10 Things I Learned From Formula Drift Round 2 This Weekend

10. Conrad Grunewald Does the Best Entries at Road Atlanta
A highlight of Road Atlanta is the creative entries drivers use coming down the big hill. Conrad Grunewald has the coolest ones in the series. You can watch a POV view here of his wild reverse entry.

9. For Good or Bad – The Judges Didn’t Seem to Agree This Weekend
The judges were so split this weekend I didn’t even bother to keep logging it in my notes after a while. Brian Eggert voted for Danny George to win and the other two picked Daigo Saito in Top 32. Andy Yen wanted an OMT for Dean Kearney vs. Ken Gushi and the other judges wanted Ken Gushi to move on as two examples. I do like the diversity in perspective and it will be interesting to see if this continues throughout the rest of the 2014 season.

8. Formula Drift Needs to Make More of the Mustang Battle
When Justin Pawlak and Vaughn Gittin Jr. do battle you know the fans are getting what they paid for. JTP is actually up on Vaughn now 4 to 3 with wins but this weekend Vaughn needed two OMT battles to defeat his old teammate. This might be one of the best rivalries of this decade in drifting but it is under hyped at best.

7. Why Do People Keep Hitting Aasbo on the Down Hill?

This is now two years in a row someone has just smashed into Fredric Aasbo on the downhill of the Road Atlanta course. Last year, the famous monster truck run happened with him and Vaughn Gittin Jr. which has been highly documented. This was another incident that left me scratching my head as to why Fredric keeps getting hit? I don’t have the right answer but I would love to hear Matt Field speak up about his take on the whole incident. Side note, Fredric Aasbo sure looks like he wants to win a championship this season.

6. On and Off Track Formula Drift Pro 2 was Needed
This weekend really highlighted again the performance gap between the Pro drivers and the drivers who would be classified as Pro 2. Let’s just face it, the series really needs it. Not trying to select out any drivers but the series doesn’t need 50+ guys qualifying on Friday. I personally think Pro 2 should get some restructuring in the future but it is coming along in the right direction.

Matt Coffman really looked most improved from the rookie class and he almost had it into the main event. I personally think he should of got the 32nd slot but things happen. It was sad to hear some of the younger drivers even had a poor performance in the paddock as well not representing them or their sponsors in the best light.

5. Dean Kearney vs. Ken Gushi was Pure Insanity on So Many Levels
This was the stand out battle for me over the weekend. For starters, Ken Gushi stalled at the line twice in a row making Dean Kearney false start and have to come back. I couldn’t see the start line tree from where I was so I cannot say who was playing games but clearly games were played.

The second element of this tandem battle was Dean Kearney put down a mental follow run in the Dodge Viper. Fresh off a podium last weekend in Ireland he looked to be driving with a new level of confidence and controlled aggression. I am sure he wished he flew over with his 240sx from Ireland as well.

I’m still so confused about the end of the run. Gushi goes barreling off course smacking a wall (quick video here) while Dean shuts down for the end of course? Still unclear as to what played out here but it does look like Ken shut down before the course ended. Like I said, this tandem battle was close, intense, and confusing all in one!

4. Road Atlanta Has the Best Fans
Boomboxes, Hand Made Signs, and Team Rowdy all in one place! These fans braved out a drenched qualifying (with no cover like some of Evergreen Speedway) and set up shop for the weekend with EZ-ups and loud applause! The fans in Atlanta are some of the most vocal when they don’t agree with a call and chant up a storm when they want things like a One More Time. It’s a laid back casual affair with people piling all over the hill just to see some action.

3. Daigo Saito Isn’t Going to Win the Championship

The new points restructure is not doing Daigo Saito in the Achilles Lexus SC430 any favors right now. He sits currently in 13th on 68.50 points for the season. Right now, after only two rounds he sits 104.5 points from first place. While mathematically of course he could still win the championship he will need some luck, some wins, and some top drivers to mess up and go out early. The rest of his season needs to be inch perfect or you can write if off for his second championship. Perhaps the Achilles team needs to think about building him a new car soon, maybe for 2015? This poor Lexus has gone through a good bit during its drift career.

2. Drifting in the Rain Isn’t Awesome

The drivers make no smoke and drift really really slow. I get that its a matter of pride how we can drift in the rain while other sports park it but at what cost are we competing in the rain? The fans don’t want to sit in the wet. The media doesn’t want to shoot in the wet. None of the drivers I spoke to wanted to drive in the wet. I can understand during an event when some rain comes down to let it ride but qualifying was synchronized swimming on a racetrack. It took upwards of hours and required a feeler lap to give drivers an idea of course conditions. I just hope as the series heads to the Everglades in three weeks that we can get clearer skies for the weekend but I won’t hold my breath.

