Home > Coverage > COVERAGE> The Formula D Atlanta Experience Pt.1

COVERAGE> The Formula D Atlanta Experience Pt.1

Formula D, Formula drift, FD ATL

For the MotorMavens Crew, Round Two of the 2011 Formula Drift Championship at Road Atlanta represented a lot of hard work, and about 6 or 7 total hours of sleep for the entire weekend. Since our Associate Editor Jonathan “J-Mac” McWhorter lives in the Atlanta area, he volunteered to be the team leader for the weekend, and coordinated everything for the out-of-state crew members that would be flying in for the event.

Some people may not realize this, but Road Atlanta is a very special place for the MotorMavens Crew. Anyone who knows MotorMavens co-founder Andy Sapp can tell you that he has a very fond place in his heart for Road Atlanta. Even though Andy coined the now famous phrase Keep Drifting Fun, he has been drifting competitively at Formula D events in Atlanta ever since 2004 – the very first event in the Formula Drift series. Ever.

Formula Drift 2011 Road Atlanta Team Rowdy Chris Rhoad Petey Drift Pigeon

Unfortunately for Andy (and for his friends, fans and supporters), tradition was broken this year, and Georgia drifting fans did not see the sinister black Drift Mechaniks BMW E46 tearing up the tarmac on Road Atlanta’s horseshoe. Apparently, the local Atlanta Pro Am organizer sold out all the driving spots super quickly – before Andy was able to sign up. He was completely devastated, as one might imagine.

Formula Drift 2011 Road Atlanta Nos Rowdy

Without question, one of the reasons why the MotorMavens Crew has a lot of love for Atlanta is because of the people there. The members of the Atlanta drifting community are down to earth, friendly, and FUN to hang out with! Road Atlanta is the only track in the Formula Drift series where you can watch close tandem drifting while hanging out under a tent with your friends while grilling up some meat and drinking fun enhancing beverages!

Atlanta’s own Drift Mechaniks crew and Team Rowdy are a perfect example of fun people to hang out with. They bring fun signs to drifting events and definitely enjoy their fun enhancing beverages. Our own Chris Rhoad can tell you about that. He was tweeting about his awesome hangover from the track side! haha

Formula Drift 2011 Road Atlanta

At Road Atlanta, one of the most exciting places to be is on the top of the hill, at the starting grid. Unfortunately, most drift fans aren’t able to get up to the grid, as it’s an exclusive area reserved only for those with Formula D hardcards. Every year, I love standing at the top of the grid, seeing the cars and drivers get ready to run, as the fun loving Atlanta crowd cheers and generally makes a lot of noise in the area around the track’s horseshoe!

This red S15-faced S14 is being driven by Atlanta native Dennis Mertzanis, who was referred to as the “Greek Drifter” by Jarod DeAnda, the “voice of Formula Drift.” I think Dennis’ S14 looks better now than it ever has before!

Formula Drift 2011 Road Atlanta Daijiro Yoshihara Dai Darren McNamara DMac Toshiki Yoshioka Toshiking podium

Let’s be honest, just about everyone knows the results of Formula D Atlanta already. Falken/Discount Tire driver Daijiro Yoshihara made his way to the top of the podium AGAIN. Samuel Hubinette and Chris Forsberg used to be the guys to beat at Road Atlanta (both of them have won the event numerous times), but it looks like Dai is the new drifting champion of Braselton GA.

Second Place went to Dai’s teammate, Darren McNamara, and Third Place went to D1 Grand Prix star driver Toshiki Yoshioka, driving the Retaks V8-powered S13 Silvia. At the track and on the Formula D Driftstream, there were quite a few people who didn’t know who Yoshioka was!

For all the younger people who got into drifting after the era of Option Video, Hot Version DVD, and Battle Magazine, Yoshioka is one of the OG D1 drivers from Japan. He used to drive his local mountain roads near Okayama Japan with his FC3S RX7 and his orange AE86 with friends from his drift team, Bross Running Crazy. (Yes, they misspelled ‘Bros.’ Haha!)

