10 Things I Learned from Formula Drift New Jersey Round 4


10. The BMW chassis is looking Hot in 2016
Man, the BMW chassis is looking like it should be hot property after this drift season. BMW has seen a podium at 75% of the events this year and some of the most notable drifting has come from the likes of Essa, Moen, Heilbrunn, Bluss, and DeNofa all in the BMW camp. The changes in the series seem to favoring this chassis in a big way.

9. Vaughn Gittin Jr. Ties Sam Hubinette for Event Wins Record
Vaughn Gittin Jr. battled his good friend Chris Forsberg in the finals at Wall Speedway and won! It was also a tie-breaker between the two friends. Chris Forsberg and Vaughn Gittin Jr. both had 8 event wins going into this event in New Jersey. It also happened to be a home track for both drivers who grew up within hour of Wall. Tons of narrative and storyline here as Vaughn Gittin Jr. prevailed and tied the record holder Sam Hubinette now with 9 event victories. An even crazier point made by our stats guru Jacob Leveton, Vaughn’s first win actually came after Sam Hubinette’s last win of their respective careers.

8. Forrest Wang Retirement is Tough to Swallow
Forrest Wang retiring from Formula Drift is a tough one to realize and swallow for fans. He has the best drifting style in Formula Drift but all good things must come to an end. I also see him coming back before the end of this season but that is just pure speculation that I have no evidence for. I am kind of bummed that the Wang/Forsberg battle managed to overshadow what was a super exciting event. If you missed the event or have live under a rock, here is our analysis of the Top 16 battle.

7. Forsberg Loans 370z to Mad Mike
A class move in the paddock over the weekend was Chris Forsberg loaning his carbon fiber street car Nissan 370z to Mad Mike without hesitation when his MX-5 blew up. The two carry rival energy drink sponsors and rival tire companies so this seems to be nothing more than a world class move. Sadly, Mad Mike turned a wheel in his MX-5 during practice which locked him into that car for the weekend. Mike shockingly pointed out this was his first event he would miss due to engine trouble. That is a pretty powerful statement for the competency of his crew. (PC: tomimotofilms)

6. Ryan Tuerck vs. Ken Gushi Stole the Show
If you missed the event or only watched small parts of it then I suggest you just go back and just watch this battle. Two similar built cars with insane wheelman behind them put on the show of the weekend. I feel like these battles could of gone either way and was glad I wasn’t a judge for this insane tandem event!

5. I Kind of Missed Pro 2
I might eat my words on this one but it was a bummer we didn’t get to see Pro 2 action on Friday. I know that Road Atlanta was horrible but Orlando kind of got the hook in my mouth to watch more. I think it is a huge loss and bummer that the series is on hiatus until September. Hopefully I can see some Pro 2 battles at Street Driven STL or ATL before the next round of Pro 2 comes up at Texas Motor Speedway.

4. Matt Field Keeps Progressing and Learning Race by Race
The more I keep my eye on Matt Field the more I see him as a future champion of this sport. This weekend really showed class from him handling the difficult Top 16 battle with Faruk Kugay. I half thought sparks would fly again and tempers would victor but Field really did an amazing job following such a sloppy lead run. He really floored me with his insane tandem follow against Gushi where he hit him on the bank that sadly resulted in him breaking a part and spinning out on his lead run. I think otherwise, we see Matt Field in the finals this weekend. With Wang leaving it also opens the door for Field to be the most stylish drifter in Formula Drift and the Nissan 240sx poster child.

3. Alex Heilbrunn Got Easy Ticket to Podium but Still Impressed Me
Alex Heilbrunn stepped it up big for the rookie class and put his BMW on the podium this weekend with a big statement. He didn’t have to drift the wheels off his car to get there but when the time came in the Final Four he performed in a big way! The fact he pushed Vaughn into OMT is something he should be super happy about. Alex needs to find that ability to drift at 92% instead of 100% all the time and he has it. That mental switch to find that 8% of caution and conservativeness is going to be really hard. I have found the more you push at Wall and try to do stuff the more likely you are to make a mistake here. That just made his performance all the more impressive so props to you Alex and all your fans back in Peru!

