Otto Graven

Chris Mills Formula Drift Bound with 350z in 2014 [INTERVIEW]


Chris Mills started drifting not long after he received his driver’s license. Last year, he not only celebrated his 21st birthday but also earned his Formula Drift (FD) Pro License. Mills competed in the Golden Gate Drift Pro-Am series and finished as the series champion last year in the 2013 season. Mills is now set to drive FD this year in Otto Graven’s old 350z.

Read on to find out Mills’ unique additions to his new drift build and what he’s doing to prepare for the upcoming season of FD.

Q: What did you drive during your Pro-Am season?
A: My Pro-Am car was a very basic set up. I had cut knuckles and extended arms done by me. With a ls1 motor with ls6 cam and a 50 shot of nitrous to give me 400 hp. With stock rear end welded and that’s about it a very basic set up.

Q: You were the overall champ for Golden Gate Drift, how does it feel?
A: It feels amazing its a great feeling [e]specially [be]cause I came out to golden gate drift thinking I was not a top driver out [there] but as the day went on I got in my groove and was able to take home first place.

Q: What was your recipe for success during the 2013 season?
A: I think what helped a lot during my 2013 season was just making sure it was all about having fun.


Q: What are your plans for next year? Will you be running FD or Pro2?
A: Next year’s plan is to finish my 350z and run full season of fd.

Q: So you’re running pro, not pro2? Can I get your thoughts on pro2? Why not run that instead?
A: I have been preparing myself to go run with the big boys and I honestly think pro 2 would be a waste of my time since I’m not a big budget team it would not be in my best [interest] to spend close to the same amount of money to just run pro 2 when all I have been working for is pro1 and being able to throw down good tandem runs with the top dogs.

Q: So you’re willing to risk your license? How confident are you that you will earn enough points to prevent yourself from being relegated back to pro-am?
A: I’m very confident I will make more than enough points to keep my license.


Q: Tell us about your new build. You bought Otto Graven’s old car right? What changes can we expect to see on this car within the next year?
A: The 350z I bought is Otto Gravens old car and it is the perfect fd starter kit as you could say. The car came with a set up suspension package with full spares. So with this being an old fd car it doesn’t need much to get me to long beach. The things we are deciding to change out are the right hand drive set up. I will be converting to left hand drive. And then the body kit will not be so wide lol. And last but not least we will be installing a ls3 drift cave style to a 4 speed dog box to a speedway quick change rear end. We will be running an identical motor set up as matt field. A ls3 built with a vortec supercharger and nitrous with a tex t101a dog box to a speedway quick change rear end. And the wide body kit is gone lol


Q: Do you have any advice to aspiring professional drifters out there?
A: I guess I would have to say is make sure you’re having fun. [Be]cause if you’re drifting and not having fun you’re doing something wrong lol.

Q: Describe yourself in 3 words.
A: pretty lucky guy lol


Q: If you could change one thing about your driving technique/style, what would it be?
A: I would like to work more on my aggressive transitions this year.

Q: What do you do when you’re not drifting?
A: I am either at work til 5 then at the drift cave til bed time lol

Q: Who is your favorite pro drifter? Why?
A: It would have to be the man that trained me Matt Field. As a privateer team he is a badass. And is an insane driver.

(Photo Contribution: AFL Photography by Aaron Lundgren and Carbon Studios by Edward Khoma)

Mills’ Sponsors Include: Drift Cave, Radium, Chase Bays, 408 Graphics, DNR Performance, Grip Royal, and Daft Innovations

Otto Graven’s Ultimate 86 Gets Small Update

Otto Graven’s Utlimate 86 is still over at World Racing getting prepped for the (what we imagine) 2014 Formula Drift season at this point. The build looks like it is coming along quite well with a large Garrett Turbo and an even larger widebody kit. Follow the link to the DTA Posse blog for even more updates.

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Is Speed a Big Qualifying Factor in Formula Drift?

One question about Formula Drift  I have been asking myself in 2013 is how much is speed a factor in qualifying results in Formula Drift? We have the unique element in drifting of staging 500hp cars versus 1,400hp cars on the same stage set to compete. In just about every other motorsport these two cars competing would basically be impossible or a waste of time yet Formula Drift can make it work.

