Michael Essa vs. Chris Forsberg & Vaughn Gittin Jr. vs. Justin Pawlak by the Numbers


Drift Idiot/Hooniverse did an interesting editorial video based on rivalries in Formula Drift. You can watch the video below but I wanted to focus on the statistics of these two rivalries. One has been a long time coming and one was formed by a battle for the championship last year. So who are the better drivers by the numbers?

Chris Forsberg
Overall Tandem Battles: 181
Wins: 122 (67%)
Events Qualified: 64/67
Event Wins: 8/64 (13%)
Podiums: 20/64 (31%)
Championships: 1 (2009)


Michael Essa
Overall Tandem Battles: 67
Wins: 37 (55%)
Events Qualified: 31/31
Event Wins: 2/31 (6%)
Podiums: 4/31 (13%)
Championships: 1 (2013)


Chris actually manages to win in every single metric compared as individual performances. I left out the battles between the two of them because my source DriftStats.com has an inaccurate battler percentage between the two respective drivers. Here is how Vaughn and Justin stack up against each other:

Justin Pawlak
Overall Tandem Battles: 106
Wins: 69 (65%)
Events Qualified: 39/39
Event Wins: 4/39 (10%)
Podiums: 8/39 (21%)
Championships: 0 (*Finished 2nd in 2011)


Vaughn Gittin Jr.
Overall Tandem Battles: 183
Wins: 119 (65%)
Events Qualified: 61/67
Event Wins: 5/61 (8%)
Podiums: 17/61 (28%)
Championships: 1 (2010)


Stats Source: http://www.driftstats.com/

Drift Idiot/Hooniverse Video – “The Other Side… Rivalries”

I attended my first drift event at Road Atlanta in 2005 while shooting for Import Racer Magazine (RIP). Since then I have produced drift content for PAS Magazine, Modified Magazine, Drifting Magazine (RIP), and many more publications. I was the producer of the movie Slide America and then helped found this website in 2007.


  1. Blaze1 says:

    What 3 rounds did Fors failed to qualify in?

  2. Tie Fighter says:

    JTP came off as super likeable and JR as an ass. So pretty much just like they are in real life if you actually know them.

  3. Scooter says:

    I think Forsberg didn’t do very well the first year he had the v8 convertible, when it was a Sears car. I woukd say it was then.

  4. Scooter says:

    Also I disagree with the Jtp Vaughn comparisson. Vaughn has never been anything but nice and super friendly to me. I’ve even drank with him and his family in New Jersey and had drunken rowdy Waffle house adventures in Atlanta.

  5. 28% podiums? Damn that is really solid.

    67% win rate is crazy too.

    I need to step my game up.

    Driftstats.com has a lot of other drivers too.

  6. GetOffMyLawn says:

    Its nice to see some media where they actually delve into stuff like this, driver personality and historical data. So often its just a recap of one drivers weekend or something, and miss out on really interesting story lines. Rivalries are good for the sports and drivers, like in other major sports or in hip hop, everyone benefits.

    That being said, the Forsberg v Essa one seems pretty real and relevant. It seems clear that neither driver loved the way 2013 was decided, Forsberg especially. These two will definitely be in the mix all year and hopefully we will get to see them run because its going to be nuts. Definitely two of the best drivers right now. As who the better driver is….until history proves otherwise you gotta give the nod to Forsberg: been in the game since day 1, tied for most event wins ever, 1 championship (plus two 2nd places and two 3rd places!), and has the advantage head to head vs Essa (with the loss in FL being totally whack). You can make the argument he is the best American drifter ever.

    The JTP vs JR seems slightly more contrived, but still entertaining. They haven’t run one another in a while, and the rivalry stems more from the fact they run the same chasis than anything else, but thats fine. They are both super talented competitive drivers, hopefully we will see more head to head match ups this year. Dstats says JTP has 4 wins to 2 losses over JR, you know that has to erk JR cause he definitely sounds like he wants to be THE mustang drifter and that he had a role in JTP getting the seat in the first place. Despite the head to head record, its hard not to give the nod to JR because championships talk, and JR had one of (the most?) dominant year ever in 2010 (and a 2nd place finish in 2012). Until JTP gets one under his belt it will always go Champions first, Contenders second.

    What are some other rivalries that exist?

  7. Piner says:


    I believe most of Chris’s DNQ’s were all in 2005 when he was driving the falken S15. That car had a host of Mechanical problems and I think he only made the show twice that year. I think he had one the next year while driving the Sears 350z vert.

  8. I did not qualify for Round 1 2005 Wall, NJ when we debuted the Falken S15. The car suffered a broken axle halfway through the qualifying pass and I got a zero. Qualifying passes were back to back then so I got a second zero trying to qualify with 1 axle, the second one broken before the run was over.

    I missed Round 3 2006, Chicago, IL in the Sears/Falken 350Z (V8 vert). We were having serious suspension issues and with the bumpy parking lot, the car spun out and I failed to qualify.

    And lastly I missed Round 4 2006, Sonoma, CA in my Sears/Falken 350Z (SR hardtop). After more issues with the V8 vert, this time engine related, we jumped back in the SR powered car and tried to qualify with it. With the advancements in grip we were able to achieve over the years, we were sloshing the fuel out of the right side of the saddle tank on the long sweeping right hand entry. The car would sputter and straighten out trying to maintain fuel pressure coming out of the keyhole.

  9. Blaze1 says:

    According to drift stats he didn’t qualify for wall 2005 and Chicago and Sonoma 2006.

    I got a odd feeling there is a mistake on one or two of those… but I’m probably wrong lol.

  10. Blaze1 says:

    And I was wrong lol

    Crazy how Fors lost to Stephen Papadakis in 2005, Formula D judging isn’t perfect but it has sure come a long way.

  11. PedroVonDriftington says:

    I am looking forward to Conrad Grunewald Vs Vaughn Gittin JR. Every time those guys battle its a great run. That is one intense rivalry.

  12. Drift Idiot says:

    Thanks for giving our video a “by the numbers” response Joey. I was definitely curious while making the film and was unaware of a resource to find hard numbers. And of course thank you for adding validity to my silly productions by even mentioning them.

    See you out there.

  13. Mike Penis says:

    Essay failed to quali his very first FD event in his LS powered FC. I still remember hearing in the paddock that he cried afterwards 🙁 31/32 or 30/31 IDK

  14. Donna Peters says:

    One very nifty parameter that wasn’t put into numbers is the douchebag levels. Vag JR is a real chart topper. It’s my understanding that he has won 247/247 battles, and that’s just that are documented.