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Fredric Aasbo Becomes Winningest Driver in Formula Drift History in 7 Short Seasons

Fredric Aasbo celebrates his 10th career Formula Drift win in Montreal, most overall by any driver

Fredric Aasbo celebrates his 10th career Formula Drift win in Montreal, most overall by any driver

As a teenager, Fredric Aasbo watched drifting videos on DVD and YouTube, dreaming of being able to earn a living from the sport. Aasbo began sliding his Toyota Supra in Norway in the mid-2000s and rose to the top of the Nordic drifting series by winning back-to-back championships in 2007 and 2008. Near the end of the 2008 season, Aasbo was given an opportunity to bring his Toyota Supra to the United States to compete in an invite-only drifting ‘shootout’ that took place in the Port of Long Beach. At that event, Aasbo got his first taste of drifting in the United States and set a goal to be competing for full-time in the United States in the coming years.

In 2010, Aasbo pieced together a privateer program and competed in five of seven events in the Formula Drift championship. At his debut event in Long Beach, Aasbo piloted his Toyota Supra, nicknamed “Chucky”, to a 4th place overall finish. Aasbo would sit out the second and third rounds that season due to budget restrictions but would compete in the final four rounds of the season. Aasbo placed in the Top-8 at two of those four remaining events, finishing the season in 13th position overall and winning the Rookie of the Year award from Formula Drift. Between the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Formula Drift staged a pair of exhibition matches at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and Qatar Racing Club in Doha, Qatar. Aasbo was on the short list of drivers selected to go to these events and would make the most of the opportunity by winning the Yas Marina exhibition and placing third at Qatar Racing Club.

Fredric Aasbo battles Tanner Foust in 2010. Aasbo would join Papadakis Racing for the 2011 season

Fredric Aasbo battles Tanner Foust in 2010. Aasbo would join Papadakis Racing for the 2011 season

Aasbo would be recognized for his performance and consistency by Papadakis Racing, who signed him to drive a newly built Scion tC2 for the 2011 season. Aasbo had big shoes to fill as Tanner Foust, the previous Papadakis Racing driver, was moving on from drifting to pursue Rallycross and television hosting but left the sport as the only back-to-back champion and winner of seven Formula Drift events. Aasbo would adapt to the new Scion tC2 and Papadakis Racing team very quickly, taking a Top 8 finish in his first event at Long Beach and a podium finish at the fifth event at Evergreen Speedway. Over the first three seasons, Aasbo would take home four podium finishes and would end the season in 12th position, 6th position, and 4th position, showing continual progress and consistency.

Fredric Aasbo drifts the Papadakis Racing Scion tC2 at Road Atlanta in 2011

Fredric Aasbo drifts the Papadakis Racing Scion tC2 at Road Atlanta in 2011

2014 would be a breakout year for Aasbo, finally landing his first event win in New Jersey. A second event win at Texas Motorspeedway, combined with two other podium finishes at Road Atlanta and Irwindale Speedway, pushed Aasbo to a second place overall finish in the championship. Aasbo actually had a chance to win the championship in the final battle of the final event at Irwindale Speedway, but a loss to Daigo Saito in that battle would hand the championship to Chris Forsberg. Getting so close to the championship motivated Aasbo and the Papadakis Racing team to attack the 2015 season hard. Several upgrades were made in the offseason to increase the horsepower and reliability of the 2AR-FE engine, which was the most powerful 4-cylinder engine in the series.

Fredric Aasbo piloted a Scion tC2 from 2011 to 2016 before stepping into a Toyota Corolla iM in 2017

Fredric Aasbo piloted a Scion tC2 from 2011 to 2016 before stepping into a Toyota Corolla iM in 2017

The next year, 2015, was a near perfect year for Aasbo and the season. The season launched with an event win in Long Beach and was capped off by an event win at Irwindale including beating Saito in the top 16. Impressively enough, Saito had won every tandem battle since 2012 at Irwindale Speedway, so the defeat by Aasbo was the first and only loss by Saito at the track and avenged the loss in the prior season which ended the championship hopes. Aasbo would win a total of 4 of seven events in 2015, and won the championship by 99 points, a wider margin than any other championship winner in series history. Aasbo also won the newly-created Formula Drift World Championship title thanks to his results at international stops in Japan and Montreal.

Fredric Aasbo drifted the Papadakis Racing Toyota Corolla iM to his 9th and 10th career victories

Fredric Aasbo drifted the Papadakis Racing Toyota Corolla iM to his 9th and 10th career victories

Aasbo added a pair of wins in 2016 and entered the 2017 season tied with Chris Forsberg and Dai Yoshihara for third in overall career wins with 8 apiece. Leading the career wins list were Sam Hubinette and Vaughn Gittin Jr, who both had nine wins. Incredibly, Hubinette amassed his nine wins in the first four seasons of Formula Drift (24 total events) and has been retired from the sport since 2012. Gittin Jr. has competed in every one of Formula Drift’s 88 total events entering the 2017 season. But just five events into the 2017 season, Aasbo has wins in Orlando and Montreal, which puts him alone at the top of the career wins list with ten total. Aasbo’s 10 Formula Drift USA wins are paired with more than 30 wins away from Formula Drift USA competition and more than 100 total podiums globally over the past eleven years, which is believed to be the most among any competitive drifter.

