We’re less than four weeks away from the Round 1 of Formula Drift 2014, but before we officially get ready to kick it off, we thought we’d take one last look back at last year with our 10 favorite photos from the 2013 season. So, without further ado:
10. Working Through the Night
The appeal of motorsports usually comes from a place of glamour – watching drivers manipulate their cars into doing things few people in the world are capable of, seeing them effortlessly race by grandstands full of spectators as they do battle on the track, and feeling that wave of noise hit you as they leave a trail of tire smoke in their wake. In this regard, Formula Drift is certainly no exception.
What few consider is the work that makes that kind of emotion possible. Papadakis Racing has long been considered one of the best crews in the business, and that reputation comes directly from the effort that Stephan, Shawn, and Aldo put into building and maintaining the Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC. Seeing the team work through the night to prepare the car for Fredric pushing it to its absolute limit is far from a rare sight, and has no doubt played a significant role in his continued success.
9. Kill All Tires
Just competing in Formula Drift is hard enough considering the quality of the drivers in the field, but doing so with an entirely new build takes something else entirely. Tony Angelo and his TAngelo Racing squad are a small, but dedicated unit who have been instrumental in making the American drift scene what it is today. Despite a lack of resources, they’ve managed to turn the TAngelo Racing Scion FR-S into by far one of the most competitive cars in the series today.
The 2AZ motor sourced from his former Scion tC pairs extraordinarily well with the ZN6 chassis, with evidence of that becoming increasingly apparent as the season progressed. The car was hand built by Tony’s team at his personal shop, where it laid rubber down on the pavement for the very first time.
8. The House of Drift
Formula Drift the organization rightly receives credit for serving as the architect of the House of Drift. It was their team that helped set up the very first D1GP exhibition at Irwindale Speedway, and in turn, helped bring the drift scene into the mainstream. But, for all their efforts, none of it would’ve been possible with the drivers who turned the venue into the epicenter of American drift.
Among them was a teenaged and license-less Ken Gushi, for whom Irwindale served as a place where he could hone the skills that would take him down the path toward becoming a professional driver. Those roots have made him a natural ambassador for the sport, a role in which he’s served better than anyone could have asked, and has given him the right more than almost anyone else to call Irwindale Speedway his home track.
7. Throwdown in Seattle
If there was ever any doubt that Fredric Aasbo belonged among Formula Drift’s best, his 2013 season completely erased all of it. Fredric easily submitted the most consistent year of any driver, as the only one to earn a Top 8 finish at every event of the year. The highlight of his season came at Evergreen Speedway, where he battled down driver after driver en route to a podium finish.
To earn the spot, he went head to head with Odi Bakchis in an all-out duel that drew a one more time ruling from the judges. During their second set of runs, Fredric pushed Odi hard enough that Odi’s tires debeaded, which ultimately ended up earning Fredric the victory.
6. Clipping Point Explosions
Longtime followers of Tony will know that he has a very distinct driving style – one that’s aggressive almost to the point of being violent. While that occasionally gets him in trouble, that same all-out mentality is what’s made him one of the most talked about drivers in the series, and a huge part of why Formula Drift is one of the fastest growing motorsports around.
During Round 2 at Road Atlanta, Tony threw caution to the wind as he pushed HARD around the outside of horseshoe. In the process, he dipped the rear wheels of the TAngelo Racing Scion FR-S off track and gave us a chance to see exactly what’s inside those illuminated clipping points we’re all used to seeing.
5. Defining Proximity
2013 was easy on neither Ken nor the GReddy Racing team, as they fell back early on due to mechanical issues beyond their control. As a result, they went into the New Jersey round fired up and ready to reclaim their spot among the series’ best. Ken was on point the entire weekend, and no more was that more obvious than during his battle with Vaughn Gittin Jr.
Starting out as the chase driver, Ken threw out an impressive run that had him within inches of making contact with Vaughn. It’s that kind of precision driving that’s made Ken one of the best drivers in the series, and the GReddy Racing Scion FR-S by far one of its most popular cars.
4. Opposite Lock
Photos alone make it difficult to get a sense of how jarring the transition from Wall Speedway’s bank to its inner track is, and the skill that it takes to hold line, angle, and speed the entire way through. While that’s not something you can necessarily see through the photo of Tony above, you can certainly see the result of doing just that.
Despite the fact that at the time, the TAngelo Racing team was still getting the car dialed in, Tony let loose and produced some of the highest speeds and deepest angle of any driver at the event. It gave us our first real glimpse of the potential within the TAngelo Racing Scion FR-S fully tapped.
3. Monster Jam
In one of the most iconic moments of the 2013 season, Fredric and Vaughn Gittin Jr. got tangled up as they prepared to initiate into Turn 10 at Road Atlanta. As Fredric initiated, Vaughn misjudged his line and ended up driving not just into, but completely over the Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC, tearing off its bumper in the process.
The most impressive of the incident came immediately afterwards, however, as both drivers continued without missing a beat. Fredric, completely unfazed, immediately closed the gap and went door to door with Vaughn through the loop and back down to the start as everyone in the stands sat stunned. It’s these moments that make you truly understand why Fredric has adopted Hold Stumt (or, in English, Never Lift) as his signature phrase.
2. Smoke and Sky
Palm Beach International Raceway is nestled away within South Florida, located in the middle of a vast expanse of water and marshland. The humid temperatures make it a difficult event for teams and spectators alike, though the uniqueness of the venue also makes it one of the most photogenic on the Formula Drift circuit.
During one of Ken’s practice runs in the GReddy Racing Scion FR-S, everything seemed to fall perfectly into place almost cinematically, as he slid his way past the final inside clipping point of the course. The run was so picture perfect, in fact, that we offered it up in canvas form as part of our Driven 2 Drift sweepstakes late last year.
1. Making History
It’s been called the greatest battle in Formula Drift history, and for good reason. With a spot in the Top 8 at Long Beach on the line, Fredric Aasbo and Daigo Saito went toe to toe, over, and over, and over again for a chance to continue on in the event. The two drivers repeatedly traded punches, hanging onto each other’s’ doors as they wound their way through Turns 9, 10, and 11 of the FDLB course.
In his Speedhunters post recounting the battle, Fredric noted that they were both smiling with their entire bodies after the runs, giving each other thumbs up. From the stands, however, it just looked like two of the best on the grid, emptying out everything they had left in the tank. Though we didn’t know it at the time, it would be a sign of Fredric’s 2013 season, triumphing over one of the best to take his place among them.