1. Odi Bakchis is the Rising Star Nobody Is Noticing

Say what you want about Odi Bakchis but every time we talk I am reminded that he is one of the most technically gifted drivers on grid. He understands drift car setup probably more than any other driver on the grid and takes a conservative approach with his build which really just matches his personality. Odi isn’t the guy to climb fences and bring inflatable swimming pools to his pit  so I can forgive you for overlooking his performance this season.

Every year Odi quietly improves his driving and car which watches him slide higher up the championship ranks. With Nitto Tire, Feal Suspension, and Wisefab this season he seems to have quite a combo of grip and control. Odi has quietly snuck into 6th place in the championship on 102 points and pending some major issues could finish in the Top 5 this year. Last season he landed in 10th which was a career best for him. My advice, keep an eye out on Odi through the next two rounds!

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. Flowen says:

    I totally agree with your number one. Might be biased since I’ve been an Odi fan since I started following FD in the 2012 season. J-Rod keeps calling out Forrest as one to watch, and rightfully so, but Odi definitely deserves some recognition. Although maybe flying under the radar suits him just fine.

  2. Seb says:


  3. Dang says:

    About #3, Didn’t Bridges on Wrecked Weekly #12 say Daigo and Robbie were getting new builds for 2015?

  4. Yukio says:

    I learned that Joey likes to text me and / or Tweet me during the whole event. HAHA

  5. Geebus says:

    I agree with the author that Pro 2 was needed. I do not agree to his point that FD “…doesn’t need 50 drivers qualifying of Friday.” Ok, so let’s say that there are 40 “pro” drivers. And let’s say a few cars either break, can’t make it, or just plain get zeros during qualifying. I love the Top 32 bracket for many reasons. If you have less drivers attempting to qualify, you increase the risk of having less qualifiers than the ideal number of 32.

    Also, you must consider that the more “pro” drivers you have, the more money that can filter through FD as a whole. Last time I checked, this organization doesn’t have massive TV contracts and we all know (or SHOULD know) that is where the REAL money comes in for other sports. So, for now, FD needs a healthy amount of fresh drivers in order to perpetuate itself.

  6. #1. Odi has what it takes to be a champion.

    #4 Those fans didn’t know half the drivers but that didn’t stop them from making the event rad. I got asked If i was Danny George for god sake…

  7. Scooter says:

    On number 6, Andy Hateley literally got screwed out of the 31st spot. For 11 years now they have used speed for tie breakers. Andy was 11 miles an hour faster than Robbie Nishida. If Andy can go that fast with only 500hp, why can’t Robbie with 800? So why did they suddenly decide to use style as a tie breaker? Shouldn’t going fast get you some extra style points? This really screwed Amdy because if he had got that spot, he would’ve made top 16 because of the bye against Tyler in top 32. FD needs to make rules and stick with them, not make decisions based on what brand of tire you are running on. #politics

  8. Steffan says:

    Being perched on a grassy hill within very close walking distance of your car, booze, and seeing the entire run in a teardrop in front of you makes an easy going environment for fans. How many tracks let you pop up a tent trackside? Was unlike other venues we have been to. Was so chill!!

  9. Jabroni says:

    Atlanta FD stands alone as a drift event because you walk through the specators vehicles to get around the track and and to and from the paddock the fans turn the event into its own car show. you dont get that at the other venues. the fans are intense and the drunkest of most other venues lol. and you are so close to the track and the action at such high speeds its nuts. my co worker who is a die hard road racer came out to a big pro am event in ohio last year and loved it and i said you have to go to atlanta FD and he came out and it just blew his mind.

  10. ish says:

    As an ATL native thats never missed an FDATL event i appreciate #4. Ive been to NJ and Palm beach as well and we are really spoiled here in Atlanta, its got like a Gatebil/coachella vibe to it where every where else seems to take itself to seriously. Its the only place that will boo the judges if we dont like what we see, and where so loud they cant not hear it. Its crazy how packed its become over the years!!

  11. Teigland says:

    About nr. 3.
    I don’t think Daigo have deserved all the victories he has gotten, specially the 2 last Irwindale victories, several battles i have yet to understand how he won.

    To me it seems like he waivers, and usually sacrifices to much angle and line in order to either stay close or to outrun the opponent, not outdrift them.
    Think his battles usually are quite boring to watch because only one driver is there to put on the best show, while the other is there to exploit the scoring system to win.
    Just my opinion though.

