With temperatures breaching the 100 degree Fahrenheit mark and models such as Courtney Day walking around the Reliant Park in Houston, Texas, Formula D’s round three can only be described as hot. Throughout the parking lot were the recognizable colors and logo of Falken holding solid representation as usual. Team Toyo didn’t skip a beat either with their stable of drift-ready cars including Ken Gushi’s Mustang. Several more tire companies represented with their fleet of vehicles, including Nitto Tires, Cooper Tires (with Bubba Drift’s El Camino) and Kumho Tires with Enjuku Racing’s twin S13.5s blowing red smoke. With plenty of room to burn up rubber in the ridiculous heat, Formula D’s round three was ready for action.
Fan favorites Rhys Millen in his GTO and Samuel Hubinette in his Viper put on a show for everyone during the practice sessions. Even though tandem wasn’t really the main focus for practice sessions, Millen and Hubinette made it their priority to do a couple of passes together. The course was a rather difficult one with unsuspecting bumps that caused a lot of bruises. Friday’s festivities ended with Taka unfortunately putting his AE86 into the wall and landing on the side. The great story of the event however was their team staying up all night and morning getting the car back in shape for the top 16 qualifying session. Saturday’s great announcement brought Taka Aono a second place qualifying position with Rhys Millen leading the pack. Taka was ready for action, as were the other 15 drivers.
Saturday’s tandem battles started with Falken Tire’s Hubert Young battling Samuel Hubinette in the Mopar Dodge Viper. Hubinette proved too much for Falken’s Young, as the Viper moved on to the next round. Up next was another Falken car, as the air rang with the throaty rumble of JR Gittin’s Mustang. Battling against McKinney’s Tanner Foust, JR’s unfortunate spin out made the judges’ decisions come a little easier. A Falken vs. Falken battle then ensued with Conrad Grunewald holding his own against Calvin Wan. The G35 suffered a spin, sending another one of Falken’s cars back to the stable. The little Hachi-that-could of Taka Aono then battled on with JIC Magic’s S15 piloted by Andy Yen. Taka proved why he was the second place qualifier and went on to round two. 18-year old Toyo Tires drifter Ken Gushi then took on Forsberg of Falken. Unfortunately Forsberg was unable to follow Gushi’s line giving Ken the nod to round two as well. Local favorite Mike Peters of Bubba Drift battled it out with Tyler McQuarrie in the Jasper Supra. The Supra proved a handful to Peters as McQuarrie went onto the great 8. Pacific Rim’s S13 piloted by Dai battled against Falken’s SRX-7 piloted by Seigo Yamamoto. Falken’s hopes held strong as Yamamoto moved onto the second round. The last pair for round one brought out Rhys Millen’s GTO against James Bondurant’s Lexus IS300. With a near miss and a swift pass, Millen drifted his way into round two around Bondurant’s IS300.
Round two would prove extremely exciting, bringing Tanner Foust a win over Samuel Hubinette. Taka Aono’s Hachi once again landed into the wall and with an extremely damaged wheel he was unable to continue on. Ken Gushi then took out McQuarrie and the Jasper Supra, setting up a potential Toyo Tires win. Yamamoto’s spin out would end his chance at a podium finish as Millen looked like a strong favorite yet again. After an intermission with drift maniac Tarzan Yamada, round three began as the sun began to set in Houston. Falken’s Conrad would take a win over Tanner Foust in a heated battle leaving the battle of the domestics filling the air. Gushi ultimately took the win over Millen, setting the stage for the third-place battle.
Millen and Foust put on one hell of a show, but the American smoke bomb was dropped yet again and Millen drifted his way into a third-place podium finish. This left for a friendly Ken Gushi of Toyo Tires battle with Conrad Grunewald of Falken Tires. Gushi would live up to his name and reputation this event however as he succeeded to take the first place finish.
As all the smoke cleared and the teams began to pack up after a tough weekend of heat, Formula D goes back to the west coast to prepare for the Sonoma event. Be sure to keep your eyes out for in-depth Formula D coverage on Modified.com and Modified Magazine, as well as G4 TV!