Ryan Tuerck, professional drift machine mastermind and official Formula DRIFT series mainstay has his work cut out for him. While the pilot of a 2JZ-powered Toyota 86 that finished 9th overall in '16, a constant drive to succeed gnaws at the New Hampshire-native like a ravenous beast, however, part of Ryan Tuerck knows that he's still ahead of the pack in a multitude of ways.
THE RISE OF RYAN
Since a tender age, Ryan has been obsessed by anything with wheels, and upon realizing how much fun being airborne truly was, an infatuation with BMX and motocross began to form. By the age of nine, his father had already bought him his first dirt bike, and by the time he was ten, racing motocross had become a weekly ritual, an infatuation that would eventually lead him through a decade of high-flying adventures. By 20, the young prodigy was growing tiresome of bikes and needed a fresh fix. So like any true adrenaline junkie, Ryan didn't kick his addiction, he just switched-up his drug of choice. Since Tuerck already had a nurtured interest in all things automobiles, all it took was one wild ride in the passenger seat of a buddy's Fox Body Mustang, and the proverbial toggle switch had been flipped. After a hellacious ride filled with donuts, burnouts, and half-assed drifts, Ryan was hooked. And upon returning home, he and his brother formed a pact and pooled their money. The prize? A POS '91 Mustang 5.0.
Months later, Ryan had ascertained that this obscure "drifting procedure" he had been attempting in abandoned mall parking lots was indeed a legitimate Japanese motorsport. It was at this point that things suddenly got serious, as he dumped the 'Stang in favor of a Nissan 240SX. By the time '03 rolled around, Ryan had already competed and won his first formal event, at which point he befriended characters like Tony Angelo, Chris Forsberg, and Vaughn Gittin Jr., all of whom were already teetering on the cusp of fame.
By this point Ryan had become so engrossed with drifting that it was all he could think about. Every spare penny went toward things like fresh parts, tires, and fuel. And like many of us, every night he'd be glued to the TV watching his collection of Option DVDs. Since he didn't own a truck or a trailer, his 240 drift missile served double duty as a daily driver. This also meant that when one event a month wasn't cutting the mustard, empty parking lots and abandoned street corners were fair game for being bombarded.
Ryan had also become increasingly methodical about how he spent his limited financial resources and what he did while behind the wheel. Clutch kick entries and not having the funds to buy an SR engine had been the bane of his existence all the way up until '04, and while fancy footwork certainly requires some practice, a turbo upgrade was mandatory for boosting his chances of making the cut at larger events. This pricey compromise paid-off though, and after winning a handful of events and scoring some free tires here and there, Ryan was well on his way to scoring his first big break.
'05 brought with it the official start of Ryan's professional drift career, despite the fact that he was only able to afford competing in two Formula D events that year. First up was Atlanta, and after pilfering a work van from his dad and borrowing a trailer from a friend, Ryan took all of his shitty OEM wheels and spare 15-inch tires and headed south with his brother and a friend. This marked the first time Ryan had ever been on a dedicated course with his drift career, which in his words was both "eye opening and nerve racking." Driving like crap and making mistakes left and right, he left dejected and amazed by what had just transpired.
Ryan came home to New Hampshire, regained his senses and spent several months preparing for the next big event in Chicago. He unearthed a proving ground in Maine-a four-lane wide straightaway and a giant cul-de-sac that could be approached from either side, and was hitting it sideways every chance he got. When it was finally event time, both the van and the trailer he had used before were gone, which meant he was driving in his drift car, nearly 1,000 miles, on his own, in order to compete once more. Upon arrival, the fledgling drift specialist was dismayed to discover that he had driven all that way for a parking lot event with much lower speeds than he was accustomed to. After some solid practice runs, he managed a killer run that qualified him second. Unfortunately, he didn't end up making it into the final round; however, the entire experience proved to be a huge win for the rookie, and marked the beginning of his professional driving career.
Shortly after, a close friend advised Ryan to compete in DMCC pro events in Canada. After his first event, Ryan found himself sweeping the competition, earning him a set of free tires and a $1,000 purse. This perk helped him get to the next round where he landed on the podium once more, which later earning him the title of '05 DMCC champion. From there, a deal with Cooper Tire and Discount Tire allowed him to compete in the '06 Formula D season, and the rest is history, having competed full-time in FD ever since.
Nowadays, Ryan is accustomed to being slung sideways courtesy of a 2JZ powertrain and pure adrenaline. He appears to be part-pro, part-average Joe, and part-plucky race enthusiast; and with a legion of fans clamoring for more, the future looks bright for the 32-year-old, especially with his new toy—the one and only Ferrari-powered '13 Scion FR-S that's been cleverly nicknamed the "Toyota GT4586."
