You’re a die-hard Toyota fan. Coming from a Supra and a tC, what’s it like to be competing in a Corolla iM?
The Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla iM shares similarities with the tC and is built with a lot of Supra parts. Papadakis Racing developed this new car with the benefit of many years running the tC, and the team knows how to build a car that handles really well. I’ve had to get used to competing in a hatchback, which is not forgiving at all. It’s not like a sedan, which has a whole trunk area between the bumper and the rear wheels. In the iM, there isn’t much at the tail of the car that isn’t mission critical so it takes a bit of a leap of faith to really get close to the wall.
Who is your favorite FD driver to tandem with?
That’s such a tough call. After so many years of competing against many of the legends in the sport, you get to know their style well and going into a tandem you know it’s going to be really fun. Basically, though, I love a challenge and anybody that’s committed 100 percent to the battle is the best possible tandem partner. Ken (Gushi) is one of those all-out drivers that I like to battle - even though we’ve only battled once in competition this far!
You’ve been working with the Papadakis Racing team for years, can you describe the chemistry between the team?
Papadakis Racing is like my American family: We’ve been working and traveling together for seven years now! It’s a very supportive and honest environment, which is how I think we’re able to learn from each other to get better.
We hear you’ve been called the Norwegian hammer, what are some of your other nicknames in FD?
It depends who you ask. Like, if you’re talking to Kristaps Bluss, it’s probably something I can’t repeat here. When I was just starting out in the USA and winning battles with series champions, people called me the “Champ killer.” My first nickname, however, was ‘Raspberry.’ It didn’t stick in Formula Drift.
When you’re not racing, you seem to spend a lot of time surfing. What is your favorite place to surf and what are your other off-track activities?
I’ve gotten into stand up paddle boarding, and I get out in the surf in California and on the lakes in Norway whenever I can! It’s good exercise, and the mindset you need in surfing is very similar to the mindset you need in drifting: You sit there and wait, and then boom - you have your 20 seconds to shine.
When you’re away, what are 3 things you miss most about Norway and 3 things you miss most about the United States?
Obviously, when I’m in the United States, I miss my family and friends back home. And, after so many years now spending a good part of my year in the USA, the opposite is true as well! It’s funny what you wind up missing, though… Like the smell of rain on the wind when I’m in California where it’s sunny every day, or the endless summer nights of Norway when the sun is setting at 7 p.m. in California.
You’ve got a lot of die-hard fans that come out to your races, what is the best gift a fan has brought you?
As nice as it is to receive gifts, I actually prefer it when fans bring things that they really care about and ask me to sign them. I’ve seen some fantastic scale models of my cars over the years that people have made themselves. It really inspires me to see how passionate people are about the sport.
What is a piece of advice you would give to yourself at the beginning of your racing career??
I would remind myself to be patient. I think all competitive people have a certain drive to want to achieve their goals yesterday, but the path is long and there are obstacles along the way that you can’t allow to discourage you. If you approach the journey with patience, you can overcome anything!