Saturday April 6 marked the beginning of a new season for the Formula Drift Pro Championship as 20,000 spectators poured into the Streets of Long Beach of sunny Southern California. Although no longer a rookie in the series, 2019 is the first year Taylor Hull has made it to compete at the first round.
After unloading and setting up his new pit space and custom Drift Line tent, Taylor hit the track immediately to gain much needed experience at the treacherous circuit. He gained confidence and proved to adapt quickly as qualifying approached.
Some of his competitors would push too hard into the blind corners, making hard contact with the concrete barriers. Taylor was fortunate to avoid such issues all weekend.
As qualifying commenced, there were 37 competitors and only 32 spots available. Hull and his team were confident even with only 6 practice laps. He would score a 76 on his first run and follow it up with a slight improvement in the second pass, earning a 78. This would place him solidly in the top 32 for Saturday and out of the dreaded 33-37 positions who were sent home after qualification. Taylor was quoted Friday saying “We had a couple of our best runs of the day in qualifying there and the car has been rock solid all weekend. It’s such a pleasure to be behind the wheel of our Comp Cams, My Business Coach Cadillac on Achilles tire. I can’t wait for Saturday.”
Saturday would begin with a short practice session in the morning. Taylor was never able to get a good chase run during that time due to the lead drivers having issues in front, but he was still confident.
Taylor was matched up against Achilles Tire team mate Forrest Wang in top 32 battle. What ensued next was nothing short of a beautiful spectacle of drifting, complete with wall taps, tight tandem and Achilles tire smoke filling the air. When the dust settled, Taylor would not get the victory over Wang, but he remains upbeat and optimistic about the start to the 2019 season.
“Wow! That was a great run and a wild weekend! This time last year we were building and rebuilding engines and didn’t even make it out here. Just being here is a huge win and putting on a great show for the fans out here in Long Beach was a pleasure. We’re going to Orlando next, a track I’m familiar with. We’re going to bring it there!”
Taylor will compete next at Orlando Speedworld in round 2 of Formula Drift April 26-27. He would like to thank all his fans, crew, and partners for all their support.
Comp Cams Achilles Tires My Business Coach Fuel Air Spark Technology Callies Racing Products Yellowspeed USA Magnuson Superchargers Racing Head Service Driven Racing Oil Drift Line Cosmis Racing Wheels Driveshaft Shop Canton Racing Top Garage Foxy Wraps JE Pistons Advanced Clutch Technology OMP Racing Thunderbolt Fuel The Firm Chase Graphics Aloha Green Tea Hawaii Asphalt Anarchy
July 18-20 Taylor Hull, his team and the rest of Formula Drift ascended into the evergreen forest of the Pacific Northwest not far from Mt. Rainer to do battle once again. The mid-season break is over and Hull made great use of the time away from the track. The majority of that time was spent developing and assembling a brand new LS7 engine. With the knowledge learned from the 2018 campaign and the first-half of the 2019 season, the team worked closely with the experts at Comp and with Jon Kaase Racing to put a plan together.
The new engine would be similar to the trusty LS7 from the first half of 2019, with a few changes. JE Pistons Provided a new set of pistons that would bump up the compression from 9.5: 1 to 10.2: 1. A set of high flowing, large chamber and large port RHS heads were utilized with Comp’s valve train and solid roller cam. A fresh ACT clutch was installed, break in oil from Driven and a new tune from Nicolas Feliciano was completed. The original engine was loaded up as a backup and the team set course for the farthest event from the Atlanta-based shop in beautiful Seattle, Washington.
Thursday practice went well, the new power plant had no issues and made extraordinary power. Taylor took a couple of laps to get used to the new engine and acclimate the car/driver to the high-speed course that is Evergreen Speedway. The team also started a vlog video highlighting the event that is scheduled for release on Saturday (July 27th).
