Driver Profiles: Joon Maeng


4. Competition Questions

 - Why do you think there is a jump to V8s? Is it really as simple as the car becomes easier to drift or costs, or do you think it’s something else?

That’s what I’ve been hearing from others. It’s really hard for me to say because I’ve never drifting a V8 platform. From what I’ve seen they do have the advantage having that linear power band which provide instant torque that helps to drift at ease. Drifting a non- V8 is still competitive, there are more driving techniques that’s involved to match up/over run a V8 platform. I love the sound and performance of the Rotary and am happy to be running the 3 Rotor setup! I hope to see more non v8’s on top of that podium!


– Do you think a that something has to be put in place besides tires to level the playing field? (Like Weight Restrictions, Power Restrictions, Engine Modification Restrictions, etc.) Or, do you feel like the “run what you bring” status of Formula Drift is perfect?

I feel “run what you bring” type of attitude. Everyone is different in this world and all the teams express their characters and talent through the cars they built. That way it doesn’t limit the competitiveness of the sport of drifting. If there is a will there is a way to beat the most powerful high budget team, what comes from the heart will succeed.


Ed Bergenholtz, Joon Maeng, Ron Bergenholtz
Joon and Ron are closer in thinking than they think, both love the “Run what your Brung” attitude of Formula Drift!


– What are some of the ways you keep up, considering you’re in a 3-rotor Wankel and you’re facing off against V6s and V8s? How do you keep a close tandem versus those bigger cars and engines?

Bergenholtz Racing did a phenomenal job setting up the Mazda RX-8. Running the Nitto NT05’s wrapped around the light weight Enkei PF01 and KW Suspension provides the traction, handling and performance needed on the track. Without it we’d be left in the dust. Those products play a big role and it’s crucial to have a reliable clutch (Advanced Clutch Technology) because of the driving techniques involving a lot of modulating the clutch pedal. 


– Is the RX-8 a difficult chassis to drift versus the Silvia? If you’ve had a chance to run the RX-8 in a Time Attack or track day, how does it compare to the Silvia?

When Kevin Wells at LS AUTOMOTIVE helped setup the Lucas Oil Nitto Tire S13.5 it was like an automatic drifting machine. It almost felt like it could drift on its own. It took some time to get used to in the Mazda RX-8 but after testing and dialing in the setup I felt super confident behind the wheel.
Team Bergenholtz Racing took extra measures to deliver nothing but the best and comfort in the vehicle. The seat position relevant to the steering wheel is the same as the S13.5. Wow, if the RX-8 ran in Time Attack it’ll most likely fly through the track. The Mazda RX-8 will win by far compared to the S13.5.


– Who are some of the competitors you look forward to facing?

I look forward to facing the top 3 FD Championship leaders. It’ll be a good measuring stick to see the capability of the RX-8 and myself as a driver. I mostly look forward to facing Chris Forsberg because he pushes super hard but yet drives a clean line! It’ll be great to meet him in the finals.

Chris Forsberg


– Who was the best tandem you’re ever run with?

That would have to be Chris Forsberg! When you feel like you’re going to hit the lead car and you don’t that means you were inches away. That’s what I felt when running with Forsberg.


Chris Forsberg
Chris Forsberg, one of the more consistant Drivers in Formula Drift is a favorite of many drifters, including Joon Maeng


– Who is responsible for keeping your car going? Does Ron or Ed do everything or do you have anyone else that helps? Do you have to work on the RX-8 at any point?

Ron Bergenholtz manages a lot of things in the program. He never fails to amaze me with how much he does to deliver the best. Ron makes sure all is in line and ready to go between rounds and during rounds.


Ron Bergenholtz
Ron Bergenholtz


Ed Bergenholtz does all the tuning, high tech computer data/tuning (Motec M800) and spots at the tower.


Ed Bergenholtz
Ed Bergenholtz


My crew chief, Derek Ige communicates with me and makes the calls on necessary changes.
Kurt Gasper is always right there to help out Ron whether it be early in the morning or an all nighter.
Mark and Ernie Manasala makes sure the car is spotless in person and online.
Rommel Figueroa sprays, cools the car down in between runs and the list goes on for each member of the team. Everyone plays a role to keep the car going.


Joon Maeng

Joon Maeng

Joon Maeng


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