Driver Profiles: Joon Maeng


Here comes the BOOM!


5. Random Questions

 – What is the most fearful or exciting thing you have done? It doesn’t even have to be in a car!

The most fearful thing I’ve accidentally done was rolling/flipping down Malibu canyon in my 1985 Corolla. It was a freak accident but somehow I survived the wreck. There was no cage in the vehicle and the roof caved completely and had about a foot left only on the driver side. I truly thought it was my last day here when I saw small tiny lights down the canyon which were houses a couple thousand feet down. It was a miracle night and God definitely had HIS hand upon me.


– Who is the person responsible for keeping your spirits up if you lose or have a bad run?

My Team Manager, Ron Bergenholtz keeps my spirits high. He goes above and beyond to share stories, sit down with me to draw out every detail of the track layout to discuss what’s the best approach to excite the fans and countless things he does to lift me up. Even when we have a bad run he looks very carefully to see what we can do to improve. He is an innovator and is always thinking of great ideas.


Ron Bergenholtz
Always one to make a great face for photography and with sage advice, Ron Bergenholtz keeps everyone’s head up!


– What car is your daily driver?

It’s a 1985 Corolla GTS.


Joon Maeng's 1985 Toyota Corolla
Joon’s Daily is no slouch when it comes to drifting, either! The legendary Corolla!


– What is your dream car?

It’ll have to be the Z32 Twin Turbo


– What is your occupation outside of drifting, if you have one?

I help manage the family restaurant called Daily Udon and Sushi out in Garden Grove, Ca.


– Do you race cars outside of drifting? If so, what all do you run and where?

Yes, I do drive my personal vehicle Lucas Oil Nitto Tire S13.5 with the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championship. This is my first year out in the MotoIQ Championship and It’s a great experience. I believe it’s good to know how to drive well in drift and road racing. It’ll only make you a better driver at the end of the day.


Joon Maeng Lucas Oil Nissan 240SX
Joon, just like Tyler McQuarrie and Dai Yoshihara, keeps his drifting skills sharp by grip racing!


– Do you have any hobbies outside of anything automotive?

I enjoy mountain biking, playing soccer, basketball and anything active.


– We all call you “Gentle Maeng,” but from what I understand and unbelievably so considering how we in the drifting world have gotten to know you, you weren’t always Gentle. Can you elaborate on that and what brought about the change?

I wasn’t too gentle back in the gangsta days. In 7th grade there were a lot of gangs at school and fights going on. It’s something that couldn’t be avoided. Being gentle was the last thing on my mind. Once I realized that fighting back did not resolve anything but made matters worse I decided to change my lifestyle by going to church. There always was an empty black spot in my heart and knew I was missing something in my life.

I learned a lot of good life lessons through the Bible and one of them was to love your enemy. It was really hard to do but once I put it into action the enemy and I became friends after about a year of being friendly to him although he hated it. It was a life changing experience for him as well.
Wow, what a blessing it was to have my life transformed and light to fill up that empty spot with the WORD and love of JESUS CHRIST. I never felt this complete and happy in my life before.


– You are also a devout Christian, what lead to that path?

Curiosity for a purpose driven life lead me to this path. I knew there was more in life to live for. Once I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, my life was filled with joy and heart was ready to serve. I became an optimistic person and had faith that all will work out! The way I thought and lived was completely different. It was like night and day.


– And teach a Sunday School? What Age Group, if there is one you specifically teach?

I love being involved at church for Sunday Youth group grades 7th-12th and even elementary department. Being a teacher at Han Mi InJoy Ministry CRC for 5+ years really helped me to keep myself in check. We have to be a good example to the young ones by our actions and not only by words. It was a wonderful experience! It’s great to give a helping hand to a fellow brothers and sisters.


– Finally, who do you want to thank or tell people about that has helped you though your career and/or life?

I would like to thank:
My mother for dealing with all of the mess I made working on the car at home, always being supportive of my dream to live as a drifter.

My good friends, Lod Amphol Tongkul, Art Thavilyati, Kevin Lee (Nexus Visuals), S-Empire crew that made it possible to get out there, build our first drift car and compete since the very beginning.
 Kevin Wells, Sergio Ramirez and Chris Forsberg at LS Automotive/CFR for making it possible to finish the 2009 Formula Drift season with good results and made drastic improvements with their expertise on and off the track.

Ron, Ed Bergenholtz, Derek Ige, Kurt Gasper the whole Team Bergenholtz Racing for furthering my dreams as a Profession Drifter! Driving for B.R. in the Nitto Tire Mazda RX-8 is a big dream come true and will do my best to be on top. Their passion and drive gives me nothing but energy to drive my heart out!  

Diehard fans that always roots us on no matter what circumstance! I appreciate all of your inspirational comments!

Nitto Tires, Mazda, Mazda Speed, Lucas Oil, Genius Tools, LS Automotive, Sam’s Auto Land, Advanced Clutch Technology, Enkei Wheels, K1 Speed, KW Suspension, Titan Motorsports, Mazda Trix, Steen Chassis, HKS, Sparco, WPC, SEIBON, CSF, The Driveshaft Shop, Bakers, MoTec, Golden Eagle, RC, Burns Stainless, Tial, Road Race Engineering, Enjuku Racing and all of the supporters of our team!


Bergenholtz RX-8
Bergenholtz Racing RX-8
Ron Bergenholtz


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