On Friday, Taylor had 4 practice laps left to use of his 12 available before qualifying. He tried to follow 3 of the 4 laps, but either mistakes of his own or by the lead car made each chase lap essentially a throwaway. Despite the few chase mishaps in practice, Hull was feeling confident in the car and in his lead laps, so he was ready for qualifying early in the afternoon. He would roll off 6th in the qualifying order. After scoring an 83, Taylor would be ranked 2nd for a time, before cycling around. On his second qualifying lap Taylor pushed hard trying to better his score. The bank looked even better than the first lap, but he transitioned slightly late coming out of the touch and go, pushing him wide into the second outer zone. The wall lines the track in this area and unfortunately Hull found that wall. The right rear of the Cadillac was punished, wrinkling the quarter, busting the tail light, bending a wheel, and breaking an adjustable rod. Fortunately, the team was able to fix the car overnight, but the score was scrapped, coming in at a 77. Taylor would qualify for top 32, but not as high as he had intended.
Saturday is always the most exciting day for the team. Hull commented “Saturday is actually much more stress free than Friday is for me. Even when there’s not more than 32 cars, you still have to perform in qualifying or you go home. If you have a mechanical issue or get two incomplete runs, that’s it. Your weekend is over.” Saturday morning practice went well, although Taylor ended practice running with Justin Pawlak, who he would be paired up with in top 32.
Top 32 for Taylor started with chasing Justin, the higher qualifier. Pawlak ran a very fast and clean line out front with his signature no handbrake, high risk initiation. Taylor unfortunately made a few mistakes in the chase, and was not as close as he or the judges wanted to see.
Then came time for Hull to lead. The team had been very impressed with how the new engine performed all weekend. They were able to drop the Achilles 123s tire pressure lower than ever before, resulting in very high track speeds. They viewed the Cadillac’s speed as their “ace in the hole.” Taylor rocketed out of the chicane and topped 80 miles per hour on initiation, only building more speed from there. Hull pulled a small gap on Pawlak through the bank and the touch and go. The Cadillac was placed in all the right places the full length of the course. Justin closed that gap aggressively in the second half of the track as he stuck the Mustang right to the door of Hull’s ATS-V.
The judges took several moments to deliberate and watched replays intently, but in the end Pawlak was awarded the victory. Hull had these comments following the battle. “I am very proud of the lead run, I wish I could have made a lap like that in qualifying. I hate we got beat in top 32 again. We’ve run against Justin the last two years here and both times I made mistakes that cost me a chance at victory. The rest of the year is just going to be about me eliminating mistakes. The car is there for me, has been all year, my team is awesome. The driver just has to deliver now!” Next stop for Taylor and the Comp Cams, Achilles Tire Cadillac ATS-V will be Formula Drift – St Louis on August 9-10th. Taylor would like to thank all the fans, his team and his partners. (Click the links below to view their individual websites)
Prep time is over for the 2019 season of Formula Drift, which officially kicked off on Wednesday 3rd of April. Designated as FD’s Media Day, where shutters, lenses and poses are the mainstay of the day, the media was given free reign to photograph and ride-along with many pro class drivers who came to show off fresh liveries, but also use it as a cheat day for testing on the walled street course of Long Beach.Notes: Drivers were told by the judges to not initiate door on door but rather on the rear quarter panel of the lead car such that it does not compromise the line into outer zone 1.
Before a wheel could even be turned, Napoleon Motorsports’ 1st ever, all electric Chevrolet Camaro was denied entry not by FD officials, but by the city of LB itself. Electric vehicles are not permitted to compete with gasoline vehicles on “track” and thus since this is not an actual racetrack, it violates the city’s ordinance. Travis Reeder then hopped into his old pro 2 machine despite being underpowered to most of the pro class.
Ryan Tuerck loses his power steering as he goes full throttle at the touch n’ go and hits the wall head-on hard. Bruised and concussed, he has to bow out of competition.
For many years there has been 1 name synonymous with a short field that we have all grown to dislike, “Bye Run”. However with more than 32 drivers on the entry list, it seems that Bye Run’s reign is over.
Matt Field throws it down hard, nailing a 99 pt run and taking the Top Qualifier award.
Matt Field Vs Jeff Jones
Jeff is quietly making strides in his 370z, improving every event, however Jeff’s transmission fell on his hand prior to qualifying. Stitched and bandaged he still went at the #1 qualifier, losing out in his follow run where he didn’t fully engage the touch n go and missed the 2nd outer zone. Field moves on.
