Tony Brakohiapa Blames Judges for not Qualifying in Las Vegas

Formula Drift Las Vegas as far as controversy goes was pretty light if you compare it against other rounds this season like Wall Speedway. Tony Brakohiapa doesn’t agree with this lack luster of controversy if you read his eBay motors blog post on the weekend. Most of my personal memories of this car/the team this weekend is the engine laying all over the pits and I couldn’t even recall a single run the car actually made through the race weekend. Apparently he did attempt to qualify and failed to make the Top 32. Below in the block quote is what Tony reported on the race and his results. Read his review of the race and let us know what you think!

My last practice run would prove be near fatal (for the car, not me). As I’m finishing my run I notice an immediate loss in power. I look at all my gauges. Everything reads normal. I fear it’s the supercharger cog belt, yet again. I limp the eBay Motors Mustang back to our pit. The cog belt is intact and still attached! It’s in fact the cog pulley at the bottom of the engine that’s bolted to the crank pulley that has broken all six studs off! We were all scratching our heads on this one! No one had ever seen a break like this before! Certainly a result of pushing 1,000 HP and eventually finding a weakness on the engine. The good thing was the internals of the engine were fine. With some time and hardware, a short-term fix could get me through qualifying.

My crew finds new bolts for the crank pulley. Though we can only use three bolts instead of the six due to some broken studs being difficult to extract. The guys feel it’s just strong enough to get me one, maybe two qualifying runs. We were already making preparations for a more permanent fix once qualifying was over.

I line up for my first run. I enter in 4th gear, come in with good speed and angle, hit my clipping points, and put off some good smoke on the infield. Just as I’m about to finish my run, I notice something let go on the engine. My power is reduced, but enough to let me finish off the last corner. I score a surprisingly low 68.

The short-term fix was extremely short-term. I don’t think anyone even noticed I broke on my run because it was near the very end. I jump on my radio and tell the guys we have a problem and meet at the pit! I pull in the pit, the crew has “that look” on their face as they see the temporary bolts did not hold. The question now was, will it get fixed in time for a second qualifying run. The short answer…no! The damage was too great this time around, but we did have time to fix it through the night and next morning…if I qualified.

Nonetheless, The crew pushes to fix the car to try and get me a second qualifying run. I would undoubtedly score better with a second qual run helping secure my place for Top 32. While they are doing that, I am watching the other drivers qualify. I’m keeping tabs on scores and how good the runs are to see where I will end up. My second run is about to come up but I’m still standing in the spotters stand. I gesture to Jarod the M.C. that my crew is working on my car, that it’s still broken and I won’t make a second run.

Qualifying was over and I’d been bumped from Top 32 After seeing a fair amount of drivers struggle to put in good qualifying runs, I’m confused as to their scores being noticeable higher then mine given all their corrections. Now, I’m not saying my run was perfect. I could have been a bit closer to the last outer clipping point and my line was a little shallow entering the infield portion. It felt (as other people watching remarked and after looking at the video replay) like a mid-to high 70’s run. More than enough to qualify for Top 32.

The team and myself approach the judges as to their justification of my score relative to other drivers. We ask to compare my run with other drivers via video playback. The judges said they would be happy to review my score with us, but they couldn’t change my score since it was already locked in.

We select a particular drivers’ run that we felt was similar to my run, but actually made more corrections, but still scored 12 points higher. After looking at both runs over and over and getting some commentary from one judge as to my line being a bit off, there was no discernable difference that warranted a 12 point advantage to the other driver. There was a remark from another judge about a “major correction” during my run. After video playback, no judge could point out said major correction.

After the “review” was over we thanked the judges for their time and walked back to our pit. There wasn’t anything else we could do, but our point had been made. We felt the score was low given other drivers very similar yet higher scored runs.

We hope the professional and diplomatic process in which we approached the judges and reviewed the qualifying runs will somehow improve their “in the moment” judging. Although time intensive, one suggestion could be using the instant replay resources they have to warrant a more comprehensive review of qualifying runs before final scores are given.



  1. jdm22x says:

    he def got screwed there, if a judge writes down a major correction but if a driver comes to review it with the judges and they say there wasnt a major correction thats unfair to that driver and for the other driver having more corrections hes lucky that he was locked in. if i was tony b id be a lil upset of the scoring too.

  2. rotarypower says:

    Reminded me of long beach all over again with quals.just another poor display of what they tell the drivers what they are looking for and the scoring all over the place.props to tony cause we were watching the driftstream thinking it and he went and spoke up on the issue

  3. Jason Cancio says:

    If the FD judges actually understand that they SUCK and make many people dislike FD…….
    life would be better.

