All Eyes On Aasbø

A year’s worth of work comes down to this weekend.

With the Formula Drift finale well underway at Irwindale Speedway, qualifying is now behind us. While we now have a clearer picture of how the rest of the weekend might go, it’s still far from over. As with any motorsport, anything can happen.

This weekend I’ve been poking around Fredric Aasbø’s camp as much as possible to see if Papadakis Racing can pull off an upset. It would be a challenge for anyone, especially considering that even Aasbø himself describes Irwindale as a course where he’s “not too confident.”

It doesn’t look that way from the outside, but Aasbø remarked that, in terms of drifting, the track – and anyone who can nail their line here – is legendary; it’s a place Aasbø says requires both “commitment and precision.” With the steep bank on the oval transitioning into an oppositely cambered infield, it’s definitely a tricky layout to master.

Still, if anyone can do it, it’s the Norwegian Hammer.


Further compounding the challenge, the weekend hasn’t been silky smooth for Papadakis Racing. A couple of hours into Thursday practice, Odi Bakchis bounced off the wall and made contact with the Corolla.


Furthering their issues, when the team pulled the Toyota back into the pits to replace the shattered upright and other suspension bits they were met with a dead generator. What might have been a relatively straightforward assessment now had to take place in the dark.

This also meant that a few hours would be spent fixing said generator rather than working on the car or (ha!) relaxing.


Still, the team had the car ready to roll the following morning with a few additional tweaks going into the chassis after the practice session.

From last year, they’ve played with the gearing so that Aasbø maxes out in third rather than in fourth and before qualifying the boost was turned up as well.


With the Corolla still wearing evidence from the bump with Bakchis the day before, Aasbø laid down a solid 94 which was good for third at the time during his first run.


However, the Worthouse camp were quick to respond, with both Więcek & Deane scoring identical 98s to finish off the first run of qualifying.


Cutting to the chase; Aasbø improved with a 96 on his second and final qualifying run, resulting in fourth place.

However, with Deane taking top spot (99 points) and Więcek right behind in second (98 points), Aasbø’s battle is still very much uphill. This means that the earliest which Deane and Aasbø can potentially meet in competition is the Top 4. If this happens, Deane will already be champion due to an unsurmountable points lead. Więcek is on the other side of the bracket, so neither Deane or Aasbø can face him until the finals.


All three have bye runs for the Top 32, as does Daijiro Yoshihara who qualified third with a 97 after an 85 on his first lap around.


Finishing off the top 5 is Ryan Tuerck, who has also earned himself a bye run in the first round of competition on Saturday.


Others had some unfortunate results in qualifying. Kyle Mohan earned double zeros and Federico Sceriffo found more bad luck in California, this time in the form of a K-wall which caused his wheel to separate from the rest of his car.


Back in the paddock with Aasbø and the team, he simply described qualifying as “super fun.” From behind the wheel he felt his second run was stronger — and his score reflected this — but recognized that it definitely wasn’t perfect.

Still, Aasbø’s happy with where he ended up after qualification, especially considering this isn’t his strongest round. He said the Corolla has felt great all weekend and the team will only need to make small tweaks for competition.


One such tweak was to swap out second gear for something that’ll favor the tandems a little bit more on Saturday.


I watched in awe as Stephan Papadakis disassembled and reassembled the gearbox in a matter of minutes; there’s something very satisfying about the gentle clunking of gears as the pieces unfold and go back together.

I could have nerded out in here much longer, but with the Pro 2 guys revving up in the hot pits, I headed back inside the oval.


But not before I grabbed a couple shots of Aasbø’s new wheel setup for tomorrow. I’ve gotten used to the gold meshes, but these are pretty damn cool.


When it comes to competition, Aasbø is now 52 points behind Deane. This means that regardless of Deane’s result, Aasbø must win every single battle he faces on Saturday. In Aasbø’s own words, he’s up against some next level guys.


If Deane only makes it as far as the Top 8, and Aasbø wins the event outright, the two will tie in points. Depending on how Formula Drift break the deadlock, it’s likely that Aasbø will be awarded the championship for more wins over the season (three versus two).

However, if James Deane gets into the Top Four, it’s game over for Aasbø. Then , there’s the matter of Więcek nipping at Aasbø’s heels, too.

As things stand right now, it’s still anyone’s game at Irwindale Speedway.

