Behind the Scenes: Formula Drift crew


Dai relies heavily on his Fuck Nuts.  His crew is one of the closest ones in the industry, with decades of experience and years of bonding that have helped Dai emerge as one of the toughest competitors in the Formula Drift competition.  Dai's S13 has been tested in all kinds of situations, including (amazingly, for a SoCal based team) in rainy weather.  Given Dai's high score in the wet conditions, it's apparent this preparation pays off.  These testing notes go back years accumulating all sorts of data for different tracks, different weather, and different setups.  I refer to it as Mike's Little Black Book of Drifting but even more frightening is his meticulous memory.  Dai has an innately gifted driving ability but he also has a refreshingly humble attitude and lets his crew know he appreciates their hard work.  It's their turn for a little spotlight.  Let me introduce the Fuck Nuts:

Scott DodgionShay Alexander
Three words Scott: Louis Vuitton tattooSeriously Shay, the camera doesn't bite.
SCOTT DODGION: Scott is the owner of SPD Metal Works, the company Falken contracts to build, maintain, and run Dai Yoshihara's S13 and now Darren Mcnamara's S15, which debuted at the Wall Speedway event.  SPD Metal Works (Anaheim, CA) is a full chassis prep shop and can set up cars from drifting to race cars to offroad vehicles.  They also do custom fabrication work including roll cages and roll bars, custom exhaust and intercooler piping, sheet metal work, suspension components, and body panels.  Scott is responsible for the entire build including heroics like putting together Dai's S13 in just 9 days after his IS350 met its demise with a k-rail at Seattle.  Scott and the crew went more than a week with little sleep and had barely enough time to trailer it straight to the grid at Infineon Raceway before Round 6 of the 2009 season where Dai made it into the Top 16 round.  What an amazing accomplishment!
MIKE KOJIMA: Editor in Chief of, Mike is also a Chassis Engineer for Falken Motorsports responsible for Dai's and D-mac's car.  Mike sits in on all the drivers meetings to understand what the judges are looking for.  He is also their spotter.  The spotter is the “eyes and ears” from the judge's perspective.  Mike often sits in the judge's box tracking other drivers' entry style (hand brake versus flick initiation), speed and proximity, horsepower, and strengths and weaknesses, to advise Dai and Darren how to approach tandem runs during competition. Mike also takes copious notes on how the car responds to differences in setup.  He'll radio back to the crew to make changes to tire pressure, shock damping, and sway bar adjustments.  From his perspective, Mike can also radio back to the Scott what to expect if the car is damaged from too close an encounter with a wall, clipping point, or a competitor, saving valuable time when making repairs.  He's also responsible for talking to the Formula Drift officials in case of dispute or to request a 5 minute repair call.  
SHAY ALEXANDER: Shay is Scott's employee.  He works on everything from replacing damaged body parts to maintaining target tire pressures to replacing clutches to doing brake jobs.  He's the guy most likely to be found underneath the car and somehow makes like Casper when a camera is pointed his direction!
Shay Alexander
Shay installs a USDM cluster to increase entrance speed…
Seth Ferraro
Seth gets the car clean for the ultimate in slick drifting.
SETH FERRARO: A friend of Shay's since 3rd grade, Scott called Seth to help out at Wall Speedway when the team was short-handed.  He's been a mechanic for more than a decade and was there to do whatever it takes to hopefully help out at more competitions. 
CHRIS MARION: As a Sales Account Manager at KW Suspension, Chris is well-versed with Dai's suspension setup for his S13.  He is always around to support the KW drivers but especially Dai, one of their star drivers.  Chris monitors tire pressures and compiles data from the Motec datalogger for each run.  He is looking for specific parameters such as where Dai's chassis appears to be bottoming out and what G-forces Dai is pulling as well as throttle position and braking power.  These data logs are helpful for Mike and Scott to make changes to the car's setup, something that occurs pretty frequently during an event.
Bumper graveyard
Bumper graveyard.


The judges look for proximity.


Proximity is good, until you realize you're feet away from two cars mounting a short guard rail.  This is me (circled, from Chelsea Denofa's in car camera) during the Chelsea / Tyler McQuarrie crash.  Talk about a great view of the action!


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