    I feel like the judges should really get more intricate when it comes to judging and their criteria. If someone makes a mistake, the judges should pinpoint that exact mistake and let the fans/audience know what is going on……. not this ‘IT’S UNANIMOUS! THE GUY WITH THE FALKEN STICKERS GETS THE WIN!’ type of shit. Nothing against Falken of course.
    But you get my point.

    The judges should just stop making the crowd say “WHAT THE FUCK!?” after they choose the winner. That is all.

  4. awesome says:

    why is he mad that he didnt qualify? has he even gotten past the top 16?

  5. Slider S15 says:


    He’s mad because A – He deserved to be in Top 32. B – He lost out on alot of seat time because of it. C – He lost ALOT of exposure for his sponsors thus costing his program potential new/renewed sponsorship.

    It’s a real shame for Tony, It sounds like hes gone about it the right way rather than jumping out of the car and screaming at people (unlike some other competitors in Mustangs)

  6. chopper says:

    I blame Andy Yen, and that awful hair cut.

  7. rotarypower says:

    They only way to get a handle on all the lack luster judging bring drivers on that have actually have drivers that have been on the podium SAM WERE U AT BRO!.he did a awesome job in that d1 USA vs Japan back in the day 🙂

  8. deolio says:

    it definitely seems like there have been more bad judge decisions this year than in years past. i hope they get better judges that are actually good drifters as well to judge the events next year instead of random dudes that no one has heard of.

  9. patsays says:

    This car should never qualify…ever…solely based on appearance

  10. Jabroni says:

    First in Tonys defenses cause hes a good guy and wouldnt say it if he didnt belive it……YES he has made it past top 16. he had a top 4 finish in 2010 and a bunch of top 16 apperances…..

    anyways the qualifying judging in vegas was terrible, i remeber for instance kyle pollard got a stupid low score for a pretty descent run……while 2 runs later dia faile to light up a single proximity sensor was completely off every inner and out clip and got a 80 point score……..i was blown away

  11. Chunky Munky says:

    Bring in drivers to judge. Solves all the problems. EOS should be a judge. He is so fricken thorough on the driftstream. He’ll be in the middle of a conversation with jacob and will breakdown runs without missing a beat.

  12. Kyle Pollard says:

    I feel your pain tony!

  13. another look says:

    Not that I agree with every FD judge’s call but nor do I like every NBA/MLB/NFL ref’s call either. But I think everyone loves to flame on singular issues without evaluating the whole picture. For every “wrong” call that was made, how many “right” calls have been made? Can you tell me that? And how many people have sat inside a drivers meeting to criticize the discrepancies between what was told and what was judged? My point is simply to say that there is another perspective to everything so don’t be so one sided.

  14. Frank says:

    I hope 2013 brings in a new panel of judges. The current ones seem to be doing all their judging blindfolded.

  15. Frank says:

    *at or least for half the time.

  16. hrkls says:

    Formula d need some major changes on that sector

    They should put more cameras and most important cameras inside the car,so they can get instant replay at real time

  17. Mendozi says:

    Tony Angelo would know all about unfair Judging… Guy lays down the shittiest runs and always qualifies.

  18. Jiovani says:

    Maybe we need to have “sectors” of the tracks. Sector A, B, C…. each only worth max of 10 points in whatever category. Line and Angle can be like:

    Start to after 1st clip = Sector A 9/10 angle
    1st clip past 2nd = Sector B 7/10 angle (not as aggressive)
    till finish = Sector C 10/10 angle

    Its not hard to watch a driver, knowing set “sections” and saying to yourself, ah that was 8….9 there, and wow 10! and then give them a 27. As it is now, they sometimes have a lack luster run but finish with a nice corner and its “boosts” them back to a good score. Or start out that way and slack off the rest.

    obviously this varies depending on what course/layout. but its also open to giving EMPHASIS on a certain section. A 15max B 10max C 5max for those courses like Irwindale (big bank, then inner bank, then the easy finish)

    Speed is doing ok as long as the radars dont fail.

    And style is so subjective, they need guidlines to what style means.
    Scraping walls. Snappy transitions. Snappy initiation. Big smoke. Full/committed/steady controlled throttle (none of this brahh brrrr brrrrr brrrr brrrrr, then finally when about to finish they just rip on it in a burnout brrrrrRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAA).

    Make the judges responsible for their score, make it actually mean something besides just what they wrote down.

  19. Mike Peters says:

    They need to just have three random people judging and not make them such a publicized figure.

    Olympics, X Games, car shows, who judges those things? We aren’t making the guys in grid/tech high-profile.

