are having difficulties achieving both consistency in judging AND proximity in tandem. Its a work in progress, and I know Formula Drift can get it there someday, and not just settle for cone-plowing sloppiness as long as they are close.

  12. Mike Peters says:

    Juding will be different at every event. Anyone who played sports and didn’t suck at it, or coached knows this. You always want to be improving and moving forward. Judging HAS to change, as the judges have a job to push the drivers to be the best, and it is their job to harp on the drivers for whatever is lacking the most, to ensure the fans get a good show.

    As the drivers are pushed further and further along, new problems arise because they’re doing things they didn’t do before. This isn’t rocket science, John Madden could have pointed this stuff out.

    If you don’t like FD judging, keep in mind if the judging wasn’t doing EXACTLY what it’s doing this year there’d be retards thinking shift-locking was still hot stuff, and people would be accelerating to third, braking, and then grabbing the handbrake to initiate and other kinds of non-hetero stuff.

    The judges are pushing the drivers super hard, and I personally think its rad as can be. There is going to be some hurdles, curveballs and problems, thats just part of progressing to new and unexplored territory.

    Speaking of which, this episode was great, and this is one of my favorite newer features of FD. Ultra-rad.

  13. S13onRotas says:

    Judging will always be a sore subject with any competition from drifting to line dancing. Drifting is very subjective and everyone has their favorites, not-so favorites. As serious as it may seem at the moment pro drifting has less credibility than a Spanish soap opera (el flaco y el gordo) for example. Drifting is very fun to do and to watch, but it is not a legit sport. Also, saying “rad” is not “rad” anymore.

  14. lifer says:

    That’s great Mike. I honestly agree with you on that POV. Maybe I have been so focused in what I see needing to improve that I didn’t get into what I do like about the judging. So my post could be taken out of context. I have no doubt Formula Drift has things going on that we will not know about yet to improve the sport. This is what I feel needs improving in moving forward. The NJ round was a lot of new types of situations that the judges had to make a decision on. When I new situation or event in the battle on deciding a winner come up, I would think the Line, Speed, Angle, Style is the start of what they would score on. Then Proximity. This of course varies from lead and follow, but not deviate from these main 4 rules so much that your obviously off course just to stay close. Yes we want the cars close. Yes it has been more close battles than last year. Some drivers really nailed it like JR, Daigo, and Forsberg. They can keep great proximity without sacrificing the main 4 rules. Now when any of those drivers follow and toss those rules out just to stay close, then its not a real battle, its an obvious struggle from the follow car to keep close and cut off course just to keep proximity. Its sloppy, but hey even monkeys fall off trees. Judges saw it, fans saw it, the driver know he did it, and that’s that. Not every battle was a bad call from the Judges, but that Conrad vs Daigo in particular was just a huge WTF. Then the stealth off acceleration/ebrake checking blah blah blah. Its been done so many times in FD. Forsberg did it to Daigo so Daigo got him back and he got caught. Why was it a problem? Should Forsberg and Daigo have been good enough to not touch and still control the car to finish the drift? Do we have to implement acceleration zones and throttle LED’s to keep drivers in check like the LED brake lights? Should Denofa have won his round? This is where I have to give it to the Judges in dealing with a higher than normal unique battles that they needed to make a call on with not enough time to really process what truly happened. Judging is by no means an easy thing. You can loose more friends than you can make, but standing by what you call is a mandatory requirement. Watching what Tony went through is what made me understand judging. I really liked how he even did an interview about some calls and he backed up what he stood by. I respected that. I believe they will get it right, and learn from this season. Bottom line as long as they are finding ways in improving and developing judging Pro Drifting without taking away what makes the sport fun, then I feel they are doing a good job. Like I said before. This is just a bump in the road to becoming the best. I don’t believe any of my posts will be read by, or have any affect in Formula Drift, but I feel good about getting it open. I’m just hoping they see at least some things the same way. That’s why I always appreciate it when a pro driver, or key member of Formula Drift chime in to help answer questions and get a better understanding of FD and what they are trying to do.

  15. Tung says:

    nah… rad is definitely still rad.

    I like hearing the breakdown of controversial decisions.

  16. Qwazar Dinero says:

    The fact is that PROXIMITY SHOULD OF BEEN THE 1 THING TO JUDGE from the beginning and The fact that speed and angle has been the emphasis of previous championships is were the problem lies, as Drifting evolves so do the rules. The judging needs a lil more certainty and clear decisiveness. Unlike boxing guys, Rhys millen, won the first tandem, his little bumps with his aggressive driving didnt make Dai correct on his runs, The chelsea and tyler should of went OMT, and Daigo Saito should of won he looked better, or OMT. Subjective judging will always be like this same as other sports, I think they should bring a D1 judge as a stand in. Naoki Nakamura is a beast at proximity drivers should take note.

  17. Mike Peters says:

    “To improve judging, add a language barrier”
    GREAT idea!!!

  18. ae86_Fan says:

    i love how everyone is comparing the inconsistency in the judging to FD to judging in other sports…. but what everyone is forgetting, is that in other sports, it is different judges at each event, as to where in FD it is the same judges at every event, and still there are horrible inconsistencies from one event to the next. next year they need to do a clean sweep of judges, and bring in people who deserve to be there (not some idiot fan boys who most people have never heard of or respect)

    just my .02

  19. lifer says:

    Originally Posted by Slapshotnerd
    Hi Lifer,

    There’s been some talk about broadcasting the drivers meeting, but a decision was made that it’s better to not broadcast it. After being thru many of them as a media member, I think it’s probably not worth it. I’ll definitely try and communicate the judging criteria more over the stream, but I know there is also a piece that Ryan and Jarod are doing before both Top 32 and Top 16 which is designed at helping to answer some of the questions.

    It’s been tricky to get explanations from the judges because there’s so much going on. As soon as a decision is made, the next run is about to start. Plus you have both a live announcer (Jarod) and the livestream setup, so you can’t hold everything up to give an explanation multiple times. Plus, I think when you look at other judged sports, judges rarely if ever actually give explanations. As I watched X Games 2 weeks ago, I realized that there’s no faces to the judging at all. We don’t know whether they are former professionals or just fans from the audience, but 99% of the time, respect the scores and decisions without question. I also have been watching more soccer, and there’s never any explanation from the refs on calls that are made. That’s just the way it works.

    I think our broadcast location in Seattle is completely separate from the area where the judges are at, so it may be even trickier to get explanations there than at other tracks. But I’ll see what we can do.

    (my reply)

    Thank you for replying,

    I see what you mean. The more we know, the more we have to disagree with. I think the Judges being connected so openly to the fans was considered normal for drifting being how it is in Japan. From the perspective of the success in well established judging motorsports. Perhaps it is better to just not know so much about the judges, and trust Formula Drift judging for what it is, and how its developing. Maybe get a few pointers from the X games into FD judging is the best way to go. Aside from that, I do understand it is not easy trying to relay what is going on, but I feel what you, EOS, Joey, and the guest drivers commenting have been a great success. I look forward to Seattle, and I wish the best to all the drivers going. It will be another amazing round for sure!