Joon Maeng

10 Things I Learned from Formula Drift Round 1 This Weekend

FDLB

This weekend marked the start of the 11th season of Formula Drift and my 10th year anniversary covering the sport. To celebrate my tenth season I put together 10 things I learned from the start of the 2014 Formula Drift season.

10. The Fanfare of a “D1GP” Driver Coming to Formula Drift is OverTakahashi

The Japanese drivers movement in Formula Drift just isn’t what it used to be. Kuniaki Takahashi arrived this weekend with little to no fanfare or “buzz” from the respective crowd. The fact that other drives are vanishing, like Toshiki Yoshioka, also shows that sponsors don’t  want to throw money at them either. Take it for good or bad but simply having D1GP credentials isn’t getting you very far in 2014. You have to perform on the track to get noticed.

9. The Canadian Drivers Deserve More RespectMarcLanderville

No one in America seems to respect Canadian drifting very much for some reason. The series’ instability probably doesn’t help but the Canadian contingent in Formula Drift is really holding its own these days. Marc Landerville did fantastic this weekend in his Standard Suspension 240sx and probably would of won ROTY if he ran all 7 rounds in 2013. Dave Briggs just gets better every single year and gave Vaughn Gittin Jr. a run for his money in Top 32 this weekend! Then Mats Baribeau took Michael Essa to battle (that after rewatching the Livestream today I am convinced he really won and the judges overlooked a huge correction/straighten from Michael Essa).

Regardless they took home ROTY in 2013 and clearly have the cars and driving skill to go blow for blow with American drift drivers as they have shown in 2013 and are continuing through 2014. Later this year, Formula Drift even has a demo going on in Montreal.

8. The Mandatory HANS Device was a Brilliant Safety Addition JoonMaeng

Personally, I have witnessed a ton of insane drifting accidents. I laid my eyes on Chris Cook launch his Dodge Viper into the air at NOPI LA, saw Dennis Mertzanis split his 240sx on a uneven stacked k-rail, and watched Chris Jeanerret flip over at Irwindale last season. One thing all of these accidents had in common was the huge movement of the drivers’ heads as the car battled with gravity and physics before coming to a stop.

The image I posted above of Joon Maeng’s 240sx shows it flying into the wall and his head is clear as day, sitting properly in the back of the seat. In fact, you can look at our gallery images of the wreck or our video to see that his head didn’t really move at all. This is a huge safety addition that Formula Drift has implemented before anything awful has happened to a driver in one of these wrecks. 

7. The old ARK Hyundai Genesis is Still Crap. Pat Mordaunt Deserves BetterPatMordaunt

During the preseason this was already a move that had me scratching my head. In case you didn’t realize, this weekend Pat Mordaunt and Dennis Mertzanis campaigned twin identical cars from the outside with different colored seats and vastly different engine packages. The one Pat Mordaunt is campaigning is actually the white Genesis coupe that Dennis drove last year. Last year that car was a pile of crap and suffered a ton of vehicle malfunctions keeping Dennis out of competition.

Pat sitting on the sidelines with a blown engine right out of the gate really shows this car wasn’t actually made much better in the long off-season. Pat deserves much better and I feel the only way they should remedy this situation is throwing away the LAMBDA V6 Hyundai motor and giving him a 1000hp Vortech Supercharged LS7 engine like Dennis Mertzanis (who made into the Top 16). Oh yeah, did I mention the motor that popped this weekend was already the backup motor since the original blew up in testing?

6. If Chelsea DeNofa Could Only Overcome Mechanical Issues….ChelseaDeNofa

Chelsea DeNofa is one of the most exciting tandem drivers on the grid with an out-of-this-world tandem style. His BMW is quite possibly his biggest opponent in the series. He went out in 2013 due to mechanical failures more than defeat by other drivers. This problem seems like it is going to continue in 2014. If Chelsea could ever sort out this car 100%, he could easily finish the season in the Top 5.

5. Alec Hohnadell and Geoff Stoneback Are the Future of this SportAlecHohnadel

I singled out both of these drivers mainly because they qualified for Top 32 on their first try and didn’t look “out of place”. Geoff Stoneback made his first pass ever in the car right at qualifying and still drove the car into the main show. These guys have style and have cool enough heads to perform when it counts, so watch out for these two in the very immediate future. They both led me to believe they can be 2014 Rookie of the Year.

4. Michael Essa Was Not a Fluke ChampionMichaleEssa.2014

The championship last year was won in less than desirable conditions for Michael Essa and his team. With a blown engine he sat on the sideline and hoped that Forsberg couldn’t finish high enough in the points to bump him into second. His real challenge in the off-season was leaving GSR Autosport and running his own program for the 2014 season. Well, he answered the critics’ questions pretty loudly with a top qualifying spot and third place finish.

