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Dylan Hughes Transitions From Mechanic to Formula D Pro 2 Drifting Sensation

Dylan Hughes pilots his V8-powered Nissan S13 drift car at Evergreen Speedway in Seattle, WA

Dylan Hughes pilots his V8-powered Nissan S13 drift car at Evergreen Speedway in Seattle, WA

In high school, Dylan Hughes was into lifted trucks and rock crawling. After growing up in a household with a dad who was into racing cars and dirt bikes, it didn’t take long for Hughes to get tired of moving slowly. Hughes was initially exposed to drifting via Youtube when a friend who was into drifting showed him some videos, and it triggered memories of riding freestyle dirt bikes, but with cars. Soon after, Hughes had purchased a 240SX. As is typically the case, Hughes quickly moved from the stock KA24 engine to a Japanese SR20DET. After that motor had met its’ demise, Hughes started to look into power upgrade options and stumbled upon the “Tuerck’d” and “Drift Garage” Youtube series. Hughes got motivated and decided to swap his 240SX to a V8 engine, which he completed in his garage with his dad.

Hughes took out Josh Robinson in the FInal 4 of the Pro 2 event at Evergreen Speedway

Hughes took out Josh Robinson in the FInal 4 of the Pro 2 event at Evergreen Speedway

The V8 swap went relatively smoothly thanks in large part to Hughes’ fabrication skills. When he was into trucks, Hughes became the go-to for all of his friends to build tube bumpers and rock sliders for those trucks. Shortly after high school, Hughes would get a job working at the famed Dirtfish Rally school outside of Seattle, Washington, and worked his way from grading the courses to helping with some of the general mechanical upkeep of the cars. In 2013, Travis Pastrana’s foray into Global Rallycross was supported by the Dirtfish school, and Hughes would help out with the racing team when they were testing at the school. Hughes would get to know the team, and even help out as a mechanic at a few events. Through a twist of fate, Hughes would meet Brian Wilkerson at SEMA in 2013 while working for the Pastrana GRC team, and Wilkerson would ask Hughes to help turn wrenches for Forsberg Racing as they expanded to a two-car team in 2014 with Jhonnattan Castro behind the wheel of the second car. Forsberg would go on to win the 2014 championship, and Hughes would become a go-to helper for the CFR team.

Hughes faced Matt Vankirk in the final but fell just short of the event win at his first Pro 2 event

Hughes faced Matt Vankirk in the final but fell just short of the event win at his first Pro 2 event

Hughes would move from the Pacific Northwest to live near Baltimore, Maryland before the 2015 season to work fulltime at MA Motorsports, the shop run by CFR crew chief Wilkerson. Putting his fabrication skills to work, Hughes would become the “roll cage guy” at the shop and caged more than 20 cars in his time at MA Motorsports. Hughes is quick to credit Derek Nelson at Dirftfish for teaching him many tricks to automotive fabrication, and continued to see his skills develop while at MA Motorsports. After watching drifting from the pits for nearly two years, Hughes decided to enter the final US Drift ProAm event of the season in 2015, a decision which would re-ignite his passion for driving. Hughes placed second at the event, and made the commitment to run the entire US Drift ProAm series in 2016 to focus on his own driving career.

With the guidance and knowledge from working with Wilkerson, Forsberg, and the CFR team, Wilkerson was able to win the US Drift ProAm championship in 2016, which granted him a Formula Drift Pro 2 license for the 2017 season. After CFR and MA Motorsports parted ways, Hughes returned to his West Coast roots and returned to work at Dirtfish Rally School as a driving instructor. His success in the US Drift championship helped him build his credentials as a driver, and some additional training allowed him to start to teach others about car control and driving techniques while on gravel and dirt.

Forsberg rushed Hughes in the winners' circle to celebrate his 2nd place finish

Forsberg rushed Hughes in the winners' circle to celebrate his 2nd place finish

Unfortunately, running the entire 2017 Pro 2 season wasn’t an option from the get-go. With Hughes living in Washington and the first event in Orlando, Florida, more than 3,000 miles away, just showing up to the first event would have cost more than running the entire US Drift ProAm series the season before. While Hughes had the support of a few sponsors, the decision to skip the first two Pro 2 events allowed him to save budget and focus on driving at an event that was local to him. Formula Drift rolled into Evergreen Speedway outside of Seattle for the third round of the 2017 Pro 2 season, and Hughes decided to enter to see where he stacked up against the rest of the Pro 2 field. During Thursday qualifying, Hughes would take Q3 in qualifying, showing he could drive the line that judges requested during the drivers briefing. As the tandem ladder would shape up, Hughes would defeat Gyorgy Szilveszter in the Top 16, Travis Reeder in the Top 8, and Josh Robinson in the Final 4 before finally falling to Matt Vankirk in the final. Finishing in second place was far ahead of expectations for Hughes, and Forsberg was one of the first to rush to the winner's circle to congratulate him.

Hughes sat out the final round of the 2017 Pro 2 season but is eyeing a possible full season run in 2018 knowing his driving skills are on par with the best drivers in the class.

Dylan Hughes earned 2nd place at his first Formula D Pro 2 event at Evergreen Speedway

Dylan Hughes earned 2nd place at his first Formula D Pro 2 event at Evergreen Speedway


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