Papadakis Racing celebrated Fredric Aasbo's 10th career win in Montreal in July 2017

Papadakis Racing celebrated Fredric Aasbo's 10th career win in Montreal in July 2017

Incredibly, Aasbo continues to compete in events on multiple continents. While competing in the Papadakis Racing Toyota Corolla iM in Formula Drift USA, Aasbo also competes in the V8-powered RS*R Toyota GT86 in select Formula Drift Japan events, and in a different 2J-powered Toyota GT86 in select European events. All 100 podiums have occurred in a Scion or Toyota badged car, placing Aasbo near the top as one of the most winningest Toyota drivers in the world across all motorsports.

Aasbo continues to pursue the 2017 Formula Drift USA championship, currently sitting in second place after five of eight events. Aasbo is just 34 points behind series leader James Deane, which could easily be made up at a single event as 107 championship points are available on a single competition weekend.


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Papadakis Racing Debuts Unconventional Toyota Corolla iM Drift Car for 2017

Photo by Larry Chen / Toyota Racing

Papadakis Racing and Rockstar Energy Drink filmed "Rockstar D" to debut the Toyota Corolla iM

Papadakis Racing has never been shy about building unconventional drift cars. From the first NASCAR-powered V8 Scion tC that was piloted by Tanner Foust back in 2009 to the latest Toyota Corolla iM hatchback that Fredric Aasbo is piloting in 2017, Papadakis Racing has a way of turning obscure and unconventional cars into competitive drift vehicles. Foust would pilot that crazy Scion tC to a podium in the debut event for the car, with a win coming just three events later. Overall, Foust won three Formula Drift events and took home seven carbon fiber podium trophies in two full seasons of the Scion tC. Foust decided to pursue other driving opportunities after the 2010 season, and a replacement would be needed on the Papadakis Racing team. At the same time, Scion had moved from the original Scion tC to the tC2 chassis, which gave Papadakis Racing a new challenge.

Photo by Larry Chen / Toyota Racing

The Toyota Corolla iM drift car is powered by a 2AR-FE engine that pushes nearly 1,000 hp

After success with the original tC build, Papadakis added the challenge of reverting back to the Toyota 2AR motor instead of the Phase 9 TRD NASCAR motor that powered the original drift tC chassis. Moving from a TRD NASCAR motor that puts out 500+ whp to the rear wheels to a 2AR motor that was rated for 180 whp from the factory meant a full overhaul was coming. The 2AR motor was longitudinally mounted, stroked to 2.7L, paired with a Borg-Warner turbocharger, built with a host of aftermarket and custom drivetrain parts, and pushed to 23 pounds of boost.

Photo by Larry Chen / Toyota Racing

A Papadakis Racing crew member works on the Toyota Corolla iM drift car at a Formula D event

In the first season of competition, the car pushed just under 450 whp to the rear wheels. In the second season, a host of parts were upgraded and the boost was upped to 30PSI, which cranked the horsepower up to around 600 whp. Over the following five seasons, the engine package would continue to be refined, hitting a peak of 900 wheel horsepower in 2016 on nearly 45 pounds of boost. However, with the sunsetting of the Scion brand at the end of 2016, a new challenge would be pushed in front of the team.

Photo by Larry Chen / Toyota Racing

Fredric Aasbo's Toyota Corolla iM has turned heads all season for the unconventional platform

After several discussions, a Toyota Corolla iM was selected as the new drift chassis for the 2017 season. With a wheelbase of 102.4” which puts it just barely longer than the 100.4” wheelbase of the MkIV Toyota Supra and the 101.2” wheelbase of the Toyota GT86 / Scion FR-S, the car was selected specifically for the suspension geometry and initial measurements that pointed to the potential of the chassis. Luckily, the same 2AR engine could be fabricated to fit inside the Corolla iM engine bay, which would give the team a jumpstart on the chassis development knowing that they had plenty of horsepower to push to the rear wheels. While an AEM 21-776C intake would typically fit your typical Toyota Corolla iM that rolls off of your local Toyota dealership lot, this Corolla iM would require a custom intake setup from the turbocharger along with custom piping for the intercooler and intake manifold.

To debut the car, the team filmed a brief viral video that emulated the title screen from the famed Initial D cartoon in Japan. The video was filmed on the famed Mulholland Highway outside of Los Angeles, California, and debuted the new Toyota Corolla iM chassis to the world. The debut was a huge hit as fans had no idea what car Fredric Aasbo would pilot since the Scion brand had been retired. Aasbo would drive the car competitively just a few weeks after the video was released at the first event of the 2017 Formula Drift season in Long Beach. The Long Beach course is laid out on actual city streets that are closed to the public for the competition weekend, further playing on the Initial D concept that helped launch the car.

Photo by Larry Chen / Toyota Racing

The Toyota Corolla iM was debuted via a viral video that was filmed on the famed Mulholland Dr

While Aasbo wouldn’t duplicate Foust’s success of debuting the car to a podium finish, Aasbo would find the top step of the podium in the second event of the season in Orlando. The win was Aasbo’s 9th of his career, which tied him with Samuel Hubinette and Vaughn Gittin Jr. for the most all-time in Formula Drift history. Aasbo would break the record just three events later in Montreal, becoming the first driver to win 10 events in Formula Drift history. Aasbo has won all 10 events while piloting Scion or Toyota cars, with both of those cars utilizing the 2AR-FE engine. Aasbo also won the 2015 season championship in the Scion tC2 by a record 99 point margin, and is currently sitting in second place in the 2017 season championship standings.

