Horsepower Wars: The Engine Bays Of Formula Drift 2015 by Larry Chen


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I’ve made it widely known that one of my favorite aspects of Formula Drift is that fact that the competing cars don’t have power limits imposed on them. Instead, FD try their best to even out the playing field by limiting the amount of grip available through tire width restrictions based on car weight.

Of course, the teams overcome the limited amount of grip by using different tire compounds, utilising aero, suspension tuning and of course flat-out power for insane wheel speed. That said, I wanted to showcase a range of power plants from the 2015 Formula Drift field…

Rockstar Energy Volkswagen Passat


Engine: GM LS7 450ci
Pistons: Mahle 13.6:1
Rods: Callies
Crankshaft: Callies
Cylinder Heads: LS7
Camshaft: Stage 3 LS
Valves: titanium intake, stainless steel exhaust
Induction: 102mm throttle body
Engine Management: AEM Infinity
Other: nitrous
Horsepower: 900hp


Ever since the announcement of Tanner’s partial return to Formula Drift, people were wondering what engine would end up in the VW Passat. The Papadakis Racing team are not new to turning a front-wheel drive chassis into a competitive pro-spec drift car, so they went for a motor that would suit their power and reliability needs and found it a GM LS7. I can definitely see Volkswagen stepping up their involvement in terms of a engine package if Tanner makes a full-time return to Formula Drift, but until then I am just happy to see him back on the grid for a few rounds.

Achilles Radial Nissan R35 GT-R


Engine: Nissan VR38DETT
Pistons: JE forged
Crankshaft: Brian Crower
Induction: 2x HKS GT1000 GTII 7867, 2x HKS GT II 50mm external wastegates, custom screamer chimney pipes
Engine Management: HKS F-CON V Pro
Other: custom stainless steel exhaust manifolds Weldon fuel pump, Turbosmart FPR2000 fuel pressure regulator, HKS intake plenum, ATI/Titan crank damper
Horsepower: 1000hp


Daigo Saito returns this year with an out-of-this-world build. We took a quick look at this build the last time I was in Japan, and Dino and I were blown away.


The engineering that went into getting this project together is next-level. Although Daigo has been having some teething problems with the R35 GTR, that’s to be expected in the first year with an unproven chassis.

Achilles Radial Infiniti G37


Engine: Nissan VQ35DE (4.07L)
Pistons: JE forged 10.5:1
Rods: BC Pro with 925+ bolts
Crankshaft: BC stroker
Cylinder Heads: Mazworx custom
Camshaft: BC 272-degree
Valves: BC oversized
Induction: Turbo By Garrett GTX4294R, DW2200 injectors
Engine Management: AEM Infinity 8
Horsepower: 1000hp+


It was about time for Robbie Nishida to campaign an all-new car, although it’s unfortunate that the team did not have a chance to get it all together before the start of the season. Robbie did not qualify in Atlanta due to mechanical issues.

Get Nuts Lab Nissan Silvia S15


Engine: Insane Power/Pineapple Tune Built Toyota 2JZ-GTE (3.4-liter)
Pistons: CP 10:1
Rods: Brian Crower
Crankshaft: Brian Crower 94mm
Cylinder Heads: OEM ported
Camshaft: Brian Crower 272-degree
Valves: Brian Crower 1mm oversized
Induction: Turbo By Garrett GTX4294
Engine Management: AEM S2
Other: OCD Works billet valve covers
Horsepower: 1020whp


Probably the cleanest engine bay in Formula Drift also has the power to back up its looks. Forrest Wang has become the best qualifying driver, and he puts on a hell of a show every time he goes out on track.

Maximum Attack Infiniti G37


Engine: Nissan VR38DETT (4.0-liter)
Pistons: CP forged
Rods: Carrillo
Crankshaft: GReddy billet stroker
Cylinder Heads: custom ported & polished
Camshaft: Kelford
Valves: Supertech
Induction: 2x Turbo By Garrett GTX3076
Engine Management: MoTeC M150
Other: GReddy intercooler, intake manifold, throttle Bodies & fuel Rail
Horsepower: 800whp


While most teams in the FD paddock have progressed from a four or six cylinder to a V8, Charles Ng has down the exact opposite.


Last year he returned to Formula Drift running a supercharged LS motor in his Infiniti G37, but it didn’t suit his driving style. There was also reliability issues, so Charles started over with a new engine build team working on a fresh new platform.