Here are the Top 35 speed scores with a correlation of how they ended up qualifying for the Wall weekend. I realize this is an odd track of sorts but the scoring sure doesn’t seem to line up with qualifying points. Speed is of course a factor in the overall scoring system Formula Drift uses but I was very curious to know if the faster cars got some play or favoritism just by looking fast. It sure didn’t end up looking that way. In case you lack familiarity with how the qualifying system works here is something taken directly from Formula Drift:

A. Qualifying Scoring

In qualifying, each judge will be assigned to a criterion: Line, Angle, or Style. Line is worth 25 points. Angle is worth 25 points. Style is worth 40 points, of which the Line and Angle judges can contribute 0 through 5 points each to the 40 point total. The Speed category is worth either 0 through 10 points and is measured at a specific point on the course for each event. The judges will determine the median speed for qualifying. Driver will receive 5 points for achieving the median speed set by the judges. For every 1/10th of a mile per hour achieved by the driver above the minimum speed set by the judges, the driver will receive 1/10th of a point up to a maximum of 10 total points. No points above a total of 10 will given for speeds exceeding the speed scoring range. For every 1/10th of a mile the driver misses the median speed by, 1/10th of a point will be deducted from the possible 5 point median score, down to a minimum score of 0 points. Negative scores will not be given. The Line, Angle and the Style judges may award points in one (1) point increments or whole numbers for their specific criterion.

As we logged all the data it was interesting to see only about a 7mph gap in the cars from first to last place.   While speed is a big topic among drivers and the sporting regulations include things such as a “pace cone” it seems the variance issues in qualifying are not that high. One thought I have is with the new knockout style qualifying format which was announced in February and rolled out here at Long Beach is forcing some of the top drivers to leave quite a bit on the table and put down conservative qualifying runs to place in the event on the first round instead of going all out for glory in previous seasons. That is strategy and racing though. If we get some interest in this post I will log and do this speed analysis again at Evergreen Speedway.

Qualifying List in Order by Speed
1. Chelsea DeNofa – 54.2 MPH (Qualified 9th)
2. Matt Field – 54.1 MPH (Qualified 19th)
3. Fredric Aasbo – 53.4 MPH (Qualified 3rd)
4. Daigo Saito – 52.5 MPH (Qualified 6th)
5. Ryan Kado – 50.2 MPH (Qualified 17th)
6. Justin Pawlak – 49 MPH (Qualified 1st)
7. Michael Essa – 49 MPH (Qualified 13th)
8. Miro Ovcharik – 48.6 MPH (Qualified 25th)
9. Matt Powers – 48.6 MPH (Qualified 24th)
10. Nate Hamilton – 48.2 MPH (Qualified 32nd)
11. Robbie Nishida – 48.2 MPH (Qualified 7th)
12. Brandon Wicknick – 48.1 MPH
13. Jhonnattan Castro – 48.1 MPH (Qualified 14th)
14. Chris Ward – 48.1 MPH (Qualified 20th)
15. Dai Yoshihara – 47.9 MPH (Qualified 30th)
16. Taka Aono – 47.8 MPH (Qualified 27th)
17. Marc Landerville – 47.3 MPH (Qualified 21st)
18. Ryan Tuerck – 47.1 MPH (Qualified 18th)
19. Pat Goodin – 47 MPH (Qualified 31st)
20. Kenneth Moen – 47 MPH (Qualified 10th)
21. Danny George – 46.9 MPH (Qualified 16th)
22. Joshua Steele – 46.8 MPH
23. Ken Gushi – 46.8 MPH (Qualified 22nd)
24. Ryan Kado – 46.5 MPH (Qualified 17th)
25. Corey Hosford – 46.4 MPH (Qualified 26th)
26. Chris Forsberg – 46.3 MPH (Qualified 4th)
27. Carl Rydquist – 46.2 MPH (Qualified 29th)
28. Kyle Mohan – 46.2 MPH (Qualified 12th)
29. Jeff Jones – 46.1 MPH (Qualified 28th)
30. Dean Kearney – 46.1 MPH (Qualified 15th)
31. Forrest Wang – 46.1 MPH
32. Vaughn Gittin Jr. – 46.1 MPH (Qualified 11th)
33. Tyler McQuarrie – 45.9 MPH (Qualified 5th)
34. Odi Bakchis – 45.8 MPH (Qualified 23rd)
35. Darren McNamara – 45.4 MPH (Qualified 2nd)