Once again, our sharpshooter from Seattle, Yoshi Shindo comes through with a masterful shot of people getting sprayed with champagne. The funny thing is, once again, Darren McNamara is on the podium looking like he’s out for vengeance! It seems like D-Mac is always out to get someone when he’s shaking up his champagne bottle on the podium – who could forget Yoshi’s amazing image from Formula D Seattle in 2010? (See below)

Formula Drift 2011 Road Atlanta Daijiro Yoshihara Dai Darren McNamara DMac Toshiki Yoshioka Toshiking podium

Just look at this guy! D-Mac (left) looked like he was really out to exact his revenge on 2010 Seattle round winner Tanner Foust (middle), with an “Oh shiiiiiiiit” look on Ryan Tuerck’s (right) face! I think this has GOT to be Yoshi’s best photo from the entire 2010 season. Does anyone agree with me?!

Formula Drift Road Atlanta 2011 Daijiro Yoshihara Falken Discount Tire V8 LS1 S13 Silvia Supermade MotoIQ Mike Kojima SPD Metalworks Scott Dodgion KW Suspension

Back to the 2011 podium winners, here’s a shot of Dai driving his Discount Tire S13 Silvia back up the hill towards turns 10B and 10A.

Formula Drift Road Atlanta 2011 Daijiro Yoshihara Falken Discount Tire V8 LS1 S13 Silvia Supermade MotoIQ Mike Kojima SPD Metalworks Scott Dodgion KW Suspension

There are many things I like about Dai’s S13. It’s rocking the clean, simplistic lines of the Rocket Bunny aero kit, with some new fat lip, deep offset wheels, and KW Variant 3 coilovers that let Dai’s trackside engineers Scott Dodgion and Mike Kojima fine tune both compression and rebound adjustments of the suspension for different track conditions. Aside from tires, suspension tuning obviously plays a huge role in helping Dai win races.

Formula Drift Road Atlanta 2011 Daijiro Yoshihara Falken Discount Tire V8 LS1 S13 Silvia Supermade MotoIQ Mike Kojima SPD Metalworks Scott Dodgion KW Suspension

Here’s Daijiro in the horseshoe, doing tandem with Norwegian drift favorite Fredric Aasbo. Aasbo garnered a TON of attention last year, with his JZA80 Supra running around the track, making inspirational amounts of noise as his engine bounced off the rev limiter. He’s back this year as part of the Hankook Tires team, driving a Scion Racing tC.

Darren McNamara DMac ASD Falken Saturn Sky Pontiac Solstice Formula Drift 2011 Road Atlanta

When you think of drifting, you normally don’t think of the Pontiac Solstice or the Saturn Sky. However, this platform seems to work just fine for Darren McNamara from Ireland’s ProDrift series. Here’s a close up of Second Place winner D-Mac in the horseshoe, which allows us to check out the carbon fiber splitter bolted up to the front bumper.

Motormavens, MotorMavens.com, Oliver Petalver, Road Atlanta, Formula D, Formula Drift, FormulaD.com, Falken Tire, Darren McNamara, Saturn, Justin Pawlak, JTP

D-Mac’s Saturn Sky has an interesting hardtop that debuted at Long Beach last month. I wonder if Formula D fans prefer the hardtop or the convertible? I think the hardtop certainly looks interesting, giving the car a different look to it; however, I would think that a open-top roadster would be better for visibility – it also doesn’t capture all the tire smoke inside the cabin of the car.

Darren McNamara DMac ASD Falken Saturn Sky Pontiac Solstice Formula Drift 2011 Road Atlanta

I love this super clean shot from Oliver Petalver, showing D-Mac accelerating back up the hill with speed, angle, AND smoke.

Darren McNamara DMac ASD Falken Saturn Sky Pontiac Solstice Formula Drift 2011 Road Atlanta

Sometimes I don’t think people realize just how much of an elevation change exists at Road Atlanta. That hill is really steep! Here’s a shot that illustrates the elevation. Hey, notice McNamara’s door falling off?

Darren McNamara DMac ASD Falken Saturn Sky Pontiac Solstice Formula Drift 2011 Road Atlanta

Here’s another shot of D-Mac’s door falling, even though it looks like it was duct taped shut! Looks like a job for zipties!

