It's thrilling to see the progress of drifting skill level in the U.S. Take away the competition aspect, the corporate sponsorships, the drama, and you're left with extremely talented drivers who weren't always born in Japan. Take for example, Geoff Stoneback, who was born and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania. After his Formula D rookie season in '14, he was crowned Rookie of the Year. The next year, he was given the name "Giant Killer" when he took down Tanner Foust and Fredric Aasbo in Road Atlanta. This year he's made big moves, picking up Turn 14 as a sponsor and partnering with Chris Forsberg to campaign one of his Nissan 370Zs. But at the end of the day, Geoff is still a car guy who enjoys building cars, and this past March, he teased photos of his S15 Silvia project. Needless to say, we fell in love with the car and finally caught up with the homie during his unexpected appearance at Gridlife.
Please tell everyone a little bit about yourself and what you do for a living.
I'm 30 years young from Pennsylvania living in Philadelphia and I'm a professional driver in the Formula DRIFT series. I also work as a mechanic running my own shop, "the J-Block" with Dan Popowich. When I'm not doing something car-related, I like to ride bikes, both BMX and road cycling, and spend time outdoors with my family.
When did you get involved in the scene?
I was always into engines and cars, but I found the "tuner scene" back in '02, around The Fast and The Furious era. I was young and still in high school. My two best friends (still to this day) showed me what drifting was. One of them, Jordan, was from the Bahamas, so they had all the cool Japanese cars: GT-R, Pulsars, Evo III, FD RX7. We watched Option and Grip videos, which were pretty crazy because I saw drivers like Ken Gushi, Chris Forsberg (pre-beard), Forrest Wang, and a bunch of Japanese drivers. Then Jordan showed me a video of himself "drifting," basically doing donuts and figure-8s. I was instantly hooked and wanted to get into drifting. So my friends and I bought some 240s and tried to mimic what drivers were doing in the videos. After a while, and a bunch of small accidents, we linked up with local pro drifter Matt Waldin at his shop, Import Intelligence, and from time to time we would go street drifting. He introduced us to Club Loose based in Englishtown, New Jersey. From then on, I just kept going to every event I could, driving and practicing my drifting, and eventually worked my way up to where I am today!
What were some of your previous cars that you've built?
I first started with an '04 Subaru WRX. I was going to Universal Technical Institute (UTI) at the time so I thought it would be cool and easy to build a pretty killer streetcar. Horrible idea. Maybe I just sucked at driving then or just pushed it too hard, but it kept on breaking, thing after thing. I got real good at rebuilding the transmissions-I'll keep it at that!
I put that car on hold and got a used Evo 8 as a daily driver, but that too soon turned into another project. It started with injectors, 272 cams, and a GT35R. After I blew the transfer case, I got the motor built to a 2.3L and did a Sheppard trans and transfer case. It was a pretty rad car, made about 625 hp on pump gas.
As I got more into drifting, I eventually sold those cars and started just tinkering a lot with 240s. From there, I built an RB25DET S14, which Matt Waldin helped out with a ton! Once I went to Club Loose, I dipped on the all-wheel-drive cars and just focused on really old, crappy 240s. Once the RB25 blew up, I threw in an LS1 with the late, great Mark Lenardon and used that car in Pro-Am, winning my license '13. Once I got my license, I built my first Formula DRIFT car, an 800-whp LSX S14, with one of my best friends and spotter in FD, Dan Popowich. That car helped me clinch Rookie of the Year in '14.
Why'd you pick up this S15?
From watching so many drifting videos and the guys driving right-hand-drive S15s, it appeared to be the one car that everyone wished came to the U.S. Once I was able to get my hands on one, I realized I never really wanted to drift it! After having multiple S14 drift cars, I knew I needed one sweet street/show car. The car was just way too nice to get beat up!
What makes the car stand apart from the rest?
To be honest, having this car in the U.S. is unique on its own, but having such a stellar paint job that makes it pop really makes it stand out!
What's your favorite part?
Wheels, paint, and all 110 horses.
110 hp? Tell us you have plans...
The future plan for this car is an RB25NEO, which should be done in the next couple of months. I'm going to use a Collins trans adapter and pair it up with a 350Z six-speed trans. Then I think I will take it to Englishtown and drift it. Yes, I will, but only once! I don't really want to make an insane amount of horsepower, but I think 500 whp should be good!
His Other, Other Whip
For his first two seasons of Formula DRIFT, Geoff ran his homebuilt LS-powered Nissan S14. This year, he's campaigning a 370Z, the very same car driven by former FD champ Chris Forsberg in the infamous Hoonigan "Black Friday" video. The Z34 has everything a drifter could dream of, including a 1,000hp VK56, dogbox tranny, Voodoo arms, and Winters quick-change rear end. Geoff says, "Transitioning into the Z chassis from an S14, I knew it would be a tough challenge. But with a solid team and mentor, each event I'm progressing!"