  12. Danny George says:

    Atlanta is leaps above any other venue. Tents/BBQ’s/BYOB and awesome stadium feel with no bad seats. Double edge sword with driving and getting beat out early. The best times there have been joining the crowd and having a few beers as they yell their voices away.

    Odi is the man. Brilliant on all levels. His team is awesome and could quietly sneak up on anyone. I think having the child will relax him like Essa last year to be able to climb the ladder.

    Rain is a hard one. Can’t really gamble if/when it will be over. To hold the show or not. Atlanta don’t care. Most stayed allll night to watch. Another point that Atlanta fans are the best. Would be rad to get a competition thats voted by drivers to then have rewards for the fans at venues for the future(discounted items/entry, something). This sport has killer loyal people pushing us drivers to give a great show. Let’s involve them more.

  13. Chris Beasley says:

    @teigland, I agree 100%.

    ive noticed a trend with daigo that became really apparent in his battle with forrest wang. Daigo was nearly straight on the first part of his lead run and put a huge gap on forrest, who was sideways. its lame to see somebody road racing through the course to get the win.

    I don’t think daigo should have beat danny George or forrest wang.

  14. mike says:

    Completely agree with #1 Odi kills it I really hope to see him in the top 5 this year

    Would love to see a video analyzing the ken vs dean battle. Definitely confusing. Looked like Dean straightened before the finish and that cause gushi to almost hit the wall? Not sure though

    Also is there a list of FD Drivers that have blogs? Powers had a pretty rad one for awhile that was about his daily life as well as FD but he had stopped updating it.

  15. Thomas H. says:

    The JTP/Gittin Jr. battle was the highlight of the show for me. You can tell that both drivers were not holding back at all. They were super aggressive but both did a great job keeping in control (mostly) despite all the aggression. Everyone was on the edge of their seats yelling their heads off.
    Great EVENT!!

  16. Blaze1 says:

    Were the rookie drivers fighting in the pit? What’s the story behind that.

    Daigo still hasn’t adopted the America style of tandem yet and its starting to catch up too him and rightfully so. But is he out of the championship? This guy has the biggest win percentage of any driver ever going into this season. He can easily flip the switch and win every single event left on the schedule, combined with taking more risks in qualifying he could win another belt.

  17. zachnthebox says:

    no one has said anything about the Driftstream feed taking a SHIT like every 3 seconds by far the worst I have seen. I cant believe how many top level money sponsors formula drift has but no one is putting any money up for a decent server I mean I wanted to watch the drifting not wait for the page to come back on

  18. Anthony says:

    don’t forget that the only thing that did work on the driftstream when it was having issues were the commercials!

  19. garageRC says:

    Exactly, When will the live stream from Formula D events be taken more seriously? This is such a frustrating issue, come on FD!

  20. money says:

    You do realize that they have every right and ability to just pull the plug on livestream and say: “Watch it on TV then.” Right? The Livestream is probably a fairly big expense as it is, so it should be appreciated regardless of whether or not it’s working all the time. Technology doesn’t work flawlessly 100% of the time, anybody who uses a computer more than once a month should know that. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t complain about it too much if I were you guys. It’d probably be easier for Formula D to just pull the plug on livestream and appropriate the funds to something else that people complain a lot about.

  21. noladrift says:

    Stop the daigo hate he does hes thing for being in a car that he says is tough to drive and I would never count him out specially after just second round

  22. MoneyIsntTheProblem says:

    @money Your argument is flawed. You realize they sell the hell out of the livestream right? You know all those ads the play? Thats making them money… You say that its free to us, that because we are the product! They are selling our views! It would set them so far back its not even funny if they pulled the live stream and more importantly the numbers that they claim the live stream gets.

    I appreciate that its there, but was it really there? I couldn’t watch 2 tandem battles back to back. They need to hire a company that knows what the hell they are doing to run the livestream. Hire an actual production company!

    If I was a sponsor of FD/LiveStream I’d pull my money until I know for sure that the livestream is going to work.

    I get it technology fails. I work in the technology space. It fails all the time… You know what people have? Backups… You prepare for the worst and hope for the best. You also try your setup over and over again before pushing it into production. You don’t fly by the seat of your pants.

    Its such a shame, because the livestream could be awesome, but I lose faith every event that it will ever be even good.

  23. Justine says:

    Yeah what’s the story about the rookies?
    I want to know too!

  24. Blaze1 says:


    I wish FD would pull the plug on the stream and just have a good profesional 1 hour show a week after the event.

    I’ve said this before but I will say it again. FD NEEDS THE FANS TO WATCH THE STREAM. This ain’t a public service and FD isn’t a non profit.

