A Look Inside Tanner Foust's Rockstar Scion Formula D Drift Machine

By Mike Kojima, photos by Jeff Naeyaert

The Rockstar/Scion TC built by Papadakis Racing and driven by Tanner Foust is one of the most feared machine/driver combinations on the Formula D circuit. Tanner is currently sitting in Second in the 2010 Formula D points chase in a good position for the championship.

A Look Inside Tanner Foust's Rockstar Scion Formula D Drift Machine
Controversy!  Or maybe we should say a lack of it.  We were expecting to see something really trick and pushing the limit of the rules back there but were sorta disappointed to find a painfully stock Scion TC rear end.  The rear uprights have some impressive fabrication to allow the use of Supra hubs and axles and the crossmember is minimally modded to accommodate the Supra diff but that was it.

The Scion made its debut in the 2009 season into a storm of controversy. First the Scion has been converted from the stock front wheel drive to a rear wheel drive configuration, second it had a V-8 engine. Third the rear suspension and crossmember was completely different from what came in the car.

A Look Inside Tanner Foust's Rockstar Scion Formula D Drift Machine
More controversy, the engine is set back quite a bit from the main edge of the stock factory firewall but that is a modified stock firewall, although heavily modified.  The actual engine location is pretty reasonable.  The front wheel centerline is about even with the second row of plugs.  This is about what a typical location for a V8 powered RWD cars is.  This is definitely not a front mid sort of layout.

When the car was in the planning stages, Papadakis Racing reviewed the build with Formula D's officials to make sure that the car would not be deemed illegal. Considering that the car was going to get a big V8 and converted to RWD, the engine position was considered and the car was allowed to be built with the engine set back past the location of the stock firewall, it was permitted that the engine could be put rearwards of the stock firewall if the stock firewall was used. Papadakis racing was allowed to modify the stock firewall and like all racers they took full advantage of this semi formal agreement.

A Look Inside Tanner Foust's Rockstar Scion Formula D Drift Machine
Look at the centerline of the front axles in relationship with the engine.  Then go look at nearly any RWD front engine car.  The location is about in line with this.  Personally we dig the TRD Toyota NASCAR engine.

The Scion TC is a FWD chassis with a transverse I-4 engine and a cab forward design. The firewall is located much farther forward than your typical RWD car. When looking at the engine's proposed location compared to other typical RWD cars that compete in FD a position several inches rearward of the stock firewall was allowed by FD officials on a special one off basis. To save costs, FD officials also reasonably allowed the use of a complete crossmember and suspension from a MKIV Supra with the logic of the car being a FWD car being converted to RWD; nothing was going to be stock in the rear anyway.

A Look Inside Tanner Foust's Rockstar Scion Formula D Drift Machine
The NASCAR Edelbrock intake manifold was modified for injection by welding in bosses.  A simple 90 degree elbow connects the manifold to a 80mm throttle body.  A dyno tuned AEM custom intake with a dryflow filter tops off the induction system.


A Look Inside Tanner Foust's Rockstar Scion Formula D Drift Machine
The throttle body is smaller than you might think at only 80mm.


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Wednesday, August 18, 2010 11:21 PM
I agree but also disagree with your comment Mike.
The car does look trick.

But ! If the FD rule book says that the firewall shall remain intact (OE) and not modified, that rule has to be followed.

If you state in the rule book that it is okay to minimally modify the firewall, there should be some exact #'s and dimensions as to how much can be modified.

Now, if someone shows up at the tech inspection with some minor-mods done to the firewall because its V8 couldn't fit, well, too bad for that guy/ team. The car should not be able to pass tech inspection, period.
The rules should be clear, no exceptions. No wonder people moan and piss about this Scion.

This is clearly a gray area, in which a rule is twisted so that the Papadakis Team could run the Scion.
In my eyes; if you let one guy/ team, modify his/ its car's firewall, you have to let everyone do the same. Regardless of what brand they're racing.

If FD doesn't come clean with this "discrepancy", soon you'll people/ teams going beyond signing petitions and will leave the Formula with their businesses.

It's great that Papadakis has access to genuine NASCAR V8; but using the stock 2AZ-FE mounted longitudinally with some turbo, combined with some sequential tranny would do the trick as well.
Anyway, just my opinion.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010 11:29 PM
I have nothing against V8's....to each his own.
But if an engine doesn't fit into the engine bay, and the firewall needs to be hacked....then you would run into problem. Jealousy mainly. People would start saying: "how come he can and we can't?"....blah blah blah.