Otto Graven, Alex Lee, Andy Hateley, and others will miss Road Atlanta

We have received word that for the second event in the row, Otto Graven’s crazy ‘Ultimate 86’ Scion FR-S will not be in attendance. There was talk that Otto may make an appearance in his old 350z, but it looks like he will be attending an event in South Africa instead.  Alex Lee has also mentioned that he will not be attending Atlanta in his Lexus GS300 that he debuted in Long Beach. We have also learned that Chris Jeanneret and Kory Keezer, both rookies from the Evergreen Drift series, as well as Andy Hateley will not be attending. On the other hand, drivers like Walker Wilkerson, Jeremy Lowe, and Mike Pollard will be making their 2013 FD season debuts at Road Atlanta, all will be looking to make up for missing the Long Beach round.

Otto Graven lands Hasbro Transformers as a co-title sponsor with Rogue Status [BREAKING NEWS]



In a huge deal, Otto Graven has announced a co-title sponsorship of his “Ultimate 86” as being split between longtime Scion partner Rogue Status and Hasbro’s “Transformers” brand. This is a great new brand coming to Formula D, one that I’m sure many fans have grown up admiring. Rogue Status is upping their sponsorship from a partner level to a co-title sponsorship as well. For a driver who wasn’t in the series last season, this is a HUGE announcement coming through in a season where many drivers are struggling to find sponsorship dollars. Will this help Otto earn his first FD Podium in 2013?

The 1,000hp Scion FRS driven by Otto Graven – 2013 Formula Drift [BUILD THREAD]

The Otto Graven build thread has come to life over at tracking his wild 1,000hp build as received some updates. They even have a sneak preview of the insane widebody going on this car. They have some products being sourced for the build listed at the top of the thread and a look at some of the crazy stuff on the car such as the dry sump system.


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2013 Formula Drift with Otto Graven Update- Scion FRS and 1000hp+

Just before Irwindale we made a 2013 Otto Graven returning post and quickly since then details about his program and links to his new team Facebook page have been sent to us through our contact form. The program from Otto Graven involves a Scion FRS and a partnership at some level with World Racing (Chris Rado) for 2013. The World Racing team is taking the knowledge they have of making big power with Toyota engines and plugging that into a Tundra 6.2L that has been rumored to be running wel over 1,000hp. The horsepower wars seem to be officially here thanks to our weight/tire rulebook in place. What does everyone think of this upcoming build?


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Otto Graven Set for 2013 Formula Drift Return [RUMORMILL]

The South African Otto Graven is rumored to be planning a huge comeback to Formula Drift in 2013. Otto missed the complete 2012 season after his debut season in 2011 with this ALMS engine equipped Nissan 350z. The last we really talked about him was in December 2011 when we caught wind of his court case in South Africa about abandonment and some unpaid contracts here in the United States. Now the rumor is Formula Drift is heading to South Africa for an international demo in early 2013. We should have more news on Otto Graven as Long Beach gets closer but it sounds like he will have a whole new build for 2013 that isn’t a Nissan.

Otto Graven Sets His Own Record of Matters at Hand

Otto Graven hammered out his own version of this story in huge detail breaking down each person in this long story. Your probably going to be lost since Otto Graven goes into way more detail than our blog post so you will want to read up on the Court PDF linked here first before digging into his replies. Here is Otto Graven’s official reply he gave me on how things went down:

