10 Things I Learned from Formula Drift Round 5 Seattle

10. Championship Dreams Shattered Left and Right!

This Seattle event marks the first time I watched so many big names and championship hopeful drivers go down for the count so early in the weekend. First, it was Ryan Tuerck going out to Stoneback in the Top 32 with a mechanical failure. Then Vaughn Gittin Jr. defeats Nitto teammate Odi Bakchis in the Top 32 putting the #1/#2 championship drivers out with 16 points + qualifying for the weekend. Then Top 16 swept up Chris Forsberg and Ken Gushi cleaning the slate of all the forward momentum from this season for those four drivers. Fredric Aasbo side stepped all the land mines and took home first place and built a huge gap in the championship for himself leaving the next two rounds a big mystery.

9. Forrest Wang Being Faulted for Inactive Chase, HUH?

Who knew that Mad Mike was that fast or Forrest Wang was that slow? The inactive chase penalty against Forrest Wang seemed beyond harsh to me. The judges need to wake up please! You cannot fault a guy for inactive chase when he is driving his ass off but his car is just beyond slower than another car (see Faruk Kugay vs. Alex Heilbrunn in Pro 2 for same stupid call). The inactive chase was made for the penalization of cupcaking when one driver has a dominant lead and then doesn’t chase. I always recall Jim Guthrie vs. Vaughn Gittin Jr. at Wall Speedway as a perfect utilization for this. You cannot punish people for not building drag car/rocket ships or I guess now you can do just that…. I never got the impression Wang was cup caking around the course. I think it was a tough way to end a great Top 32 battle. Not sure if I have a better answer for this one but it just feels like a bad beat in my gut.

8. Yokoi Is the New Chelsea DeNofa

This guy has the most insane tandem follow runs of this season. I wish drivers would get out of his way so he could keep winning. His first battle with Pat Goodin was wild and I think he edged out Goodin in the end but judges went OMT. His chase on the OMT was just balls deep insane but sadly he made contact with Goodin and lost. Sound like someone else you know? Yes, Chelsea DeNofa who at times performs the best tandem follow runs the world has ever seen but mostly to a detriment in the end. Can Yokoi overcome that issue and continue to put on a show that is entertaining everyone while running clean? I guess time will tell us but he is looking more serious round by round in that chromed out 2JZ powered S15 Silvia.

7. A Couple Notes from Me to Recap Pro 2

Nothing I saw in Pro 2 this weekend was worth commenting on with a whole topic. So let me just share a few thoughts and observations I had.
-Alex Heilbrunn should just be allowed into Pro competition. His car is 100x faster than everyone in Pro 2 and it just looks stupid.
-Ryan Litteral has made lights years of improvements from last year. He is much faster around the track this year and I like to see the progression of drivers.
-California as a whole is dominating the Pro 2 field. Where is the rest of this country’s talent?
-Too many people have broken cars before qualifying
-What Has Happened to Kenji Yaminaka…….
-James Evans wins again in Seattle. I want to see those same skills from him on display in Pro

6. Alec Hohnadell Is Coming for Everyone

I have believed for quite some time that Alec Hohnadell is a future championship driver of this sport. Ever since I sat down with him back at the SEMA Show I just felt he had a special drive that could usher him into the reality of being a top driver. That vision I had came full circle in Seattle with him becoming the championship slayer. He took down Chris Forsberg followed by a defeat of Daigo Saito in two straight battles with odds stacked against him. I even think if the weather stayed dry he would of had a shot at taking down Fredric Aasbo for the final battle. In fact, I wish Pat Goodin would of won his Final Four battle so we could of seen a battle of the Florida boys for a final but I guess that will be for another day. Seattle is pretty well known for first time podium performances and we got a big one this weekend. Can he keep up this high level of performance for Round 6 and 7?

5. The Big Question I have is from the Kenneth Moen vs. Daigo Saito Battle

So stick with me a little on this one…. Kenneth Moen while leading crossed the entry line while Daigo Saito was in chase and the lap was red flagged but the drivers continued on and finished the lap. In that time, Daigo Saito smashes into Kenneth Moen causing damage to both cars. Formula Drift staff then gave both drivers an ample amount of time to fix their cars, which I deem a big mistake. Daigo Saito was still at fault for contact regardless of what happened with the entry (not where the contact happened I might point out) and then got off punishment free on a technicality.

