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Justin Pawlak’s 2015 Roush RS3 Formula Drift Racer
Catch His Drift
Among Mustang enthusiasts, there are so many choices available for when we want to exercise our favorite performance vehicle. We exercise them on the street, legally, of course. We can take them to the dragstrip and beat up on the competition, or each other, and we can also hit up the closest HPDE for a little open track fun.
Recently though, there’s another form of motorsports that has become way popular with the Mustang crowd, and it’s because of guys like Justin Pawlak that have forced the sport of drifting to the forefront.
Drifting was supposedly started in Japan…okay, well according to Wikipedia, “As a motoring discipline, drifting competitions were first popularized in 1970s Japan, and today are held worldwide and are judged according to the speed, angle, showmanship and line taken through a corner or set of corners.” This author has spent half his life sideways in a Fox, but since that was in the 1990s, it looks like the Japanese beat us to it.
We won’t bore with the details of drifting, because we’re sure you already know how it works. However, the Cliff’s Notes version goes like this – a driver intentionally throws his/her car into an oversteer condition, with loss of rear traction, while sliding through a turn, or a series of turns. Drifting competitions are where two drivers compete, with the trailing driver trying to maintain the same line as the lead driver.
Justin, or JTP, as he is known to fans, isn’t one of those guys who just jumps in the seat and goes. He does the majority of the work on the car, as well. He built his first race car while still in high school, and he’s been competing in drifting since 2005. His shop, Hot Line Performance, specializes in setting up cars for the sport of drifting.
When it comes to Justin’s own 2015 Roush RS3, Hot Line stripped the car down before building it back up with a Formula Drift-spec roll cage, and Sparco seats, harnesses, and steering wheel. Of course, the all-important brake handle augments a Wilwood braking system. And if we know anything about Justin’s driving style, we’re willing to bet all of the AEM gauges within the dash are screaming red most of the time.
The exterior of Justin’s Formula Drift ride is full of sponsor stickers, covering an Anderson Composites “JTP” carbon widebody kit, hood, and decklid. The rear spoiler is from Roush, as is the front bumper cover. The rear bumper cover, as you can see, has been extensively massaged for airflow, and perhaps wall clearance, if you will. Sam’s Auto Land handled the exterior modifications to get the car ready for drift action.
A bigger aspect of having a successful drift program is having the right suspension setup. Starting up front, Justin’s Roush has a Hot Line Performance steering angle kit to achieve 74-degrees of steering angle. That angle really allows Justin to hang the Roush’s back end out in the corners to score style points with the judges. The car still uses the factory electric steering rack, and the rest of the front suspension consists of KW Suspension coilover struts with a Ford Performance sway bar.
Out back is a Driveshaft Shop 9-inch IRS conversion with a Strange Engineering spool. An iWon rear control arm kit replaces the factory underpinnings, while a pair of KW Suspension coilovers finish off the rear suspension. The tires that bear the brunt of the drifting lifestyle are Falken Azenis 615Ks, and they surround Weld Racing RTS S79 wheels. Up front are 255/40-18s with an 18x9 wheel, while out back is a 295/40-18 wrapped around an 18x10.5-inch wheel.
One of the most distinguishing features of Justin’s Roush is the sound of a good ol’ American V8 in the form of a Ford Performance Aluminator Coyote engine. Many of Justin’s drift contemporaries use 4- and 6-cylinder power so the sound of a thundering V8 is music to everyone’s ears. Enabling the Coyote to make upwards of 900 horsepower is a Roush 2.3 supercharger pullied for 18 pounds of boost thanks to a VMP Performance 72mm pulley and 8-rib kit. The powerplant uses a Ford Performance Controls Pack with a Roush Performance tune, along with a Roush air intake and filter with a Ford Performance dual 65mm throttle-body. Feeding the fuel to the Aluminator is left up to Walbro pumps with a Radium regulator and 1,700cc fuel injectors.
Responsible for that trademark V8 growl, Justin’s Roush uses Kooks 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers with an X-pipe, and on our tech sheet for what brand mufflers he uses, Justin put, “N/A.” If you’ve heard Justin’s Roush in person, mufflers are the last thing you’re thinking about.
Behind the Coyote is a Getrag MT82…just kidding; Justin employs an Andrews Products A431 Four-Speed Dog Box transmission with an Exedy ET04XD twin-disc clutch and a Hot Line Performance shifter. Driveshaft Shop was once again called on for a carbon fiber driveshaft, while a Ford Performance driveshaft safety loop holds it all together should things go awry.
Of course, you can see Justin in action at Formula Drift events, but you can also catch him at Mustang Week, where he puts his Roush through its paces, and even gives thrill rides to those wanting to be slung around Myrtle Beach Speedway within inches of the wall.
We have yet to see anyone get out of the car without a smile on their face. That’s a sign you’ve caught his drift.