Formula Drift Mid-Season Report: Is It Really The Tires?


When I spoke with Dennis Mertzanis, who is the lone driver on Kenda Tires, he stated, “With the old rules I was 300 lbs. over my minimum weight now with the change I’m only going to be 100 lbs.”  He was one of the few excited about the rule change.  “It’s a lot cheaper to lose 100 lbs. than it is to lose 300 lbs.” How did Kenda respond? According to Dennis, “Well, right now we’re developing some new tires for next year, so right now the biggest we have is a 265… the change helps us because we could only go down from that.” As far as making it fair, “I think it’s going to help a lot of cars that have a really good setup, not a great setup, but they compensate it for wide tires and low weight, so now they either need to add more weight or run really small tires and it’s going to slow them down.”

Dennis Mertzanis
Dennis Mertzanis can certainly appreciate the idea of only needing to lose 100 lbs. instead of 300 lbs.!

However, GSR driver Mike Essa has a different opinion on it, “I think that the bigger teams with the bigger budgets will have more time to do R&D and test different stuff or are still going to do better,” but Mike did add, “(it) will probably slow those guys down. (The) guys in the mid-pack and back are a bit heavy anyway, so it’s really not going to effect them as much. So, only time will tell and we’ll see what happens when it goes into effect.” It will effect how much weight he will run, though, “right now (with the old rule) we were about 100 lbs. heavy on the 275s we were running, so now we’ll have to add 100 lbs. to the car to keep it with in the rules.” So, is what Formula D is trying to do good for the sport? “That’s what a good organization does, it tries to make the cars even and keep it anybody’s game because sponsors are going to pull out if they are not doing well.”

Mike Essa
While not positive of the change, Essa does like the rule changes.

Jonathon Bradford, Team Manager for Falken Tire, had this to say: “It’s just Formula D just trying to make the rules right. I think it was a little bit of a growing pain for them because they are trying to get it structured and get it right and get on the right track.” Would this effect any of the Falken Tire cars? “None of our cars will be effected,” Bradford stated, “most of our privateer teams are running cars a bit too heavy and they didn’t take much weight out. It shouldn’t effect them too much.” Alex Pfieffer had this to say about the rule, “Finally they got something right, its still on the heavy side but its good,” Is it going to make a huge difference? “They needed to do something because the current rules were not fair,” Alex continued, “(certain guys) had all their cars at 2500lbs or less on big rubber, the cars are no longer drift cars but circle track cars, there’s no style in (those) cars, all the same!”

J-Brad Jonathan Bradford
Jonathon Bradford feels that the Falken backed cars will not encounter any problems and continue their dominace
Ross Petty burnout
Really, for the fans it’s about the tire smoke, not the tire size!


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