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FORMULA DRIFT JAPAN Connects Drifting As A Professional Sports Event To The Future

FORMULA DRIFT JAPAN Connects Drifting As A Professional Sports Event To The Future

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TEXT: 西川昇吾(NISHIKAWA Shogo)  PHOTO: 佐藤亮太(SATO Ryota)/FORMULA DRIFT JAPAN

  • From left to right: Kazuhiko Iwata, Yoichi Imamura, Isamu Kanazawa, and Eiichi Akutsu of Formula Drift Japan
  • AMW interviewed FDJ representative Kazuhiko Iwata and other key staff members to find out about FDJ's origins, where it is now, and what the future holds
  • AMW interviewed FDJ representative Kazuhiko Iwata and other key staff members to find out about FDJ's origins, where it is now, and what the future holds
  • AMW interviewed FDJ representative Kazuhiko Iwata and other key staff members to find out about FDJ's origins, where it is now, and what the future holds
  • AMW interviewed FDJ representative Kazuhiko Iwata and other key staff members to find out about FDJ's origins, where it is now, and what the future holds
  • AMW interviewed FDJ representative Kazuhiko Iwata and other key staff members to find out about FDJ's origins, where it is now, and what the future holds
  • AMW interviewed FDJ representative Kazuhiko Iwata and other key staff members to find out about FDJ's origins, where it is now, and what the future holds
  • AMW interviewed FDJ representative Kazuhiko Iwata and other key staff members to find out about FDJ's origins, where it is now, and what the future holds
  • AMW interviewed FDJ representative Kazuhiko Iwata and other key staff members to find out about FDJ's origins, where it is now, and what the future holds
  • AMW interviewed FDJ representative Kazuhiko Iwata and other key staff members to find out about FDJ's origins, where it is now, and what the future holds

Formula Drift Japan is now in its 11th season since landing in Japan

Formula Drift Japan (FDJ) celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2023, and the 2023 season has created quite a stir with WRC champion Kalle Rovanperä winning the championship in a spot entry, and junior high school driver Daiya Minowa making a big splash. The 2024 season will be a great surprise. AMW interviewed FDJ representative Kazuhiko Iwata and other key staff members to find out about FDJ’s origins, where it is now, and what the future holds.

“I was shocked by the ‘professionalization’ of drifting overseas”

Drifting is a driving style that originally emerged from the streets of Japan. Before the FDJ, Mr Iwata, who had participated in Japanese drifting competitions as an entrant, was shocked to see formula drifting being held in the USA.

“In Japan, it originated on the streets, and at the time it was difficult to gain understanding from society and ordinary companies. But in the US and Europe, it was established as a professional sport, and it was a proper form of motorsport. We want to establish drifting as a competition and preserve it. This would lead to the next generation and make it easier for companies to support it. With this in mind, we spent many years negotiating with Formula Drift in the USA and were able to bring it to Japan.”

To be a professional motorsport competition

It was clear throughout the interview that the FDJ has “to establish itself as a professional sports competition” as a pillar of its concept, but what specific initiatives are you working on?

“First of all, everything related to competition results, such as sporting regulations, judge regulations, and vehicle rules, is published on our website so that everyone can see it. This should ensure that everyone is satisfied with the competition results. We also operate with the belief that the athletes are athletes and that the competition must be constantly nurtured. We also place great emphasis on sound competition management, with the behavior of the athletes and their respective teams firmly stated in the sporting regulations.”

Mr Iwata said that, in addition to this, they are also thoroughly committed to safety when operating as a motorsport competition.

“We are particularly strict about the safety aspects of vehicle regulations. We also have a fixed number of staff members at every circuit in the country. Hiring local staff would indeed reduce travel costs, but by operating with a reliable fixed staff, we can ensure the safe and smooth operation of the event. We believe this also helps us to gain the trust of the entrants.”

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