What happens when you mix four of Toyota’s Formula DRIFT pro drivers, two pbskids editors, and a brand new 86 at Irwindale Speedway? Drifting lessons, of course! It was a bittersweet experience since news dropped about the lame shopping center (or whatever) that’s going to replace the iconic short oval known as the House of Drift. But I digress – Toyota Racing was kind enough to invite us for a mini drift clinic with their Formula D team that includes Fredric Aasbo, pilot of the Rockstar Energy Drink Corolla iM, who’s sitting 2nd place in championship points at 486, Ryan Tuerck, driver of the Gumout 86, holding it down in 7th with 321 points, Ken Gushi wheelman of the Greddy Performance 86, in 18th with 212 points, and Jhonnattan Castro, ace hot-shoe piloting the Gerdau Metaldom 86, in 20th at 192 points. Magazine Editor Sam Du and I got paired up with Castro as our instructor. To raise the stakes, the guys at Toyota gave us a heads up that there would be a donut competition, but it’s worth noting historically pbskids editors aren’t the best drivers (¯\_(ツ)_/¯).
The driving exercises started with a basic slalom, which sets us up to be smooth and consistent with the throttle. Of course, with our lead foot and inner rebel, we may have killed a few cones and accelerated into zones we weren’t supposed to.
The next exercise was where things got interesting. The FD drivers – in our case Castro – drove us around cones and demonstrated understeer and CPR, which in racing speak is shorthand for “correction,” “pause,” and “recovery.” We both got five minutes of training with Castro and had a quick lunch before the donut competition. The Formula D drivers that weren’t assigned to us judged the competition and while I hate to toot my own horn, I got a 9 and the rest of the media at the event got a 5 or below. I was crowned the “donut king” and took home a $50 Dunkin Donut gift card, as well as some Boost Brigade swag. I can now brag to my friends that I won a drifting competition at Irwindale Speedway, judged by professional Formula D drivers. Later that day I also got carsick riding shotgun with Ken Gushi in his 2JZ powered Toyota 86.
It’s going to be a historic weekend as Formula DRIFT says goodbye to Irwindale Speedway. We can’t thank Toyota enough for giving us this once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you’re watching the event, be sure to keep an eye out for Toyota’s drivers in one last hurrah at the House of Drift.