Get to Know: Ryan Tuerck
Ryan Tuerck was drifting before he knew drifting was a thing.
Tuerck started racing on two wheels at a young age. He raced dirt bikes up to pro motocross levels by his teenage years, but he also took an interest in cars after getting his driver’s license. When a friend introduced him to fun on four wheels, Tuerck, who was burned out on motorcycle racing after 11 years, went a different direction.
“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.
“My skills progressed as Formula DRIFT progressed into a professional series and I was right there, one of the first guys to kind of capitalize on that and be involved in the scene in a big way,” said Tuerck.
Tuerck made his FD debut in 2005, when he competed in two events, and moved to full-time competition in 2006 with a season-best finish of sixth. By 2009, Tuerck was the FD runner-up in points and finished third the next two years. In 2013, he raced his first Toyota vehicle, a 2013 Scion FRS, and he became a Toyota Racing driver in the following years. The New Hampshire-born driver has since upgraded the FRS, now badged a Toyota 86, each year since.
The native of Derry, New Hampshire won with his Scion FRS at Orlando Speed World in 2015 and he recorded a 2018 season-best, runner-up finish with his Toyota 86 in the second event at Orlando in April.
In addition to competing in FD, Tuerck has recently appeared in open-wheel formula events and ran lap times against an autonomous race car in Rome on a Formula E circuit.
FD competes at Evergreen Speedway on Friday and Saturday, July 20-21 with live streaming coverage on ToyotaRacing.com and the Formula D app.