Drifting, as a motorsport, lost a slight bit of its momentum during the last couple years. That's not to say it's dead, in fact, it's far from it. The style aspect of it remains and is still quite abundant in the U.S. but the popularity of the sport has definitely waned. It became so popular at one point that drifting crossed-over to the mainstream media and began appearing on TV and some movie spots. Like everything in pop culture, drifting eventually became a little over-exposed. Bandwagon fans began to jump off the wagon and even true diehards were a bit turned-off by how big it got and how the mainstream media "played-it-out".
Things are looking up these days, and now, drifting is starting to make its resurgence into the hearts of enthusiasts throughout the country. Small weekend drift events provide a venue for new drivers to improve and events like Formula D showcase the country's best professional drifters. A new wave of pros have taken on the role as ambassadors to the sport. "Mad" Mike Whiddett, a product of New Zealand, is one of those guys. Not only is he an amazing drifter, his style has made him instantly recognizable within the import automotive community.
If you have ever been on popular internet sites like Speedhunters or any automotive lifestyle blog, then you will have undoubtedly seen Mad Mike's digital camo, Red Bull-themed "MADBUL" FD3S RX-7. The BN-Sports armor, widened stance, and aggressive wheel fitment in combination with the graphical livery made it an instant favorite among enthusiasts. His equally aggressive driving style has also made him an immediate contender in the drifting world, both in the New Zealand Drift Series as well as in the U.S.
When Mad Mike decided to participate in the 2010 Formula D Championship series, he knew that a second vehicle was a necessity. "I needed another pro-spec drift car because I competed globally and the MADBUL RX-7 spent most of the year floating in a container from country to country," Mad Mike explains. "My team and I chose the RX-8 because it was different. We wanted to create a competitive, high-class drifter out of a car that we felt was a complete turd. (The Super Street staff can't really comment on Mad Mike's opinion of the RX-8 because we're too busy driving around in our own turds.) I also have a huge fan base within the Mazda community so I just had to build another Mazda."
With an eye for style, it was only a matter of time before Mad Mike would fully transform the newly deemed "BADBUL" into a vehicle that was as popular as the one that preceded it. "We get a ton of respect from fans and supporters that tell us that we always build the best looking drift cars. Drifting originated as a sport for style. Whoever looked the coolest sliding up the mountains at maximum angles with their bumpers dragging on the ground was always the favorite. Now drifting has turned into a super-competitive motorsport with million-dollar budgets, which is great, but cars are starting to lose that original drift style. I wanted to ensure that my cars retained the true wicked style of Japanese drift cars. That's one of the reasons why we run mega dish VIP Weds wheels with the crazy offsets and super low stance."
There are less than a handful of truly competitive RX-8 drifters throughout the world and it has nothing to do with looks. Mad Mike attributes its lack of popularity in the drifting world to two fatal flaws. "If you plan on building an RX-8 for drifting, the first thing you must do is ditch the factory electric power steering unit. You can never have enough steering angle in the drift world and the factory steering rack and suspension just don't cut it." Mad Mike explains. "The factory 13B Renesis engine doesn't quite take the cake for power and torque either. They make bolt-on turbo kits for the RX-8 but my crew and I knew we needed more, especially if we wanted to be competitive in Formula D."
To alleviate the steering issue, Mad Mike and his team removed the original rack and replaced it with one from an FD3S RX-7. Custom suspension arms and tie rods have also been created and installed so that the RX-8 can have maximum steering angle and maneuverability. TEIN Super Drift coilovers provide the aggressive ride height associated with all of Mad Mike's drift cars. The OEM Renesis engine has also been detached and now in the engine bay sits a bridge-ported 20B three-rotor engine. Getting the rotary engine to produce over 650HP is a combination of Pulse Performance Race Engineering (PPRE) custom fabricated parts and a multitude of HKS performance products-including their world-renowned T51R SPL turbocharger. This drifter may be sponsored by Red Bull but it's the T51R that makes it fly. The "BADBUL" RX-8 also features a HKS 5-speed sequential transmission with all HKS guts and a 1.5 way OS-Giken limited-slip differential.
As Mad Mike stated earlier, he places a heavy emphasis on style in every vehicle he builds. The digital camo/Red Bull livery became so popular worldwide that it will forever be associated with Mad Mike. It's become a uniform of sorts. No one will ever mistake any of his vehicles for anyone else's. His fascination with absurdly-wide VIP wheels is also very apparent on his RX-8. The 18-inch Weds Kranze Bazreia wheels are so deep you would have to stick your entire head inside the wheel to catch a glimpse of the face. No stock body RX-8 would ever be able to house wheels this wide and Mad Mike would never even attempt it. Sitting flush on top of the aggressive Weds rollers is a full custom Lokey Industries widebody kit. The front fenders are widened another 90mm and 100mm in the rear-and the Kranze wheels still narrowly clear the wheel wells! A BN-Sports hood and SARD rear wing act as functional, finishing touches to Mad Mike's monster drifter.
