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Formula D Thursday Night Drift Opener

Formula Drift gets back to grassroots slide sessions

Jun 19, 2014
Photographer: Mike Sabounchi

Thursday Night Drift Details:

  • Held in Irwindale, CA at Irwindale Speedway | Inaugural event
  • $100 to participate in drift sessions | Open to public | Reoccurring
  • Michael Essa, Forrest Wang, Kyle Mohan, and Justin Pawlak attend
  • Interview with privateers Tyler Barnick and Melissa Miller

S13sunsetsmoke Photo 2/41   |   S13sunsetsmoke

Everyone has his or her go to activity to escape boredom. For some it's a stroll on the beach and on the opposite end of the spectrum are those that slide their way to excitement. To cater to these hooligans Formula D established the inaugural Thursday Night Drift event held at the Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, CA, otherwise known as the "House of Drift."

S13wang interior Photo 3/41   |   S13wang Interior

While Formula D spec cars are usually backed up by large corporate sponsored budgets , the every day drifter tests and tunes on a much more frugal budget. Formula D cars can crash and look brand spanking new by the next round like a Playstation reset button where as the rest of us don't have it that easy. It's a hobby that requires deep pockets and balls of steel. This is what makes an event like Formula D's Thursday Night Drift special. We have grass-root drifters honing their skills in a safe, affordable and legal environment instead of Takumi wannabes driving their cars off a cliff.

For just $100 the event allows you to drift with beginners and even pros such as Michael Essa, Forrest Wang, Kyle Mohan, and Justin Pawlak who attended. Forrest Wang put on a show and brought his competition 2JZ powered Nissan 240sx. For the inaugural event, drivers had access to multiple track layouts that included the pro-level banking to simpler two-corner infield runs. For $10 the public could watch the action from the stands and pit area. Planned to occur once a month at Irwindale Speedway, the inaugural Formula D Thursday Night Drift had tech begin at 2pm, gates opened at 4pm and drifting commenced at 5pm and went until night. See schedule below for the next Thursday Night Drift meeting.

Tyler barnic nissan 240sx jdm tail lights Photo 10/41   |   Tyler Barnic Nissan 240Sx Jdm Tail Lights

Spectacular as it was to see the pros at a non-competition event, it was inspiring to see the privateers go at it. Especially Tyler Barnick. Every time I saw his beige Nissan 240SX run I found myself shutter happy just because of how consistent he was. And you can hear it too; he was smashing on that throttle. We even found girl drifter Melissa Miller getting sideways with her Nissan 350Z. (Sexy right?) On her last run she made contact with the wall, but luckily enough the battle scar wasn't too severe. We interviewed these up and coming drifters to find out what they thought about of the event (see page 2).

Formula D Thursday Night Drift Schedule:
June 12
July 24
August 14
September 25
November 13
December 18

Toyota tacoma x runner driver door Photo 11/41   |   Toyota Tacoma X Runner Driver Door
Forrestwang s13coupe night Photo 15/41   |   Forrestwang S13coupe Night
Michael essa race suit Photo 19/41   |   Michael Essa Race Suit
Forestwangs13 Photo 26/41   |   Forestwangs13
S13fulllock Photo 33/41   |   S13fulllock
Melissadrifts Photo 34/41   |   Melissadrifts

SS: What did you think of Formula D's Thursday Night Drift event?

TB: Thursday was really fun! I think a lot of people had been scared off by the lack of information about what this event was going to be. After how poorly some of the "sideways Sunday" events have been I can't blame 'em. I was expecting to show up and either find 300 cars lined up to go, or, see that NO ONE showed up at all. Thankfully for me, there were only a few drivers so everyone got tons of seat time. The course layout was fun, even if you were less experienced, and it was cool to have a decent crowd turnout too. Thanks to Justin Banner for announcing and keeping everyone entertained.

MM: I thought it was great! About time we get to drift Irwindale again at the grassroots level.

SS: How long have you been drifting?

Tyler barnick nissan 240sx front bumper Photo 35/41   |   Tyler Barnick Nissan 240Sx Front Bumper

TB: I've been drifting since I bought my first s13 in 2001. I've been trying to attend more track drifting events this year. In the past it's only been 3-4 events a year, and then street time as well.

MM: I've been drifting for 9 years.

SS: What inspired you to start drifting Tyler?