Matt Coffman Vs Ken Gushi
Gushi is aggressive entering on Matt’s door. Coffman does not fill the touch n go and he let’s up on the 2nd outer zone but Gushi is too close, rubs the s13 and has to re-adjust to match.
Ken’s aggression continues in his lead and he fills the zones strongly, gapping Coffman but then Coffman shuts it down and straightens into the last inner clip. Gushi advances.
Chris Forsberg Vs Dirk Stratton
Dirk washes out following Forsberg into the 1st turn and is never really a threat. He tries to regain lost distance, shallowing his line and diving into the last corner, but straightens and takes out the last clip.
Forsberg of old shows and he mimics Dirk’s lead, even using more angle at times and ending the run side by side. Forsberg gets the win.
Chelsea Denofa Vs Pat Goodin
Probably the scariest driver to do up against, Chelsea through down wall to wall bumper dragging at extreme angle and speed. Pat has to shallow up to even maintain distance. On run 2, Chelsea gives Pat some distance but Pat puts on a pretty good run in the lead but misses the 2nd outer zone, where Chelsea put that purple nose back on his door to the finish. Chelsea moves on.
Daijiro Yoshihara Vs Sebatien Gauthier
Dai puts on a strong lead. Gauthier shuts down halfway through his follow but then picks it back up. Dai gives Gauthier some space and gets lost in the smoke, runs up on a turning Gauthier, hits him and spins out. Judges have to compare lead to lead, calling a OMT in the process.
Dai keeps it tight, keeps it right and puts on a very good lead. Gauthier has issues from the 1st turn to the last, dropping out of drift and missing the zones. Gauthier calls his 5 minutes but is unable to return to the line.
Dai gets a bye.
Justin Pawlak Vs Alec Hohnadell
Justin puts on his signature big angle in the lead, Alec has a straighten and reinitiates and closes back on JTP’s door. In Alec’s lead he sets himself up for the 1st turn, but JTP comes in too hot, backing it in and slapping Alec’s rear quarter panel with his, then more side by side contact as they both try to maintain control. Alec keeps it going but the front tires on both cars make contact, hopping JTP into the air whilst pushing Alec towards the fence. Alec pulls it off the wall in a spin and both stop. OMT called. But Alec’s car is properly damaged.
Already battered they re-enter the fray. JTP puts down a solid lead and alec follows with some small corrections, but gathers it back up to surge onto the mustang’s door and as they transition for the final turn, Alec’s car grips up and understeers, sending him the wrong way into the final turn. Alec doesn’t return for his 2nd run.
JTP is into the main event.
Odi Bachkis Vs Federico Sceriffo
Odi throws down a textbook lead run. Federico, now nitrous fed, drops into formation behind but it seems that the Ferrari now has the speed to compete. Federico transitions early, compromising his line a little but he slides up door to door with Odi then backs off to transition for the final turn.
Federico does a decent lead but shorts the 2nd outer zone and takes out the last clip. Odi maintains a small gap behind but mimics Federico’s line. Odi moves on.
Mike Essa Vs Mitch Larner
Essa initiates out front but dials back the angle significantly off throttle, allowing the Australian in the Get Nuts rental s14 to not only gain proximity but also go deeper in the touch n’ go. Mitch doesn’t follow Essa out to outer zone 2 and then center punches the final inner clip.
Mitch does a pretty decent job navigating the course, not entirely filling the zones but not doing a bad job at his 1st FD event either. Essa follows the lead car’s line albeit with a buffer.
Essa takes it.
James Deane Vs. Kyle Mohan
James nails his lead run in his typical high level precision. Kyle, not having much practice time, shuts it down before the 1st turn, rendering an incomplete. Kyle calls for his 5 minute time out.
Kyle does a slow roll into the 1st corner and James is already on him. Kyle is far from the walls and James is showing dominance in follow. Then on the final turn, James is too aggressive diving in and bump Kyle into a spin. The judges state that Kyle slowed too much even though it was a deceleration zone, went off line and that choked James up.
