Mad Mike returns to Formula Drift USA

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Red Bull pro drifter Mad Mike Whiddett is making a return to the prestigious Formula DRIFT Professional Drifting Championship Series, with a commitment to multiple events of the seven-round US-based 2015 season and the newly formed FD World Championship.

Whiddett had his first taste of Formula DRIFT USA back in 2010 when he drove in select rounds of that year’s championship. In the time since, the New Zealander has enjoyed plenty of success with multiple event wins and podiums in Formula DRIFT Asia and local competitions – but the focus has always been on getting back up to the USA and taking on the world’s best drivers in their own backyard.

When we competed in 2010 we were essentially using a modified street car built with mostly off-the-shelf parts, and it was tough going against all the big-budget US teams, many of which had manufacturer backing,” says Whiddett. “After that we knew there was no point in returning until we could do it properly, and all the foundations were in place – the driver, the team, and the car. With Red Bull, Mazda, Mobil 1 and Nitto Tire really getting in behind my Formula DRIFT campaign, it feels like the right time.

Integral to the campaign is Whiddett’s new pro-spec machine – a 2015 Mazda MX-5 better known as RADBUL. Over the past few months the convertible sports car has been the subject of a Red Bull video series titled The Making of RADBUL. The final episode showcasing the car during its first on track shakedown will be released at the end of April.

Despite being an unconventional base in the world of professional drifting, the NC-chassis MX-5 has been highly modified for the cause with factory support from the Japanese automaker. At its heart is a bespoke four-rotor, twin turbocharged Mazda rotary engine that develops in excess of 1,000 horsepower on its most conservative power setting.

While four-figure power output could almost be considered a requisite at the pinnacle of this motorsport, it’s only one piece in a much larger puzzle. “It’s going to be a huge learning curve for the whole team, but that’s what this year is all about,” says Whiddett.

The biggest disadvantage we have is a lack of data. There’s only limited testing before each round, so having a good setup for each circuit is really important when you’re chasing championship points.

The critical data will come with seat time, but to ensure that the team is on the right track from the get-go, Scott Dodgion, one of Formula DRIFT’s most experienced crew chiefs, has come on board for the 2015 campaign. “To have someone like Scott on the team will be really invaluable,” says Whiddett. “On top of being a world-class race car engineer, he has so much knowledge when it comes to setups and knows exactly what it takes to run a championship-winning Formula DRIFT team, because he’s been there before.”

Joining Dodgion on the team is New Zealander Warren Overton, whose Wanganui-based company, Pulse Performance Race Engineering, built Whiddett’s MX-5 from scratch, and car builder/driver ‘Rad’ Dan Burkett from RAD Industries in Orange County, California. Burkett’s workshop premises will serve as the team’s HQ between rounds.

In just two weeks time on April 10-11, the Long Beach GP Street Course will play host to the 2015 Formula DRIFT season opener. The all-star driver line-up is as strong as it’s ever been and Whiddett is under no illusion how tough the competition will be right throughout the Pro Championship ranks. Defending champion Chris Forsberg (USA, Nissan 370Z), 2014 season runner-up Fredric Aasbø (Norway, Scion tC) and third place getter Vaughn Gittin Jr. (USA, Ford Mustang RTR) are all confirmed starters.

Unfortunately for Whiddett, making the first round is unachievable. “We were really hoping we’d be able to kick off our season in Long Beach, but with strikes still happening at the Port of Los Angeles there’s just not enough lead time to get RADBUL up there and properly test it before that event,” he laments. The car is all ready to go, so we’re aiming to debut it at the second round in Georgia [Road Atlanta – May 8-9], where I’m familiar with the track and its high-speed entry. It’s going to be a good place to get into it, and I can’t wait.”

The challenge is a large and there’s a lot of learning to be done, but according to Mad Mike Whiddett that doesn’t mean he’ll be driving at anything less than maximum attack.

It’s been the dream for a long time to get back to Formula DRIFT, and I’m going to be charging as hard as I can all season to get a round win.

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Formula DRIFT Announces Formula DRIFT Global Challenge on March 18 in Qatar

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Long Beach, Calif. – March 8, 2011 – Formula DRIFT announces the Formula DRIFT Global Challenge on March 18, 2011. The inaugural event will be held at the Qatar Racing Club in Doha, Qatar.

