It's drifting season! One of our favorite times of the year, when tire smoke hangs in the air and our minds drift off (pun totally intended) to thoughts of high-horsepower engines banging off the limiter, steering wheels cranked all the way to full lock, and tandem pairs getting super intimate. In recent days, we've run coverage of the 2018 Top Drift Pro-Am season opener and a featurette on pro Forrest Wang's new livery on his 2JZ-motivated Nissan S15 Silvia, a spotlight shot at Vegas Drift's Spirit of the Streets event (which we'll have expanded coverage for in the next few days). Before long the start of the Formula DRIFT season will be upon us, which means teams galore are out getting in shape for the Long Beach opener—teams like RAD Industries and Chris Forsberg Racing.
Our boy RAD Dan Burkett tipped us off to a test-n-tune day he would be attending out at Willow Spring International Raceway's Balcony in Rosamond, Calif., and before he could prevent us from going we had weaseled our way into his trailer and stowed away in the trunk of his Toyota Mk4 Supra. Ok, not really—he was actually very welcoming and accommodating, but generally these things tend to be pretty low-key and off the radar, since in some cases the cars aren't even finished. And besides, dialing in a race car can be pretty mundane stuff unless you're a hardcore fan (like us!)
We'd heard three-time series champ Chris Forsberg would also be at Balcony with his twin-turbo 370Z, but when we got there we were surprised to find 2011 champ Dai Yoshihara and his team working the bugs out of his naked and unmasked LS-powered Subaru BRZ. In fact, Dai was just finishing up his session at the track, the car headed next to get its new livery for 2018, but in the few moments we watched the V8-swapped coupe it looked like it was ready to bring fire to the streets of Long Beach.
Shortly after Dan and his crew unloaded the RAD Industries Supra, Chris and his posse showed up. The new livery on his NOS Energy Drink-sponsored Z is pretty sweet, but not as sweet as the burly-sounding VQ under the hood. Famed Chicago-area tuners AMS Performance built the V6 mill—their first ALPHA VQ engine—using an RJ Manufacturing closed-deck block outfitted with a Brian Crower 4.0-liter stroker kit, JE pistons, and AMS Turbo Garrett G25-660 snails, among a host of other go-fast goodies. In fact pretty much the entire car has been stripped down and rebuilt in the off-season, with shop Fast Intentions doing a sizable portion of the heavy lifting in the reassembly. Some of the metalwork under the hood by Chris and his fabricator Dylan Hughes came out absolutely sick!
As for Dan's Supra, it too looked in tiptop shape for the upcoming 2018 kickoff. In the off-season he welcomed some new partners to his program, including Engine Supply, Fuel Safe, Radium Engineering, and others, which have worked to extract some 900-plus horsepower from the powertrain. At all four corners he now rocks Reinharte coilovers and Gram Lights 57CR rollers in Gunblue II, and Dan's wife Renee again knocked it out of the park with the killer livery design, which was laid over a dazzling metal-flaked blue applied by JV Auto Body & Paint.
All told, the trio of competitors looked ready to rock when April 6th rolls around, the start of this year's FD championship. Of course, ready in testing and ready to battle in real life are two distinctly different things, but with Irish super driver James Deane coming back this season to defend his title, everyone's work is pretty much cut out for them. Look for coverage of Round 1 in a week or so, and in the meantime flood your eye holes with the sights from testing in our gallery below.