Getting to Know Chris: When you think of Formula Drift drivers, it’s hard not to think about Chris Forsberg. After all, he’s been driving competitively in FD since its inaugural season in the United States in 2004 and hasn’t missed a single round in 16 seasons. His consistency as a driver in Formula Drift has earned him a reputation as one of the “Ironmen” of FD and in turn, a lengthy list of accolades over the years, including over 40 podium finishes in Formula Drift alone and three Formula Drift Championships. As a result, he is the all-time podium finisher in Formula Drift, the 2nd most winningest driver and holds the most championships of any FD driver with three (2009, 2014 and 2016). As if that isn’t impressive enough, his driving skills have taken him to compete in Abu Dhabi, China, Ireland and New Zealand, where he has podiumed in each country. The list goes on and on, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Before becoming the international drift phenomenon that he is today, Chris was your average car enthusiast chasing the dream.
When asked about his early car days, Chris recalled that it was his first car, a 1988 Mazda RX-7 that he purchased to learn how to drift, that ultimately sparked his passion for modifying cars in search of better performance. He mentioned that one of the challenges of modifying cars at that time was that there was not the excess of information online that there is today. This resulted in a lot of trial and error and figuring things out as he went. With a lack of “how to” videos and forum threads, Chris decided to do what many would consider an “unorthodox” swap on the FC RX-7 and replaced the infamous 13B rotary with an SR20DET from a Nissan 240SX. Around the same time, Chris played an integral part in starting Club Loose, which hosted the first drift events on the east coast in a local parking lot. It was at these Club Loose events where he met Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Ryan Tuerck, who would later become his teammate and co-host of the “Drift This” series on the Motor Trend Network. Ultimately, his commitment to living the drift dream led him to pack up his life on the east coast and move out west to California where the drift scene was in the early days of blossoming into what it is today.
Forsberg’s Fleet: Over the years Chris has had quite a few cars including everything from sports cars to trucks. With a variety of builds under his belt, one of the things he emphasized was that each one is built with one thing in mind, the driving experience. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean a “throw you back in your seat,” high horsepower build, but rather a well-balanced car with enough power to have fun, a sorted suspension setup, quality brakes, and so on.
One of the first projects we had the pleasure to work on with Chris was his Nissan Titan XD with a 5.0L diesel engine, a project on season 3 of “Drift Garage,” his show with Ryan Tuerck. As a drifter, having a rig to tow your car to the track is a must and when asked about modifying the truck, he laughingly said, “just because it’s a daily driver and tow rig, it doesn’t need to be lame.” With that in mind, Chris set out to do as he did with each of his builds and focused on the driving experience. The goal was to create a truck that was “street-able” yet functional. After all, it was his daily driver. To help with this vision, we provided Chris with one of our Pro DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) Series exhaust systems, which is a bolt-on application-specific exhaust that improves the overall look and sound of the truck. Over three years later, the truck still serves as Chris’ daily driver and the exhaust system is going strong!
Shortly after the Titan project, Chris began working on a ’75 Datsun 280Z which debuted at the 2016 SEMA Show in the Meguiar’s booth. The goal for this vehicle while restoring it, was to create a car that could be driven daily. This meant updating every mechanical component, interior and exterior, to be a bit more modern without losing the iconic look of the Z, and all without sacrificing (yes, you guessed it) the driving experience. If you haven’t picked up on this already, Chris is a man that loves to drive and his cars are all set up to create the best possible driving experience for that vehicle each time he hops behind the wheel. Unlike the Titan which used the stock engine, the classic Z had its original 2.8L motor replaced with an RB26DET from a Nissan Skyline GT-R for a significant increase in power. To say the list of modifications on this vehicle is quite lengthy, would be an understatement. The vehicle was outfitted with a Carbon Signal G-Nose Carbon Body Kit to increase the overall stance of the car. This added to the aggressive look of the vehicle while providing additional room for larger tires which were necessary to maintain traction with the added power from the turbocharged RB26. Under the new flares, Chris chose a timeless set of SSR MS-1 Wheels with Hankook Tires. The car also sports enough products from Techno Toy Tuning, Wilwood and Mishimoto, that it could be a catalog car for each.
As a dedicated Nissan and Datsun fan, when it came time to build a car for his wife, Michelle a Datsun 510 wagon was a no-brainer. Unlike the Titan, the age of the car and SR20DET engine swap meant this vehicle would need a fully custom exhaust setup and once again, we were eager to work with Chris and help create the ultimate car for Michelle. The wagon, which is affectionately known as “WagonFors” debuted at the 2018 SEMA show. It captured the attention of many people at the show and garnered attention across the internet as photos of the car surfaced. If you haven’t seen photos or video of this car, we highly recommend you check it out! At the start of this project, Chris told us the goal was to make good power, but more importantly, have a nice even exhaust tone as it would be a daily driver. With that in mind, we set Chris and the team up with one of our MagnaFlow custom builder kits which included 2.5” tubing, a variety of bends, hangers and clamps. The 2.5” was the natural choice for the vehicle as it provided additional clearance around suspension components on the underside of the car where space was limited. Keeping in mind that this car was going to be a daily driver, Chris selected a slightly larger muffler than he would typically go for on other cars.
Most recently, we helped Chris with exhaust components for his Formula Drift competition Nissan 370Z. As we discussed the various phases of his competition car over the years, one of the challenges they face year after year is building a car that has more power and performs better that the previous iteration. While Chris indicated he’s not one to chase big power numbers, with the increasingly competitive nature of the Formula Drift field each year, more power if often necessary to remain competitive. As a result, the 370Z has seen several motor setups, most recently a VR38DETT V6 engine from an R35 GTR for the 2019 season. Each motor setup requires a different exhaust setup depending on where the exhaust exits the engine. As with a majority, if not all the cars in Formula Drift, the 370Z is running a muffler-less exhaust setup to achieve big power and ultimately provide FD fans with the raw exhaust note that they have come to expect from these high-performance drift cars during competition. To ensure Chris and his team can create an exhaust for any engine they place in the car, we keep them stocked on our custom builder kits to streamline the process of fabricating an exhaust setup for any engine.
The Future is Bright: After years of working with Chris on a variety of projects, we are incredibly excited to have him as an ambassador for Team MagnaFlow. He is an incredibly talented driver and his commitment to the auto industry and sport of drifting have greatly benefited each over the years. His mentality when it comes to building and driving cars, could not be more in line with ours. With an incredibly strong start to the Formula drift season, we look forward to cheering Chris on at the remaining events!