Photo by Larry Chen / Toyota Racing

Fredric Aasbo won in the Toyota Corolla iM in only the second event at Orlando Speedworld


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2017 Nissan SR Turbo Gains an Estimated 15 Horsepower with an AEM Cold Air Intake

The 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo can gain an estimated 15 horsepower thanks to an AEM cold air intake

The 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo can gain an estimated 15 horsepower thanks to an AEM cold air intake

How many vehicles can be purchased today that are powered by the same engine that has competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans – at least for less than $25,000? The four cylinder turbocharged engine fitted to the 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo is the same unit, modified for racing, that powered the experimental prototype DWC12 DeltaWing race car at Le Mans in 2012.

While the Le Mans version of the MR16DDT engine produced 300 horsepower, when fitted to the 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo, power is reduced to 188 horsepower. AEM can help bring some of that race-inspired power back with the 21-818C cold air intake system that increases horsepower by an estimated 15 horsepower at the drive wheels.

The AEM 21-818C intake system is a true cold air intake system in that the air filter itself has been relocated to a position outside of the high-temperature engine bay. By drawing air directly from the outside, intake air temperatures are as close to ambient as possible. With cooler air entering the turbocharger, cooler air will come out. Cooler air is recognized by the ECU as having the ability to combine with more fuel. Cooler air, more fuel, equals more power.

The factory PCV and MAF sensor mount directly on the aluminum intake tube.

Mandrel-bent aluminum tubes, aerospace silicon hoses, and a massive Dryflow filter comprise the kit

It’s fitting that an engine like MRY16DDT, which is sometimes referred to as the DIG-T for Direct Injection Gasoline - Turbocharged, comes from Nissan, who has had a role in developing the small sedan performance segment with the original 2.0L DOHC 140 horsepower Nissan Sentra SE-R.

The MRY16DDT is a 1.6L inline four cylinder all-aluminum engine that is slightly under-square, with a bore of 3.14-inches and a stroke of 3.19-inches. The design features twin variable valve timing (CVTCS) controlling the double-head camshafts and four valves per cylinder (with sodium-filled exhaust valves for better transfer of heat). Details include spray-coated and mirror-finished cylinder bores applied to the 1.6 L engine, and a nanofinish on the camshafts. The engine features a single turbocharger that can operate up to 12 psi and an intercooler that reduces intake temperatures caused by the compression of the turbocharger. Stock output is 130 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 128 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm.

Both horsepower and torque are easily increased with the simple, straightforward AEM 21-818C cold air intake. The AEM cold air system for the 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo consists of two mandrel-bent aluminum intake tubes, a silicon coupler, a venturi adapter, and an oversized AEM Dry Flow conical air filter. The factory PCV and MAF sensor mount directly on the intake tube, the MAF relocated for additional cooling and performance.

Detailed instructions with product illustrations and photographs are include in the packaging

Installation is a snap and can often be completed with simple tools in less than a few hours

AEM Dryflow filters use an innovative high performance engineered synthetic material. The large round tapered 21-2157DK AEM Dryflow filter has as its core a washable, non-woven synthetic filter medium for optimum air flow, excellent filtration, and improved performance. Dryflow filters capture up to 99% of all harmful contaminants before they can reach your engine.

The AEM 21-814C cold air intake is a relatively straightforward DIY modification that takes just a few hours to install, even for someone with little mechanical experience. Tools required are those that just about everyone has in their garage. The AEM 21-818C utilizes only the factory mounting locations, so there are no holes to drill or permanent modifications to make.

The AEM air filter can be used for up to 100,000 miles before cleaning, depending on conditions

The Dryflow filter provides high air flow and a high capacity for trapping harmful contaminants

Your AEM 21-2157DK Dryflow air filter is good for about 100,000 miles with proper service (depending on your driving conditions). If you drive regularly in dusty or dirty conditions, your filter will probably require more frequent inspection and maintenance. Cleaning is straightforward and consists of an application of AEM 1-1000 synthetic air filter cleaner. The AEM synthetic air filter cleaner loosens and dissolves dirt and grime collected by the filter, after which the filter need only be rinsed in water from a sink or a garden hose, air-dried, and reinstalled.

You can purchase the AEM 21-818C cold air intake factory direct for your 2017 Nissan Sentra SR Turbo directly from the AEM website, as well as a 21-2157DK replacement filter, and the 1-1000 synthetic air filter cleaner.

The AEM 21-818C is designed to fit the following vehicles:

2017 NISSAN SENTRA 1.6L L4 Fuel Injection - All Models


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Innovative AEM Cold Air Intake Adds Power To 2016-2017 Infiniti QX30 Crossovers

The AEM 21-820DS is designed to be assembled outside the vehicle and simply dropped in place

The 21-820DS QX30 cold air intake features an inspection window embossed with the AEM logo

The striking 2016-2017 Infiniti QX30 was described by the editors of Edmunds as “reasonably priced yet offers you more style and performance than the typical small crossover SUV.” AEM can further supplement the QX30’s performance with its 21-820DS cold air intake kit, which adds an estimated 25 horsepower to the 208 that came from the factory.

