LUCAS OIL IN FORMULA DRIFT
(LEFT) Joon Maeng
with the testbed for his
latest Nissan 240SX V8
drift car. (BELOW) The
original 240SX is put
through its paces
at Long Beach.
the advantage going into the second run.
When I’m following, and I’m inches from
his quarter panel throughout the course,
then I would take the win,” Maeng says.
Maeng was born in Seoul, South Korea,
moving to the U.S. aged nine. Away from
the track, he manages a sushi and udon
restaurant in Garden Grove, Calif., and
volunteers as a youth-group leader in his
church. As well as driving for Bergenholtz in
the Formula D series, he has his own drift
cars for local events, demonstrations and
charity events. “I love kids and love getting
involved to drive for a purpose,” he says.
He has been drifting a Nissan 240SX
(Silvia) S13.5 powered by a turbocharged
four-cylinder motor. He’s building a new one
with a V8 for more torque and power. The
RX- 8 he drives for Bergenholtz is powered
by a turbocharged, three-rotor engine.
In Formula D, Maeng and Bergenholtz
have had some success this year, even
reaching the quarterfinals at Road Atlanta.
But he knows that he and this small outfit
have an uphill battle against the big-money teams. Going head-to-head against
with cars that are nearing half a million
dollars could break the spirit of many small
teams and their drivers, but not Maeng.
“We don’t have that much money, but
we have that much more ideas and more
heart. We’re trying our best with what
we have. I really appreciate everyone’s
efforts to just keep going,” he says.
Since Maeng got involved in drifting, it’s
always been a small effort. He built his first
drift car with friends in S Empire, a racing
crew that he’s been involved with since
“How much more exciting can it
get? It’s driving on the edge and
pushing the limit. I love it”
Mark Donohue is credited with
explaining that sufficient power is
when you can leave black marks
from the exit of one turn to the
beginning of the next braking zone.
In drifting, the drivers are trying
to lay down rubber from start to
finish, so power is crucial.
“You want a minimum of 550hp,”
says Joon Maeng, currently building
a V8-powered Nissan 240SX drift
car with exactly that goal in mind.
“That will do the job.”
That much power, and the way it’s
used, puts a lot of stress on the
drivetrain. Thus the need for better,
stronger parts throughout.
“You need a good transmission
and a great clutch setup, driveshaft,
axles and rear differential,” adds
Maeng. “In drifting, you’re abusing
the car. At Evergreen Speedway, for
example, you’re drifting on the big
bank at 100mph, and all of a sudden
you’re tapping on the e-brake to
adjust your line and then getting
back on the throttle. All of a sudden
the wheel speed is at 120mph from
0. It’s a lot of wear and tear on the
car. You’ve got to spend a lot of time
toughening up the drivetrain.”
And, to keep all that stuff turning
smoothly, you need good
lubrication. Head to Maeng’s spot in
the paddock and you’ll find a big
display of Lucas Oil products.
“I was a big fan of Lucas Oil even
before I partnered with them. I’ve
been using their products for many
years. I like to share what works so
that up-and-coming drivers don’t
have to go through what I did, using
a product that didn’t work and
blowing up my motor. Not good...”
IT TAKES POWER AND STRENGTH
TO MAKE A GOOD DRIFTER CAR
junior high school. Many of them now work
at Road Race Engineering, a prep shop
specializing in rally cars, so they’re helping
him build the new car.
“I started with my buddies who love cars.
I said, ‘I want to be a professional driver. Can
you help me out? With your expertise, I’m
confident I could.’ We jotted down a good
program. We’ve got the car so far,” he says.
He also would welcome opportunities in
other forms of motorsports – he spent the
weekend at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long
Beach not only doing drifting exhibitions,
but also driving the pace cars in between
racing sessions. But whatever
opportunities may arise, he loves drifting
and especially the variety that it offers,
“The best part of drifting is that there
are so many challenges and you’re
constantly learning new things; it’s not
repetitive,” Maeng says. “The judges do a
great job of making different changes on
the course layout. It’s a lot of fun to go
out and not know what to expect. Who’s
going to adapt? It makes you improve and
adapt more quickly to be competitive.”
“I really enjoy the precision needed to be
right on the other guy’s door. Imagine going
sideways and just tapping him with your
front tire, marking his side skirt. How much
more exciting can it get? It’s driving on
the edge and pushing the limit. I love it.”