2. Pat Mordaunt Killed his Tandem Chase Run with Aasbo
Pat Mordaunt is just having everything come together this year…. well almost. His tandem follow run against Fredric Aasbo was for the ages but managed to crash on entry during his lead run. Pat in years past has impressed me at Road Atlanta and then faded into the mid-pack of drivers. This performance tells me he might have something in him for the season if he can keep it off the wall in Montreal/Seattle.


1. Some Formula Drift Fans Just Make Me Scratch My Head
In the past 10+ years I have been one of the most vocal and verbal critics of Formula Drift. The series has improved in all aspects (mainly entertaining tandem) from the past. You guys preach about wanting consistency in judging but with that comes rules and guidelines to perform at a high level. Some drivers ignore those and lose. Some drivers pay attention and win. Then, when the rules and guidelines result in something you hate…. you complain about the rules. I cannot handle any of you.

Formula Drift is the biggest drift series in the world because the most people pay attention to it and talk about it. They are drifting at the finest margins in the world and the world is watching these events.

Also, let’s not forget a D1 event in the past where a driver threw his trophy in a trash can and another driver rage ran over a course workers foot that was telling him to wait.

That was my soapbox.


  1. isho says:

    Great event overall, though something about the Mad Mike situation bothered me. Why are they disallowing people to use different cars just because they did a practice run? Wouldnt it make more sense if it only counted when they did a qualifying run? If I recall last year, in Atlanta, Denofa had some trouble with his car so right before qualifying he stepped into that MK3 supra. Did they change the rules or something?

  2. conspire says:

    @isho, yes they changed the Sporting Regulations for this year (sec 4.7 – Entered Vehicles).

    “Drivers shall enter and compete with only one vehicle for the duration of the event, which is determined by leaving the starting line in the official practice session. The first official practice session will be determined by if qualifying is conducted on the same day.

    For example: When scheduling permits a Thursday Practice:
    PRO it is an open session
    PRO2 is not an open session, since PRO2 qualifies the same day.

    All vehicles entered must be eligible for entry and have passed Technical Inspection prior to running on course.”

  3. Tommy says:

    That dang mk3 supra guy…. hahaha

  4. Jason says:

    Excellent write-up as always, but does wrecked, not have editors? “could of gone either way”? Come on, guys.

  5. Luke says:

    Those drift fans are the worst. It’s like they want the series to be judged on style and street cred, alone. “Crowd favorite 240SX driver who’s never won an event? Gets the win!” “Run sucked but did a backwards entry? Gets the win!” “Came here from D1/Japan? Gets the win!” “SR20? Win!!”

    But if the same veteran drivers who know the rules/tracks/game place high consistently, “It’s rigged! FD sucks!!”


  6. mclargehuge says:

    Its not that the rules result in something we hate, its that the sport is built on style and excitement. Consistency doesn’t always mean following the rules, it just means judging the sport based on what it stands for from start to finish. Forrest knew that, he joined a sport that focuses on style and he used that to its maximum potential. Now that its not about that, whats the point of competing?

    Think about how much the fans would love it if a judge said “Technically Forrest slowed down a little in that section but his run was sick so I gave it to him”.

    As much as D1 has had its dummy spits, its also had judges giving perfect scores and standing applause just because something looked amazing.

    My 2c, anyway.

  7. Eddi Hughes says:

    I was under the impression of the Top 32 the section where Wang was transitioning with full angle that THAT was THE best shit all day and that it was perfectly fine. I watched a little bit of qualification but that was as boring as watching golf.

    Up until that battle with Forsberg, everyone around me was under the impression from the commentators that it was good. I guess, #NotThePrettiest though. The judges also sweeped it under the rug really quickly and caused everyone into a frenzy. I didn’t hear anything about wang’s toe arm or traction arm breaking until Tuesday morning. Most people don’t sit around on the internet digging this stuff up after the matter and most the fans were blindsided, PUN INTENDED!

  8. Doof says:

    Jason – it looks like you don’t have an editor either.. Why is there another comma after “wrecked” in your statement?

    Maybe spend less time criticizing grammar, since you also appear to be having difficulties with it.