The 2.0 L turbocharged four-cylinder engine features an aluminum block and cylinder head. The valvetrain is comprised of microfinished double overhead camshafts (DOHC), four valves per cylinder with Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS) that individually optimizes the opening and closing of intake and exhaust valves. The engine is backed by a seven-speed double-clutch automatic transmission with front wheel drive standard, all-wheel optional.

The 21-820DS has been thoughtfully engineered by the AEM team, with time and effort spent on the integration of the system into the vehicle from both a functional and an aesthetic viewpoint. AEM understands that owners of a vehicle like an Infiniti would prefer a system that matches the underhood environment and is simply not a tube with a filter clamped to the end.

As the 2.0L Infiniti QX30 is turbocharged, it has the capacity for increased horsepower. The more cool, fresh air you’re able to draw through the turbocharger and into the intake, the more the engine’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU) will respond by adding more fuel. The equation is simple: more air plus more fuel equal more power.

AEM engineers discovered a way to add that additional incoming fresh air by relocating the engine’s ECU. From the factory, there’s just one air inlet to the engine. With the AEM system, the ECU has been relocated and the result is a second, almost equal size intake has been added with the 21-820DS, increasingly the intake air capacity considerably.

The ECU, which is, in essence, a computer, requires a means by which it can shed its heat. AEM engineers have relocated the ECU to mount directly on the second intake duct so as moderate its operating temperature.

Relocating the engine's ECU allows for an additonal scoop to draw fresh air from oustide the veh

By doubling the area of the air intake AEM engineers feed the turbo a greater flow of air

This intake system is a revolutionary new design concept, which allows for the fully-assembled AEM replacement air box simply drop in place of the OEM Infiniti unit. Another innovation is the air filter axial seal. The filter is retained by a mounting bracket that is bolted tightly within the air box. This eliminates the need for clamps, for a tight, secure installation. The fully assembled air box then simply drops into the engine compartment which greatly simplifies the installation process.

The filter itself is an oversized AEM 21-1015DK Dryflow filter that uses an innovative high performance engineered material. Washable, non-woven synthetic filter medium chosen for its ability to deliver high air flow, excellent filtration, and improved performance. AEM Dryflow filters. In fact, a Dryflow filter captures up to 99% of harmful contaminants before they reach your engine.

While AEM Dryflow air filters typically do not require service until after about 100,000 miles (depending on driving conditions), a window is provided by which you can inspect the filter at any time. There’s an AEM logo burnished on the window so that when you raise the hood, that despite the OEM appearance of the system, it’s clear to anyone present

The AEM 21-820DS cold air intake is a relatively straightforward DIY modification that takes just a few hours to install, even for someone with little mechanical experience. Tools required are those that just about everyone has in their garage. The AEM 21-820DS utilizes only the factory mounting locations, so there are no holes to drill or permanent modifications to make.

Cleaning of the filter is straightforward and consists of an application of AEM 1-1000 synthetic air filter cleaner. The cleaner loosens and dissolves dirt and grime collected by the filter, after which the filter need only be rinsed with water, dried, and reinstalled.

Only the AEM embossed window wil give away the additonal horsepowe gains the system provides

The AEM cold air intake kit for 2016-2017 QX30 is styled for an OEM-like appearance

You can purchase the AEM 21-807C Cold Air Intake factory direct for your 2016-2017 Infiniti QX30 here on the AEM site.

Innovation has always been AEM’s core competency, and the company continues to lead the way with innovative products that push the envelope of what is possible. That’s why you’ll find AEM filters under the hoods of many of the best racing teams and industry experts nationwide.

The AEM 21-820DS is designed to fit the following vehicles:

2017 INFINITI QX30 2.0L L4 Fuel Injection - All Models
2016 INFINITI QX30 2.0L L4 Fuel Injection - All Models


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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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AEM-Sponsored Formula D Pro 2 Driver Dirk Stratton Starts Sophomore Season Strong

Formula D Pro 2 driver Dirk Stratton drifts at Orlando Speedworld, Photo by Valters Boze

Formula D Pro 2 driver Dirk Stratton drifts at Orlando Speedworld, where he earned a Top 8 finish

Dirk Stratton, finished his rookie season of Formula Drift in 4th place overall, and the early, consistent results in his second season have him on pace to continue his success. Despite working through some issues both mechanically and weather related in the first two rounds, the team is happy with a pair of Top 8 finishes and is preparing for continued success in the final two rounds of the season.

Stratton started the season in his Lingenfelter Performance/Stratton Racing Chevrolet Corvette at Orlando Speedworld with some electrical issues in practice that would test the team early. The team was quick to track down the issue, but a replacement alternator was required, and precious practice time had been lost. Despite the lack of practice, Stratton qualified 5th overall, which the team was happy with given the circumstances. The Top 16 tandem pairings put Stratton against Matt Vankirk, who had qualified 12th. Stratton put down one of his best lead runs of the weekend and was able to progressively close the proximity between the cars in his chase run to earn the win.