Toshiki Yoshioka Formula Drift Road Atlanta 2011 D1GP Third Place trophy Retaks S13 Sileighty Driftspeed

Now, onto the Third Place podium finisher, Toshiki Yoshioka. Yoshi is the driver and mechanic of the Retaks S13, which says “skater” on the side when the text is reversed. Driving a car with big V8 power is certainly a different feeling for Yoshioka – he’s used to driving (and winning) drift events using an underpowered 4AG engine in his AE86 (with nitrous assist). If you don’t know the background on Yoshioka, you can watch this video profile of Yoshioka and his nitrous-assisted 4AG 20 valve AE86 after he won Formula D in Las Vegas.

That’s it for this installment of our Formula D Atlanta coverage… you can bet on seeing a whole lot MORE photos in just a few!

::Antonio Alvendia

Photos by Jonathan McWhorter, Oliver Petalver and Yoshi Shindo

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19 Responses

  1. @recklessrob: DAMN!!! I’m trippin. You’re so right. I KNEW THAT! How could I mess up on the Tra-Kyoto 6666! Damn man. I blame it on lack of sleep. I was fallin asleep at the keyboard as I wrote this last night. My bad. I’m slippin. Thanks for keeping me on point! 😀

  2. DJ Zombie

    GREAT pics and great writing! thas what we expect from motormavens. best coverage of formula d around

  3. Edgar

    Yoshioka’s follow run in his tandem with Wilkerson was mind blowing. I was seriously amazed at how close he was following him the whole run. Seriously so happy for him that he was able to podium. Hopefully he keeps doing well as the series progresses.

  4. Dai’s car runs on KW Motorsports dampers, not Variant III’s. These are very different, being monotube vs the twin tube of V III’s. They are also not two way adjustable but 3 way. You can adjust the high speed and low speed compression as well as the mostly low speed rebound all independently of each other.

    The shocks also have several custom modifications engineered by us in house to improve mechanical grip that are top secret and not available to the public.

    The shocks are a big advantage on Dai’s car and one of the secrets of how it can beat cars with much more power, especially after the rules changes for 2011 that made our rear suspension geometry changes illegal.

    The rules changes actualy forced us to think harder and make the car even faster than it was in 2010.

  5. @Mike Kojima: Awesome. Thanks for the clarification, Mike! I didn’t know you guys were running the KW Motorsports dampers this season. Outstanding work on the car – I know you had to redo a lot of things on it per the rules changes!

  6. Hi Antonio,

    Most of the Formula D crowd that runs KW uses the KW 2 way Motorsports dampers.

    Pat Mordaunt uses VIII’s. Ross Petty, Matt Powers and Mike Essa all run the 2 way Motorsports. These are different over VIII’s as the have a steel rather than a stainless steel body (stainless is a poor heat conductor so even though its better for street, steel is better for racing). They also have stiffer spring rates and valving vs VIII’s.

    The Clubsport (which in my opinion is the best grassroots suspension on the market) is the same as the motorsport other than the stainless body.

    Three way motorsports have an aluminum body and a remote reservoir. For the S chassis the fronts are also inverted like a rally shock for more stiffness. We used them and Berganholtz uses them.

    Not to many people, including pros know how to properly adjust multi way shocks though. If you do know how to use them, they are a huge edge over single adjustables.

    A really adjustable chassis teamed with a good driver that gives good feedback is important for success. People don’t realize how important handling is in drifting. Handling is right behind the driver and proably above power in importance.

  7. Mike, it’s pretty obvious that your ability to fine tune the handling of different cars based on the chassis and the driver and the racetrack is THE reason why you win events. Obviously Dai has amazing ability as a driver, but there are a LOT of great drivers in the Formula D series. I know that the difference is in the team behind him, which is why I texted you all after the event. CONGRATULATIONS to all of you! Thanks for dropping your pearls of wisdom on us and being a part of the MotorMavens community!!! We should all get together and have a drink to celebrate… not this weekend though. Well, maybe Friday? The Brig? Let’s figure something out.

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  9. @Mike Kojima: for sure I’m down! LMK when you’re available!

    @Ted: I don’t know the Streetwise guys myself (at least I don’t think I do?)… it really sucks that Andy wasn’t able to run though. It was the very FIRST FD ATL event that he missed, since the series started in 2004. =(

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