With a GReddy-built GT-R VR38DETT-based stroker motor now consuming the bay, Charles is back in shape and finished in 6th place at Road Atlanta.

Briggs Nissan S14


Engine: Mazworx Nissan SR20DET (2.4L)
Pistons: CP forged 10.5:1
Rods: Carrillo
Crankshaft: Mazworx stroker
Cylinder Heads: Mazworx CNC-ported NEO-VVL
Camshaft: Kelford VVL Killer
Valves: Supertech
Induction: Turbo By Garrett GTX3582R
Engine Management: MoTeC M84
Other: AV Fabrication wiring harness, Darton sleeves, AV Fabrication exhaust
Horsepower: 900whp


There are only two four cylinder engined cars left competing in Formula Drift, and Dave Briggs has one of them. He also had a bad encounter with a V8, which was the catalyst for switching back to what he knows best.

Feal Suspension Hyundai Genesis Coupe


Engine: CBM GM LS7 440ci
Pistons: Manley
Rods: Callies
Crankshaft: Callies
Cylinder Heads: CBM Motorsports
Camshaft: CBM Motorsports
Valves: Manley
Induction: GM LS7 intake manifold
Engine Management: Holley HP EFI
Horsepower: 750whp


Aurimas ‘Odi’ Bakchis is one of the few drivers campaigning two different cars this season, but he’s doing it by choice. It seems like he is out for blood in 2015 and is currently leading the championship race.

HGK BMW 3 Series


Engine: MAST GM RHS aluminium 466ci V8
Pistons: Diamond 2618 Alloy 13:1
Rods: Callies Compstar
Crankshaft: Callies Magnum
Cylinder Heads: Mast LS7 305
Camshaft: Mast custom
Valves: titanium
Induction: Hilborn ITBs
Engine Management: MoTeC M84
Horsepower: 830hp


I know that a lot of guys out there hate V8 swaps, but I have to say – I love this car and think the powerplant suits it perfectly. I am looking forward to seeing the BMW – as driven by Kristaps Blušs – on the grid for the rest of the season.

Retaks Scion FR-S


Engine: Ryan Tuerck Racing Toyota 2JZ-GTE
Pistons: Brian Crower/CP forged
Rods: Brian Crower
Crankshaft: Brian Crower
Cylinder Heads: ported 2JZ VVTi
Camshaft: Brian Crower 264-degree
Valves: Supertech
Induction: Turbo By Garrett GTX4088R
Engine Management: MoTeC M150 tuned by John Reed Racing
Other: Engine & assembly by Vigilant Motorsports, Nameless Performance header, anti-lag
Horsepower: 850hp


Many people think that Formula Drift is dominated by GM LS motors these days, but what they don’t realize is that there are just as many 2JZ-powered cars in the paddock. After all, this is the engine that started the ‘horsepower wars’.

Turn 14 Subaru BRZ


Engine: RHS GM LS 454ci
Pistons: JE forged asymmetrical skirt 10:1
Rods: Carrillo
Crankshaft: Callies
Cylinder Heads: All Pro
Camshaft: Erson
Valves: All Pro
Induction: 2x Turbo By Garrett GTX50R
Engine Management: MoTeC M800
Horsepower: 1000hp


Daijiro Yoshihara is one of the most successful drivers in the Formula Drift paddock, but he just has not been able to cut a break in recent years. I think quite a lot of it has had to do with the V8 in the BRZ platform, which of course took a few years for the guys at RS*R to perfect for Fredric Aasbø’s Formula Drift Asia car.

Monster Energy Ford Mustang RTR


Engine: Roush-Yates DLM Ford 410ci V8
Crankshaft: Bryant
Pistons: Roush Yates/JE forged
Camshaft: Roush Yates DLM/Comp Cams
Cylinder Heads: Roush Yates D3/Ford Racing
Induction: Kinsler EFI, custom K&N filter assembly
Engine Management: MoTeC/Bosch components
Horsepower: 840hp


Ian at ASD Motorsports builds and manages Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s Formula Drift Mustang RTR, and he is definitely more in favor of rock-solid reliability over four-digit horsepower figures.


Of course, at the end of the day it’s how you put down the power that matters, and Vaughn’s team has spent many years developing the Mustang’s solid rear axle.