3. Kenneth Moen Could Contend for the 14 Championship and More Europeans Are ComingKennethMoen

Kenneth Moen finally got out of that beat-to-hell Nissan 350z chassis and dominated the competition in this Nissan 240sx. The way he attacked the Turn 10 wall was just mind boggling. His second qualifying run, after crashing in practice, slotted him with a qualifying run in the 90s! Kenneth Moen is going to contend for a championship in 2014 pending some huge disaster. Quite a few top European drivers were roaming around the paddock this weekend and some of them told me flat out they are working on a way to come compete in Formula Drift.

2. Chris Forsberg is Serious About a Championship and Hyper FocusedChrisForsberg

Chris Forsberg is a changed man in 2014. He has this intense focus I have never seen from him since I first met him in 2005. His car going “to the dark side” just seems like a mirror image of how he is taking on the season. He looked like he was going to win Round 1 on Friday morning and saw it through by facing one of the hardest brackets of the weekend and finishing first. Chris isn’t going to feel redemption for 2013 unless he wins the 2014 championship and that is clearly what he is thinking about 24/7.

1. The New Format Is Brilliant but 3rd Place Battle Elimination was an Over StepFordMustang.Drift

In my 10 years of attending Formula Drift as a fan, reporter, and photographer, this was the best run event I have attended. The judging fixes were spot on and many “first timers” in the audience I spoke with were entertained throughout the weekend. The event ran so smoothly that it ended almost one hour before the city imposed sound curfew. So my only thing is – since the events are running so well and ahead of schedule, can we just go ahead and get the third place battle back please?

First off, I would have loved to see Michael Essa and Justin Pawlak do battle for a spot on the podium. The fact that Michael Essa won his Top 8 battle and secured a place on the podium didn’t sit well with me. He could of parked it (not run his Top 4 battle) and stood up on the podium. So a top qualifier could win three tandem battles and take a podium spot under this new system just seems all too easy for that many championship points.

Formula Drift Long Beach Practice/Qualifying [GALLERY]

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Formula Drift Long Beach kicks off this weekend. Check out the rest of the gallery:

http://www.wreckedmagazine.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=385

Joon Maeng’s Huge Crash from Qualifying [VIDEO]

Check out this awesome capture I got of Joon Maeng’s qualifying accident. The car crumbled into pieces as it made contact with the wall on Joon Maeng’s first qualifying pass. The video has a full speed look at his whole qualifying run followed by a slow motion version of the huge impact with the Long Beach krail.

Joon Maeng Testing at Willow Springs – Shows off New Partner Maxxis Tire

Joon Maeng shows off his S13 Nissan 240sx at Willow Springs now on Maxxis MA-Z1 tires. This quick Instagram video doesn’t show much of the car in drifting action but nice to see Joon is getting some serious test time in with the new Maxxis tires before Round 1.

Nexen Plans Formula Drift Return with New Tire

RyanKado

According to TireBusiness the guys over at Nexen Tire are planning a return to Formula Drift in the future. It sounds like they are putting marketing efforts elsewhere while they develop a real top level tire in drifting. It sounds like once the new tire is developed they will make a return to Formula Drift in a big way. In fact, they are putting a focus on winning the series once they come back.

“We manufacture high-quality tires at a great value,” said Kyle Roberts, director of marketing at Nexen Tire, he continued, “and some of our patterns fit the need of casual drift enthusiasts perfectly. However, we are currently in the beginning stages of developing a competition tire that is designed to perform consistently at the high level demanded by us and our drivers.”

 

 

Vortech Superchargers Shows Joon Maeng’s Engine on Dyno [VIDEO]

Lucas Oil and Nexen Tire driver Joon Maeng produced an engine dyno video with Vortech Superchargers showing off his new engine program for 2014. The video doesn’t leave horsepower numbers but it sure sounds like a monster engine package. Hopefully losing Nexen Tire at the last minute hasn’t thrown a monkey wrench in his plans.

Nexen Tire Walks Away from Formula Drift Just One Month Before Season Starts

KyleMohan.NexenTire

In what has to be the biggest head scratcher of the 2014 season is Nexen Tire leaving in the 11th hour just before the Formula Drift season starts. Close sources to the situation say everything was “green lighted” as far back as late 2013 for all these Nexen programs and no troubles cropped up until last week.

The rumor has it one particular driver from the Nexen program was complaining to upper management and Korea about tire issues they were having which some people are speculating to me is a major reason they are leaving. Other teams have confirmed that N9000 was a vast improvement from the N3000 an N6000 and provided drivers a relatively quality drift tire.