Following the successful Formula DRIFT UAE Invitational event at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, Formula DRIFT will be holding the first Formula DRIFT Global Challenge in Qatar. The Qatar Racing Club in Doha, Qatar will host the event on March 18, 2011. Nine drivers will compete, including seven of the top Formula DRIFT Pro Championship drivers: Chris Forsberg, Tanner Foust, Michael Essa, Tony Brakohiapa, Fredric Aasbo, Mike Whiddett and Daijiro Yoshihara. Those 7 drivers will joined by Formula DRIFT Asia Championship stars, Tengku Djan Ley of Malaysia and Kiki Sak Nana of Thailand. The competition will be in a similar to the 8 car head-to-head format to the UAE Invitational.

“It’s really exciting to have so much interest for the sport in the region,” said Formula DRIFT vice president, Ryan Sage. “After such a great event at Yas Marina, I can’t see any way better to bring drifting to this region than to head to the Qatar Racing Club as this is the epicenter for motor sports in that Qatar. We are honored to be working with His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani on what should be another great event.”

“We could not be more excited to be hosting a Formula DRIFT event at the Qatar Race Club in Doha,” stated Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani, Chairman of the QRC. “We have just completed the most successful drag racing season to date for the Arabian Drag Racing League. Adding Formula DRIFT to our schedule furthers our goal of providing the people of Qatar and the GCC region with an exceptional motor sports experience in a world-class motor sports facility. We will continue to be a leader in the GCC region in pursuing partnerships with organizations like Formula DRIFT, who can bring some of the world’s best motor sports events to Doha and the people of Qatar.”

The event will be streamed live via the DriftStream and will be featured on Formula DRIFT TV on VERSUS as a half-hour special. For more information visit: www.formuladrift.com

Formula DRIFT Announces Official Driver List for Inaugural Formula DRIFT UAE Invitational Competition

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Long Beach, Calif. – January 19, 2011 – Formula DRIFT has announced the official entry list for the Inaugural Formula Drift UAE Invitational Competition at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on February 25, 2011.

A diverse selection of the top drivers from around the globe will showcase world-class drifting to the Middle East. The official roster of drivers include: past Scandinavian champion, Fredric Aasbo, 2009 Formula DRIFT champion, Chris Forsberg, 2-time Formula DRIFT champion and 3-time X-Games Gold Medalist Tanner Foust, top ranking driver, Ryan Tuerck, past New Zealand champion and Formula DRIFT USA & Asia competitor, Mike Whiddett, Formula DRIFT veteran Daijiro Yoshihara and Formula Drift regulars Ken Gushi, and Michael Essa along with Tony Brakohiapa as the alternate driver.

“Formula DRIFT is dedicated to providing the best drifting action to fans everywhere,” said Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. “We are proud to showcase the best drivers from around the world to an international audience in Abu Dhabi at what is probably the most spectacular racing facility in the world.”

In addition, the event will be streaming live via the DriftStream on www.formuladrift.com. Fans will be able to catch all of the exciting action from the comfort of their own home. The live stream will air on February 25, 2011. For broadcast times visit the Formula DRIFT website .

For those that are interested in attending the live event, online tickets will go on-sale soon and can be purchased through this link – Event Tickets Tickets can also be purchased through the Yas Marina Call Centre at: 800-YAS-(927) or international number at +971 (0) 2 446 0384, which is open 7 days a week from 9 AM – 6 PM, local time. Tickets can be purchased directly at the Yas Marina Circuit at the East and West Entrance Gate Welcome Centre, Yas Hotel, and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi Yas Marina Circuit Kiosk. In addition, tickets may also be purchased at select Virgin Megastores within the UAE beginning January 25, 2011.

As the premier professional drifting championship in the world, Formula DRIFT has helped modernize and globalize drifting, bringing it to places like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Panama, Mexico and now, the United Arab Emirates. For more information visit: www.formuladrift.com

Formula DRIFT Invades Hollywood Recap

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Last night the IZOD Indycar Series invited Formula DRIFT to participate in the “Race to the Party” event in Hollywood. Hollywood Blvd was shut down in front of Mann’s Chinese Theatre and the Kodak Theatre and thousands of fans gathered to watch Formula DRIFT vehicles do a demonstration, Indycar pit stop challenge, and a special performance by Camp Freddy.

The fans were blown away by the drifting action of drivers Joon Maeng – Full Tilt Poker / Nitto Tires Mazda RX-8, Justin Pawlak – Falken Mazda RX-7, Michael Essa – Nitto Tires BMW 335i, Mike Whiddett – Need for Speed Mazda RX-8, and Samuel Hubinette – SHR Dodge Challenger.