Pictured: Fredric Aasbo (Left) & Ken Gushi (Right) compete in the 2018 Formula DRIFT Black Magic Pro Championship at Orlando Speedworld on April 28th. (Photo Credit:Larry Chen for Toyota Racing)
Written by Derek Robbie
Orlando, FL — On Saturday, April 28th, Orlando Speed World hosted its third Formula D event in the last three years. Formula D is short for Formula DRIFT Black Magic Pro Championship, and 2018 is the 15th year as the premier professional drifting circuit in the United States.
Formula D is the most expressive of all the professional motorsports. Unlike almost all motorsports, going extremely fast around a racetrack is not the most important factor in drift competitions. Once the drivers have qualified into the Round of 32, they compete head-to-head around the track.
The drivers get two runs against their competition, one where said driver leads the run and sets the pace, the second where the driver follows and tries to stay as close to the lead driver without touching the side of the leading car. When the driver is the following car, they must match the angle and speed of the lead cars drift while staying as close as possible to the lead car.
Additionally, there are three judges who decide what driver won each round. The drivers are judged on line, speed, and angle. The drivers in Formula D are scored on a points deduction system. Meaning that every driver starts with 100 points, and with every mistake, there are points deducted. There are times when the judges deem that both drivers tied, resulting in an OMT (one more time), so they then have a second battle to specify who won that particular round.
It was awesome to see how accessible the drivers were to the fans. Fans could walk right up to where teams were working on the car and talk to the drivers or mechanics. There are not many professional sports that give all of their fans that sort of V.I.P. treatment.
Drifting is one of the most diverse professional sports in the United States. Out of the 32 drivers that qualified there were eight different countries represented.
The common theme among most of these drivers is that they have grown up as if cars were an extension of their own body.
“It wasn’t until I was about 13 when my dad and I were like ‘Hey we should try some rally racing.’, but we didn’t really know where to start.” Said Ken Gushi, or as some call him the OG of Drifting, of Toyota Racing. “My friend told us about this dried lake bed that was easily accessible. So, we started taking our family’s Toyota Corolla AE86, and started messing around. Around the same time, I found this anime series called Initial D which features an 18-year-old kid who delivers tofu in the middle of the night in his AE86. Coincidentally, that was the same car that we had, and found out that it was this iconic drift car in Japan.”
“And one day I sat up late night and watched YouTube, in the early days of YouTube,” Said the 2016 and 2017 Formula D Orlando event winner, Fredrick Aasbø. “And came across the sport called drifting, and I fell in love with it right there and then. I remember watching this guy driving a Toyota Corolla AE86, and he was ripping up this mountain road in Japan called the Tōge. So, ten years from watching that video I was battling that driver in Long Beach, California.”
In this year’s event, Aasbø battled hard and strong but could not defend his back-to-back win, but he still finished on the podium in third.
Be sure to go online and look up some highlights of Formula D, and check out where the closest event is to you, and you will fall in love with the sport.
Or you can check out some of the action from the event here.