Regardless once the smoke clears it looks like several teams are going to be in a 30 day scramble to sign a new tire company which I feel like will be almost impossible since most budgets are long wrapped up. Odi Bakchis is the lucky one of the group who jumped ship to Nitto Tire it appears just in time.

2013 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway – Tentative Drivers List

Here are the people who have paid and registered to drift next weekend at the House of Drift. The real strong title contenders are Mike Essa and Chris Forsberg and unless they drop the ball big time one of them is taking home a championship. If they both fail to advance a win could be taken by another driver to advance and win a championship as well. All eyes on Irwindale next weekend! Here is who is driving:
1 Essa, Mike 101
2 Forsberg, Chris 64
3 Aasbo, Fredric 151
4 Gittin, Vaughn Jr. 25
5 Saito, Daigo 1
6 Pawlak, Justin 13
7 Field, Matt 777
8 McNamara, Darren 8
9 Bakchis, Odi 723
10 Nishida, Robbie 31
11 Yoshihara, Daijiro 9
12 Grunewald, Conrad 79
13 Denofa, Chelsea 88
14 Moen, Kenneth 22
15 Powers, Matt 665
16 Tuerck, Ryan 62
17 George, Danny 7
18 McQuarrie, Tyler 17
19 Wang, Forrest 808
20 Kado, Ryan 614
21 Mordaunt, Patrick 90
22 Gushi, Ken 21
23 Yoshioka, Toshiki 104
24 Maeng, Joon 51
25 Aono, Taka 86
26 Ovcharik, Miroslav 235
27 Goodin, Patrick 46
28 Mohan, Kyle 99
29 Jones, Jeff 29
30 Angelo, Tony 96
31 Briggs, Dave 24
32 Baribeau, Mats* 30
33 Mertzanis, Dennis 323
34 Castro, Jhonnattan 717
35 Ward, Chris 23
36 Kearney, Dean 43
38 Wicknick, Brandon* 801
39 Parsons, Will* 48
40 Hamilton, Nate* 144
41 Hosford, Corey 232
42 Rydquist, Carl 300
44 Jeanneret, Chris* 111
45 Primozich, Rob* 3
46 Stone, Gabe 15
47 Mendoza Jr., Enrique 16
48 Wilkerson, Walker 95
49 Steele, Josh* 72
50 Moore, Victor 360
52 Hildebrand, J.R. 6
53 Pakula, Luke* 714
55 Lee, Alex 81
57 Osaki, Karl* 14
61 Cano Estrella, Carlos 10

2013 Formula Drift Round 6 at Texas Motor Speedway Qualifying [RESULTS]

In the 1st Formula Drift event at Texas Motor Speedway Vaughn Gittin Jr takes home the top qualifying spot. The rest of the qualifying results and Top 32 match ups are below.

1. V. Gittin
2. F. Aasbo
3. C. Forsberg
4. F. Wang
5. O. Bakchis
6. D. Yoshihara
7. M. Essa
8. P. Mordaunt
9. C. Denofa
10. T. Yoshioka
11. M. Powers
12. K. Gushi
13. M. Field
14. J. Pawlak
15. M. Baribeau
16. T. Aono
17. C. Grunewald
18. M. Ovcharik
19. P. Goodin
20. W. Parsons
21. D. George
22. D. Saito
23. R. Primozich
24. R. Kado
25. D. Kearney
26. J. Maeng
27. K. Moen
28. R. Nishida
29. T. Angelo
30. J. Lowe
31. C. Jeaneret
32. G. Stone

 

Top 32 Match Battles

V. Gittin vs G. Stone
T. Aono vs C. Grunewald
P. Mordaunt vs D. Kearney
C. Denofa vs R. Kado
F. Wang vs T. Angelo
M. Field vs W. Parsons
O. Bakchis vs R. Nishida
K. Gushi vs D. George
F. Aasbo vs C. Jeaneret
M. Baribeau vs M. Ovcharik
M. Essa vs J. Maeng
T. Yoshioka vs R. Promozich
C. Forsberg vs J. Lowe
J. Paklak vs P. Goodin
D. Yoshihara vs K. Moen
M. Powers vs D. Saito

2013 Formula Drift Round 5 Evergreen Speedway – Practice/Qualifying [GALLERY]






Formula Drift witnessed a great practice/qualifying session at Evergreen Speedway with tons of big name drivers missing the first qualifying group and being forced back to the second qualifying session. Dennis Mertzanis did his best career qualifying position and local Chris Jeanneret drove his way into the Top 32 with a new motor program. Enjoy all the coverage from our northwest photographer Nelson Arya.

Check out the Gallery: http://www.wreckedmagazine.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=353

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