Dirk Stratton nears an outside clipping point in Formula Drift Pro 2 Photo by Valters Boze

Dirk Stratton nears an outside clipping point in Formula Drift Pro 2 competition

As Stratton moved into the Top 8 in Orlando, the team knew they were up against a tough opponent in Kevin Lawrence, who was driving strong all weekend and calls Orlando Speedworld his home track. Lawrence had lost a gear in his transmission in practice, so Stratton was a bit cautious in his chase run unsure of how the missing gear would affect the initiation. Unfortunately, Lawrence got away from the line slow and initiated much later than Stratton expected, which left Stratton scrambling for the rest of the run. Stratton put down a solid run in his lead, but it wasn’t enough to influence the judges into the tandem win. Lawrence went on to win the event, which shows just how strong and consistent his runs were over the weekend. Coming away from the weekend, Stratton felt that the team performed strongly, and they learned a lot about how to adjust to follow slower cars when chasing.

Dirk Stratton leads Kevin Lawrence in his Top 8 tandem battle in Orlando Photo by Valters Boze

Dirk Stratton leads Kevin Lawrence in his Top 8 tandem battle in Orlando

The second event of the Pro 2 season took place at Road Atlanta. Stratton was excited to get back to Atlanta as he never really felt comfortable driving the track last season. Qualifying went well, with Stratton qualifying second overall, which gave both Stratton and the team a huge boost of confidence. Unfortunately, Mother Nature threw a monkey wrench in the plan by bringing heavy showers for the practice and Top 16 round of tandem. The elevation changes of the Road Atlanta turn 10a complex that Formula Drift uses for drifting would mean drastically different levels of grip throughout the course, which would prove to be tricky for all the drivers.

Stratton’s Top 16 tandem battle in Atlanta was against Crick Fillipi. Shortly after initiation, Fillipi colliding with Stratton as he had misjudged the entry speed given the reduced grip levels. Stratton was able to save his car from sliding off course, but had a pretty substantial hole in the door after the collision. On the follow run, Stratton left a gap to account for the difference in grip, then closed it down entering the keyhole area of the track, and all three judges awarded the tandem win to Stratton. Looking ahead to the Top 8, Stratton knew that the drying conditions would continue to make the track treacherous, and the team made adjustments accordingly.

Stratton earned a pair of Top 8 finishes at his first two FD Pro 2 events Photo by Valters Boze

Stratton earned a pair of Top 8 finishes at his first two Formula D Pro 2 events of the season

Stratton would face Randall Waters in the Top 8, who had upset European driver Gyorgy Szilveszter in the Top 16 round. Both drivers would misjudge their entry on their lead run and slide off course. Due to the way the Road Atlanta course loops back on itself, a run is often red-flagged if the lead car slides off course to prevent a collision. With both drivers making nearly identical errors in the same location, the judges sent the tandem battle to a “one more time” round. The second set of runs would be much cleaner, with both making complete runs. Unfortunately, Stratton dropped a tire off course on both his lead and chase runs, while Waters would open up a large gap on his lead run to earn the tandem win. Overall, the team was pumped to have back-to-back Top 8 finishes, which puts them in 5th in the championship standings at the halfway point of the season.

In the three month layoff between Atlanta and Seattle, Stratton has continued to drive the car at events to better prepare himself for upcoming tandem battles. Stratton made appearances at both the Street Driven Tour in Virginia and GridLife Midwest in Ohio, where several other top drifting drivers were also in attendance, to continue to gain experience following drivers of different skill and grip levels. Stratton has no major changes or upgrades lined up during the layoff as both of his losses in tandem were due more to driving mistakes than mechanical issues. Last year, Stratton earned a Top 4 finish in Seattle, but knows that the event will be a tough battle as three of the top four drivers in the standings all claim Evergreen Speedway as their home track.

The Formula Drift Pro 2 season resumes at Evergreen Speedway, just outside of Seattle, Washington.

Stratton has continued to drive at several events during his 3-month break Photo by Valters Boze

Stratton has continued to drive at several events during the 3-month break between Formula D rounds

The distinctive C6 Corvette taillights peak through a cloud of tire smoke Photo by Valters Boze

The distinctive C6 Corvette taillights peak through a cloud of tire smoke on Dirk Stratton's Chevy


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BMW's 3-Series Sedan Gets More Power and Class From AEM's New Molded Intake System

A large 21-1015DK AEM air filter seals axially to the molded air box for added airflow into your BMW

A large 21-1015DK AEM air filter seals axially to the molded air box for added airflow into your BMW

With the ever-increasing popularity of European sport sedans, BMW has always seemed to reign supreme. The BMW 3-series sedan has become the quintessential “gentleman’s sports car” and remains the best-selling BMW offering. Available in many different configurations, the 320i and 328i, equipped with their 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engines, offer a perfect blend of luxury, performance, and speed. With driving modes that are adjustable on the fly, drivers can commute in luxury and briskly race around a track in the same vehicle, all while maintaining the great fuel economy that is required in today’s cars. The heavily engineered vehicles require more sophisticated products when it comes to modification and tuning and AEM Induction Systems left no stone unturned in their latest offering.