James into the next round
Jhonnattan Castro Vs Dean Kearney
Castro out front looks pretty game for this season although he misses most of the clips and outer zones. Dean is right there every step and even gives him a little nudge to remind him that vipers do strike.
Dean has a pretty decent lead doing everything he should but Castro is there, sacrificing his line a bit to remain on Dean’s door. He means business! On the last turn, Castro loses it, taps Dean and spins out.
Dean moves on.
Ryan Tuerck Vs Ryan Litteral
With Tuerck stuffing his gt86 into the wall and declaring it irreparable, Litteral gets a bye into top 16 in his revamped koruworks 350z.
Frederic Aasbo Vs Dan Burkett
Aasbo has that little Corolla dialed, measuring the wall as he passes. Dan is close behind on initiation but backs off too early, shortening his line and missing the outer zone that Aasbo filled. They transition and Aasbo continues his crazy lead, filling the zones. However because Dan transitioned early behind Aasbo, he has to shorten his line again into outer zone 2 and ends up on the inside, missing the zone completely, but surges up very close to Aasbo in the final turn to the finish.
Dan’s showing more and more confidence in his driving but his runs are “safe” i.e. his lead isn’t bad, but he’s a bit off the zones. And with Aasbo shadowing his every move and remaining close, there’s little Dan can claw back to change the judge’s mind of who did better. This time!
Aasbo into the main show.
Piotr Wiecek Vs Austin Meeks
Piotr was fast out of the start chicane, immediately gapping Austin. Piotr then basically painted all the walls with the rear of his s15 in a stellar lead run. Austin just could not keep up.
Austin enters a bit short on outer zone 1 and continues that trend into the touch n’ go. Outer zone 2 is filled with Cadillac with a closely shadowing S15. Piotr is not afraid to push it and Austin cannot shake the candyman.
Piotr gets the win.
Alex Heilbrunn Vs Travis Reeder
Alex goes deep, even demolishing his rear bumper on the touch n’ go but stays unfazed and keeps a killer run going. We know he loves this course, he has branded the Long Beach walls before going on to podium. However, Reeder sans his newly released electric car and in his pro 2 car, sticks to the swinging BMW and keeps the pressure on, all the way to the end. Its mind boggling his pace despite being down at least 400hp to the bigger guns in pro class.
Reeder leads and what a lead it is, tapping walls, filling the zones and ticking all the boxes the judges want to see. However Alex is aggressive, continuously showing his nose to the side of Travis’ car, until the last turn where that aggression gets the better of him. He switches lines to dive down the inside, not giving himself enough space to slow and spins out, narrowly avoiding contact.
Reeder is gifted the win.
Forrest Wang Vs Taylor Hull
Forrest shedded his usual green for a new fuchsia livery this year, then proceeds to use the rear of his s15 as a paint brush, tagging all the outer zones in his lead run. Taylor in the big caddy has improved greatly and remains about a car length back for the entire run.
Taylor initiates and gets a pretty decent run going, not quite filling the zones but looking racy. However the fuchsia shadow of Wang lurks closely, getting even deeper in the zones, surging up side by side to the finish.
Driftline “Top Tip List” will be brutally honest predictions of what to expect come race day. If we gave you some ridiculous odds as a Drifter, use it as fuel to the fire and get a podium finish to prove our expert of things wrong.
For AMUSEMENT, Not for gaming.
Top pick for long beach
Vaughn Gitten Jr
Will Gunnar be taking over the mustang?
8 to 1
Needs to Get closer to Federico.
5 to 1
Always second best.
2 to 1
MAN OR MACHINE?
1 to 1
You are what you eat….bananas!
3 to 1
Who’s in the coffin?
12 to 1
Big shoes to fill dad.
6 to 1
Don’t hit a Stonewall!
20 to 1
“No ghost to be afraid of.”
32 to 1
Shoulda had a V8!
25 to 1
James Deane’s KRYPTONITE.
24 to 1
Carnival float or vette, what’s better to drive?
30 to 1
Stay away from Chelsea!
21 to 1
No longer stock?