Here is a scenario as to why I feel this is a bad way to set the rules. Let’s say the lead driver knocks over the cone in this same battle (Moen) and the course is red flagged. As Moen slows down before the entry way to start over Daigo misses the red flag being waved and now slams into Kenneth Moen who was at a stop wrecking both cars. Once again, Daigo Saito is clearly at fault but since the run was “red flagged” we are going to let him spend ample time in the world fixing his car. Seems quite preposterous, your actions (especially in car to car contact) should have consequences.

4. Some Formula Drift Fans Need to Remove the Tin Foil Hats Already

I’m all for calling things like I see it when it comes to Formula Drift. If anything, I just care too much about the sport and get overly outraged when I think things are being done wrong or incorrectly (see #5 and #9 as example of this). However, the out pour of fan comments on FB/Instagram over this past weekend have been ridiculous. Take the Tyler McQuarrie vs. Justin Pawlak battle for example. People were complaining in conversations about this post about how only sponsored drivers win everything…. UHHH HELLO, Tyler McQuarrie shares the title sponsorship with the series and carries the second largest company in the world of his car but yet the win was given to Justin Pawlak.

Then my favorite fan comment has to be…

“All formula d seems to be about is sponsorships. If you don’t have sponsorships but can outdrive a pro, it doesn’t matter. Big money wins in this.”

I just don’t even know if these kids watch the events or just troll on social media all day on Sunday instead. Is this why Alec Hohnadell beat Chris Forsberg? Is this why Alec Hohnadell beat Daigo Saito? Pawlak beat McQuarrie? Matt Field beat J Castro? I think you get the picture. The series normally has plenty of things to gripe about or improvements that can be made. I just wish the trolls would actually watch the event in the future and cater some “event specific trolling.”

3. The Championship is in His Hands Now – Fredric Aasbo

It seems that Seattle always is the place where the championship gets shaken up and set for a two round showdown of Texas and Irwindale. This happens without fail every single year it seems. However, this year we saw every driver in the top rankings drop the ball, except Aasbo who won the event, allowing him to nearly run away with a championship. Fredric Aasbo stands 76 points ahead of Ryan Tuerck with a maximum of 214 points possible to score left if someone qualifies first and wins both events. If Fredric manages to qualify for Top 32 at Texas and Irwindale he will be sitting on a 108 point difference needed to be overcome by another driver or 140 point difference if he makes Top 16 both rounds.

2. The Old Ryan Tuerck is Back but Held Down Due to Mechanical Failures

Once again the Formula Drift championship is a marathon and not a sprint and Ryan Tuerck might suffer the most from that phrase this year. Ryan Tuerck by my account has two mechanical failures and three podiums to his name in five rounds. The good news is, Ryan Tuerck with his new FR-S and Nameless Performance have found the competitive and door banging Ryan Tuerck of old back behind the wheel. The bad news is that mechanical failures have basically left him 76 points behind Aasbo with two rounds left. With three podiums to his name you think he would be more in the title contention but you really do just need a ton of points from all seven events to take home the championship these days.

1. Justin Pawlak vs. Tyler McQuarrie is one for the History Books

This battle was for the ages. Here is an Instagram capture of the battle in case you missed it. For starters, let me get this out of the way real quick. I think the judges made the right call here *gasp*  I know. I haven’t seen anyone present valid evidence of how Tyler McQuarrie could of won this battle.

A- Tyler McQuarrie Hits the Wall
B- Justin Pawlak Hits Tyler McQuarrie because he abruptly changed course/speed from hitting wall
C- Tyler McQuarrie Goes off Course

Anything outside of A/B/C is just pure speculation. I keep reading people say well if Justin didn’t make contact then Tyler wouldn’t of gone off course. Well, we don’t know that and never will because Justin was tandeming like a man and made contact. The last thing we need to do is penalize Justin for tandeming too close and set that as a thing drivers don’t want to be doing. I get that it’s not the most ideal situation but Tyler has been on the winning end of these situations before like when he beat DeNofa at Wall back when they both crashed which was just absurd.