The engineers at AEM Induction Systems utilized 3D scanning technology to create the AEM 21-785DS, a molded air box intake kit that is designed to match the quality and class that BMW owners expect. Designed as two integral pieces, the lower half of the air box is designed to interface with the factory high pressure air feed, directing the air efficiently towards the AEM DryFlow axial-seal filter. The large AEM 21-1015DK air filter eliminates the need for a hose clamp, using a steel retention ring to seal the filter against the surface of the air box. Using this mounting style allows the filter area to be maximized within the tight constraints of the box, while still allowing the proper space for uniform airflow around the filter element itself.


The intake kit fits nicely with the rest of the components in the engine bay

The filter interface feeds directly through the tuned Mass Air Flow sensor section of the lower air box, which is designed to work with the factory ECU tuning, before entering the factory turbo coupler. This design shortens the air flow path and reduces restriction caused by the tight passages within the factory air box design. The lower half the air box also includes a molded auxiliary air feed designed to accept a standard intake coupler that may be drilled out by the end users for a custom solution as more power adders are installed. The top half of the air box seals the cold intake air from the hot underhood environment while adding air volume around the filter and serving as the mounting points for the air intake system.

The system’s organically shaped design mimics the look of the factory air box but offers refined styling and creates a more appealing symmetric look under the hood. While the air box is a sealed design, a clear AEM name badge window allows the air filter to be visible for added styling. These design elements combined help make the estimated 14 horsepower increase in horsepower and torque, with power and torque gains verified across the entire powerband.

The AEM 21-785DS intake kit comes complete with all the necessary hardware and components required for installation, requires no permanent modifications to any factory components, and requires only regular hand tools. The AEM 21-785DS kit is available for the following vehicles:

2015 BMW 328I 2.0L L4 Fuel Injection - All Models
2015 BMW 320I 2.0L L4 Fuel Injection - All Models
2014 BMW 328I 2.0L L4 Fuel Injection - All Models
2014 BMW 320I 2.0L L4 Fuel Injection - All Models
2013 BMW 328I 2.0L L4 Fuel Injection - All Models
2013 BMW 320I 2.0L L4 Fuel Injection - All Models
2012 BMW 328I 2.0L L4 Fuel Injection - All Models
2012 BMW 320I 2.0L L4 Fuel Injection - All Models


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Formula Drift Pro 2 Driver George Kiriakopoulos Looks to Rebound After Rough Start

George Kiriakopoulos qualified 11th at Formula Drift Orlando, but would have to retire early

George Kiriakopoulos qualified 11th at Formula Drift Orlando, but would have to retire early

After a rough start to his Formula Drift Pro 2 rookie season, George Kiriakopoulos is looking forward to showcasing his driving prowess in the second half of the season after several tough breaks left him with room to improve from the first half of the season. Kiriakopoulos will be debuting a new livery in time for the third round of the Pro 2 season in Seattle, and hopes to see better results at both Seattle and Texas to close out his Pro 2 season.

Kiriakopoulos started the season out in Orlando with no major expectations as a rookie, experiencing his first Pro 2 event alongside more than 20 other drivers. After the Thursday practice and qualifying session had ended, Kiriakopoulos had put his Universal Machine 370Z in 11th qualifying position, which guaranteed him a spot in the tandem battles. Unfortunately, during the practice session just prior to the Top 16 tandem battles, Kiriakopoulos broke the dogbox transmission in the car. Without a replacement available in time for the tandem battles, Kiriakopoulos would have to sacrifice his battle against fellow AEM Induction-sponsored driver Travis Reeder.

George Kiriakopoulos dealt with a broken steering rack at Formula D Atlanta, which cut down practice

George Kiriakopoulos dealt with a broken steering rack at Formula D Atlanta, which cut down practice

Heading into the second round in Atlanta just two weeks later, Kiriakopoulos and his Modified Performance team had repaired the transmission and were ready for the dynamic Road Atlanta course. Kiriakopoulos knew that the Atlanta round would be tricky, partially due to having never run the track before while several drivers on the Pro 2 roster had competed at the track in previous seasons.

In his first practice run out of the gate, Kiriakopoulos came into the first turn a bit too hot and pushed the front end of the car off course, which damaged the steering rack. The team worked hard to make the rack straight enough to run for the weekend, but the lost practice time made it difficult to qualify. Although Kiriakopoulos put two solid qualifying runs down that were scored, ultimately those scores wouldn’t push him into the top 16. By comparison, only 10 of the 30 other drivers were able to put down two full passes in qualifying, showing just how tricky the course can be.

George Kiriakopoulos unfortunately didn't make the cut for Top 16 at Road Atlanta

George Kiriakopoulos unfortunately didn't make the cut for Top 16 at Road Atlanta

During the three month layoff between rounds, Kiriakopoulos has been busy prepping for the second half of the season out of his Las Vegas-based shop, Modified Performance. Kiriakopoulos has continued to drive the car at local Vegas Drift events, continuing to get seat time in the car and dial in the grip in tandem battles.

For Seattle, Kiriakopoulos will be debuting a new wrap design, which features AEM Intakes more prominently along with some other new partnerships. Kiriakopoulos has also removed some additional weight from the car, which should make the car quicker and more predictable in grip. Kiriakopoulos feels that he has the car and the skill to be competitive in Pro 2, and is anxious to showcase that at the upcoming Evergreen Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway events.

