It all came down to this: Formula Drift’s season finale at the infamous House of Drift, the round where a champion is crowned and the action is at its highest extreme. For team SR by Toyota, it’s our last round of competition representing the SR by Toyota brand, and all three drivers—Fredric Aasbo (Papadakis Racing/Nexen SR by Toyota tC), Ken Gushi (GReddy Racing/Nexen SR by Toyota 86) and Ryan Tuerck (O’Reilly/Gumout/Hankook SR by Toyota 86)—were prepared to go the entire distance for the win or go out fighting.
Sitting in second place overall coming into the final round, Aasbo didn’t need much to take the championship, but there would be major obstacles to overcome. Chris Forsberg would have to be taken out early with Aasbo finishing on the podium to pull it off, and Forsberg actually was stopped from advancing during the Top 16 after colliding with Pat Mordaunt.
However, Aasbo winds up colliding with Matt Field, the round’s eventual winner, and is found at fault, which takes him out of the competition and a solid Second place overall season finish. “It’s been such a memorable journey developing the tC,” Aasbo says. “We made progress each year, which culminated in winning a championship in 2015. I couldn’t be more thankful, so I’m going to go out with a bang and give the best show possible.
“Irwindale is truly my home course,” says Gushi. “I only live ten minutes from here, and this is where I got my start in drifting, using the parking lots to perfect my skills. Sixteen years later and I’m still competing in a sport that’s evolved so much.” Gushi was primed to battle, and actually off to a great start against “Mad” Mike Whiddett during the Top 32 that had them go to a “One More Time”—but during that tandem, Gushi overrated at the switchback, which had him facing the wrong way with Whiddett simply unable to avoid crashing into him. The accident kept Gushi from moving on the rest of the day.
“This has been an emotional season saying goodbye to SR by Toyota as they move under the Toyota Racing umbrella,” he says. “I was the first Scion Racing driver in Formula Drift, and I grew as a driver because of this brand. I can’t thank them enough for helping me get to where I am today. It’s hard to say goodbye.”
“Being at a track like the House of Drift, it comes with a lot of history,” says Tuerck. “The driving is intense and gnarly, there are lots of phenomenal tandem battles and some good hardcore drift driving.” Tuerck advanced to the Great 8 after a couple bye-run passes, where he went heads up against some of the series’ toughest drivers, including Tyler McQuarrie before enduring mechanical issues before his matchup against Field, giving Tuerck a secured Third place podium finish at Irwindale.
“It was a bittersweet victory representing the Scion brand,” he added. “But I’m glad we sent it off in a good way, ending the season off on the podium.”
We at SR by Toyota truly value you all of your support throughout the years, cheering our drift team on through all our victories and defeats. To have come this far and broken through Formula Drift’s elite is something we’ll always cherish and look back on with great pride. Thanks for everything. We’ll miss seeing you at the track!