Since its inception in 2003, the Formula DRIFT racing series has done a lot of things. FD has achieved commercial and grassroots success, gained massive amounts of popularity and a huge fan base, and brought together drivers from across the world to compete together on U.S. soil. Widely regarded as the Major Leagues of drifting, FD is a unique kind of experience for everyone involved.
As a part of the large group of media partners who work with Formula DRIFT, we here at Modified have come up with an idea that we think you will all enjoy. Throughout the 2011 season, we will be doing a series of articles in which I follow a specific team and driver for each event. Based on the response to the pilot article (“Behind the Scenes with Gardella Racing,” Oct. ’10) we ran last year, we think this is a good way to provide a peek into the inner workings of what makes a racing team function.
To start things off for 2011, we have chosen Papadakis Racing — a team owned by Stephan Papadakis, a familiar name in the world of import racing. Having started off as a FF drag racer in the early days of the sport, Steph has put in a lot of seat time and now wears the hat of team owner. This year for FD, Steph has a new car, a new driver (Fredric Aasbo) and high hopes for the 2011 season.
As the sun rose over the Long Beach Grand Prix Circuit, I could tell this was going to be a good weekend. Everyone was excited for the new season to start, and the portion of the LBGP track used for FD was unforgiving, with concrete walls lining the entire length of the course. As the drivers lined up to begin qualifying, I saw Fredric concentrating hard. He knew that a good qualifying position could lay the groundwork for a successful weekend and could also earn extra points for the season total. After a few runs, Fredric suffered a mechanical failure in the form of a faulty throttle body. Back in the pits, Steph, Shawn and Aldo got to work quickly — with only so much time allowed for qualifying runs, the guys wanted to get Fredric back on track as soon as possible. Thankfully, the repairs required were minor and easily fixable in this case.
All said and done, Fredric managed to qualify 24th, which isn’t bad, but also not as high as he would’ve liked. No matter, though, a good racing driver will always tell you that it’s not important to think about what just happened but to concentrate on what comes next. In true Nordic no-bull fashion, Fredric put his game face on and went all out in the main competition! After sliding past John Russakoff in the top 32 and beating Tyler McQuarrie in the top 16 eliminations, Fredric was ousted by Chris Forsberg, who would eventually finish in fourth place. That meant the Scion tC and Fredic placed ninth overall in their debut outing.
All things considered, Fredric and Steph are pleased with the season-opening performance. A podium is always the goal, but the season is long and unpredictable, so Steph is especially glad that the new car has fared well and stayed together in one piece. Long Beach is a tricky track with little room for error, so it’s good to get it out of the way (and get over the season-opening jitters) as quickly as possible. With a young, enthusiastic and talented driver like Fredric Aasbo in his corner, Papadakis Racing is sure to have a successful season in 2011.