Most of the buzz we hear surrounding Formula Drift and professional drifting in general is about power, and how much more of it drift cars nowadays have compared to tug boats, or the Space Shuttle. But what we have neglected to discuss is how steering angle has evolved in drifting over the years.
While drifting in general is a relatively new motorsport, in the past few years the engineering and crazy machines that teams are building these days have evolved in leaps and bounds – some say for the worse. At Round 4 of the Formula Drift Pro Championship at Wall Speedway in New Jersey, I chatted with a few drivers, as well as Stephan Papadakis, on the subject of steering angle, then paired the comments with some of my favorite photos from the event and my archives.
Fredric Aasbø: “Steering angle in drifting – that’s the number one thing that tipped the scale for me to risk everything to compete in Formula Drift in the first place. Because when I started drifting in Europe back in 2006, I thought to myself, the number one thing you need in drifting is steering angle.”
Round 4 of the 2015 Formula Drift Championship, appropriately dubbed “The Gauntlet”, rolled into Wall Stadium Speedway located in Wall Township, New Jersey on June 26-27, marking the halfway point of the season. With unpredictable weather in the forecast and wet conditions promised sometime in the weekend, the chase for the championship would certainly see some mixing up at Wall.
Wall Stadium Speedway; a high-banked, short oval tucked in the quiet Wall Township in New Jersey. Most of it’s time is spent as a track for weekly racing on the big oval for Late Models, Hobby Stocks, and many other staples in the grassroots American paved oval racing that many small towns have.
Thursday night July 9, Irwindale’s own Formula DRIFT open practice sessions will resume on the course that the entire civilized world now knows as the legendary “House of Drift” … aka: Irwindale Speedway right at the top of the 605 freeway.
2015’s action-packed Thursday night under-the-lights practices will be held monthly with events now set for:
Each of the Thursday night sessions will start with a (public invited) technical inspection for the competition vehicles at 4PM and drift practice will run flat out from 5 to 8PM. The fan gates open at 4PM and there’s plenty of close-free parking.
Open to the public (fans can watch from the stands and visit the pits as well) admission is only $10 per person. These will be nights when fans can see some of the best of the best getting tuned-up for the 2015 season as well as catching the acts of some of new, upcoming Drift talent as they test their driving skills and machines against the established pros.
Anyone can run their properly-equipped* car for $75 and they can register right at the track on Thursday night.
After qualifying in a close second spot behind Ken Gushi at New Jersey’s Wall Speedway yesterday, Speedhunters driver Fredric Aasbø battled through the ranks and the rain today to take his second top podium spot for the 2015 Formula Drift season.
The win came after an epic battle on the bank with Dean Kearney at the round dubbed ‘The Gauntlet’. And we suspect Kearney, who hails from Ireland, was at a distinct advantage in the wet conditions thanks to his home country’s lovely climate. The Irishman started his climb to the final behind the wheel of his Oracle Lighting Dodge Viper by beating Vaughn Gittin Jr. in the Air Force Top 32 – and things only got better from there. But in the end, Kearney couldn’t quite match the precise, consistent Aasbø and his Rockstar Energy Drink/Hankook Tires Scion tC in the GoPro Final Battle.
The struggle for third and fourth positions was fought out between Japan’s Masashi Yokoi in his D-Max Nissan Silvia S15…
And Ryan Tuerck in his Retaks Scion FR-S, seen here battling Scandinavia’s Kenny Moen. Tuerck would take the win for third after some tense moments.
Aasbø’s win at the same place he took his very first Formula Drift round victory last year, and another solid performance from Tuerck has really tightened up the 2015 FD Pro Championship. In fact, right now just 8 points separate the top three drivers! Ryan Tuerck leads on 275.00, closely followed by Odi Bakchis in second with 274.00, and Fredric Aasbø sits in third on 268.00. The pressure will definitely be on for this trio at the fifth round ‘Throwdown’ at Evergreen Speedway in Seattle, Washington, next month.
We’ll be back soon for a closer look at how the New Jersey event played out, so keep an eye on Speedhunters.com for the full story in the coming days. In the meantime you can check out all the battles from ‘The Gauntlet’ via Formula Drift’s On Demand video service.