Although Tanner's Scion makes gob of torque, I'm sure the team could come up with a turbo combination with similar #'s.
FD rules are too lenient....
Drifting is a show, judges are obsolete in my opinion. Gauging top speed, tire smoke, slip angle, entry speed, clipping point and all those things could be done by hardware such as the driftbox....
Just my .02
Thursday, August 19, 2010 12:07 AM
Drifting is a show, judges are obsolete in my opinion. Gauging top speed, tire smoke, slip angle, entry speed, clipping point and all those things could be done by hardware such as the driftbox....

^^Good point... for the most-part anyway
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, August 19, 2010 1:16 AM
The drift box is a trackmate, it can't tell everything.
Thursday, August 19, 2010 2:08 AM
If drifting is a show, then the judges are anything BUT obselete, in my opinion. If you break it down to the minutiae and score it only like that, its' focus is shifted away from the "art" of drifting I think.
Thursday, August 19, 2010 4:23 AM
I think Toyota should have released the Tc as a rwd car and this monster kinda re-instates that lol... Is there any word on someone else running this car next year? It just seems to be a shame to only run it for a couple years after clearly alot of thought an sweat was pured into it.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, August 19, 2010 5:56 AM
When the car was built in 2008, there was no rule stating the amount of engine set back. That was added in 2009. The Scion's engine location was approved by Formula D. I offered no opinion whether or not I agree with this, I just stated the logic of the decision that the engine location is little different than a V8 converted S chassis, a Mustang or a Camaro. A Corvette or a Viper has a more favorable location than the Scion does stock. FD has gotten a lot of heat for allowing this car to compete and a whole bunch of rules have come out for 2011 making cars like this illegal. If the firewall was not allowed to be modified, I don't think the engine would fit. It is pretty tight in there.

The car you describe is Ken Gushi's car.

I don't believe that Tanners car has any great advantage over any well built "normal" car like Dai Yoshihara or any of the ASD prepped Falken cars. Interestingly enough the ASD cars are not going to be legal for next year but Dai's will. I also don't believe that a low polar moment of inertia is particularly advantageous in drifting. It makes the car harder to drive.

Ironically no one said anything about the car when it first came out and stumbled through the first several events of the 2009 season, its only when the team found the set up that the rumbling really started.
Thursday, August 19, 2010 8:42 AM
Thanks for clarify that Mike.
I can see how a low polar moment of inertia doesn't help the car to rotate adequately. Maybe that's why Papadakis and Alex Pfeiffer dropped the S2K for drifting and moved onto something easier to control.
FD should really sit down, and get those rules straight up.
I also find it funny (as you mentioned in the article), that the roll-cage cannot be welded onto the shock tower thru the firewall, and can only be bolted.
For safety sake, welding a cage thru the firewall into the shock tower is much safer (and stronger) than a bolted roll cage, but who am I to discuss this?
Anyway, I'm not a fan of drifting per se; but the honcho that organize these events should really get things straight before getting into other heated debates.
Thursday, August 19, 2010 9:36 AM
Sweet car and love the great detail you guys always go into! I always wondered how drift drivers dealt w/all the tire smoke.... guess they don't really have to. =) Looking forward to what they can do with the new 2011 tC! Wonder what's in store for it!

As a side note, I didn't know Motegi sold forged wheels... they don't seem to advertise how their wheels are made though, so I'm guessing the ones normal ppl can buy are just cast.
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Thursday, August 19, 2010 9:48 AM
I like that car. It's a very nice build....EXCEPT FOR THE V8! The V8 has got to go!

FD should ban all V8 powered cars unless the car came from the factory with a V8.
Thursday, August 19, 2010 11:28 PM
I am not exactly aware of how much data the driftbox can record.
I brought up the driftbox as an example not to piss off people (whoever likes drifting), but to show that there are hardware out there that can measure: slip angle, entry speed, clipping point and all those things.

It was just an example to show how much technology has progress over the years, where many parameters of drifting can be collected into these data.
The driftbox was a good starting point, I don't know if it evolved, or there are more sophisticated hardware/ software on the market that do similar jobs.
That's why I said that judges are obsolete in my opinion.

In many people's eyes, drifting is an art; I can see that. It's hard to quantify though, smoke and the duration of smoke and what not.

Also, it seems that "cool" is a big part of the picture. If the car doesn't look "cool" enough, judges and audience alike would root for it.
There are great drivers with not so cool-looking car that don't do well.
Then there are not so good-consistent drivers with cool-looking cars that score well.
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Friday, August 20, 2010 5:05 AM
This is a cool car, but it shouldn't be competing in Formula D. I understand why other teams are upset; calling this monstrosity a Scion tC is like calling the lumbering beasts at a NASCAR race Ford Tauruses. The only thing on this car that is stock is the headlights. It's got a partial tube-frame chassis, for crying out loud.

