“I grew up racing dirt bikes from nine to 19 with my brothers and family,” said Tuerck. “My twin brother (Justin Tuerck) and I, we quit our first professional year and we were burned out and wanted to try something new. When we got our (driver’s) license at 16, we were instantly hooked on cars, but motocross was our focus.
“A buddy of mine gave me a ride in an old rear-wheel drive car and he was doing donuts and figure eights and I didn’t know what drifting was at the time, but I was hooked.”
Tuerck and his brother pooled their resources, bought their first car and the modifying began. They upgraded the suspension and installed a two-way, limited-slip differential. Hooning around parking lots practicing what they called “car control” at the time, Tuerck applied skills he learned racing dirt bikes towards becoming a better driver.
“From understanding how to practice and train in motocross, we knew how to practice and get better at what we called – we didn’t even know what drifting was then,” said Tuerck.
Like most everyone interested in cars, Tuerck began digging around the internet when he stumbled upon drifting and learned it was a sport, and soon after was ordering professional drifting DVDs and watching ‘Initial D,’ the Japanese manga that features the sport. By 2003 he entered his first meaningful drift competition in Englishtown, New Jersey, where he won.
Tuerck now competes in a Toyota 86 in Formula DRIFT (FD) and is 10th in the point standings as the season’s second half begins in Seattle this weekend. The 33-year-old racer is one of the biggest faces of the sport, a role amplified by his competitive longevity and series of YouTube videos staring the wheelman and friends sliding through the woods and across racetracks, working on cars and smiling as they burn tires.