4 to 1
Two-vehicle effort? Too bizarre not to overlook…
7 to 1
Everyone has an s15 now.
29 to 1
9 to 1
No visor no podium!
8 to 1
Up against the wall!
7 to 1
Stuck in the 80’s.
14 to 1
28 to 1
Out early? Drift rust.
15 to 1
Out models the models. 😉
11 to 1
New team, who dis?
27 to 1
That’s not a GTR.
8 to 1
Nutrition/trainer -> Just crazy enough to do it.
7 to 1
Can you even drive off with all that power?
17 to 1
HANG WITH THE WANG
36 to 1
Nissan’s decision to remanufacture RBs is all your fault.
Well almost. With the days feeling like they’ve kicked down a gear and hit the accelerator, teams are well into the mad dash of re-assembly with some having already eclipsed the re-engineering challenges, gathered copious stacks of preseason tires and headed out for testing. Although sans body panels, these cars look like large, articulating, smoke and fire bellowing spiders as they seamlessly glide over the track at speed. With the information limited to what a driver or team posts to social media, here are some stories that came to light recently:
1. “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!!!” And that’s the sentiment echoed for a myriad of activities; drifting is no different. Jhonnathan Castro, Rad Dan Burkett, Frederic Aasbo and Ola Jaeger teamed up as an unofficial Team Toyota for some ice drifting in the Nordic realm. As unhinged and fun as it could be, see Aasbo’s and Tors Andres’ supra tandem last year, this is also teaching and learning aids for the upcoming season. Could we see a reappearance of Castro’s chasing demon from ’17 Orlando that took out James Deane? Is Rad Dan’s sparks of brilliance going to reignite into crazy consistency? Will Ola make Chucky a giant killer once again? Will Aasbo leave the House of Drift as a champion again? Oh we can’t wait.
2. Kyle Mohan has been having some struggles getting a handle on the short wheelbased Miata. The 3 rotor 20B powerplant is solid, pumping out 1000hp on ethanol; but even with such a screamer under the bonnet, its twitchy and unpredictable handling was too much to cope with. Even though we saw some of Kyle’s raw driving talent shine through in 2018 (most notably in FDAtl when he faced a very on point Piotr Wiecek), he struggled with confidence, thus compromising his performances whilst in competition. Enter the rx8. Again!! Kyle is putting all his tricks back into the rx8, albeit the newer chassis. The motor setup may be along the same lines as in the corn consuming ND miata chassis and as Kyle already has some development work in the rx8, it’s only a matter of time before he’s on form. Representing with the only rotary powered vehicle in top 32, we’re eager to see a podium.
3. Kevin Lawrence is bringing the heat with his tried and true S14.3. Representing the Nissan RB brigade, Kevin has weaponized his 6 cylinders to 3.2 liters of screaming savagery. Even though he qualified at every round except the last round at Irwindale, where he was incredibly disappointed, Kevin is no longer 1 of the smaller displacement engines that’s extremely high strung to be able to compete with everyone else and show them that the venerable JZ isn’t the only JDM 6 cylinder they should be afraid of. The extra displacement should yield more power, more torque and more reliability.
We’re midway through February, you know what that means? A supposedly unending blanket of snow and ice to the northern United States? Nope….Well maybe. Roses, chocolates and heart shaped trinkets? Guess again! Blood, sweat and re-engineered steering hubs? Ding!!!The mad thrash continues in preparation for Formula Drift round 1, so much so that its hard to keep up with who’s doing what. FD Update!!!: 1. Austin Meeks moved up to pro 1 in 2018 in his v8-powered, S15-front s14, but had a fairly rough rookie year. Nissan’s S-chassis are already 20-25 years old meaning they’re ripe for an upgrade, especially when competing at the cnc-machined edge of Formula Drift. Austin has decided to go big bodied with the introduction of FD’s second cadillac ATS-V. He’s documenting the entire build on youtube as well.