Obviously the only reason this thing was built is that Toyota is incapable of making a RWD sports car (or even a sports car, period). They prefer to manufacture "beige" appliances--not vehicles conducive to spirited driving.

Formula D cars should be forced to use current production parts AND keep the same engine and drivetrain layout found in the factory vehicle. That rules out most of Toyota's product offering for drifting, but that is Toyota's fault for producing nothing but boring vehicles.

If this thing is allowed to continue to compete in Formula Drift, are other teams going to have to start running purpose-built, tube-frame chassis cars, just to compete?
Friday, August 20, 2010 6:18 AM
From all I have read in recent months, the V8 is here to stay in FD due to the wide torquey power band. Would you rather see a parade of Mustangs and Camaros drifting, or a variety of cars, even if it means seriously modified ones like this Scion?

If FD rules stipulate using current production parts, would an S13 still be legal?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Friday, August 20, 2010 6:42 AM
A V8 S13 is legal if the front crossmember is used and the firewall is intact.
Friday, August 20, 2010 8:55 AM
Wrecked as a good point. I was (not that changed much actually), but I was bored to see drift events with only S13's and AE86's.
Diversity helps to make it somewhat interesting.
Saturday, August 21, 2010 4:12 AM
I agree with the other angry fellows if toyota cant sell a decent rwd then why should they be allowed? I say this because they used to build cool drivers car's. I want them to bring them back and this is a cheap way of not doing it.
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Saturday, August 21, 2010 9:10 AM
You wouldn't see a parade of Mustangs and Camaros drifting because they'd be too heavy to control and flick around. You'd be better off in a 2800lb 700hp VQ35 powered 350z or a 2200lb 450hp SR20 powered S13 and not a 3200lb Mustang with a live axle.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Saturday, August 21, 2010 9:14 AM
Justin Pawluck and Vaugh Gitten JR are both highly competitive in Mustangs. Conrad Grunewald is pretty competitive in a huge late model Camaro. V8's have linerar power delivery. With turbos you have to contend with lag. Matt Powers Turbo KA24 has 30 more hp than Dai Yoshihara's V8 S13 but the V8 is a lot easier to drive.

Last night Dai's car was almost doing a wheelie in drift. Eric our data logger is showing that Dai's car is generating 1.1 lateral G's in drift for long periods of time on street tires!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Sunday, August 22, 2010 7:56 AM
My IS-F rocks pretty good!
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Sunday, August 22, 2010 9:22 AM
Mike, that's what I mean. I bet a 3200lb Mustang with a live axle couldn't hold 1.1g on street tires for a long period.

No doubt V8s have linear power delivery, but that's why I think they only belong in factory powered V8 cars that heavy. That linear power delivery doesn't do as much in a 3200lb car (whereas I'm sure it rocks in Dai's S13!).

Pawluck, Gitten Jr. and Grunewald are competitive because they are on well funded teams. Its unfortunate, but the teams that do run 350zs and S13s with turbo power are not well funded. They are the privateers and small shops with the primer colored fenders, hella flush bullshit wheel offsets, and crazy looking fake ass JDM body kits held on with zip ties just trying to qualify.

You can almost use time attack as a comparison for a well funded team producing results and a not well funded team with Sierra Sierra vs. any just about any other EVO in the states.

It would be nice having the well funded teams supporting the companies who supply parts for the Japanese engines instead of all the fucking NASCAR/V8 engine builders too. Not only would it put money back into the companies that supported drifting from the very beginning, it would also be nice to drive technology for the smaller turbo engines to a higher level.
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Sunday, August 22, 2010 9:26 AM
And you Toyota haters should realize that Toyota could build a RWD car if they wanted to. They just choose not to because they are a passionless conglomerate only wanting to please the masses due to the need for shareholder satisfaction.

Then they release foolishly high priced "super cars" like the LFA to pretend like they have passion. Pretend is the key word in the previous sentence.
Monday, August 23, 2010 10:13 PM
Good discussion. Eric pretty much nailed it in the head.

Vaugh Gittin JR runs a full dry carbon fiber body on his Mustang. Supposedly, (based on what he said), the car weight about 2300 lbs, and runs on Tein SR coilovers with IRS setup.
Vaugh Gittin swears by the solid axle...lol...saying that is not that bad compare to a IRS setup....now you know what kind of people are in the drifting community.

