Ken Gushi's Drift Mustang
Racing drivers have been using controlled drifts as a driving technique since the 1930s but, more recently, drifting as its own form of motorsport has been evolving steadily. Drifting as a sport began in Japan more than 20 years ago. It migrated to the United States in 1996, in California, and has become extremely popular with fans here, in Europe and Australia.
To the uninitiated, drifting looks and sounds like a lot of fishtailing, parking-lot donuts, plumes of smoke and squealing tires. But to the growing legions of astute observers and participants, there is shape and substance, along with an underlying quality of finesse and agility. The most graceful drifters garner major corporate sponsorships, like California's Japanese American Ken Gushi, who drives a 2007 Ford Racing Mustang Cobra for Ford Racing and Toyo Tires in Formula Drift.
The emerging lifestyle market associated with drifting was attractive to Ford Racing Performance Parts, who saw the potential to draw a portion of the 20-somethings into the domestic performance scene. Gushi is one of the US's most renowned drifters. He learned the sport from his father, Tsukasa 'Papa' Gushi, at one of the many dry lakebeds that dot California's desert interior. He and his father, who learned to drift as a teen in Japan, would set up their own tracks in the desert with orange cones, simulating popular championship drifting courses.
The Mustang immediately became Gushi's favorite vehicle for drifting. "It's an amazing drift car. It has the perfect amount of torque, power, weight distribution, and in-corner stability," explains Gushi. "After I got used to the insane amount of torque, I found that the Mustang had a lot more potential than the average drift car, even though it weighs hundreds of pounds more than my previous car, a Nissan 240SX."
This year is the third season for a team that continues to develop. Ford Racing Engineering Supervisor, Andy Slankard, said, "Ken's a great fit for Ford. He's great with the fans and as courteous as can be. People line up to see him at races, sometimes 50 or 60 people, and he'll meet and talk to each one of them. He's a great fit for us."
Ford Racing was instrumental in developing the car in virtually every aspect from conception to delivery. It was built by the same people that design, develop, prototype, test and evaluate production Ford cars and trucks on a daily basis. The car was built with Ford parts, by Ford personnel, in Ford facilities. It all started with a Ford Racing 'Aluminator' 4.6-liter, 4-valve modular V8 short block. From there, like MacBeth's witches, the Ford Racing personnel began adding ingredients to create their own unique stew. Instead of eye of newt, or python lips, we're talking about goodies like an SVT Cobra forged 8-bolt crankshaft, Ford Racing high flow 4-valve cylinder heads, including a high lift camshaft kit with stainless steel valves and high lift valve springs. Topping off the assembly is FRPP's twin screw Whipple supercharger upgrade kit, for which a Ford GT intercooler was installed in the trunk's parcel tray area to help keep things cool. With all those additions, the cool factor meter has certainly been pegged.
Having that amount of power available is important to the driver. "With that much horsepower, drifting gets a lot more fun than sliding around with four tiny little cylinders," Gushi says, explaining how he adjusted to drifting an American car. "More horsepower is definitely more fun." Ford Racing's Andy Slankard agrees. "Rear-wheel drive and a powerful V8 make the Mustang a great car for competing in drifting events."
However, the car's driveline was not to be ignored if the 600 RWHP and 550 RWTQ were to be moved to the asphalt reliably. To accomplish that, an Exedy twin-disc clutch was hooked up to the FRPP Extra Heavy Duty Tremec 5-speed transmission, equipped with a transmission oil cooler. The stick axle in the stern features a Torsen T2 differential, axle girdle and 3.08 rear axle gears to keep the engine in its power band and flowing through to the Toyo 295/35-18 T1-R's out back. The car runs a staggered setup, with 265/35-18s out front. During Formula Drift event, Gushi will burn through five to seven full sets of tires.
Toyo's full race tires help to enable Gushi to drift around corners at 60-70 mph, sometimes hitting 125 mph before going into a turn. These days, drifting is an organized competition, with drivers running their rear-wheel-drive cars to see who can keep sliding sideways the longest. Competitors in drifting events are judged on the angle, line, speed and show factor of the drift. Angle is the angle that the car takes around the track - the more the rear end hangs out, the better. Line refers to taking the correct line around the track and is usually determined beforehand by the judges. Speed consists of the car's speed entering, going through and exiting a turn. Finally, show factor actually is judged on a variety of issues, such as the amount of tire smoke, proximity of the car to the wall and reaction of the crowd.
Getting the most points for a given performance requires absolute control over the vehicle. To enhance the Mustang's capabilities in this area, Ford people started by adding the full FRPP/Multimatic suspension from the FR500C racer and the FR500C's tie rods. As well, Wilwood Superlite 6-piston front brake calipers with 13-inch vented rotors and Superlite 4-piston rear calipers with 13-inch vented rotors are used to boost Gushi's ability to modulate speed.
