The road to Formula Drift is no easy task. For many, scoring a Formula D license is like getting a chance to play in the NBA, or NFL or whatever your sports preference is. You need a fetishistic dedication to the craft and a competitive edge among your peers. In attempts to further develop its Formula D licensing program, Vegas Drift has expanded its series outside the city of sin and started the Southwest Drift Series. Round one was held at Wild Horse Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona where I tagged along with my good friend Christopher Pow Billedo.
We started the 350 miles trek from L.A. to Arizona around 8pm and with the S13 Nissan 240SX in tow we didn't arrive until 5am. Needless to say, sleep was nonexistent with the 7am Southwest Drift Series tech inspection.
Approximately 40 drivers came to pitch their cars sideways around the Bondurant course, while being judged by pro drivers Taka Aono, Tommy Suell, George Marstanovic and Brandon Wicknick. The three-hour Southwest Drift Series practice plagued a handful of drivers with mechanical issues including Pow. While going tandem with another driver a rod shot through his turbocharged KA motor.
Pow says, " I felt really comfortable with the car [S13]. On my second practice run I was following another driver and on initiation I was able to keep it really close in proximity. He made a mistake on the second turn and I saw my opportunity to put it on his door! As soon as I was half-a-foot away from the lead car's door my engine shut off and I saw flames through the windshield. I immediately drove off course to prevent oil spilling on the track and jumped out as fast as I could. Turned out the fire was already gone and my day was done."
I bumped into our good friend David Lloyd, previously featured on Super Street's September 2013 cover, and learned of his wild 2JZ motor swap. David made it to the Top 16 and got a "one more time" in his battle against Ethan Hunter before being knocked out.
Rathyna Gomer from California was another highlight to see, as she was the only girl competing in the first round of Southwest Drift Series. She managed to pilot her LS-powered Nissan 350Z into the Top 16 round before being taken out by Joe Tardiff.
At the end of the day Tony Cisneros, in a S14, took the top podium spot. Travis Avery took 2nd, and Joe Tardiff ended in 3rd place. Southwest Drift Series Round 2 will take place back in Las Vegas on April 26th, 2015. However the Southwest Series will be making stops in Denver, Colorado and Albuquerque, New Mexico.