Feature on Michael Essa

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Sliding Sideways Through The Desert: A day spent drifting with Michael Essa [w/video]

Drifting isn’t a real sport.

So sayeth the peanut gallery that thinks drifting is just a bunch of wheel-spinning youngsters who’ve watched way too many selections from the Fast and Furious library. I’m here to tell you that it’s very much a sport, and the men and women behind the wheels of their sideways machines dance the thin line between aggressive fury and smoke-filled poetry.

I’m sweating my ass off in the middle of the Mojave Desert for my first lesson on drifting, and my teacher for the day is none other than Mr. Michael Essa. He’s late, it’s hot and I’m surrounded by a pit road filled with random examples of rear-wheel-drive Japanese machinery in all the colors of the rainbow. Plus three more hues that I’ve never seen before.

Who exactly is this guy I’m waiting for? If you’re already a fan of drifting, than you know that Professor Essa is the bespectacled pilot of the GSR Autosport BMW Z4. Essa is a professional drifter who competes in the Formula Drift series alongside the likes of Vaughn Gittin Jr., Rhys Millen and Samuel Hubinette, amongst others. Mike is passionate about his sport, skilled behind the wheel and also capable of ducking under the hood and turning some wrenches. At the moment, however, I don’t know any of this… because I’m melting into the asphalt of the Streets of Willow, and Essa is still late.


Micheal Essa to drive BMW 335i in 2010

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GSR Autosport and Michael Essa to Campaign a BMW 335i in the

2010 Formula Drift Championship Series

LOS ANGELES, Calif., October 30, 2009 – GSR Autosport and Michael Essa have partnered to campaign a 2008 BMW 335i sport coupe in the upcoming 2010 Formula Drift Championship Series. It will be the first BMW 3 Series, powered by a turbocharged BMW M3 engine, to campaign in a national drifting series.

“The BMW 335i is a powerful rear-engine sports coupe with a rock-solid chassis leaving us plenty of room for aftermarket development—the platform will easily handle the 550-hp turbocharged 3.2-liter M3 powerplant which we are finishing development on. Michael Essa was the natural choice to drive this innovative new drift car. Not only does he have a strong motorsport racing background, but he possesses the demanding drifting creativity and competitiveness necessary to win,” says Nick Richards, President of GSR Autosport.

Entering its sixth season, Formula DRIFT is recognized as the North American professional drifting championship series. As the first official series in North America, Formula DRIFT has taken competitive motorsports to the extreme, attracting fans and car enthusiasts from all walks of life. This high-skilled, high-powered motor sport where drivers intentionally maneuver their cars into well executed, controlled sideways slides at high speeds through a marked course, has more than 60 professional drivers competing in all seven competitions this year. Judged on execution and style, rather than who finishes the course in the fastest time, drifting is a guaranteed crowd pleaser, and is often compared to the freestyle nature of skateboarding and motocross. Formula DRIFT and the drivers serve as ambassadors for the sport of drifting bringing exhibitions to traditional/mainstream motor sports events across the country which have included: multiple Champ Car World Series races, American Le Mans, USAC, NASCAR Busch North & Featherlite Southwest and the SPEED World Challenge, among others.

Residing in Los Angeles, Michael Essa has been racing cars since he was seventeen. He has always focused on the machine and the track, building a solid foundation to create a legacy in global motorsports. He has held positions as Crew Chief and Lead Tech Inspector building and developing his talent from the ground up. Essa not only worships racing but supports the community by offering driving instruction for both Porsche racers and drift drivers. Essa opened Tech Trix Motorsports in Anaheim, California, in the Spring of 2001. The company supplies custom fabrication, specialized maintenance, optimization and management of privately owned Porsche racecars. He and his expert team maintain an average of 20 cars annually and are significant players on the P.O.C. and P.C.A. circuits. Essa campaigned a Mazda in the 2009 Formula Drift Championship Series where he was runner-up for the 2009 Rookie of the Year.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, GSR Autosport is a multi-facetted professional automotive racing business. Founded and operated by genuine racing enthusiasts, GSR Autosport is a race car manufacturer that designs, develops, and builds turn-key vehicles, competitive automotive components, and race safety equipment in various facilities around the country. GSR Autosport is also the parent company to, a retail race parts supplier, and, a club-level record-holding Porsche Boxster racing team.