Over the past four years, Formula D’s Rookie of the Year award has gone to an international driver who has made the transition to compete in Formula D. This year, the award seems up for grabs, with several pro-am graduates competing with a few international drivers for the right to be crowned Rookie of the Year. Several of the previous ROTY award winners have gone on to sign lucrative sponsorship deals, so earning the trophy can truly change someone’s career. We’re giving you a look at this year’s rookie class.
Team Walker Wilkerson Racing
Car 1992 Fatlace / Intec Racing Nissan 240sx
Entering last year’s ProAm finale at Irwindale, Wilkerson earned a top qualifier award and a podium finish in his local Evergreen Drift proam series, but was unable to make all events in the series and finished 7th overall. At the ProAm final, he earned a humble 8th place qualifying effort, but utilized his tandem skills to earn a 2nd-place overall finish. However, as the 2011 Formula D season got underway, it was clear that Walker has been practicing in the off season. Walker has become known for his ‘backwards’ entries and extreme steering angle, despite driving one of the only SR20-powered cars on the FD roster. He has lead the rookie-of-the-year points standings for the first half of the season, but will have a target on his back for the second half of the year. Will he have enough to hold off the competition?
Height 5’ 7”
Car Number 95
Hometown Snohomish, WA
Occupation College Student
Engine 2.3L Stroker SR20DET
Sponsors Fatlace, Garage Autohero, Falken Tire, Intec Racing, APEXi, NorthwestNissans.com, AW Films, Seibon, EastInde Records, Exedy,
S-Gear, 326 Power, ShaftMasters, Factory 83, KAAZ, Yaer Productions
Team Drift Posse
Car 1986 HSD Suspension Toyota AE86
Pat Cyr was probably the biggest favorite during the off season due to his experience in the Drift Mania series in Canada. Pat has won 5 rounds in the DMCC series, finishing 2nd in points overall last season. Cyr also won the year-end Pro-Am event at Irwindale last season after qualifying second overall, showing his experience particularly in tandem. In the off season, Cyr focused on lightening his AE86 chassis even further, fabricating his own fiberglass doors, fenders, hood, trunk, and roof. Pat’s Corolla is powered by a turbocharged F20C motor out of an S2000, making his car one of the most unique cars on the grid.
Nickname Lord Cyr
Car Number 68
Hometown Ontario, CA
Engine F20C Turbo
Sponsors HSD Suspension, Falken Tires, Misimoto, JRP, u2ndyno.com, visual sugar.com, Cyrious Production, Weir Performance
Team Drift Posse
Car 1986 HSD Suspension Toyota AE86
A relative unknown coming into the 2011 season, Otto Graven is only the second driver ever to be born in the continent of South Africa (Tony Brakohiapa was born in Ghana) and the first driver to earn a championship in Africa before coming to the US. Graven is the reigning two-time champion of the South African National Drifting series, and has previously trained with famed Team Orange driver Nobushige Kumakubo in Japan. Graven is an entrepreneur in his native country of South Africa, having purchased a local race circuit to convert it into a world class circuit as well as body shop, mechanic shop, and driving school all open to the public. Drifting in South Africa is relatively new, with competitive drifting having only 3 years of presence in the country. Look for Graven to be the first of many South Africans to come to Formula D.
Height 6’ 2”
Car Number 113
Hometown Kimberley, SA
Engine 3.8L Stroked Twin-Turbo’d VQ35
Sponsors Monstermob Racing
After seeing fellow Norwegian Freddy Aasbo win the 2010 Rookie of the year award, Moen decided it was his turn to compete in Formula D. Moen shipped his 350Z chassis over for the series, the same one that piloted Tanner Foust to back-to-back championships in 2007 and 2008. Moen also owns the S2000 that Stephan Papadakis had competed in for several seasons before committing to being a full-time owner and crew chief. Moen has won se veral events in Europe, routinely beating some of the other European drivers who now compete in Formula D. Look for Moen to make his mark in Formula D in the coming years.
Height 5’ 8”
Aurimas 'Odi' Bakchis
Team Bakchis Motorsports
Car 1995 Forged Racing Nissan 240 SX
In 2010, Odi Bakchis made a name for himself by winning the XDC round in Vegas, and later winning the Formula D Pro-Am event in Vegas as well. Bakchis competed in rally and motocross before adopting drifting as an excuse to get seat time for his rally racing, but soon dropped other motorsports after enjoying the fun-factor of drifting over other forms of wheeled sports. Odi’s S14 is a new build for the 2011 season, powered by an LS1 for a combination of power and reliability. Odi has proven that he has what it takes to win at the amateur level, look for him to increase his presence at the professional level in coming years.
Car Number 723
Hometown Kaunas, LT
Occupation Owner of Feal Suspension
Engine LS1 V8
Sponsors Forged Racing, Feal Suspension, 702 Graphics, Clutch Masters, Torco, CBM Motorsports, R Rated Motorsports, Godspeed, Dstroyr, Hot Bits
Team BLU808, Hankoo Tire, LG Motorsports
Car 2005 BLU808 LG Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette
Lonberger is one of the most experienced of the 2011 Rookie class, having driven in Formula D back in 2004 and 2005 before taking several years off to focus on his fabrication shop Blu808. Lonberger toured for the 2010 season as Conrad Grunewald’s crew chief and chief fabricator on the Hankook Camaro before building up his own Corvette for the 2011 season. Lonberger qualified via the ThunderDrift ProAm series in Norcal, and also competed in a handful of Just Drift events as well. Blu808 has turned into somewhat of a specialist in the GM LS family of motors, starting with Lonberger’s own FD RX7 back in 2005 and most recently the Hankook Camaro (originally LS-A, now LS-7 powered) and Lonberger’s Corvette.
Height 5’ 10”
Car Number 28
Hometown Los Gatos, CA
Engine Turn Key Engine Supply Ls2 stroke
Sponsors Blu808, Hankook Tire, LG Motorsports, Laboratory17, Turn Key Engine Supply, Exedy,Clutch, Forgeline wheels, Driveshaft Shop, Aim Sports, Extreme Dimensions, TD Garage, Aeromotive, Nos energy drinks, Jordan Innovations, Newtech Performance, Orlandi Trailer inc., Bob’s Donuts, Cutty Clothing, K-sport, ThunderDrift, CGR, Magna Design
Team Intec Racing
Car K's Silva S13
Pollard, like many ProAm drivers, started with an AE86 Corolla as his first drift car, and has been hooked on the chassis ever since. Moving from the 4AG engine to the F20 Corolla engine, Pollard has always been in an underpowered car, which has allowed him to focus on his driving skills. For 2011, Pollard is building an authentic RHD K’s Silvia, with a stroked SR20 motor which will debut at the Seattle round of Formula D. Pollard has previously worked with the Intec Racing Formula D program which has fielded cars for Mitsuru Haraguchi and Dean Kearney, and feels that he has what it takes to be competitive in the series.
Height 5’ 8”
Car Number N/A
Hometown Portland, OR
Engine Tomei-stroked 2.2L SR20
Sponsors Intec Racing, Tomei, Doc Race, JUN TUN