    FD knows what their doing and reads this crap. Picking people to put up there isn’t as easy as a lot of you seem to think. Being up there isn’t as easy either. Watching drift stream none of us actually pay attention to half the runs because we all know they suck. Can anyone break down both runs by any of these Facebook Racer rookies who have NEVER made t32 but their day job on Facebook is ‘racecar driver’? Nope. Because nobody cares. Same with mediocre runs unless you know the guys, you just don’t pay attention sometimes. With the average attention span losing interest in I think 7 seconds it’s really hard to sit up there for HOURS and watch 60+ cars make 120+ runs, about 80 of which really don’t interest you.

    Bacon for thought.

  20. Jiovani says:

    If they aren’t up for the job…. don’t take it? Their job is to WATCH drifting. Its a bit of pressure yes, but if you can’t pay attention that long then this job isn’t for you. How boring it must be as a baseball umpire, but they don’t just stop watching plays because a “celebrity” player isn’t at bat.

  21. Danny George says:

    How about dont make 65-75pt runs and deal with it? Kill it and your in. Dont and your out. Mediocre gets the zone of a 1-2 pt difference being in or out.

    Dana white says it best “dont leave it up to the judges”

  22. Sakura says:

    Sadly, there’s not an option to leave it up to the judges. Style points are worth a majority of your runs, and if J-rod isn’t hyped on your runs, the judges won’t score you very high on style. 10 style points (3 or 4 from each judge) could easily be the difference between qualifying in the low to mid 20’s, or qualifying 33rd. Just ask Jeff Jones.

    Sectors would help. But in the end, everything needs to be defined better. What’s the difference between a 3 and a 6 in style? or a 4 and an 8? If each judge gets 10 style points, they should know what each of those points is worth to them. I feel that giving an arbitrary number between 2 and 6 is common place, which can result in a swing of 6 to 18 points in style. That’s way too big of a swing.

  23. blaze1 says:

    Too bad there isnt any type of knockout punches or subs in american drifting. Dana White does not pick his judges though, the state athletic commision does.

    I personaly think they should dumb the judging criteria down for the judges at hand. Not saying they are dumb, if a kid cant do calculus make him do geometry

  24. FDdriver says:

    I hope there are some major changes for the last round and in the future seasons.

    1. Judges should not be allowed to have their phones on them during judging for qualifying or competition. A certain someone (judge) was liking instagram photos and facebook posts during qualifying in Vegas when there is clearly not enough time in between runs to be checking your feed on your phone. “ehh fuck, i missed it… oh rookie, 15 points should be about right”

    2. They shouldn’t be able to hear Jarod announcing because it may skew their opinion if they missed something. “what just happened, oh Jarod is screaming, must have been good… 29 pts” They should be listening to classical music on big headphones or something so they are focused on what they are watching and not what they are hearing so it is an unbiased call EVERYTIME!

    I too asked for the same thing that Tony did (reasons for low score) but I didn’t even get the time of day. So much for a “Professional” Series

    P.S. Was anyone at the drivers meeting after qualifying in Vegas when Jeff Jones asked Andy Yen for a detailed points breakdown on paper for future events and Andy said “It varies from event to event but I can tell you how I was scoring this event… This section was worth xx and this section was worth xx” then proceeded to count on his hand, totals didn’t add up then he said ” I don’t remember the exact breakdown but…”
    Meanwhile this was immediately after qualifying ended
    As a judge, how can you forget your judging criteria you have been using for the past 2 hours after 15 minutes????

  25. Jabroni says:

    I agree with you Danny that the best way to win is to take it out of the judges hands but sometimes its gonna be up to them no matter what, and when that times comes there needs to be some consistancy, i dont care about the calls they make as long is that call is made the same way and there are bound to be some miscues on that, but the rate that it happens in FD is too much.

  26. eBay Motors says:

    We’ll have more stories coming on our blog from Tony everyone, stay tuned!

  27. a fan says:

    I agree about J-Rod influencing the judging based on his excitement (its Jrods job as announcer to pump up the crowd).

    I think that not only does driving history make a person a better judge but understanding what judging MEANS to teams and treating it with respect.

    Additionally, I think that sometimes a LINE judge will deduct points based on a bad drift ANGLE or SLOW car. If each judge does his job, the points will be lost in the correct category, no need to dock the driver 2 times. Its totally possible to have a PERFECT line score and a 5/30 on angle.

  28. a fan says:

    ^^ no specifically the LINE judge, but any judge, over-reaching his category**

  29. Steffan says:

    Driftbox, speedgun, proximity sensors, gps, live on-board video feeds. Style should not be a category. What does that even mean? If your car looks cool you get a couple more points?

  30. anotherfddriver says:

    FD Driver is right on.

    In Vegas the drivers were told one thing during practice and judged differently on the qualifying. For instance the 1st transition they were telling us to stay middle of the course because that was the most natural line(in a crazy unnatural laid out course). But then later we heard that going deeper into the pocket was being rewarded with more points……this was found out during qualifying!