2. Dan has twins. Yup, congratulations are in order. The good folks at RAD industries have been steadily working on improving their performances with continuous updates on “Big Blue”, his FD supra, but now Dan has introduced “Baby Blue”, his practice supra. Wearing almost the same colors and the signature “party in the back” wing, Dan is putting in seat time, door hunting with one of the best in the business, the incomparable Frederic Aasbo. We’re anxious to see the supra in Angry Dan mode.
3. The king of spring break aka Pat Goodin returns!!! After a less than stellar year at Huddy Racing in 2017, Pat returns behind the wheel of another Nissan, Matt Field’s absolutely bonkers, supercharged, LS-powered S14. We all know this feral beast from the bay is a tried and true podium weapon, winning back to back in its last 2 outings (2016 FD Texas and Irwindale) and we wait to see it wielded in battle once again.
October 16th 2018 at Irwindale, California saw the re-crowning of James Deane as the Formula Drift champion, but it was by no means as “easy” the feat as the previous year. Every driver stepped their game up, leaving spectators happy they weren’t the ones judging. As tensions waned, engines cooled, pit crews wiped the sweat off their brows and friendships resumed along with the sacrifice of a bit of malted barley (read…beers), it was not the end of the roller coaster ride for some as quite a few drivers opted to join in on the Winter Jam fun at Sonoma Raceway in December 16th (see finishing “off that year’s stock of rubber donuts”).
However, December 17th began officially the silly season of drift car disassembly, chassis checks, team announcements, sponsor and livery reveals, tire abuse also known as testing, new parts torture tests and the crazed thrash of reassembly into a weapon of mass diversion. This silly season usually has some teams playing their cards close to their chests until round 1 in Long Beach on April 4th. However, 2 major bits of news have dropped:
1. Alec Hohnadell has lost his Pro seat at Huddy Racing to last year’s Pro 2 combatant, Dylan Hughes. Dylan, piloted his tried-and-true LS powered S13 to a very close 2nd place in the championship, is a well-known key member of Forsberg’s FD operation so it will be interesting to see how he develops Huddy’s BMW. Alec has resigned to reuse his old s14, which is still a very capable chassis but gone on to say that he’s going to go it solo team-wise.
2. We lost count how many times Chris Forsberg had engine troubles in 2018 (still finished 4th overall though, like wth that’s crazy). He announced that he’ll be continuing development on a reliable twin turbo setup for the 350/370Z’s VQ engine; but expressed his frustration of its fragility and has switched to the venerable VR from the R35 GTR, which is a durable and proven 1000+ hp setup.
3. Vaugh Gitten Jr is taking his off road truck nicknamed “Brocky” with its massive suspension articulation to FD’s tracks. Really……?? Nope i’m kidding. Vaughn and Chelsea are still in their mustangs albeit almost the same suspension movement with their 3 wheel motions ( ’64 ford impala x2)
That’s all the news we have for now but will keep you all up to date as the clock ticks down to FDLB round 1.
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Essa Autosport, located in Anaheim, California, is owned and operated by Michael Essa. He does a lot of custom work for many different types of cars, but mainly focusing on Porsche road race cars, whether it’s a bone stock streetcar that the customer has been driving for a few years and wants to get into racing or a full blown race car from the factory like a Porsche RSR. Essa Auto Sport can handle all the maintenance from prepping the car and assisting the driver with suspension setup, tuning at the track and works closely with their clients to take care of their car! Since everything is done in-house Essa can control how quickly everything gets done without worrying about outside shops to help get it done.
Some of the projects he’s working on include his personal E46 road race car that Michael is running the Formula Drift series, a 2001 boxter that started out as a streetcar and Essa converted it to a track car, 2009 Porsche Cayman that started out as an MSA pro race car and is being converted to a car to run in SCCA in a GT2 class. He also has his Championship winning formula drift car that was run from 2013 to 2017. Essa plans on eventually putting it back together for demos, possible overseas competition and other fun events.
Outside of the shop, Essa offers other services like driver coaching and car control training. Essa Autosport has a slightly modified E36 M3. They take drivers out, get them in the seat and explain to them how the balance of the car works and how it affects the car on the track when you lift the throttle, when you go full throttle and weight transfer so they get comfortable in the car so they can then apply what they’ve learned when they’re on the track in their own car.