George Kiriakopoulos knows he has the car and team to be successful in the second half of the season

George Kiriakopoulos knows he has the car and team to be successful in the second half of the season


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Kristaps Bluss Earns Second Consecutive Podium Finish at Formula Drift New Jersey

Kristaps Bluss earned 95 points in qualifying at Formula Drift New Jersey, Photo by Larry Chen

Kristaps Bluss earned 95 points in qualifying at Formula Drift New Jersey, a career high for him

Kristaps Bluss piloted his HGK Motorsports / Wisefab BMW E46 to P4 in qualifying and earned third place in the tandem competition at the fourth round of the Formula Drift Pro Championship, currently sitting in sixth place overall in the championship at the halfway point of the season. Bluss has earned back-to-back third place finishes at Round 3 in Atlanta and Round 4 in New Jersey, and will be looking to capitalize on the success for a career-best finish in the final championship standings. In his third year of competition in Formula Drift, Bluss has progressively moved up the overall standings, finishing in 28th position in his rookie season, and 12th position last season. Bluss is confident that he and his HGK Motorsports team will continue their success this season.

Kristaps Bluss dialing in his HGK Motorsports BMW E46 at Wall Speedway Photo by Larry Chen

Kristaps Bluss dialing in his HGK Motorsports BMW E46 during practice at Wall Speedway

Leading up to New Jersey, Bluss had only lost to some of the top names in the series, and was looking to continue his success. In Long Beach and Atlanta, Bluss lost to Aasbo and Essa respectively, both in the round of 16. Bluss made contact with Aasbo in his chase run in Long Beach, and made a few small mistakes in his lead run against Essa in Orlando. As Aasbo is the 2015 champion, and Essa is the 2013 champion who has returned to the same E46 chassis he won the championship with, Bluss knew that the matchups would be a tough test for the team. With those losses in the rear view mirror, Bluss entered Atlanta with a newfound motivation for success.

In Atlanta, Bluss qualified in third position, a season high which gave him an automatic bye into the Top 16 round. Bluss then defeated Nate Hamilton in the round of 16 and fellow European driver Piotr Wiecek in the round of 8 to advance into the Final 4. Bluss would push Kearney to not one but two “One More Time” rounds with his aggressive driving. Unfortunately, contact with Kearney in the final run of the first “One More Time” round was narrowly unrepairable within the competition timeout window, which allowed Kearney to move on by default. Bluss still earned third place by virtue of his qualifying results, but he and the team were disappointed, knowing they were just seconds away from having the car successfully repaired.

Kristaps Bluss chases down Dean Kearney in practice at Formula Drift New Jersey Photo by Larry Chen

Kristaps Bluss chases down Dean Kearney in practice at Formula Drift New Jersey

Thursday’s practice in New Jersey went nearly flawlessly, the only casualties would come to the rear bumper and rear taillight, which had an unplanned meeting with the jagged guardrail which lines the top of the bank. Bluss and the team also decided to make a small change around the final sweeper after evaluating the data from Thursday’s practice session to reduce the wheelspeed and conserve a bit more grip for the second run on the same set of tires. Friday morning’s practice session confirmed that the test was looking solid, and the team was excited for qualifying. After the first qualifying run, Bluss earned 95 points, which is the highest score he has earned to date in Formula Drift. The second run resulted in a de-beaded tire after an increase in entry speed caused a small collision with the wall in an attempt to earn a higher score, putting the team in 4th place overall based on the score from the first run.

Although the qualifying position was one notch lower than Atlanta, the team was excited to earn the highest score to date and still would earn a bye run into the Top 16.

Kristaps Bluss defeated series points leader James Deane in the Top 8 Photo by Larry Chen

Kristaps Bluss defeated series points leader James Deane in the Top 8 at Formula D NJ

In the Top 16 round, Bluss earned an automatic win when Nate Hamilton collided with the guardrail and was unable to repair his car within the time allotted. Bluss would then face series leader James Deane in the Top 8, who had won both the Long Beach and Atlanta rounds in his rookie year with the series. Entering the matchup, Bluss knew he would have to be driving at his best as Deane had only lost a single tandem battle all season long. After putting together a pair of flawless runs, the judges narrowly gave the decision to Bluss. As the highest ranked driver in the Top 4, Bluss would be guaranteed a podium finish.

Kristaps Bluss celebrates his second straight podium victory at Wall Speedway Photo by Larry Chen

Kristaps Bluss celebrates his second straight podium victory at Wall Speedway in New Jersey

Bluss would be paired up against Michael Essa in a rematch from the Top 16 matchup in Orlando and a battle between BMW E46’s on Achilles Tire. After a pair of very tight runs, the judges decided in favor of Essa to move into the finals. Bluss has moved up to sixth place overall in the standings, just 90 points behind series leader James Deane. Bluss has confidence in his car and team, having only lost narrowly to drivers who all currently sit in the top 10 in the series points.

The upcoming fifth round of the Formula Drift series will take place at Autodrome St. Eustache just outside of Montreal, Quebec.