    The phone thing can be taken as very disrespectful for the drivers. EVERYONE pours their heart, soul, time, money, and living into the sport and when the judges can’t spend time to watch the full run it kills your spirit. When I’m at my job I am not allowed to hang out on the phone, and similar for the judges. They are at their JOB during the race weekend so treat it as such. So watching 120 runs is what their job is, not instagram’ing and being on facebook.

    The courses also need to get shorter. Most of the tracks are INSANELY long for a competition setup. There are so many corners that judging becomes murky and convoluted. It shouldn’t take more than 3 corners to prove who is the better driver. Focus more on initiations, aggressiveness, and ability.

  31. I’m surprised that there’s been 30 comments and not one person has pulled the race card here. everyone pat yourselves on the back.

  32. blaze1 says:

    Glad theres a driver out there that feels that these courses are too long and strung out for no good reason also.

  33. Mike Peters says:

    The reason I pointed out losing interest is because everyone thinks judges are easy to replace. They aren’t.

    Finding someone that WILL pay attention is hard. I’ve judged with a lot of people who don’t pay attention, and can’t offer feedback.

    As has already been established its a judges job to scrutinize every second of every run, and regurgitate that information to the drivers.

    On the same token it’s ‘Fd drivers’ jobs to relay this stuff to Fd. Hopefully you guys posting have talked to Ryan/Jim/someone at Fd about your constructive criticism. If all the drivers aren’t happy then they won’t come, then there will be no Fd. They’re business folk and they know this, talk to em.

    Silence doesn’t create forward progress, and neither does only complaining to a 3rd party, even I’d it’s online and you assume they read it. Man up and call em, they’re big boys and hopefully so are you boys.

  34. Mike Peters, Texan Native says:

    Oh and Cervantes brought up a good point. This is 2012 and you just can’t drop scores because of skin color, c’mon guys!!!!

  35. hrkls says:

    @ anotherfddriver so right about the LOOOONG tracks.At tandems,the first run is ok,but at the second one, half course there is practically no grip left.

    As for the judges,throw these guys out,bring keiichi,manabu suzuki ,daiijiro and problem solved.

  36. thatguy says:

    I say bring in Simon, Paula, and Randy

  37. Pat Goodin says:

    Did you seriously just say bring d1 judges?! Holy crap.

  38. Random says:

    Tony did the right thing, was polite and professional, and where did it get him? Be rude and loud as a driver and you will get your way. That’s the lesson.
    How do you solve this?
    The drivers should have ZERO interaction with the judges during an event.
    They shouldn’t be allowed up in the judges tower.
    They shouldn’t be hanging out with them at the hotel.
    The judges should be like judges in any other professional sport, they walk in, they judge, they leave.

    Time for FD to grow up, if you want to play with the big boys, you need to act like a big boy.

  39. Michael A. says:

    @FD driver: Right on bro ! At Irwindale and the 2013 season I hope the judges and Ryan Sage have a break down on paper of mistakes and how many points are each mistake deducted/worth for each track. It would make it so much easier for the spotters and drivers to follow along and not have to wait until drivers meeting to be surprised. More info = Less questions = More driving !!

    Also I firmly believe it is WRONG for the judging seating arrangement I witnessed during qualifying and tandem battles in Vegas and many other events this year (Yes I do have photographic evidence): Andy Yen, Ryan Sage, Ryan Lanteigne and Brian Eggert.

    Ryan Sage needs to just become the official 4th judge already since he already influences the calls !!

  40. hrkls says:

    yeah why not?They ‘re not in D1 anymore,except manabu who’s just a MC

  41. G says:

    Ok, so Tony might have an excuse this time. But what about all the other instances where he sucks and DNQ’s???

  42. AceSTR says:

    What I think he’s not realizing is that hes comparing himself to other drivers with prolly about 1/3 or half the power he has.

  43. Clutch_kicker says:

    Maybe the FD staff should quit changing tracks last minute, giving the drivers a handful of practice runs isn’t enough to adjust to the course within 2 days of competition. If the track change and what the judges are looking for was given ahead of time it’d let the drivers adjust much better. All year we’ve heard drivers complaining about bring confused as to what the judges want, such as the palm beach layout, why change it if it was just introduced last year? Keeping things stable and simple would lead to better judging.

  44. Kevin says:

    So what your saying is you want to watch the same repetitive driving? Anyone who is competing at this level should not have any trouble learning the course, if they aren’t able to adapt to track layouts then why are they considered one of the best drivers? Makes no sense, eh?

  45. Jiovani says:

    I agree that some of the courses are too long for competition drifting. It gives too much wiggle room to mess up and then do good and have scores “even” out. But the only courses that really seemed too long right now was Vegas, and Wall. Both have lots of open area that could be re-defined to make it better.