Now onto the business at hand.
The workers
Wayne Webb (Speedy)
Wayne is known to everyone as Speedy, he had been with me for almost two years, he was the racing teams chief crew mechanic for that duration and had certain responsibilities and towards the end of our relationship things started getting progressively worse.  It was no secret that Speedy had started to get homesick which effected his moods and work performance, aggravated by his medical diagnoses that required him to drink calming tablets daily to keep it under control.  Alcohol consumption is bound to throw a spanner in the works too!  He had threatened to resign from my employ even before we left for the States to attend the Palm Beach event, and when I questioned these threats he claimed that all my other employees were lying, he had never threatened to resign.
The man clearly wasn’t coping with his wife living in Cape Town and not being in South Africa to support his 17 year old son that was drifting for my local team at the time, must have got a bit to much for him and he made the decision to abandon me and his crew member 2 days before a race with not so much as an apology or explanation.  The man left, I never fired him!  He arrived back at my Raceway in South Africa and wanted to continue working their on his sons drift car, to which I then instructed my HR Department to handle the matter and had my Raceway security instructed to remove him from my premises.  The next time I saw Speedy was at this MSA enquiry where he claims I fired him.  Might be worth mentioning that his son, who I trained for the past year and spent a ridiculous amount of money on, was right under me on the local drift series driver standings.
Round 3 of the local SUPA Drift series before I went back to the states:
then after the next local event, Jason overtook me on the standings:
John Coetzee (Afroslide) or Dori4life
Where do we start, John got hold of us while he was still in the States and involved there with the drifting, Boso and Ross Petty guys… He said that his American Visa was expiring and he had to return to his hometown in South Africa, so he was looking to find employment with in a local drift team.  He sent us an impressive C.V and claimed that he had tons of experience and would be able to help us make the transition into Formula Drift in 2011.  Sadly, the man had to be supervised by Speedy non stop, he can’t do anything he claimed and is mechanically challenged.  Heck him and Speedy hated each other from day one, and I know how hard it was for them now having to travel together across the State.  Either way, I had heard several rumors that John was only looking for a ticket back to America, I dismissed this as random waste of my time – as i do with most things in nature.
 My sports manager had no luck securing him an american visa and understand that there is some kind of red flag against his name, he did assure us that he would be able to get a canadian visa, which was surprisingly already approved and all of a sudden him and his wife were canadian citizens, seems a bit quick, don’t u think?  Then in the States I had several teams tell me that John was already job hunting in Canada, felt a bit awkward as he still worked for me?  So two days before the Monroe event, Speedy had vanished and left me and John to deal with the upcoming event by ourselves.  Everything was fine, John was enthusiastic and cheery… after that event he said he had to go into Canada and get his all his citizenship stuff sorted and would be gone for a bout a week.  Later I found some house hunting photo’s that were taken…
He met up with me in Monroe after a bout a week and we spent an additional two weeks there prior to the Las Vegas event where everything suddenly seemed to change.  His attitude was awful, he was not lifting a finger to help me and I was forced to find a local company to assist me with the upcoming race.  The guys at Insanespeed stepped in to help, during pre qualifying practice the car caught fire and John was MIA, after he had finished socializing and bad mouthing me and Insanespeed guys to anyone willing to listen, he came back to our pit.  I asked him to jack up the car for me to which he refused, when i started to go toward the car to do it myself he was physically blocking my way and trying to antagonizing me…
The water cooling pump belt had come off during the first qualifying run, so I couldn’t understand why he was trying to provoke me when I had ten minutes to fix this problem before my second run..?  Needless to say, I had just found out that morning from my sports manager that a large sum of money had been transferred to Johns personal credit card and was meant to pay local panel beating and spray paint centre in Long Beach, which hadn’t been paid!  After I got back from my 2nd run, I asked him to hand over his FD card which listed him as my crew and said to him we would have a hearing that Monday morning.
Local photographer Chris Harrington reported to us that John had removed all his personal belongings during the night out of our rig and that is the last I saw of him, so no he was not fired or stranded.  Of course now I can understand, nothing would have made his transition into the States/Canada easier than his Boss knocking his lights out in front of the entire paddock.  Doesn’t mean that one day that can’t still happen! LOL  Yes and the next I hear, his wife sent a letter to MSA along with Speedy and claimed he was stranded and I physically assaulted him.  Looked like he had a blast in china shortly thereafter.