Numb by the noise of the intakes sucking sweet oxygen from beneath the cowl, he careens around a corner, the short-shifting hatch eating, breathing, and occasionally bleeding much like you and I would, but with far sharper intentions than either of us could ever muster. It's a demonic, bright red middle-finger to every staunch tradition surrounding "performance purity," filthily layered with nimble handling and stopping power upgrades. Unfortunately, the masses tend to take things at face value and don't always consider what something like this is capable of, especially when it's all polished up pretty, sitting under the glossy lights of SEMA. They'll say things like, "Oh look. A Ferrari engine in the front of a Toyota. Bet they can't even drift," and then they talk about the car's stance, point at the 'caged cabin a few times, and walk on to the next machine at the show. If only all the simpletons and non-believers were able to grasp what goes into building, driving, and maintaining an unholy automotive manuscript like this, they too would sit down for a minute and realize that dirty deeds aren't always done dirt cheap.
It's incredible to think about how far we've come technologically, both as drivers and enthusiasts. The old timers tell us "how good we've got it," but they've got a point because if it weren't for tech advancements, swaps like these would be completely impossible. Plopping a V-8 from a mid-engine Ferrari 458 into a lightweight, line-carving Toyota chassis requires plenty of guesswork. For example, how to properly pipe the exhaust, determine which transmission to use, and figure out the best way in which the protruding intakes should cut into the hood of the car. But after some stressful moments where trial and error made success seem like a diminishing dream, Tuerck and his band of merrymakers were able to fit the lumbering F136 engine and all of its finicky needs into the 86's front-end. Here are a few insights into what turned out to be one of the most unorthodox build stories in history...
After signing with Gumout, Ryan made mention that he wanted to build a fun project car, something like an old Celica with a 2J. But that swap had already been done, and since Ryan had always fantasized about putting a supercar engine in a commonplace chassis, an alternative pitch was proffered. At first, everyone thought he was bonkers, but with the help of Kinnon Marshall from Sport Dimensions, Huddy Racing as acting fab shop, and Donut Media serving as media gurus, a green light was eventually given by the powers-that-be.
Fitting a Ferrari engine into any kind of chassis is a challenge, and once mounted, a lot of work went into figuring out how to make the damn thing run. The stock crank trigger sensor needed to read off the flywheel, so that was moved to the front crank pulley with a custom sensor and a trigger wheel. Then there were the coil packs, which have some sort of strange knock sensor built into them that relies upon the car's ECU, meaning fresh coils needed to be sourced.
But perhaps the toughest task was making everything run smoothly once it finally fired up. Tuning mastermind John Reed has worked quite a few miracles in his day, but this project had to be one of the toughest undertakings of his career. By using a MoTeC M142 ECU and some custom written software, Reed was able to get the V-8 to sing properly. Then, it was at this point that everything had to be put on hold since the software needed to be approved and licensed by MoTeC headquarters in Australia. Nevertheless, the gods smiled down on Ryan once more, and after four months and a hair ahead of its deadline, videos of the Ferrari-swapped Toyota broke the internet just days before it rolled onto the SEMA floor. Building something like this had been a dream come true for Ryan, and the drift maniac claims that driving it makes you feel like you are "on another level."
If you have ever watched one of Ryan's videos, you will understand where the drift star is coming from when he says the red devil doesn't always want to play nice. Since it doesn't feature monolithic amounts of power like his Formula D car, Ryan has to put some serious effort into making the vehicle do exactly what he wants and when, much like his old naturally-aspirated, KA24-powered 240SX that got him where he is today. We get the feeling that Ryan doesn't mind one bit either, and it would come as no surprise to discover that he will be using this platform as a way to improve his drift game, climb to the top and aim for his first Formula D championship. But until then, we can't wait to see all the madness that will come from his supercar-powered GT4586.
It ain't easy!
The three biggest challenges of swapping a mid-engine Ferrari V-8 into a front-engine Toyota 86:
- Getting info on the F136. Unlike a Toyota 2JZ, there isn't much public data out there for the Ferrari V-8.
- Can anyone tune this thing? If it weren't for John Reed Racing and their magic with MoTeC, this would still be a show car.
- All the little things count. For example, not being able to use the Ferrari coil packs, finding out that the power steering pump puts out way too much pressure for the steering rack, etc. There was no shortage of troubleshooting this supercar swap.
"Ryan, just three questions..."
SS: How does the GT4586 drive compare to your Formula D car, and which is better?
RT: The GT4586 powerband is very peaky like a large-frame turbo car but without the punch. The power is smoother than that since it's naturally aspirated. You really have to drive it hard, which is a lot of fun in my book. The pro car uses a large-frame Garrett turbo that has some help from nitrous for spool and then a Nameless Performance anti-lag system does the rest as far as always having power during the rest of my runs. The anti-lag system actually spools the turbo pressure higher off the gas than what we run on throttle. Two completely different setups that are both unbelievably fun to drive, I don't think I can even pick which one is more fun.
SS: Will this car ever be a competitive drift car, or is this all just for fun?
RT: The final purpose of this car will be to just have a blast with it. Film some cool videos and hit some killer demo events. Right now, the car is slated to be at all of the Formula D rounds in '17 where I will be doing little demos during halftime.
SS: Will there be any other upgrades to the GT4586?
RT: The car is still being sorted out. Huddy Racing still has to put some fishing touches on her before she is 100%. We are going to add a 100-shot of nitrous just in case we bring it to a massive track like COTA, where we would have the option, if it needed a little extra power.