I also don’t even really care about the battle because all the fun started once Tyler went off course resulting in a zero. Cooler heads didn’t exactly prevail and the two cars drove in what more looked like a demolition derby than a drift event. Justin Pawlak drops a little pit maneuver on the last turn and wins the demolition derby along with the tandem battle. I just wish we had more riveting moments of pure and raw emotion on display like this in the sport. If something like this happened every race, the viewership would be 100x. (DailyMotion Video Link)

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. Twitch_6 says:

    No disrespect to Denofa, but Ya, that’s a terrible comparison.

    But I was thinking that Denofa vs Yokoi would be my dream final in Texas!

  2. Spike says:

    Yep. Alex should be in pro 1. Hands down the best driver I have competed with.

  3. Spike says:

    Wanna go fast on the bank? Get in the high line using car control and vehicle placement vs left foot breaking to push out. Seen some tandem runs when the lead car’s front inner wheel was locked up for 3/4 of the back in the lead position.

    If a car can’t keep at the pro level, the team needs to find a way to bring a car back up to competition pace or driver needs to change technique … less angle, better natural line, more mechanic grip, better car setup, lower tire pressure, LESS LEFT Foot breaking.

  4. Hobo says:

    Less angle, lower tire pressure?!?! No thanks, I’ll stick to watching rad cars with a fuck-ton of angle and smoke. You know what is also cool? When your car doesn’t look like it rolled out of a dumpster.

  5. Mike Penis says:

    Joey you baby these mofos way too much homie

    If Forrest’s spotter was worth anything, even a bag of piss, they would have told his ass to stop with the big angle and speed the Fuck up. Period. Aren’t you supposed to be able to adapt to the lead car?

    JTP and McQuarrie, both should be penalized, in F1 or in NASCAR there would be penalties, both should have to serve grid penalties in the next race, FD lacks a real steward like other motorsports, someone who has driven many cars for many years like Alex Pfeiffer. This is why people think that Sage controls the series and manipulates, the reality is that most of the people on the FD grid probably have no idea how a sanctioned world class event should run…there should be checks and balances of power…

    Judges – yes they’re stupid and idiots and none of them hold any kind of legitimate driving credentials worth shit, how many podiums between them in FD competition? But the reality is that even with all of that they don’t need to explain jack shit to you or to anyone else Joey, bottom line when you go to the NFL or the NBA judges and referees make fucked up calls all the time and we live with it…and as for driving pedigree, I would never imagine a retired LeBron James or MJ being referees. It’s probably a shit sandwich of a stressful job and we should stop crying like little bitches after every call they make, all of us, media, fans, drivers. The one who opened the floodgates to this shit was probably cry baby ass Rhys Millen who would approach the judges in the middle of an event after having lost with a fucking camera.

    It’s okay for your shit to stink people, really, I do agree with you on one thing Joey, do something in Pro 2 so the guy that wins the championship is not just some rich ass boy with a fuck ton of horse power. Limit the horse power in pro2 by way of tire size, shit, get a tire manufacturer to pay you a crap ton of dollars to make one tire one size the official tire of FD Pro 2! That way if you add a million horse power to your car it won’t work if the tire is to small…make the guys have to make 4 passes on one rear set of tires, otherwise you’ll just get a bunch of daddy’s boys advancing rather than the cream of the crop. Don’t get me wrong, whatshisface can drive, he ain’t no Matt Coffman, but it would be much better for the sport and for entertainment if pro2 was even enough that these guys would have to duke it out on even terms…in a tightly contended championship

  6. mike penis says:

    Hobo you are a turd, your depth of understanding of drifting is on par with Jarod and Sage

    Even Hubinette said in Long Beach how these new drivers have waaay more power than he did and they go waaaay slower…shit doesn’t add up…but to the average retarded fan who just wants to see a smoke show it doesn’t matter…and please feel free to reward different styles guys…slow ass hell with big angle is just one of many styles out there.