GReddy Scion FR-S


Engine: Toyota 2JZ-GTE (3.4L)
Pistons: GReddy-spec CP forged
Rods: Carrillo
Crankshaft: BC stroker
Cylinder Heads: PortFlow Design
Valves: Supertech
Induction: Turbo By Garrett GTX4088, GReddy Intake Manifold
Engine Management: MoTeC
Other: NX Nitrous system
Horsepower: 850hp


It took a few years, but Ken Gushi is back on the podium this year with this very developed Scion FR-S drift car, of course powered by a 2JZ. Will he make a run for the championship?

Stoneback Nissan S14


Engine: RHS GM LSX 427ci
Pistons: CP forged
Rods: Manley
Crankshaft: Competition Engine Services
Cylinder Heads: All Pro LSX
Camshaft: Competition Engine Service
Engine Management: MoTeC
Horsepower: 650whp


2014 Rookie of the Year David Stoneback is back in action, and was in great form over the weekend at Formula Drift Atlanta.


I think he has probably the lowest-power car the grid, although it doesn’t really seem to really matter as he is running with the best of them.

NOS Energy Nissan 370Z


Engine: Nissan VK56
Pistons: JE forged
Crankshaft: Bryant Racing
Induction: custom ITBs, AEM filtration, NOS nitrous system
Engine Management: MoTec
Horsepower: 1000hp (estimated)


Chris Forsberg is one of the few Formula Drift drivers who hasn’t changed his engine program from last season. If it’s not broken, why fix it, right?


Let’s not forget that he did win the 2015 championship with the engine, so it should be just fine for another year of thrashing.

Wicknick Nissan S13


Engine: Toyota 2JZ-GTE (3.1L)
Pistons: CP forged 87.5mm 10:1
Rods: Brian Crower
Crankshaft: OE
Cylinder Head: OE
Camshaft: Brian Crower 264-degree
Valves: OE
Induction: Turbo By Garrett GTX3582R
Engine Management: Driftmotion 1JZ AEM V2
Other: custom Chase Bays CM3 engine wiring harness
Horsepower: 820hp


Brandon Wicknick is running on the most shoestring of budgets this year, but he still manages to make lots of power. He has always been one of my favorite privateer drivers.

Hohnadell Nissan S14


Engine: GM LQ9 (6.2L)
Cylinder Heads: Trickflow LS1
Camshaft: Custom Insane Power
Induction: Magnuson supercharger
Engine Management: Holley EFI
Horsepower: 830whp


Alec Hohnadell is a champion motocross rider and jet skier who is trying to leave his mark in the drifting world too. He made it into the Top 16 for the first time in Atlanta.

Lucus Oil BMW Z4 


Engine: Toyota 2JZ-GTE (non VVTi)
Pistons: JE forged 9.5:1
Rods: Crower Cams & Equipment Co Inc.
Crankshaft: Duttweiler Performance
Cylinder Heads: Duttweiler Racing port/polish
Camshaft: Crower Cams & Equipment Co Inc.
Valves: Crower Cams & Equipment Co Inc.
Induction: Turbo By Garrett GTX3582R
Engine Management: MoTeC
Other: Doc Race intake & exhaust manifold, OCD Works billet valve cover, GReddy intercooler
Horsepower: 800hp+


Joon Maeng has been around the FD paddock for years, and he decided to do something completely different this season having campaigned a V8-powered S-chassis for the past few years. I’ve always liked the BMW Z4, so it will be interesting to see how far he can go with this setup.

Rockstar Energy/Hankook Tire Scion tC 


Engine: Scion/Toyota 2AR-FE (2.7L)
Pistons: JE forged 10.5:1
Rods: Carrillo
Crankshaft: Scat
Cylinder Head: Port Flow ported
Camshafts: OE regrind
Valves: Supertech
Induction: BorgWarner EFR8374
Engine Management: AEM Infinity
Other: direct port nitrous
Horsepower: 1000hp


In terms of an engineering feat, I think Stephan Papadakis has really gone above and beyond with the setup in Fredric Aasbø’s car. The fact that Papadakis Racing can make a motor that originally came out of a minivan output four-digit power figures is just amazing to me.

CX Racing Nissan S14


Engine: GM LQ9 block
Pistons: Wiseco forged
Rods: Callies Ultra
Crankshaft: Callies Dragon Slayer
Cylinder Heads: Trick Flow LS3 255
Camshaft: custom
Valves: Supertech
Induction: Vortech YSI supercharger with billet impeller wheel
Other: Tuned by Blacktrax Performance, 175hp nitrous shot
Horsepower: 1050whp


When Matt Field finishes a run, don’t expect to see the track for a few minutes. The cloud of smoke he never fails to leave is always so thick you can taste it.