  9. dustt31 says:

    I feel like Formula DragRace is taking the style out of drifting by putting too much emphasis on technicalities and big speed… Its drifting! I got hooked into it to both drive with and see style, big angle, lots of smoke! Now i’m not saying you can fly off course like a madman, obviously there is some line you have to follow. But c’mon, acceleration maps and crap? I’d love to see drivers just drive. Like was said before, D1 will have high scores and standing ovations for putting down rad runs, even with some minor mistakes. I’m no D1 fanboy and they aren’t without faults in any way, but at least its visually appealing and exciting WHEN that happens, and isn’t that what the sport is all about?! Pro Drifting (and to an extent its creeping into pro-am) has headed in a direction of fugly cars and weird 3-wheel motion junk, plus horrible ride heights, and its just not fun to watch anymore.

    I also have a bad feeling that at the current rate it will end up like any other almost-unlimited power motorsport, just look at Group B, IMSA, etc. Now, I admit I don’t have a clue how to limit or change the rules for power and grip and weight, but i’m not a rule maker or sanctioning body either. Its not wonder the ‘energy drink’ cars/teams win all the time really, they got the big bucks to play with R&D and technology, and can put together reliably 1300+ whp set-ups. I hope someone can figure this out or (FD) Pro Drifting will be losing more privateers and style, along with fans. And I’m not even going to mention judging…. /end rant. #dontsayhashtag #staygrassroots

  10. dustt31 says:


  11. Jason says:

    Fair point doof, but I’m not an international magazine, am I?

  12. Ty Milner says:

    Mad Mike having engine trouble shouldn’t warrant a knock on his crew. His guys are pretty good actually. Sometimes metal parts fail.

  13. OGLarry says:

    Parked it.

  14. Curtis says:

    @dustt31 FD is meant to be drifting at a pro level. Pro level sports have rules and some of the rules are technical. The point of the acceleration maps is to help drivers know that when they come out of the smoke on transitions that a car won’t be parked there cause the drivers are asked to be on throttle at that point on the track. This is to help create closer tandems.

    Without accelerations maps and clipping points, letting the drivers “just drive” will create a random mess and not only look like shit but also near impossible to judge.

  15. Jabroni says:

    all the rules and technicalities helped to get rid of all the game playing and brake checking that use to happen. rules don’t come out of no where, people create he necessity. the sport has gotten a lot better for the little guys to compete with these big teams with bigger budgets go back to 2010-11 it was way worse believe me. also people keep referencing D1 like it hasn’t been a drag race over there for the past 10 years lol they had a horse power war long before FD. why do you think they outlawed nitrous dudes were going crazy with it, and everyone lied about their horse power numbers.

  16. Hosford Hugger says:

    if speed matters, maybe they should have speed guns again

  17. the BMW thing says “The changes in the series seem to favoring this chassis in a big way.” — what are these changes?

  18. rwdybyz says:

    How are tire manufactures ok with this level of tire waste? I imagine this has to be one of the higher expenses in ones budget. Do you (wrecked magazine) believe this sport can last at a pro level with tires barely lasting 2 runs or does there need to be some sort of limit implemented? Does anyone have a number on how many tires a team uses in general? (I’m curious)

  19. Ryan Sage says:

    @hosford hugger, One thing to keep in mind about speed guns is that they pick up the fastest speed at a given point. So if you have two cars coming into a section of the course or the entry per say, and the chase happens to be faster, you’ll pick that speed up and not know it. That’s the issue with using a gun. You need refined telemetry or data acquisition in order to get the individual speed of a car at a given point.

    Also, since I hear people talking about this a lot as well, GPS relies on satellite technology and depending on where you are in the world, various places are going to have different numbers of satellites above you and therefore variable readings that may not represent what is actually the case. If you are trying to determine line or angle, that’s pretty important. When you start digging into the available technology and how to actually implement it, it’s actually quite hard to get what you want, but on the face of it, it seems like such a no-brainer.

    We’ve spent the better half of the past two years talking to technology companies to figure out what the best way to do this is and I don’t know there is a clear answer yet, but I’m sure it’s coming.

