Compiled by SEMA Editors
“Mad Mike” Whiddett will compete in his ’16 Mazda MX-5 Miata while Formula DRIFT champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. will make the U.S. competition debut of his ’16 Ford Mustang RTR at the Streets of Long Beach event, April 8–9.
Team Nitto Fields Two New Cars and One New Driver in Formula DRIFT
Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc. has announced its 2016 Formula DRIFT lineup. Returning for 2016 are Formula DRIFT champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. and international drift celebrity “Mad Mike” Whiddett, both of whom will debut new rides this year. Alongside these Team Nitto veterans is Alex Heilbrunn—one of the biggest up-and-coming drivers in the sport. Not only will Nitto will provide these drivers with NT05 tires throughout the season, but they will also give them on-site technical support. Gittin Jr. will make the U.S. competition debut of his ’16 Ford Mustang RTR at the Streets of Long Beach event, April 8–9. This year, Whiddett is sporting a new look on RADBUL that matches the new styling of his ’16 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Heilbrunn, who won the 2015 Formula DRIFT Pro 2 championship in his first year of competing professionally, has earned a spot in the top-level Pro Series, and will compete in his supercharged LS-powered BMW E46.
ROUSH Performance Partners with Formula Drifter Justin Pawlak for 2016 Season
Teaming with main sponsor ROUSH Performance, professional drifter Justin Pawlak will drive a ’16 ROUSH supercharged Mustang with a Ford Performance Aluminator crate engine during the 2016 Formula DRIFT series. Pawlak, who began his drifting career in 2005, secured first-place finishes at Los Angeles NOPI Drift and the first round of 2011 Formula DRIFT. He has been a consistent top-7 performer in Formula D since 2011. For the 2016 drifting season, Pawlak built a brand new S550-chassis Mustang that features the ROUSH 2.3L TVS supercharger, which pushes out almost 1,000 hp and 831 lb.-ft. of torque.
Team MSD of Tulsa Tech Takes First Place in Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Qualifying Event
Taking first place at the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Tarrant County College Qualifying Event last weekend in Fort Worth, Texas, was Team MSD of Tulsa Tech, Oklahoma, with a low time of 24:30. Team Edelbrock from Eastern Oklahoma County Tech Center (29:42) with Teams K&N (30:53) and Energy Suspension (32:44) of Tulsa Tech also qualified this past weekend. These students now all have a spot at the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Dual National Championships later this year at the 2016 SEMA and PRI Shows.
Michael Essa returns to the E46 BMW M3 chassis in which he captured the Formula DRIFT championship in 2013.
Formula DRIFT Champion Michael Essa Slides into the 2016 Season on CCW Forged Performance Wheels
Formula DRIFT champion Michael Essa will compete during the 2016 season using 18x10-in. Corsair Hybrid wheels from CCW Forged Performance—a WELD brand. Essa returns to the E46 BMW M3 chassis in which he captured the Formula DRIFT championship in 2013. Kern says the Hybrid series of wheels are specifically designed for use on track and is the wheel of choice for top performance builders. Essa will kick off the 2016 Formula DRIFT season at the opening event in Long Beach, California, April 8–9.
Lucas Oil Modified Series Has Strongest Sponsor Group Ever for 2016 Season
The Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart waved the green flag on its 11th championship season last week at Havasu 95 Speedway with the strongest group of sponsors in series history. LoanMart returns as the series sponsor for the fourth year. Sunoco Race Fuel has been the exclusive race fuel supplier, and has sponsored the Winner's Circle program and other bonus funds. Hoosier Tire West has been the exclusive tire supplier and the sponsor of the championship points fund. K&N Filters has contributed in a variety of ways over the past decade, and this year has agreed to sponsor the series’ tow money program to help defray travel expenses for the top 24 drivers in the point standings. BILSTEIN is the series’ official shock absorber and sponsor of the B main events that pay $500 to win. Optima Batteries is the long-time sponsor of the Hard Charger award, which goes to the driver who improves his position the most during a race, and SuperClean is the sponsor of the Lucky Dog award, which is presented to the first driver at least a lap behind at the checkered flag. General Tire, GEICO, E3 Spark Plugs and Carlyle Tools-NAPA are core members of Team Lucas, along with Lucas Oil Products Inc., Protect the Harvest, MAVTV, The Motorsports Channel and LucasOilRacing.TV.
Mickey Thompson Pro Mod racer Jonathan Gray achieved a 5.751 elapsed time at 258.02 mph for a new national record.
Jonathan Gray Sets National Pro Mod Record on Mickey Thompson Tires
Mickey Thompson Pro Mod racer Jonathan Gray has entered the national Pro Mod record books following the NHRA Mello Yello Gatornationals event. A former Pro Stock racer, Gray entered the season with the PTE flagship 2014 Pro Mod Chevrolet Camaro built by Larry Jeffers Race Cars. The Camaro, previously driven by Don Walsh Jr. and named the “Best Engineered Car” in Pro Mod, is now racing with Mickey Thompson’s ET Drag “Bubba” tires. Gray achieved a 5.751 elapsed time at 258.02 mph for a new national record.
5th Annual Nitto Tire NMCA WEST Spring Nationals to Be Held April 1–3 at Auto Club Dragway
Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, California, will once again host the season-opening Nitto Tire NMCA WEST Spring Nationals the weekend of April 1–3. The event will feature Pro Modifieds, the ProCharger Limited Street class and the Hotchkis Cup Autocross presented by Nitto Tire. The professionally designed course offers racers a chance to test their skills and their car’s handling capabilities.