Video: How V8’s Came to Dominate Formula-D Drifting

Some people fear change. Lucky for us, we embrace it. When the first LS1 appeared on the scene some fifteen years ago, the vast majority of the automotive graybeards were skeptical; no way can this new, all-aluminum powerplant take the place of the classic small block Chevy that they’ve grown to love. The naysayers cried foul, hated on it, and kept their fingers crossed that the original small block architecture that dated back to 1955 would eventually reamerge victorious. Lucky for us, it hasn’t.

Rhys Millen, now drifting for Hyundai, was the first to bring V8's into the sport with his GM sponsored Pontiac GTO.

Fast-forward seven years later, and Rhys Millen was introducing that same V8 mill to the world of drifting with his 2004 GTO. Being snubbed by fans and judges alike in a sport then dominated by 4- & 6-cylinder turbocharged imports, we domestic V8 lovers were the only ones supporting Rhys and the Pontiac team in Formula-D. It seems like only yesterday. But like the popularity of the LS1 itself, import enthusiasts eventually warmed up to the idea of V8-powered drift cars.

Here we are eight years since Rhys first rolled that GTO onto the field, and Formula-D is now dominated by V8’s, LS’s in particular, making them the engine swap of choice for the serious drifters. Looking under the hoods of the typical Nissan Silvias/240’s or Toyota AE86 Corollas that are common in the sport, and you’ll no longer see a turbocharged Nissan RB26 or Toyota 2Jz motor, but that of an all-aluminum LS ‘plant.

These Camaros are backed by GM, and are equipped with LS7's packing 720HP and 600FT-LBS. of torque.

How did this happen? The answer is relatively simple; as opposed to the boosted 4- & 6-shooter  powerplants that have mostly departed from the sport, drifters now have the luxury of instant torque and throttle response, lower maintenance costs, and less maintenance altogether.

Swapping LS mills into imports has quickly become the thing to do in Formula-D competition. This Nissan 240SX is packing an LS3, and it's owner claims it produces more power than the built, turbocharged 4-cylinder it replaced.

Throw in the fact that you can scoop up an LS-series engine of varying displacements at your local wrecking yard for small change, and it becomes a no-brainer. They’re also mod-friendly and can be built with twice as much horsepower  while maintaining natural-asprairation, and they’re lightweight thanks to their all-aluminum, compact design.

Earlier today, we ran across this video on Autoblog discussing the climatic shift from boosted Japanese mills to the ever-growing popular LS motor in drifting applications. In the video several professional drifters are all interviewed, all pointing out that in order to stay competitive in the sport today, a V8 is the way to go. Hate to say we told you so, guys.

Even Vettes are invited to the party...

About the author

Rick Seitz

Being into cars at a very early age, Rick has always preferred GM performance cars, and today's LS series engines just sealed the deal. When he's not busy running errands around town in his CTS-V, you can find him in the garage wrenching on his WS6 Trans Am, or at the local cruise spots in his Grand National.
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