After this posting it looks like we got some tips and confirmation that Michael Essa will be running a BMW Z4, that he can hopefully make as good looking as this AC Schnitzer one above, for his 2011 Formula Drift car. We already hinted that it has a wheel base spec within one inch of a S13 Nissan 240sx and that should make it a much more qualified drifting machine compared to his 335i. The loud and obnoxious V10 M5 engine will sadly be replaced with a more sensible E46 M3 3.2L Inline 6 engine. He is going to have a hard time making it sound as amazing as that M5 engine but we do wish him the best of luck trying and hope he can make it happen.
One thing that seemed clear all season around the paddock is that Michael Essa had some issues with the BMW 335i in the grip/traction department that never could seem to be sorted out. Well after some buzz about this BMW being retired we got confirmation that a new chassis is in the works for 2011. I have a great feeling he won’t be building a 335 again but here are some things two different people have tipped me off on.
1- His new chassis will still be BMW
2- He will still be running under BMW power (presumably that expensive M5 motor he already owns)
I talked with our resident BMW owner Ricky and some other drifting experts we can only come up with two conclusive BMW chassis to use. One would be the 1 series (my pick) along with a few other experts in the field while a few people even tossed in the BMW Z4 hat into the arena. The BMW Z4 has an almost identical wheelbase to the S13 (one inch off) we found while the 1-series chassis is very similar to the 3 series being only separated by 3 inches. What would you like to see come from Michael Essa for next year?
Gardella Racing reported on Facebook they were taking one of the Pontiac Solstice out to Monticello Motor Club for what we assumed was some testing. Everyone at our office got abuzz wondering if it was being tested as a replacement for New Jersey’s Wall Speedway. After doing some homework and speaking to some people we were told that Monticello Motor Club couldn’t accommodate 10,000+ fans at an event so this should eliminate them from Formula Drift ready. However we heard that it does have some interest on a Pro Am level so it should be an interesting track to see drifting on that isn’t being done by supercars.
Tanner Foust is going to a four cylinder engine for 2011 leaving his NASCAR V8 engine long behind in the past. If your looking for a preview on how the new Scion tC will look for Tanner Foust next year should look no further than the Scion Tuner Challenge Car built by John Pangilinan. The car features a one of a kind Seibon Carbon widebody kit that we are told will now be built and put on Tanner Foust’s Scion tC. So a Seibon Carbon widebody tC is on it’s way for next season.
Drifting.com “reports” that Ross Petty is getting a V8 engine for the 2011 season. The whole post on that forum consists of seven words and no source or way they came about any information. Anyway, Ross Petty moving to a V8 engine seems quite shocking to me since Garage Boso is such a well respected and known tuning shop for motors like the SR20 but it also tells me that Ross Petty is coming out to Formula Drift next year to compete seriously. If we need one thing it’s more serious competitors at the top tier level to fight for a championship in 2011 so I am glad to see Ross stepping it up with the S15.
In case you saw some photos of Patrick Mordaunt’s Nissan 350z this weekend you should of noticed that it has some Falken Tire stickers on it and running Falken Tires in the Axis Wheels Booth. However, Patrick confirmed with me that this sponsorship and tires were just for the 2010 SEMA show. Several people tipped us throughout the week that Patrick Mordaunt is working to sign a deal currently with Nexen Tires for the new season. This is the only other SEMA relevant buzz about sponsor swaps this year. We will see if anything help starts to get talked about on the last day of the show as things wind down.
The Hankook press conference is kicking off in about 30 minutes and we can now tell you about the top team driver moving over to Hankook Tires with Rhys Millen and Ken Gushi. The driver is Chris Forsberg who will be ending a multi year partnership with Maxxis Tires and moving to Hankook Tires in 2011 for Formula Drift. From what we do know this completes the current SEMA announcements for Hankook Tire and drifting at the SEMA show.
A rumor that has been floating around the 2010 SEMA show is that Ken Gushi will also be on Hankook Tires for the new season. They have a press conference tomorrow that will confirm this from what I understand but it looks like Gushi and the RSR/Scion Racing program are ready to hop on board to grow Hankook’s presence in the series. We have also heard the rumor that a top five team will be joining Hankook Tire for 2011 Formula Drift and we will have details up on the website as soon as we know them.
I have heard some buzz recently that Rhys Millen was going to Hankook Tires and a PR from Weber Shandwick pretty much confirms that Rhys Millen will be moving to Hankook Tire in 2011. He is listed under “celebrity appearances” for the 2010 SEMA show with Hankook Tire and they list him running the Hankook Ventus R-s3 tire in Formula Drift 2011. They will be formally making a statement during this week at some point surely but this looks like how Rhys Millen will be looking in 2011 (with my great photoshop above). This is a great acquisition for Team Hankook and a major loss for Toyo Tires who’s imprint in the sport is fading fast. We have a feeling more announcements and teams will be signed on/announced to Hankook Tire by the end of the week. We will of course keep you posted here all week.
It looks like Jeff Jones will be taking the place of Brian Wilkerson this weekend in the BMI Racing/Snap-on Mazda Rx-8. This weekend is the final round of XDC in Phoenix, Arizona. It is interesting to see this partnership come together since Jeff Jones already drives a Mazda in Formula Drift. Is it possible this will be a new pairing for Formula Drift 2011?
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