GT Radial Mazda RX-8


Engine: Mazda 20B three-rotor
Induction: Turbonetics GTK750
Engine Management: Haltech Elite
Other: Mazdatrix/KMR porting & studding
Horsepower: 1000whp+ (estimated)


Kyle Mohan has always run rotary motors in his Formula Drift cars. Even though he has gone V8 for his Chinese drift car, you definitely won’t find one of those in his main competition car.

Chelsea Denofa BMW 3 Series


Engine: BMW M52
Pistons: CP forged
Rods: Eagle
Crankshaft BMW S52
Cylinder Heads: OE
Camshaft: BMW S52
Valves : Ferrea
Induction: Turbo By Garrett GTX3582R
Engine Management: OE tuned by RKTUNES
Other: nitrous
Horsepower: 777hp


Chelsea Denofa is the only one on the grid brave enough to run a BMW motor. The engine grenaded itself at Formula Drift Atlanta, so he actually had to borrow a car for the event.

Dean Kearney Dodge SRT Viper


Engine: Mopar
Pistons: CP forged 10:1
Rods: Carrillo H-beam
Crankshaft: RSI modified
Cylinder Heads: flowed, Crower assembly
Induction: Novi 2500 supercharger
Engine Management: AEM Infinity
Other: ARP fasteners, Moroso oil pan, Auto Verdi oil pump, nitrous
Horsepower: 1100hp


Dean Kearney probably has one of the most powerful drift cars on the grid. That might explain why he sheared off his lug bolts on the start line at Long Beach.

Coffman Nissan S13


Engine: Dart Machinery small block Ford 410ci
Pistons: JE forged
Rods: Pankl
Crankshaft: Bryant
Cylinder Heads: Roush-Yates D3
Camshaft: Rodgers Racing custom
Valves: Del West
Induction: Kinsler ITBs & ASNU 90/1,050cc injectors
Engine Management: MoTeC M150 tuned by John Reed Racing
Horsepower: 840hp+


I’ve said it before and I will say it again – Matt Coffman drives the most developed S13 in drift car in the world.

Enjuku Racing Nissan S13


Engine: GM LS2 402ci
Pistons: Wiseco forged
Rods: Callies Comp Star
Crankshaft: Callies Comp Star
Cylinder Heads: GM Performance L92
Camshaft: custom Comp Cam
Valves: Manley
Induction: Turbo By Garrett GTX4502
Engine Management: Holley EFI
Other: Dailey engineering dry sump
Horsepower: 850whp


Nate Hamilton is another one of those privateers that really brings his personal style to drifting. I love that he has that skateboarder persona, as well as being a dedicated gearhead.

Gold In The Net Toyota JZX100 Chaser


Engine: Toyota 1.5JZ
Pistons: CP forged
Rods: Brian Crower HD Series
Crankshaft: OE
Cylinder Heads: 1JZ
Camshaft: Brian Crower 264-degree
Valves: Brian Crower stainless steel
Induction: Turbo By Garrett GTX4088R
Engine Management: ECU Master USA
Other: Nuke Performance fuel rail, FPR, surge tank & fuel filters, Deatschwerks 1000cc injectors & 4x DW300 fuel pumps, chassis & engine wired by Wiring Specialties
Horsepower: 850whp


While it’s awesome to see sportscars and coupes being turned into pro-spec drift cars, I still think it’s great to see big four-door sedans. There is something so right about seeing a grocery-getter pitched sideways.

Red Bull Mazda MX-5


Engine: PPRE Mazda 26B four-rotor
Housings/Plates: PPRE-modified Mazda OE
Rotors: PPRE-modified Mazda OE rotors,
Apex Seals: Mazda OE 3mm
Eccentric Shaft: PPRE 3-piece
Induction: 2x custom Garrett GTX40, 4x Turbosmart Mad Mike Signature Line Comp-Gate 40 wastegates, Plazmaman throttle body
Engine Management:Haltech Platinum Series Sport 2000
Other: M&W Ignitions CDIs, WB2 Wideband Controller, CAN Hub modules, Racepak SmartWire solid state power module
Power: 1032hp (low boost)


It makes me wonder, if Mad Mike’s RADBUL MX-5 makes 1032hp on low boost, what kind of power could the twin turbo four-rotor 26B make on high boost?

Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto
[email protected]

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