Tyler McQuarrie Q&A
Sponsors: Mobil 1, Hankook, GoPro, BC, ACT, Car West Auto Body, Chevrolet, Forgestar, Enterprise Rental Car, OMP, Go Puck, Braille Battery, Holly Performance, Eibach
As a racer first, how’d you get into drifting?
TQ: “So I was racing for Yokohama and American Le Mans in 2001-2002 while also working Yokohama’s Ride & Drive training program as an instructor. We went to this one event at the end of 2003 where one of their teams, JIC, came out to use the area we were using to test one of its cars. I was watching and one of the Yokohama guys asked me if I wanted to try it. The driver they had at the time was spinning so I jumped in there and began catching them in the course that they were doing. That led Yokohama to telling me about another team that needed a driver: the Jasper Performance Supra. So I said, ‘Sure.’ I had no idea what drifting was and didn’t really pursue it – I was racing.
I had no idea what drifting was and didn’t really pursue it – I was racing.
I then went to the second Formula D event ever in Houston without ever being to one before and hopped in. I qualified fourth and finished fourth. I literally would do a run and ask my team, ‘What do you want me to do, what am I supposed to be doing here?’ So it literally fell in my lap but ever since that event I’ve just loved it.”
Why do you think drifting clicked so fast for you?
TQ: “That is the kind of race driver I am; I tend to overdrive. I’m always kind of holding myself back while other types of race drivers tend to push themselves. Getting in a car and sliding it around was natural to me. But going to Formula D was way different back then. It was way looser so it was easy for me as a race driver to jump in and do well."
We just had IndyCar driver J.R. Hildebrand come out and he didn’t make top 32 in Seattle this year so that is a good example of the level it has come to.
How much has the FD skill level increased since you started?
TQ: “When I started in 2004, everyone came out to Formula D. But now it is the pinnacle. Nowadays, it’s tough for rookies to come in and compete. Just making the top 32 is a huge accomplishment. We just had IndyCar driver J.R. Hildebrand come out and he didn’t make top 32 in Seattle this year so that is a good example of the level it has come to.”
I personally think the faster the track the better. Nowadays, some cars are making 900hp.
What’s the average entrance speed in FD?
TQ: “Typically, 100 mph is what we enter at in Formula D. Sometimes over 100 mph depending on the track. The car is set up for that kind of speed. Most of the Formula D tracks are super high speed. I personally think the faster the track the better. Nowadays, some cars are making 900hp.”
What’s the best part about this motorsport?
TQ: “The cool thing about drifting is you can see a privateer beat a fully funded factory-backed car. You see it all of the time and it’s the only motorsport you are going to see that. You’re not going to see that in IndyCar, Grand-Am, World Challenge - it’s just not going to happen.”
There are definitely more American cars now. I’ve always been surprised there haven’t been more BMWs...
How have the variety of cars on the grid changed?
TQ: “There are definitely more American cars now. I’ve always been surprised there haven’t been more BMWs because that platform is great. And not a lot of work is needed on that thing so it’s nice to see some BMWs out there. Obviously, you’re going to see a ton of Nissans and stuff we’ve seen since day one but because of the support you’re seeing more cars coming out.”
What tire class does your Camaro fall into?
TQ: “My Camaro falls in the weight class of a 285-tire. That is the one thing that Formula D is controlling, the tire size. That has definitely helped some lower horsepower cars that are running smaller tires compete and close the gap a little bit.”
How do you choose tire psi each event?
TQ: “Every track we go to has different surface, different grip levels but we are still within a range of 15 psi for every track. In Long Beach, we run pretty low pressures because we’re the first event that goes on those city streets so there is not a lot of grip compared to somewhere like Atlanta. Grip is so important now and people are running crazy low pressures.
Back in the day, even D1 guys used to run crazy pressures. When I used to run the Hankook Porsche, we sometimes ran 80 psi...
Back in the day, even D1 guys used to run crazy pressures. When I used to run the Hankook Porsche, we sometimes ran 80 psi in that thing. It’s changed so much now that now you see guys running pressures down in the teens, to the point where guys wanted to run beadlocks so Formula D made it illegal.”
How has this year in FD been going?
TQ: “This year our team has been running the best it’s been. It’s just mechanical problems hindering us. The first two events we just got killed on a motor blowing at Long Beach and ECU issues at Atlanta. It really set a bad tone for the whole season but our team just busts their butts and no one gives up. We’ve been having some good runs but we need some luck to fall our way. There is a lot of stuff in drifting that is out of your control. I’ve been doing it for 10 years and it is still hard to get used to. As long as I’m still loving getting in the car and drifting I’m going to keep doing it.”
Should there be a limit on power within the series?
TQ: “I think the power needs to be there if we are going to be going to some bigger tracks. It’s getting to the point that you need to have a big budget to run but I think any series that is going to sustain sponsorship from big companies has to continue to grow. I don’t know if putting a cap on the power is the right decision. There needs to be more Pro-Am series here for people to gain experience leading up to the pinnacle of the sport, Formula D – that’s what everyone works towards.”
We need to start scheduling larger venues to get more people out there. People are getting turned away almost every event we go to.
What would improve the series?
TQ: “The pace of the events needs to speed up – that is always the problem. But it is what it is. There is judging involved and that takes time but just a quicker overall pace would be good. When a run is going on it’s so intense for spectators but it’s short, 30-40 seconds. On the other hand, all of the venues we go to sell out. We’re at the stage now where we need to start scheduling larger venues to get more people out there. People are getting turned away almost every event we go to.”
Would you compete in Gymkhana?
TQ: “I totally would do that. I was hoping they would have a 2WD class so we could take the car out.”
If you could race anything?
TQ: “I love sports cars. Le Mans LMP1 style, those things are just so badass. Even GT stuff like jumping in a new Audi diesel or Porsche. I’m doing Grand-Am now.”
Any viral videos in the works?
TQ: “With GoPro, they’re an amazing sponsor and we have come up with some real good ideas that we’re going to do soon. Can’t say anything about it exactly but it’s going to be in a State Park. One run takes, no practice marks, that’s the coolest stuff to do.”
Have you considered doing these passenger rides on a larger scale?
TQ: “I love that stuff. What we were doing today is so much fun because you’re not in competition or being judged – it’s just drifting. I love it. We’re talking about building demo cars to go do stuff like this around the country. We’re doing this because 1) it’s fun to do and 2) you’re exposing people to drifting that have probably have never seen it before. There is nothing like getting in a car and sliding around and feeling like it’s totally out of control.”