Weight reduction is paramount to getting the car to rotate while still being able to manage it. For help with that task, while also supporting the spectator 'Wow' factor, Ford Racing called on Seibon to provide a carbon fiber hood, doors and trunk lid with custom vents. Ford also built custom fabricated flared fenders, the rear windshield and vents, along with custom fabricated window inlet and outlet ducts. BASF-sponsored paint in Team Toyo colors helps to make sure that you don't miss this Mustang when it's screaming around a course.
Inside, the car has been stripped of the creature comforts you'd expect when cruising the Interstates. Sparco racing seats, 6-point seatbelt harnesses and a modified FR500C rollcage augment both the safety of the driver and weigh reduction priorities. FRPP-supplied gauges are used to monitor critical engine operating conditions, including water and oil temperature, boost and fuel pressure and engine speed, through a monster tach and shift light.
According to Stan Chen, Manager of Motorsports and Events, Toyo Tire (USA) Corporation, 'The Gush' mesmerized crowds throughout the season, piloting his great-looking supercharged Mustang to wind up 7th overall in the 2006 championship points. For the 2007 season, Gushi currently stands 15th with two events remaining. Whether or not he can recover to a top 10 position remains to be seen. The competition is intense, but so is the young man from Whittier, CA.
While Gushi continues to compete in drifting, he is pursuing a business degree and would like to become a professional racecar driver. Ironically, he'll need to attend racing school first.
Ken Gushi Drift Mustang
Ford Racing 'Aluminator' 4.6-liter, 4-valve Modular V8
SVT Cobra forged 8-bolt crankshaft; FRPP high flow 4-valve cylinder heads, stainless steel valves, high lift valve springs, high lift camshaft kit, Twin Screw Supercharger Upgrade Kit, Ford GT intercooler installed in the rear trunk/parcel tray
FRPP Extra HD Tremec 5-speed transmission, transmission oil cooler, Torsen T2 differential, axle girdle, 3.08 rear axle gears; Exedy twin disc clutch
Wilwood Superlite 6-piston front brake calipers with 13" vented rotors, Superlite 4-piston rear calipers with 13" vented rotors;
Seibon Carbon Fiber Hood, Doors and Trunk lid with custom vents; Ford built custom fabricated flared fenders, rear windshield w/vents, custom fabricated window inlet & outlet ducts; BASF-sponsored paint
Sparco racing seats, 6-point seatbelt harnesses; FRPP gauges, modified FR500C rollcage
FRPP/Multimatic suspension from FR500C racer, FR500C tie rods;
Wheels And Tires
Front: JLine 18 x 8.5" custom wheels with Toyo T1-R 265/35-18 tires
Rear: JLine 18 x 11.5" custom wheels with Toyo T1-R 295/35-18 tires
600 RWHP, 550 RWTQ
This vehicle was built with Ford parts, by Ford personnel, in Ford facilities. It was built by the same people that design, develop, prototype, test and evaluate production Ford cars and trucks on a daily basis. Big thanks to all the different people in all the different buildings and groups that came together as a team to get this car out on the track. Thank you to Ford Racing Performance Group & Toyo Tires, Experimental Vehicle garage / Experimental Engine Build - Vehicle Build, Metal Shop, Beech Daly Technical Center - Engine Build, New Model Product Development Center - Plastic Shop, CAD/CAM Room, Belden Court - Vehicle Build/ Fabrication Area, Roush - Building 56 & 57.
A car is said to be drifting when the rear slip angle is greater than the front slip angle, the front wheels are pointing in the opposite direction to the turn and the driver is controlling these factors.
Drifting is still not recognized by the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) motorsport's governing body, as a professional form of motorsport.
Jeremy Clarkson's Motorworld is credited with the earliest English language media coverage on drifting, in its first episode.
One of the earliest recorded drift events outside of Japan was in 1996, held at Willow Springs racetrack in California hosted by the Japanese drifting magazine and organization Option Video.
Modern drifting started out as a racing technique popular in the All Japan Touring Car Championship races over 30 years ago.
Drifting was quickly adopted by Japanese street racers to navigate tight twisting mountain roads in illegal races known as the Touge.
Increasing the front suspension's caster angle significantly improves the car's controllability during a drift.
Other suspension factors, particularly spring rates and sway bar sizes, are used to intentionally make oversteer easier to induce.
Where available, aligning the rear tires to toe out has the same effect.
Judging drift events has become somewhat less subjective through the data recording capabilities of the DriftBox - an electronic device that measures the car's yaw angle using accelerometers.
Four of the top seven cars in the 2006 Formula D championship ranks were domestic, including the winner Sam Hubinette - piloting a Dodge Viper Competition Coupe.