And lady luck may have her say as well…

Trevor Yale Ryan
Instagram: tyrphoto



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There are a lot of people who could do what Aasbo does. Drifters are really nothing special...just marketing and redbull.


Id assume any decent driver would easily take the sponsorship money and run if it was easy


Why don't more people do it if it's so easy? Serious question.


Making Toyota hatchbacks cool again lol.


Ugh, the photography in this article is really lacking as well. For example, the first photo in the article is extremely poor and really has your eyes bouncing around looking for the subject/meaning behind it, my guess the focus was on the trail of smoke they left behind but it was poorly composed as well as a handful of other photos in this article. Sorry to be negative about this, but Speedhunters was a place for me to draw inspiration from for my own photography. Speedhunters before took pride in the quality of their photography. Once again I am not sure what happen behind the scenes at Speedhunters, but it isn't good. This will be the last comment I make like this and once again I am sorry for coming across as negative which I don't enjoy to be, but I am not sorry in voicing my opinion about the quality of a blog that I have followed for years.


Is it the framing/ composing or the editing style that you take issue with? I for one am completely over the 'lift the black to grayish white and crush the contrast slider' (because who wants depth) editing fad right now. The title feature from Dino with the TE37s is a perfect example of a clean, sharp photos where DoF is used perfectly to lead your eye to where it is supposed to go.

Naveed Yousufzai

Nelson, just a friendly reminder that the rules of a photography are meant to be broken. Everything in the art is subjective to the person shooting. You might not agree with the photos here, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are "poor" or "lacking". At the end of the day, we are all just trying to share peoples stories from our perspective and style.


General rules of photography would be “don’t shoot towards the sun”, but Speedhunters taught me how to break that rule and make it my own.


I respect that your criticism is coming from a good place, and you're right in that you shouldn't apologise for it.

I don't think the photography is 'extremely poor' by any means, especially considering the lack of access to media at Irwindale this year with only two photo locations on offer to general media. I know from experience that Irwindale without access is a right b*stard of a place to shoot, despite it looking like heaven. Of course, we can always be better and we will always strive to improve.

If you're looking for inspiration, then I have some suggestions of some of my recent personal favourite shoots that we've published:


Thank you for the reply Paddy and I appricate the recommendations on the articles! Irwindale is defiantly a tricky track to photograph at so I understand where you are coming from.


Honestly, actually agree with you to some extent and either way appreciate the feedback. I was really not very happy with what I was getting all weekend. Maybe partly due to there only being two real media zones this time (otherwise shooting through the fence) but also I found myself in the wrong place with the wrong lens all too often.

That said, I've been around for over a year now so I'm not entirely sure where this is coming from if you've really followed us closely. I'd also be stoked to check out another blog you follow that had coverage up the following morning with better photos - it's always good to learn from others shooting in the same conditions.

Your only other comment I've seen is similar, and wasn't even directed towards a regular contributor here, rather a guest submission. You also dont offer any solutions or advice, just that you don't like it - e.g. the opening photo here is pretty cut & dry rule of thirds with the wheel on the wall but you say the focus is the smoke in the corner? It's all subjective.

On that note, I'd encourage you to submit your own work to IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER. Seeing cool photos and hearing stories from around the globe you'd otherwise never see is what this site is all about.


Hey Trevor,
I was referring to the second photo (I thought the one you are referring to was actually a great photo.) in the article, with Aasbo leading at the bottom of the shot. These photos just came across as “safe” photos, but I am guessing that’s coming from the lack of media spots and deadline for the photos. But, even with that I feel like you could of gotten a bit more creative.

Also, I didn’t offer any solutions or advice because it isn’t my place. My comments are my personal opinion about the photography/website and why I personally didn’t like it. If you agree or disagree and wanted to go more in detail I wouldn’t mind trading opinions and advice but that should be done via email instead of the comment section. I am also not a fan of the IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER program, it seems like some posts are great but then an equal amount are terrible. I rather just follow the work of the regular contributors.

Thanks for your reply!


Now when can we see a rwd version of that hatchback? Badass ride!


Lol you're seeing it! I wish they would, I think there is an AWD version available in certain (snowy) markets. The return to a manual trans is a step in the right direction though

Quinlyn Bernstein

I 'd love to know who drives that insane leave Moats with the awful firrment, it's the coolest drift missile i have ever seen.


I 'd love to know who leaves that insane Connemt with the awful pslleping. It's the coolest sentence I've ever seen.

Also the answer to what I assume you're asking is right there in the srory...