The 2012 Formula Drift season feels at times like it left as quickly as it came. It’s difficult to believe that it’s been nearly a year since the three Scion Racing drift teams were busy gearing up their cars for Round 1 on the Streets of Long Beach. Still, as brief as the year seems retrospectively, much of that could be attributed to the feats we were fortunate enough to witness on the track. Each event of the season seemed to bring with it an innumerable number of moments that reinforced exactly why drifting has grown to become as popular as it is.
That said, narrowing that list of moments down to our 5 favorites was an exceedingly difficult task, but we think the ones we’ve chosen appropriately capture Scion Racing’s year in drift. So, without further ado:
5. Ken Gushi makes the Top 4 at Evergreen Speedway
Securing a top 10 finish in a field of over 60 competitors is a daunting task in and of itself. Doing it in a brand new car with absolutely no data behind it? That kind of effort takes both a special driver and an exceptional team. Ken Gushi and the GReddy Racing team proved that they were more than up to the challenge, as they took the GReddy Racing Scion FR-S to an 8th Place finish this season, highlighted by a Top 4 performance at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington.
Though Ken’s qualify runs placed him only 14th going into the tandem rounds, he worked past his positioning to take out Kenny Moen, Toshiki Yoshioka, and Colin Grunewald in short order. This led Ken to a spot in the event’s semi-finals, and a match up with Ryan Tuerck, where he was finally eliminated due in large part to the car’s engine misfiring. While the engine issues would also cause him to fall to Rhys Millen in the consolation round, the performance of both Ken and the GReddy Racing team proved that together they’re in the beginning stages of something big, and helped set the stage for what’s to come in 2013.
4. Tony Angelo steps out of the judges’ booth and returns to Formula Drift competition
The work that Tony Angelo put into Formula Drift during his three-year hiatus from driving resulted in some much needed reform for the series, but that time away also left fans wanting for his aggressive driving style. Accordingly, his return to the track in 2012 was both highly anticipated and warmly received, and he made a near seamless transition into the seat of Ken Gushi’s former Scion tC.
In spite of running a relatively small program this season, Tony and the TAngelo Racing crew were able to qualify for the Top 32 at each of the year’s seven events, even advancing to the Top 16 at two of them. Similarly impressive was the fact that he managed those accomplishments while pulling double duty as one of the primary mechanics of the car’s 2AZ motor. There are few people as dedicated to furthering the sport of drifting as Tony, so we couldn’t have been more honored to be a part of his return tour.
3. Fredric Aasbo takes 2nd Place on the podium at Road Atlanta
Fredric Aasbo’s third year competing in Formula Drift was his best to date, as his consistent driving powered the Need for Speed Scion tC to a 6th place finish in the series. The work that the Papadakis Racing team put into the car during the offseason helped him off to a quick start with a Top 16 finish during Round 1 in Long Beach, but Fredric’s year didn’t really take off until the following round at Road Atlanta.
A 3rd overall qualifying run would come to set the tone for the remainder of the weekend, as Fredric looked increasingly dialed in with each race. His aggressive lines and tight chase laps allowed him to eliminate both Robbie Nishida and Kyle Mohan in the first two rounds of competition. The momentum that he carried forward from those two victories also played a key role in getting him past former champion Rhys Millen and eventual 2012 series champion Daigo Saito, on his run to the night’s final battle against Justin Pawlak. Fredric would end the night taking the 2nd spot on the podium, with a finish that was at the time his best ever in FD.
2. Aasbo takes on 4 former FD champs on the way to 2nd Place in Las Vegas
There’s something to be said for doing things the hard way, and in the case of Aasbo’s run in Las Vegas, that something was along the lines of, “Wow.” He started off the weekend in a big way, submitting the highest qualifying score of any driver that weekend. While that earned up the top spot in the bracket, that also came with the unenviable position of being matched up with 2009 champ Chris Forsberg in the very first round.
Despite the less than favorable matchup, Fredric advanced to the next round, where he was then pit against reigning champ, Dai Yoshihara. Though Dai put up a tough battle, Fredric was able to eliminate him and move on to the 3rd round. There, Aasbo caught the slightest of breaks when he was matched up with Tyler McQuarrie, a perennial contender, but Fredric’s only opponent of the night without a championship to his name. After moving past McQuarrie, Aasbo went on to win his tandem run against 2010 champ Vaughn Gittin Jr. in the semi-finals, before finally being taken out by 2005 champ Rhys Millen in the finals of what was a breathtaking event.
1. The GReddy Racing Scion FR-S makes its competitive debut in Long Beach
2012 was a big year for the Scion Racing team, but it was also an important one for motorsports enthusiasts for one reason – the debut of the Scion FR-S. The team at GReddy has long been an important partner for the Scion Racing program, providing not just parts, but also technical knowledge and years of experience into many of the cars we place into competition. Accordingly, they were a natural fit when we were searching for a team to help us prepare the FR-S for Formula Drift.
Immediately after getting the FR-S into their garage, the GReddy Racing team was hard at work, secretly building the car from the ground up months before the start of competition. In just a limited amount of time, they were able to have the car set up and ready to go for its eventual debut. By the time Ken Gushi finally hit the track in Long Beach, it was clear that GReddy had tuned the car to near perfection. Their work helped push Ken to a Top 8 finish at Round 1, and perhaps more importantly, sent a loud message to the motorsports community – the future of drift is here to stay.