Formula Drift S’pore 2011: Not Your Average Joe

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

Remember this post: where Joe PTT personally signed a PTT dinosaur for me? ;)  It’s more than a month overdue but here’s the interview of Joe PTT that I promised previously! Btw, he just won the M-Max Drift Competition last weekend – scoring 100 points in qualifying for P1 before beating Vichai, Pete PTT, Keak Overdrive, S Goodyear and Kiki Red Bull to take first place! :)


Formula Drift Singapore 2011: NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOE

Text and photos by CHERYL TAY


Tall and cute with a highly memorable drift car, Wattanaporn Phungpearn (or Joe PTT as he is known) enjoys entertaining both on and off track as CHERYL TAY finds out… 


It’s hard to miss him at any drift event – If you were at Formula Drift Singapore in June, you would probably have noticed a certain ‘police car’ going sideways at Turns 1, 2 and 3 of the Formula 1 Marina Bay street circuit. This police drift car – complete with sirens and flashing lights – is not new on the Formula Drift Asia scene and is piloted by Thai drifter Wattanaporn Phungpearn of the PTT Performa Achilles Drift Team.


More fondly known as Joe, his boyish looks and good height make him an even bigger attraction on the track other than his unique car. Joe has been actively involved in his local drift scene since 2007 and debuted at Formula Drift Asia in 2009 during the Thailand round. 

254912_216655418368703_131620790205500_665159_4094266_nThe 25-year-old first watched drifting in the movie Initial D in 2005. Finding it “really cool”, he saved up and bought himself a Nissan Cefiro A31, which he then built for drift and started learning how to drift. He taught himself drifting from videos and also had some help from Pete Thongchua, a famous actor and star racing driver from the PTT motorsports team. A year later, Joe became the first PTT drifter and started competing in local drift events.


Joe’s claim to fame in Formula Drift Asia struck at the 2010 finale in Malaysia last December. He was up against 2008 D1 Grand Prix (D1GP) champion Daigo Saito – who happens to be his idol as well – in the Top 16 and almost won the battle had his accelerator pedal not failed him.


When Daigo was chasing Joe, Daigo made a mistake and stopped midway in the hairpin. That would have cost him the battle but immediately after Daigo stopped, Joe crashed into the wall as the pedal jammed. One More Time was called after five minutes’ grace for Joe to repair his car but the damage was too severe to be fixed in that short a time, hence it was Daigo who got the win.


“I was exhilarated when I had the opportunity to battle with Daigo Saito. Many of us Thai drifters look up to Daigo for his fearless drifting skills and getting to go up against him is like a dream come true. I almost won him and it was just tough luck that my accelerator had to get stuck at the last turn,” Joe recalled the ill-fated near-success incident.


Seeking inspiration from the Playstation game Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit – which is based on a cop versus racer theme – Joe decided to do up his drift car akin to a police car so he could have a highly differentiated car from the rest of the drivers.


“I’ve changed the design theme and colour scheme of my drift car many times, but no matter what colour I choose it is just another colour. I wanted something more distinctive, something so different that each time I go out and drift, the crowds will be sure to remember me.


“I thought for a long time and the police car idea hit me when I was playing Need for Speed on my Playstation one day. Now, when people ask me what car I drift, I just tell them I drive the police car!” Joe told me at the F1 paddock during the VIP Formula Drift Singapore 2011 Presented by Achilles Radial. Often referred to as Mr. Policeman of Drift, Joe’s signature police drift car has become a popular and common shot in drift fans’ photo albums. 


Back home when he is not busy at the wheel of his Nissan 180SX, Joe is a celebrity – he started out as a singer at the age of 17, as part of the singing duo called Jo-Pop and they even have two albums to their name. Picking up acting three years ago, Joe is now a regular face on local television drama series. He also helps out with the family business in medical supplies on his off days. In fact, the rest of his PTT Performa team-mates are celebrities as well, with Davide Doringo the DJ of a local radio station and M from The Star, Thailand’s equivalent of American Idol.


“Drifting is a form of entertainment, just like singing and acting, and I derive a lot of excitement from it. I love entertaining and drifting is a sport full of showmanship. The louder the crowds cheer, the happier I am,” Joe replied when I asked what he likes about drifting.


For Joe, the toughest thing about life – and not just about being a celebrity – is having to keep improving oneself. “All of us drifters hope to get our hands on that Formula Drift carbon fibre trophy and will keep aiming for it. I will continue drifting until my sponsors don’t want me anymore.”


At Formula Drift Singapore 2011 in June, Joe made a mistake during the Top 16 tandem battles against Australian Josh Boettcher and lost his chance of progressing. Eventually, it was Daigo Saito who fought his way to the top and clinch top honours. The next round of Formula Drift Asia will be in Indonesia in October.


Name: Wattanaporn Phungpearn

Nickname: Joe PTT

Age: 25

D.O.B.: 1 February 1986

Status: Single

Nationality: Thai

Residence: Bangkok, Thailand

Team: PTT Performa Achilles Drift Team

Drift Car: Nissan 180SX (dressed as a police car)


10 Questions with Joe

We put Joe to a classic list of questions in an attempt to know him on a more personal level.


1. Boxers or briefs?

Briefs – I wear my pants quite tight so bunched-up boxers don’t look good.


2. Blackberry or iPhone?

Blackberry – I use one.


3. Tattoo or piercing?

Piercing – I have one on my left earlobe.


4. Jeans or berms?

Jeans for work purposes, berms for holiday.


5. Sandals or slippers?

Sandals for most of the time, but slippers on my off days.


6. Girls with long or short hair?

Long hair – yours is perfect.


7. Craziest thing a fan has done?

This girl mailed me a lock of her hair to me!?!


8. Chocolate or ice cream?

Chocolate because it lasts longer in my hands! ;)


9. Favourite number?

69 is my lucky number – I was told by a monk at the temple.


10. What do you look for in a woman?

Pretty girls are aplenty – I just need someone down-to-earth, someone who can understand me and of course shares the same interests as me.

281212_249528388402274_100000353458222_910921_3873107_n*This was first published in Autosport Asia.

Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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