Coming off a successful Round 1 event on the Streets of Long Beach, Formula DRIFT entered Road Atlanta, the home of the first Formula D event back in 2004, for Round 2: Proving Ground. Despite the struggling economy, the forecasted rain and the always humid temperatures of Atlanta, fan attendance was the highest ever for this venue over the 2-day event weekend. The die-hard East Coast fans would not be disappointed as immediately after the event's conclusion a question emerged, "Was this the best Formula DRIFT event ever?"
Kicking off the action the FD Pro Am competition was held with the grassroots drivers looking to earn the Formula DRIFT Pro Championship license. Dan Willie earned a 3rd place finish, Jason Guzman finished in 2nd, and Brian Peter won the battle for 1st place. These drivers and two others were selected to be invited to the Pro Am Nationals this November in Arizona.
The overall atmosphere through the Top 16 event was surreal and the fans' energy could be felt throughout the venue. The excitement, cheers, and applause for the winners after the event is something that you had to be there to experience fully. Luckily, the episode will be aired on the VERSUS channel later this year for those that missed the event. Was this the best drift event ever? Ask anyone that was lucky enough to experience it and they will tell you most positively yes.
To The Window... To The Wall!
Scene: Formula D Round 3: The Gauntlet, Wall Speedway, Wall New Jersey
I arrived at Wall Speedway to shoot Round 3 of the FormulaD drift series, just a few hours after what would have been sunrise Friday morning. The downpour of rain had come out in full force over the night and hadn't yet stopped. After securing my spot in the desolate media pit, I saw the cars line up. One car, then another pulled through the entrance of the track. First out was the Hankook/Rockstar Subaru piloted by Eric O'Sullivan, followed by Robbie Nishida in the Hankook 350Z. These two brave souls not only risked wrecks in the torrential downpour but possible engine damage from puddles that had become lakes in the middle of the track. After both cars spun out numerous times, never really receiving traction back from the road, and both departing with one bumper each, they packed it up. The practice and qualifying session had been cancelled for the day. It had been rescheduled to the following morning.
With mid-day of day two fast approaching, the sun had come out, drying the track and soaking my head. It was no longer the liquid playground from the day before. As the top 32 began, the cars all had pretty safe, flawless runs until Stephan Verdier in his Crawford Performance Subaru collided with the outside guardrail. This not only resulted in a loss of both bumpers and some damaged paint, but removed the beadlock of his rear tire, causing it to come off the wheel during his drift towards the pits. The pavement was then graced with an etched width of his RPF1 the entire way off the track with an urgent echo of, "Stop! No! Stop! STOP!" over the loud speaker.
In the Final 4, the sun was setting but everyone's spirits were still heated. Tyler McQuarrie and the Team Falken Z evaporated their rubber into the air and left Ken Gushi's RS*R tC in the smoke to secure third and an all Team Falken podium. The question then became who would take home the coveted spot for them in the final action of the night: Darren "D-Mac" McNamara in his Saturn Sky or Vaughn Gittin Jr. in his Mustang? Gittin leading took a high line along the embankment to start off the run and the Sky clenched to him like gum on a shoe giving him the victory of the event. The all-Team Falken podium (1. McNamara, 2. Gittin, 3. McQuarrie) was the first time in FormulaD history, and the guys didn't miss a moment to celebrate it. You could see the happiness in their eyes as they all got on the podium together, drenching one another with champagne and soaking the models' hair. The blue/green paint scheme had proved to me what drifting looks like at Wall Speedway.
To see our entire archive from both Formula D events, log onto www.superstreetonline.com now!