"Drifting brings such a broad variety of cars to its audience," Mad Mike says. "You have everything from basic-tuned Nissans to crazy NASCAR-powered Dodge Vipers. We came into this build knowing that we would need to build something different to have a Formula D championship-winning vehicle. I won the 2009 NZDRIFT Championship in this RX-8 but in New Zealand, 95% of the drifters out there are all about style so they are all built to a similar spec. Here in the States, it is much more competitive. Only time will tell how we do and where we finish. With drifting, I feel like I need to stand out from the rest of the crowd, which is why this sport is so damn cool."
2004 Maxda RX-8
Owner "Mad" Mike Whiddett
Hometown Auckland, New Zealand
Occupation Pro Drifter For Red Bull/Owner Of CRE8GRAFX
Engine 2000cc Mazda 20B 3-Rotor; RX-8 lightened and balanced rotors, balanced rotating assembly; PPRE apex seals; Hi-RPM modified stationary gears; flowed oil galleries; cross-drilled eccentric shaft; 3-window bearings; full-polished housings and front cover; HKS air intake; PPRE modified Mazda 20B throttle-body and ported/polished 20B intake manifold; (2x) Bosch 044 fuel pumps and (1x) Bosch 040 in-tank lift pump; Turbosmart FRP2000; custom PPRE fuel rail; (6x) 1000cc fuel injectors; (2x) -6 AN braided fuel ines; PPRE surge tank inline fuel cooler; NGK Racing B9EGV trailing spark plug and B10EGV leading spark plug; MSD lead spark plug wires; Bosch HEC ignition coil; Microtech X6 ignitor; HKS T51R SPL turbine; custom PPRE turbo manifold, downpipe, and 3 1/2-inch straight pipe; catalytic converter delete; Turbosmart Pro blow-off valve, 60mm Progate wastegate, and intercooler piping; Redline Performance intercooler; custom oil pan; (2x) Setrab oil cooler; custom Twins Turbo Motorsports oil filter relocation kit; Castrol Edge motor oil; Redline Performance radiator; PPRE radiator hoses; Mazda FD RX-7 radiator fans; Castrol engine coolant; 4-gallon ice/water cell with electric pump and 7 water-sprayers to radiator; Gilmer belt drives; custom Red Bull overflow bottle'
Drivetrain HKS 5-speed sequential transmission; HKS Pro 2 twin-plate clutch, flywheel, and shift lever; OS-Giken 4:7 1.5-way LSD; Driveshaft Shop axles; Castrol Syntrax transmission fluid
Engine management Microtech LT12; Turbosmart E-Boost 2
Footwork & Chassis TEIN Super Drift coilovers; Mazdaspeed front and rear sway bar; custom front lower control arms, rear lower control arms, rear camber control arms, front toe arms, rear toe arms, uprights, and tie rods; Nolatane and steel bushings; FD RX-7 steering rack; D2 air jack set-up
Brakes Znoelli brake rotors; EBC front brake pads; Silverline rear brake pads; Steel-braided front and rear brake lines; Castrol brake fluids; D2 hydraulic hand brake set-up
Wheels & Tires 18x11'' Weds Kranze Bazreia -36 offset (front); 235/40-18 Falken 615-K; 18x12'' Weds Kranze Bazreia -36 offset w/25mm wheel spacers (rear); 265/35-18 Falken 615-K
Exterior Custom Lokey Industries widebody kit and 90mm wide front fenders/100mm wide rear fenders; SARD rear spoiler;BN-Sports hood bonnet; V-LEDS headlights, signal lights, taillights and HID lighting kit; custom NFS/Red Bull livery by CRE8GRAFX
Interior HKS Camp 2 digital dash display; APEX'I EGT gauge; Microtech digital dash; Sparco Evo seats, pedal set, steering wheel, hub, and quick release; Willans safety harnesses; Twins Turbo Motorsports harness bar; HKS shift knob; custom PPRE console; electronic fire depressant system
Props Firstly, a special thanks to all my fans and supporters as building these crazy drift machines wouldn't be possible with out all your continued support. Huge thanks to Chromie, Damion, BIG TED and Cookie for all the hours and late nights that went into building BADBUL. You guys are away from your families a lot to help me. Warren at PPRE for all his knowledge and the kickass 20B, Shannon and Gam @ Lokey Industries for helping me create the illest looking RX8 on the planet. My sponsors Red Bull, Need for Speed, Metal Mulisha, Castrol, TengTools, Weds, DC, TEIN, Goodyear world wide, Falken USA, Redline Performance, HKS, Fusion, Independent Truck Spraypainters, Classic Cover Insurance, Any Mazz Spares, Turbosmart, Lokey, and Hamburg Sud