Mike, the IS-F is a great family car...but a BIT porky.

Someone should bring some MR-S to FD-I'm not kidding.
ALSO, I really would like to see some fucking Mercedes (maybe some older C class or even some E class), full caged. Image how cool that would be?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 4:00 AM
My IS-F is the best car I have ever owned, It's slightly slower than an M3 on a road course but faster on the drag strip and has better brakes. With a few mods it could be pretty good for TT stuff. Heck I could turn a decent lap time in it bone stock.

I got some KW three ways left over from Dai's old car and other goodies lying around. Its under tired. It is just a wheel and tire swap from whooping an M3 on the track.

JR's car is not IRS, and I don't think it weighs 2300 lbs but maybe it could. I could build a car that would be competitive in FD for under 40k, that is realistic for a privateer. In fact you can watch us do it over the next year!

An MR-S would suck in drifting, Low PMI cars are hard to drift.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 7:06 AM
Our car is fully legal with no controversy even under the 2011 rules. Look for us to kick even more ass as we will be coming with power comparable to the ASD super cars for 2011!

The best handling, most efficient car in Formula D will also have the power to develop the wheel speed needed to run the fast banked tracks of Seattle and Irwindale well.
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 7:45 AM
What a baller Mike. You got an IS-F? Or is it a MotoIQ special? If so, when's my turn to rock it? haha

Horse: you bet I know. I was talking about the dumb ones with V8s!
Bob Holmes
Bob Holmeslink
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 9:27 AM
Rule making and rule skirting is a part of competitive motorsports. The best minds are always looking at the rules and trying to find a way to work them to an advantage. Rule-makers are always behind and generally reactive, its the nature of the realtionship. And there is politics to rule making; Formula 1, LMS, Sprint Cup, LRS... and on and on are subject to political rule making. If there are humans involved, there is politics.

This car is a brillant example of an artful and opportunistic builder working with a sanctioning body to produce a brillant car. Whether you like it or not, that's what it is.

Given the fact that the rules are changing and the car will no longer be conforming to the new rules, it appears that they pushed beyond the limit of everyone's comfort level. That's why rule changes happen. Look at Group B rally, the F1 turbo era, the current soon to be no more LMP1 class. Its part of the cycle.

Brillant car.

By the way Eric, not all Mustangs weigh 3,200 lbs. ;>)
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 10:06 PM
Mike before I wrote down the #'s, I re-read what JR posted on Speedhunters a while ago, and those are the #'s.
Either way, I don't care-whatever floats JR's boat, eeerrr Mustang.

Anyway, I know Stop Tech makes delicious carbon fiber disk brake for your IS-F.....$15,000 and 40 lbs lighter than stock steel ! Slap on some nice Volk and sticky tires, and you can easily give the M3 some run for the money.
Bob Holmes
Bob Holmeslink
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 11:45 PM
" Its not how much money you spend but what you do with it."

Up to a point, always the truth. There is a certain threshold of funds that one is going to have to have to build a competent car. Above that dollar amount, its all about how you use it.

"Horse: you bet I know. I was talking about the dumb ones with V8s! "

You da man, Eric!!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 6:48 AM
I actually got the IS-F for Sharon when our poor G35 got totaled by some texting idiot. Thank god she wasn't hurt badly. We will be doing some stuff on it for MotoIQ, in the realm of engine and suspension.

I want to get the ride better without hurting the handling, this thing is STIFF. Like on par with project EVO IX! So i have some KW Motorsport 3-ways out of the old parts bin.

I think with some suspension tuning, more rubber and some basic bolt ons, this thing should rock an M3. The is some guy running NASA TT with one of these thats bone stock with Hoosiers and he is really fast.

I love the way we can carry the fight to JR and some of the others with a car that cost 1/3 of the price of the Monster Superstang. I love that car, there is so much innovation and trick stuff in it. Its a no cost spared, fully dedicated car. Its the car and driver combo that I fear the most. Second is Darren McNamara in the Saturn Sky. ASD builds awesome cars and the Falken team has great drivers.

Dai's car is obtainable and is an example of what a smart privateer could build. Sure its relatively expensive compared to a lot of the crap piles in drifting but it could be built by your typical fab shop or a really smart guy in his home garage. It has a crate type engine and the driveline and suspension are all out of the box stuff. A lot of things are in the car's setup and matching the car to the driver.

I'd say in construction cost, its in the bottom half of your typical group of cars that make the top 16 consistently. Its not how much money you spend but what you do with it.
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