TB: D1 japan where even professional drift cars were still street style cars. The persona of the driver really showed through their cars. It kept style front and center and hadn't de-volved into this HP race we have today. Kazama made everything look effortless and smooth, dart Izumi jr and Kuroi brought speed and power, and Naoto Suenaga's s13 Silvia with all the chrome-lettering vinyl was definitely amazing. Ueo showed what true car control was by destroying competitors who had 2 and 3x more power than him, NOB had the full backing of HKS and put every bit of it to use in the Genki s15, while Nomuken entertained everyone both in and out of the car, and Ueno always had grace and elegance. Above all, my main inspiration was the king of 180SX, Emperor Koguchi. In the last 10 plus years I've only driven s13 (hatch, another hatch, a coupe, and now this gold hatch). His style is iconic, and I'm really excited for the next time my car gets refreshed with some genuine Koguchi Power parts on that are currently collecting dust in the garage.

SS: Who is your favorite drifter?

MM: I'm not sure. I like different drivers styles. Over the past year I like (Mad) Mike Whiddett and Mike Essa's style, but I don't think overall I could pick just one driver.

SS: Will we see you at the next Thursday Night Drift?

TB: I'm for sure planning on making it to the next event, this time with MORE tires to burn through. Hopefully more crowds will be there to enjoy drifting, but I hope not too many more drivers so I can still get plenty of laps in! I think my style of tuning is definitely far more J-style, street-style than many of the other drivers and cars, and I enjoy presenting that to people and seeing their reactions. Overall, it's a very fun event for both driver and spectator and I'm glad Irwindale Speedway was able to make this happen, plus it sure beats the two plus hour drive out to Willow!

MM: Most likely. Hopefully in my actual drift car! (It's at EP Racing in Texas just finishing the motor build)

Nissan 240sx volk te37 wheels Photo 36/41   |   Nissan 240Sx Volk Te37 Wheels

Tyler Barnick Nissan 240SX Specs:


Tyler barnick nissan 240sx rear spoiler Photo 37/41   |   Tyler Barnick Nissan 240Sx Rear Spoiler

BN Sports inverted hatch Unkown (allegedly Greddy) rear spoiler Oem kouki front bumper with oem lip, oem kouki side skirts Spirit rei kamikaze side steps and front splitter (splitter wasn't on the car last Thursday) First Molding rear diffuser Attain carbon exhaust guard. HIC window visors East bear mirrors


Recaro SPG and SRD seats, stack st8130 cluster, tomei boost gauge, tomei steering wheel, pivot shift knob (vertex shift knob for track) willans harness


180sx palmtrees irwindale Photo 38/41   |   180Sx Palmtrees Irwindale

Fineline tuning custom s14 knuckles and extended LCA Kts coilovers Spl tension rods, rear toe arms with eccentric lockout PBM rucas and steering rack solid relocation bushings Nismo power brace S14 rear subframe with Spl solid bushings Carbonetics 1.5 way LSD Z32 rear knuckles with spherical bushings, z32 rear brakes with z32 ebrake Z32 front calipers with z33 track rotors. Porterfield pads F&R. Good ridge stainless braided brake lines Uras fender braces Gt spec F&R tower bars, tanabe sway bars.


Redtop sr20det Built head (BC valves, springs, titanium retainers) Apexi head gasket, mazworx head studs, Greddy rocker stoppers, Greddy oil pan, Greddy filter relocation kit with oil cooler, hks gt2540 turbo, tomei cams, stainless manifold, PBM cobra downpipe, test pipe, Greddy DD exhaust, ARC custom mid-mount intercooler, koyorad, Greddy swirl pot, Greddy intake, Greddy Type R BOV. Stainless fuel line with xrp A/N fittings and aeromotive fpr and fuel filter Aem fuel 340lph pump Fineline custom s13.4 hybrid valve cover.

Melissa Drifts 350z Photo 39/41   |   Melissa Drifts 350Z

Melissa Miler Nissan 350Z Specs:


JDM Sport coilovers


JDM Sport Steering wheel


Jim Wolf dual cold air intake system, welded diff.

S13dream Drift Photo 40/41   |   S13dream Drift
Tyler barnick nissan 240sx passenger door Photo 41/41   |   Tyler Barnick Nissan 240Sx Passenger Door
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