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Ryuji Miki and Joon Woo Maeng - Up Close and Personal

Meet The Scene's Hottest Drivers

Terence Patrick
Dec 18, 2007
Photographer: Super Street Archives
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2007 ushered in the latest generation of drifters, sending more amateur level drivers into the ranks of pro superstardom, or at least, on their way to success. Not only are we beginning to see talent rise from the least likely of places, but it's also attracting stars from Japan who had nearly fallen out of sight, thus reigniting their careers and elevating the game to another level. Joon Maeng virtually came out of nowhere to become one of Formula D's most unsung heroes while Ryuji Miki dusted off his drifting shoes for a chance to ride for Bergenholtz Racing.

Ryuji Miki

It wasn't long ago that Ryuji Miki stood as one of Japan's finest drifters, taking home the '04 D1 championship with Top Secret Japan's S15 Silvia. But after a less successful follow up the year after in Top Secret's RB-powered Z33, Ryuji nearly dropped out of sight until '07, when Ron Bergenholtz and A'PEXi asked him to come drive Youichi Imamura's former LHD A'PEXi back-up FD RX-7, this time resprayed in traditional Bergenholtz fashion. Noticeably thinner than his D1 heydays, Ryuji had placed himself on a strict diet and began exercising before the '07 season started, and also had to adjust to driving on the left side. Ryuji's first year as a pro driver in an American series landed him in 14th place overall, and he will return this year on a stronger note.

JOON WOO MAENG

Break out the soju glasses, Joon Maeng could become the first Korean drifter to hit it big. While most Formula D competitors have some sort of sponsorship backing, Joon started off with nada. He traveled on his own dime, paid for tires with his own money and lived on Cup `O Noodles to make sure he hit every Formula D event this year. He may not have placed high in points, but his dedication to the sport is what makes him shine. It's this competitive drive that will ultimately put him into the top later down the road. At the '07 Formula D awards banquet, his fellow drivers and peers voted Joon the "Spirit of Drifting," a name so fitting for a genuine and passionate individual such as himself.

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Ryuji Miki
A'PEXI/BERGENHOLTZ MAZDA/NITTO DRIFT FD3S RX-7
Height/Weight: 5'11"/unknown
Hometown: Tottori, JapanDOB: 06/14/75
Nickname/s: Koala Bear
Affiliations: None
Competing Professionally: Since `03
Day Job: Professional Drifter
Crew Chief/Team Members: Tomoteru Koshikawa
Cars Drifted In: FD3S, S13/S14/S15 Silvia
Current Engine Setup: 13BREW
Fastest Entry Speed: 190km/h
Career Highlight/s: 2004 D1 Champion
Best Known For: 2004 D1 Champion
WWW: www.apexi-usa.com; nittotire.com

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Joon Woo Maeng
S-EMPIRE S13.5
Height/Weight: unknown
Hometown: Seoul, Korea
DOB: 07/10/82
Nickname/s: Spirit of Drifting
Affiliations/Car Clubs: S-Empire
Competing Professionally: first year, but five years total experience with drifting
Crew Chief/Team Members: Amphol Tongkul, Kevin Lee, Amy Song, Chiradeth Fakthong, Akaruk Thavilyati, Sunk Park, Ruben Olague
Cars Drifted In: Z33, S13, AE86, Z32
Current Engine Setup: SR20DET Red Top pushing 312 hp with 270 lb-ft
Fastest Entry Speed: 81.3 mph
Career Highlight/s: Competing in Formula D; Taking the "Spirt of Drifting" award at the `07 Formula D awards banquet
WWW myspace.com/joonmaeng

By Terence Patrick
64 Articles

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