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Gridlife South 2016 – Ride-Along with Geoff Stoneback

Drifting at ludicrous speed at Road Atlanta

Mike Sabounchi
Sep 2, 2016

Gridlife South was one of those events that brought together everything right with the car scene. And among the righteousness, the crew at Gridlife had the opportunity to allow a full-course drift of Road Atlanta for the Formula D pros that showed up. This was huge news, because Road Atlanta has never before allowed this. The handful of drifting pros that showed up were on the edge of their seats all weekend, waiting for the full-course runs. And when it was time to rock, they went hard!

Stoneback point out Photo 2/17   |   Stoneback Point Out

I was lucky enough to get a ride-along with our friend, Geoff Stoneback, during his first few laps around the track as he prepared himself for the full-course drift session. As soon as Geoff saw me in the pits, there was no hesitation; he literally pointed at me and told me to get in!

Stoneback interior drivers side Photo 3/17   |   Stoneback Interior Drivers Side

Once I was in, I took some photos of the cab (before it was filled with smoke) and I was impressed by how simple it was in there. I also was pretty stoked to see our good buddy, Mark, riding with Geoff each time he took the car out.

Stoneback sabounchi selfie Photo 4/17   |   Stoneback Sabounchi Selfie

As Geoff suited up, I sat in the car with my helmet on, sweating with anticipation – or was I sweating from the 95-degree heat? Either way, I was hot!

Drift drivers side Photo 5/17   |   Drift Drivers Side

Geoff went out on the track behind his good friend, Chris Forsberg, who was giving party rides in the four-seater “Flama Blanca” drift Infiniti – built with the same engine, a Nissan VK56, as his pro car.

Drift road atlanta rearview Photo 6/17   |   Drift Road Atlanta Rearview
Drift follow line Photo 7/17   |   Drift Follow Line

Soon enough, Geoff was following Chris’ line across the track.

Forsberg tire blowout Photo 8/17   |   Forsberg Tire Blowout
Drift tire shrapnel Photo 9/17   |   Drift Tire Shrapnel

About halfway through a lap, Forsberg’s car blew a tire in front of us and had to stop drifting. In fact, a piece of the blown tire and some side skirt flew up and hit our car. That’s how close we were following. Geoff kept his full-course drift run going and was getting ready to bomb the back straight until one of his tires blew! I gotta say, I’m really stoked that tire blew before we attempted a 100-plus mph entry from the back straight into the S’s up the hill.

Stonebeck 240sx damage copy Photo 10/17   |   Stonebeck 240Sx Damage Copy
Nissan 240sx drift car Photo 11/17   |   Nissan 240Sx Drift Car

Once we limped it back to the pits, Geoff had to get out to see what the damage was. As it turns out, it wasn’t that bad after all. A destroyed fender and tire meant things were easily fixable.

Damaged stonebeck nissan Photo 12/17   |   Damaged Stonebeck Nissan
Stoneback drift car blown tire Photo 13/17   |   Stoneback Drift Car Blown Tire

After Geoff threw on a new tire, I told him to go out without me in the car just to see if I could get any shots of him driving by. 20 minutes later, he shows up at his race rig with TWO blown tires! LOL

After seeing how much rubber gets vaporized on just one corner of Road Atlanta, it’s no wonder these tires blew so quickly.

Stoneback drifting road atlanta Photo 14/17   |   Stoneback Drifting Road Atlanta
Geoff stoneback gridlife south drift Photo 15/17   |   Geoff Stoneback Gridlife South Drift

Just to prove my point, here are some photos of Geoff drifting down turn 12 at Road Atlanta. The camera does not do this any justice.

If you’ve played any racing game with this track in it, you know how intimidating the last turn before the front straight can be. It’s a 100-plus foot elevation change downhill with a big wall on the outside that approaches extremely quickly, not to mention the lead up to the turn is completely blind as you go up a hill and under a bridge. To give you an idea of how fast these guys were drifting down Turn 12, Ryan Tuerck said that he was entering fourth and fifth gear down that turn, and sixth gear at the end of the front straight.

Stoneback 240sx drift action Photo 16/17   |   Stoneback 240Sx Drift Action
Stoneback drifting smoke Photo 17/17   |   Stoneback Drifting Smoke

Just look at all that smoke flying off the car at over 100 miles an hour! Now you see why these guys were blowing tires. I feel extremely honored, lucky, and excited to be part of such a rad event like Gridlife. To be in a car with your buddy as he drifts down Turn 12 for the first time in history is pretty monumental and it’s another one of the many reasons why we love Gridlife so much.

By Mike Sabounchi
92 Articles

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