Forrest Wang is currently preparing for the 2019 Formula Drift season that will start this weekend in Long Beach, California. For 2019 he’s teamed up with Motul USA to support him this season. As Formula Drift gets bigger and bigger every year, we sat down with Forrest to figure out why.
Forrest, first off, what got you into drifting in the first place?
As a kid, I grew up in Hawaii and my friends and me started messing around with old banger cars. We preferred to take them off-road because it was a lot more fun when these junkyard cars lost their tracks and started sliding. That was where I got interested in drifting. I started being a better driver and it kind of snowballed into what I’m doing now.
The winter off-season was pretty long. What have you been up to?
I took some time off after the end of last season, spent some time with family and friends, and I spent a lot of time going off-roading with my buddies. I love to go rock crawling. It’s completely the opposite of drifting and I guess that’s why I love doing that in the off-season. In February, though, we kicked things into high gear. We started rebuilding the car, put in a new engine and a new gearbox and did some suspension work.
Tell us a little bit about the setup of your car please.
It’s a Nissan Sylvia S15, a classic drift car. Fully modified by me and my team at our shop in Las Vegas. It runs a 2JZ engine straight-six engine with a massive 6870 Precision turbo. For this season we’ve upgraded the car with a Samsonas 6-speed sequential gearbox and, like most of the FD participants, we’ve all built it ourselves.
Is craftsmanship something that sets drifting apart? Even at the highest level, people still build their own race cars.
I believe it’s part of the game. It’s the only way you really get to know your car. Drifting, even at this level, still has grassroots feel to it. Everyone is wrenching away during the events, even big names like James Dean or Vaughn Gittin Jr.
When we look at social media and behind-the-scenes videos, the entire paddock seems to get along really well. It looks like it’s one big group of friends.
Most of us get along pretty well. I even have a few friends here who I also see outside of FD. I’ve been friends with Justin Pawlak for ten years. Out there, he’s my competitor though. Most of us came here to have fun and we try to keep it that way.
FD is a peculiar championship. Big budget teams like the RTR Mustang team and the Falken team are right up there, but smaller privateer teams such as yours are often competitive.
I think it’s the only form of motorsport where this is possible and there’s a sort of level playing field. It’s really all about the driver and not the team budget. I’ve beaten the big teams before. Last year I came second here in Long Beach.
Speaking of Long Beach, it’s a very spectacular track but the walls are unforgiving. Do you like this kind of track?
Oh, yes! It’s my favourite track along with Irwindale Speedway. I’ve always done well here, so I’m looking forward to the weekend. The walls are the biggest challenge, but it also shows which drivers have their technique dialled in. Going flat out but controlling the car so that it doesn’t go clattering into the wall. That’s what it’s all about.