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Papadakis Racing, Piloted by Fredric Aasbo, Becomes Winningest Program in Formula D

Papadakis Racing team in winners circle at Formula Drift Montreal Photo by Larry Chen/Toyota Racing

The Papadakis Racing team celebrated Fredric Aasbo's 10th career win at Formula Drift Montreal

Stephan Papadakis’ involvement in drifting started as a side project while drag racing was his main profession. Initially starting as a driver, Papadakis shifted his role to team management and crew position after the 2007 season and has found success ever since. Current driver Fredric Aasbo’s recent win at the Formula Drift Montreal event made him the winningest driver in Formula Drift history, scoring his 10th event win since signing with the team in 2011 after earning rookie of the year honors as a privateer. Between both Aasbo and previous driver Tanner Foust, the team has amassed 17 event wins, 37 podium finishes, and 3 championships. Most impressively, the 10 event wins from Aasbo came in just 47 events with the team, averaging an event win for every 4.7 events entered. The previous single driver win record of 9 wins has stood since Sam Hubinette earned his last win back in 2007, although the record was tied by Vaughn Gittin Jr. halfway through the 2016 season.

Stephan Papadakis looks over suspension settings in the pits Photo by Larry Chen / Toyota Racing

Stephan Papadakis looks over suspension settings with Shawn Hillier and Mario Salguero

The current Toyota Corolla iM that Aasbo pilots is the eighth competition chassis that the team has built, with six of those chassis competing under the Papadakis Racing banner. Papadakis initially built a Nissan S13 chassis that he learned to drift in, before building a Nissan 350Z for Tanner Foust and a Honda S2000 that would later become Papadakis’s second personal drift car. The 350z would be piloted by Foust to the first and only back-to-back championships won by the same driver in 2007 and 2008. Foust would then move into a TRD-powered NASCAR engine Scion tC for the 2009 and 2010 series before Foust would move on to other motorsports and television ventures. Aasbo’s signing with the team in 2011 brought a new Scion tC2 chassis that was built by Papadakis Racing, which Aasbo piloted to the championship in 2015 and finished as the runner-up in the series championship in both 2014 and 2016. The Corolla iM was built fresh for the 2017 season after the Scion brand was sunsetted at the end of last season, and has earned two wins so far in the 2017 season through five events. Papadakis was also commissioned to build a Volkswagen Passat and a Scion FR-S for Foust and driver Jhonnattan Castro, which were campaigned away from the Papadakis Racing team in Formula Drift.

Stephan Papadakis evaluates maintenance options on the Corolla iM Photo by Larry Chen/Toyota Racing

Stephan Papadakis evaluates maintenance options on the Toyota Corolla iM with his team

The pairing of Papadakis and Aasbo has proven to be fruitful for both parties. Since Aasbo joined the team in 2011, the team has been using the 4-cylinder Toyota 2AR engine for both the Scion tC2 and Toyota Corolla iM chassis that have powered all 10 of Aasbo’s wins in the series. Papadakis Racing has long been known for their engine building prowess, carrying over from the days of import drag racing that started with a front-wheel drive Honda Civic before progressing to a full tube-chassis, rear-wheel drive car that Papadakis piloted to a best pass of 6.54 seconds at 255 mph in the ¼ mile. The current 2AR engine is the lone 4-cylinder engine on the current Formula Drift grid but keeps up with the 6-cylinder, 8-cylinder, and 10-cylinder cars that Aasbo lines up next to thanks to the 1,000 horsepower pushed through the turbocharged, nitrous-fed engine.

Although listed as the team owner and manager, Papadakis is still very heavily involved in the engine program as well as trackside wrenching. Papadakis has personally designed and prototyped several custom engine components and is constantly analyzing parts and data to look for opportunities to improve the power output. Papadakis also personally handles a lot of the logistics and operations for the team, ensuring that the team is ready for anything that is thrown their way on a race weekend. On a race weekend, it’s not unusual for Papadakis to be asked for the occasional autograph as well, dating back to his record-breaking Honda drag racing days, a rarity for a team owner and manager in the Formula Drift pits.

Papadakis still personally reviews data from runs in the Corolla iM Photo Larry Chen/Toyota Racing

Papadakis still personally reviews data from runs in the Toyota Corolla iM between rounds

Papadakis and Aasbo are both quick to credit the entire team for their success to date. Papadakis works alongside Shawn Hillier, Aldo Villagran, and Mario Salguero in the pits. On a race weekend, Papadakis is often found in the spotter’s tower communicating feedback from the judges and from his observations back to his driver Aasbo. Between rounds, Papadakis often reviews data logs from the car personally and discusses possible adjustments with the team. During competition, Shawn Hillier acts as crew chief with Mario Salguero helping with mechanical duties. Villagran has been working as a mechanic for Castro’s drift program this season, but still transports the car to each round and has been heavily involved in the program for the previous 10 seasons. Aasbo has racked up a slew of accomplishments with the Papadakis team behind him and is quick to credit the team with building one of the most powerful and most reliable cars he’s ever drifted as being a big part of why he’s now Formula Drift’s winningest driver in history.

Stephan Papadakis drag raced import cars in the early 2000s Photo by Larry Chen / Toyota Racing

Stephan Papadakis drag raced import cars in the early 2000s, but now is focused on his drift program


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