    Sometimes things go bad, but most of the time when it comes to the stream there is always something wrong. 7 events a year, do everything in your power to make the best of them.

  25. rotarypower says:

    I’m a Atlanta native as well and i love how everybody says we have the best venue. I’ve been every year and watched it go from looking like a grassroots event to now we are elbow to elbow from the dirt hill to the grand stand. if haven’t been to our track u need to make it out here it’s worth the trip no matter where u are

  26. Acebostr says:

    Haaha pull the plug on the livestream. Why do u act like it’s a privilege. They need it or else how would anyone follow it / why would sponsors give any money… Welcome to having a professional sport.

  27. Andy says:

    Did you forget the Aasbo/Forsberg battle? A clean pass and inches between the cars both runs? Talk about insanity!

    I have enjoyed watching Odi get better and better, now that he has a quality tire, his coilovers dialed, and a real drift suspension setup, he’s really shining!

  28. Killer beer says:

    Im surprised that no one mention the pass from aasbo to forsberg. Is it against the rule or not. But still amazing to see that pass tho

  29. KBanks says:

    I’m surprised no one mentioned how aggressive Forsberg drove after he got passed. Kind of highlights how most people drive like conservative bitches in this series (with some obvious exceptions).

  30. Cool story says:

    Daigo dropped two tires against Danny for sure and then drove straight until re-initiating. Not sure how he got the win. Then Daigo dropped tires on both lead and chase runs against Forrest and had minimal angle the whole time. The only thing he did was pull away and put a huge gap between them-easy when you have no angle and over 1200hp.

    The livestream is crap. #10yearsandstillbuffering

    The fact that you as an organization cannot get a stable stream going just looks horrible from a professional mindset. There will be excuses as to why that is, but the fact is: if you know that you have issues establishing a solid feed, it should be addressed and sorted AHEAD OF TIME. Not 30 minutes before the action starts.

    Furthermore, SERIOUSLY SERIOUSLY get some different judges. We need judges who are running or helping with pro-am series. Real drivers with real experience who knows what to look for. Something! Matt Petty, Aaron Losey, Tommy Tsuell, or even other past drivers like Foust, Millen etc. The fact is that there is a constant inconsistency between each event when it comes to the judging. Drivers will get penalized for on thing in Long. Beach, and then nobody bats an eye in ATL, and it continues through the series.

    While the sport may be growing, it’s not doing so with the best of images. New fans are constantly coming in, while the long time fans are getting more fed up every year.

  31. Calsonic says:

    Odi’s S14 seems to have a ton of grip. Especially at Long Beach Round 1 & Motegi Drift event, Odi was so fast and pulling away from the competition & creating huge gaps on his lead run. Although it was not as noticeable in Atlanta. Definitely keeping an eye on him this season.

  32. Ant says:

    Odi BEEN a beast!!

  33. Kids Heart says:

    Many of the tandems are still way too far apart. I am all for the judges ignoring shallow angles and lines from the chase car to promote closer action. Forest Wang is one of my favorite lead drivers but he needs to play the game while in chase.

  34. EFF Dee says:

    The judges are pretty weird.

  35. TheWizard says:

    On and Off Track Formula Drift Pro 2 was Needed…

    Please, do go into more detail about the Off Track part.

  36. chewy says:

    Main point needs to be stated that fd is completely loosing fan base due to the more than awful livestream. K.

  37. Brooks says:

    Thanks for the shout out to Team Rowdy! Great seeing your guys again! Keep up the good articles and don’t forget to Crank Them Beats!

  38. ziptiedmafia says:

    I’ve always know since day one when odi was learning at Adams motors ports park that he was gonna be a awesome driver he is calm cool and collected he is also one of the smartest drivers I know he thinks like the Japanese in a way …like working on his suspension setups and grip instead of just throwing power adders to the car when he gets dialed in he will probably up the power and when he does he is going to be the fastest out there no matter what his cars have always had goobs of grip and it looks like he is pretty dialed in I think he is a contender for the championship just like Matt field who also is finding more ways to get power to the ground with aero and whatnot.

  39. Justin says:

    Want to know what just astounds me?
    No one even cares to mention the fact that Alec H is still the highest qualifying rookie a he’s had mechanical issues both events.
    He ran on 6 cylinders all weekend in Atlanta?
    Does anyone care?!
    He got his first drift car in September of 2012.
    And he’s already in formula d????

    I had the pleasure of meeting this nice young man in the paddock in Atlanta.

    My hats off to you, Alec.
    You should know, you’re killin it.
    We’re all rooting for you.