Eleven years ago, Road Atlanta hosted the humble beginnings of Formula D (FD), what has become the world’s foremost professional drifting league. And for a 12th consecutive year (one of only two tracks to hold that distinction), FD served up some of the most unpredictable and impressive drifting to a sold-out crowd of probably the most enthusiastic followers in the series’ history.
Now traditionally the second stop in season competition after the wall-laden Long Beach grand prix opener, the sprawling, secluded, relaxed atmosphere of Road Atlanta is where drivers—and fans—generally love to go all out. This year was no different.
Lingering development issues kept some regular names out of qualifying, but competition saw more upsets and surprising hard charges than anyone could have called. Kenny Moen took out champions Michael Essa and Vaughn Gittin Jr.; Jeff Stoneback upstaged rock stars Tanner Foust and Fredric Aasbo (before falling to Forsberg in a controversial decision); and veteran Tyler McQuarrie yielded before Patrick Goodin, who went onto best Justin Pawlak. In fact, with drivers Goodin, Moen, Stoneback, and Forrest Wang powering their way into Great 8 (Forrest very nearly missing the finals), enthusiastic drift fans cheered for an all-S-chassis podium. But while FR-S-piloting Ken Gushi and 370Z-wielding Chris Forsberg kept that from happening (claiming second and third places, respectively), Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis and his Feal Suspension Nissan S14 came through for the ultimate upset win.
Closing notes: Daigo Sato continued to fight developmental woes in his 20,000-hp (or whatever) GT-R, but looked impressively strong in practice; rookie Yokoi finally drove up to his reputation from Japanese competition; and it was really, really great to see “the Gush” on the podium again. So good, some might argue he stole the show.
Enjoy some of our favorite memories from FD in the images here, and check back in a few days when we publish coverage of Global Time Attack’s Pro Championship East competition, run in parallel with FD at Road Atlanta.