  20. Lawntang says:

    I don’t talk about speed as much in the driver’s meetings anymore, unless I am telling drivers to maintain it. I often say “maintain pace throughout the course”, because we want drivers to avoid slowing down, or breaking the course up into sections by accelerating up to a zone or clip, slowing down, then accelerating again on to the next one. We want it to look fluid and smooth, while giving the chase car the opportunity to maintain proximity.

    We are not against high levels of angle, if the angle is used in the right place. As pointed out in the driver’s meetings in New Jersey, IC1 was not one of those places. The main reason being that it is an area that flows much better with decent speed AND angle, and allows the driver to set up for a big flick into OZ2. This also allows the chase car to apply pressure in a predictable, repeatable manner and makes for better tandem.

    An example of an area we tell drivers to use big angle is coming up the hill towards the horseshoe in Atlanta. This is a natural slowdown area, meaning a driver couldn’t make it around the corner without slowing down, where we tell drivers to use throttle and momentum to reach the top of the hill and big angle to slow the car down enough to fill OZ2, instead of approaching it slowly, having to add throttle last minute and grab a handful of e-brake. This is also an area where close tandem is still possible when done properly, as both cars need to slow down. IC1 at Wall Speedway does not require slowing down to achieve properly, thus we don’t like it when it happens. It slows down the momentum of the lead car, doesn’t look fluid and is not pretty to chase.


  21. Blaze1 says:

    “Also, let’s not forget a D1 event in the past where a driver threw his trophy in a trash can and another driver rage ran over a course workers foot that was telling him to wait.”

    I don’t know exactly why you brought this up and how it relates to whats going on right now, but lets not forget why the drivers acted like this. This was a XDC event being ran under the D1 banner, with only a few of the actual D1 staff running the event. The guys were mad because the sport wasn’t being judged and ran under the same rules D1 Japan was. IIRC the D1 the drivers were supposed to be getting OMTs due to how close the battles were points wise, but were not. I don’t agree with running over a course workers’ foot but a competitor can do whatever he likes with his or her trophy.

    But honestly, I don’t really watch Formula D anymore. I don’t buy tickets to the events, nor do I bother to watch the stream live. I do follow the sport on here, and keep track of a few drivers through social media that I actually like. I have experienced a strong disconnect with the sport over the years and up until now I thought it was just me. I just don’t feel the most talented drivers who drive their hearts out are winning anymore like the good ole days. I feel sorry for the other fans who are experiencing this as well. The rules change constantly and are only explained once something controversial happens. The media has no access to drivers meetings so they cant explain it to us either, and the whole FD101 page is just a fragment of what they are looking and not looking for.

    You know guys if you don’t like the series don’t watch, don’t buy tickets. Hit them in their wallets and maybe they will start to listen. I think if it wasn’t the only professional show in town maybe the series would try to please the fans a bit more. If you guys want D1 to come back let them know. I know for a fact they want to come back, they just want to do it the right way… and the right way costs money. They are already planning a big comeback for the Asian region. Even just one event at the end of the year would IMO rejuvenate the sport.

  22. Bobby says:

    One thing I would like to positively note is the transparency we’ve gotten from the Formula Drift staff regarding decisions that were made. The communication regarding what judges were looking for has been cool (hell, maybe broadcast the drivers meeting?) It seems such a shame that it takes all the hubbub to draw the vocality, it’s something that as a fan I’ve enjoyed. If you could wing it, why not upload a different version of top 32, top 16, etc with the judges doing commentary on what they’re seeing and judging on each run. It would leave fewer average viewers scratching their heads at decisions, and might also help educate even regular fans on some of the technical rules and violations. Add in all the slow-mo and different angles for editing flair, and you’ve got even more sponsor air-time plus content that I’m sure is at least somewhat of a market for.

  23. Kids Heart says:

    In other news Daigo Saito scored his third victory in a row this weekend D1GP round 3 then turned around and podiumed at round 4.

  24. Poopy poop says:

    @lawntang excellent explanation, that makes perfect sense unfortunately like I think you said (or Brian) some fans are just a incapable of thinking bellow the surface and I don’t think it’s possible to explain it to someone who isn’t going to listen or understand common sense