Kristaps Bluss celebrated his podium victory Photo by Larry Chen

Kristaps Bluss celebrated his podium victory alongside Odi Bakchis and Michael Essa at Formula D NJ


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AEM Cold Air Intake System Offers Estimated Boost of 8-HP on 2014-2015 Lexus GS350

The AEM 21-806C Cold Air Intake System is designed for 2014 and 2015 Lexus GS350s.

The AEM 21-806C cold air intake system offers an estimated boost of 8-HP on 2014-15 Lexus GS350s

Manufactured by Lexus, the luxury division of Toyota, the GS Series is a mid-size luxury car that debuted in 1991 as the Toyota Aristo in Japan, but was given the Lexus-badge in 1993. It sold under the Aristo name in Japan only until the third-generation of the car was introduced in 2005.

A performance sedan, the GS was slotted between the entry-level compact luxury IS and the large, flagship LS and was assigned the same chassis as the one used on the Toyota Crown premium sedan.

The car is now in its fourth generation and features 6-cylinder and V8 engines and rear-wheel drive configuration, which were introduced in the second and third generations as well as all-wheel drive and a hybrid that was released in 2005.

The GS first appeared in the United States and Europe and selected nations in Asia in 1993. An inline-6 engine powered the car.

The car debuted with a new platform and a V8 engine at the start of its second-generation in 1997. It was the first V8 used on GS models outside Japan.

A V6, V8 and hybrid powertrain was included on the third generation models, which were unveiled worldwide in time for the 2006 model year.

By the time of the introduction of the fourth generation models, the GS series models were available with a choice of six engines.

• 2.0-liter 8AR-FTS I4 turbocharged gasoline engine

• 2.5-liter 2AR-FSE I4 hybrid/gasoline engine

• 2.5-liter 4GR FSE V6 gasoline engine

• 3.5-liter 2GR-FSE V6 gasoline engine

• 3.5-liter 2GR-FXE V6 hybrid/gasoline engine

• 5.0-liter 2UR-GSE V8 gasoline engine

Four transmissions were available:

• 6-speed automatic

• CVT automatic (hybrid)

• 8-speed AA80E automatic

• 8-speed AA8IE automatic

The engines that power the GS350 include:

• 2.5-liter 2GR-FSE V6, which produces 304-horsepower (227 kW; 309 PS) at 6,400 RPM and 278-lb-ft (38.4-kg-m; 377 N-m) at 4,800 RPM. The engine features port injection and new dual fan spray pattern direct injectors that move perpendicular to the piston travel with wide cylinder dispersion, which aids in the mixing of the air and fuel resulting in increased power and efficiency.

• 3.5-liter 2GR-FSE V6, which delivers 305-horsepower (227 kW; 309 PS) at 6,400 RPM and 278-lb-ft (377 N-m; 38.4 kg-m) at 4,800 RPM

The models equipped with the 3.5-liter V6 and using the 6-speed automatic accelerated from 0 to 60-mph in 5.8-seconds. Estimated EPA fuel economy ratings for rear-wheel drive models are 19-mpg in the city, 29-mpg on the highway and 23-mpg combined. For all-wheel-drive, the car achieved 19-mpg in the city, 26-mpg on the highway and 21-mpg combined.

New for 2014 was the 8-speed automatic transmission, steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, full color readout for the optional heads-up display, rear cross-traffic alerts for the optional blind spot monitoring system, an optional power trunk opener, and a Siri Eyes Free improved voice control for Apple mobile devices.

New on the 2015 model are a new infotainment display the subdivides to view and control up to three different functions including audio and navigation, 18-inch wheels that are standard, and a new limited-edition Crafted Line Trim.

Owners of a 2014 or 2015 Lexus GS350 with the 3.5-liter V6 who wish to boost horsepower, acceleration, torque, throttle response, and enhance engine sound should consider exchanging the factory air intake system with the AEM 21-806C cold air intake system. A dyno-test confirmed that the air intake offers an estimated boost of 8-horsepower at 5300 RPM.

The AEM 21-806C Intake has an air filter, aluminum tube, heat shield and stainless steel clamps.

The AEM 21-806C intake includes an AEM 21-2113DK air filter, aluminum tube and heat shield

It includes a washable and reusable AEM 21-2113DK DryFlow air filter that lasts for 100,000 miles between servicing. The media also includes three-dimensional proprietary non-woven polyester material sandwiched between two layers of coated aluminum wire screen to ensure rigidity and helps to give the material the ability to capture and hold contaminants and keep them from entering the engine.

AEM also offers 1-1000 air filter cleaner that is specially formulated to cleanse and rejuvenate the air filter so that it can be used over and over again for the life of the car.

The intake also includes gunmetal gray powder coated mandrel-bent aluminum intake tube as well as a heat shield to block hot engine air from getting into the intake, three stainless steel clamps and one coupler.

The air filter is designed to fit into the factory air box and the air intake system accommodates the factory engine emission control devices including the mass airflow sensor and PCV hose.

AEM is so sure of the quality of the 21-806C cold air intake system it covers it with a Lifetime Limited Warranty.

The air intake system can be installed using common hand tools and is designed to fit the following vehicles:

2015 LEXUS GS350 3.5L V6 Fuel Injection - All Models
2014 LEXUS GS350 3.5L V6 Fuel Injection - All Models


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