2. Liqui Moly
Monstermob acquired the dealership contract for the Northern Cape, but after various incidents and inquires into the product and it’s performance were questioned, we made a business decision to freeze all orders until further notice.  Liqui Moly was never a sponsor for me or my team.  Monstermob Car Specialist was a distributer of the product and like any sound business we used our vehicles to market the brand, until the relationship dissolved that is.  To date we have yet to receive official supporting documentation that Liqui Moly was/ is a sponsor for the Monstermob Drift Team (Or any other team, for that matter).  The outstanding money owing to Liqui Moly is standing in our warehouse, where we have asked that she have the stock collected repeatedly.  As for the relationship, yes the public is fully aware of the relationship, I believe the wording has been taken out of context, the existing relationship is of a business nature, not of a sponsorship nature.
3.  John Shin – City Tire
Before the season begun, we had decided on Hankook tyres, and my agent set about securing a deal with City Tire and John Shin.  During this time, we were also talking to Gary Gardella as well and it then became evident that John Shin wasn’t a viable long term option as his quote was considerably higher, three times as much as that of Gardella Racing with only half the benefits.  We purchased our tyres for Long Beach and we paid cash for those and never got invoices back for them.  John stated that we had to pay cash the whole time for the tyres, with no invoicing which makes someone uneasy as why wouldn’t you give someone an invoice?
 The cherry on this one is that if we agreed to do business in this manner we would get a discounted rate on our tyres.  A few months later, and the night before the Palm Beach race, he presented me with a contract that I had little choice but to sign otherwise he said he wouldn’t be supplying me with tyres for the next days race.   I already paid for those tyres when John pronounced that if I didn’t sign, I wouldn’t get my tyres, and naturally I cannot prove these transactions as I have to date never received supporting paperwork or cash receipts for the purchase of all the tyres I had used.
As for the contract, it wasn’t even addressed to the correct company, it simply states Monstermob which is not the full trading name of any of our registered trading Companies, I have no company called Monstermob, or any company where I am the sole member… So essentially this contract is not binding.  He was aware of this, but stated that it was some form of security for him.  This is the explanation for the US$400 000 we apparently owe them, we have NEVER used anything else other than a hectic 30 Hancook’s which was paid in cash in Long Beach and Palm Beach respectively.
The US$37 937.55 invoice he made, listed a two way radio where he gave me a new set of two way radios at Palm Beach which he said cost US$1000… I used them, and the next day he came to my hotel room and after we concluded the discussion over the non-binding contract I took him to an ATM and gave him his US$1000 in his hands.  The radios were never seen again.  The only money I still owe John is for the golf cart which he quoted at US$450, but I have not bothered as I don’t have my US$1000 radio”s?  His Invoice went on to list mechanics – Kenny Chieu, Driver – Kenny Chieu, accomodation for Kenny Chieu, Kenny was supposed to be my spotter, and kenny’s airfare etc, with radio’s and golf kart amounted to US$37 937.55 I HAVE TO THIS DAY NEVER SEEN KENNY CHIEU?  If any Formula Drivers see Kenny please tell him I am looking for him.
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Otto Graven Is In Trouble with South Africa – Abandonment, Courts, and Hunderds of Thousands in Unpaid Contracts

Otto Graven had a great debut season and even graced the front cover of our last issue in Wrecked Magazine. The Motorsport South Africa NPC has held a court of inquiry due to actions that took place during the 2011 season.

Otto Graven is being accused of abandonment of his crew in the United States but offered Virgin flights to show they had the ability to make it home. That wasn’t even the icing on the cake of the things brought up in this courtroom. Apparently Monster Mob and City Tire Online have a contract signed for the amount of $415,000 but nothing is in explanation  of what this contract was for.

Next on the agenda was an invoice for unpaid tires that has stacked up to the amount of $37,937.35 and continues to be unpaid by Otto Graven. According to Otto however he is in litigation on this issue because he was coerced into signing a contract in order to get tires for a race. The drama continues while referring to him as South African champion  (which is used on the Formula D website) as a “journalistic poetic license,” which would imply to us that he isn’t the champion of South Africa?

Who even knows at this point!? The long story short here is Otto Graven has had his competition license in South Africa revoked for 12 months (no word on if this will effect his Formula D license or status with them). This story sounds like it is straight out of Wired Magazine instead of a drifting venture but we are interested to see what parties will come forward and tell us about what really went down!