After seeing and hearing of drift events second-hand for the past four years, Washington DC-area fans finally got their chance to experience professional drift fury at in all its glory at Summit Point Raceway’s first ever Formula D event. Situated just over an hour from the DC city limits, Summit Point saw fans roll in from across the West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland tri-state areas as well.
The third stop of seven for Formula D, this was easily the most technical course drivers had encountered thus far. While Summit Point took some getting used to, the course was quickly becoming the favorite of many drivers. A huge straightaway between turns 1 and 2 forced drifters to start their runs carrying a ton of speed, prompting many to lose their drift, slide off course, or barrel into walls at high velocity. If a driver made it through the entry unscathed, two uphill hairpins were waiting – a huge challenge for the horsepower impaired drivers.
After losing so many cars and drivers to wrecks or offs in some instances, the establishment of Top 16 was judged solely on entry speed. The most notable event of the day occurred in practice when Ben Schwartz planted his Sears/Falken Tires Saturn Sky into the apex wall of turns 1 and 2, changing the landscape of the course, and preventing him from competing the rest of the weekend, despite qualifying. By day’s end, 16 unseeded drivers were invited to compete, including Stephan Papadakis (for the second event in a row), and drivers Chris Cook, and Hiro Sumida who were still sorting out new-car issues.
Having pre-qualified, but without his usual Falken tires Mustang GT, seeded driver Vaughn Gittin Jr. Decided he couldn’t sit an event out, especially when on familiar east coast turf. This event comes on the heels of two past events where Gittin wound up in a similar situation, but wasn’t slowed down. True to form, car-less one day, Jr. hit the track the next in a loaner, this time with the help of long-time friends at Drift Alliance and Import Intelligence, who supplied Jr. with a beautiful (at the beginning of the event, at least) strawberry-faced S13 coupe for competition. Despite a few clean runs tossed around in practice (especially in tandem with homeboy Ryan Tuerck), Jr. uncharacteristically lost control in eliminations and sat the remainder of the event out, undoubtedly with a renewed determination to return in his own car ASAP.
After Top 32 and some impressive exhibition runs by Nob Taniguchi in the HKS Altezza, official competition began with the most impressive and closest battle of the event, between Enjuku Racing’s Bill Sherman and Mopar’s Sam Hubinette. In his lead run, Hubinette laid down some impressive tracks, but Sherman wouldn’t be shaken. In a performance like nothing seen to this point, Sherman’s comparatively underpowered S13 remained between inches and feet from Hubinette’s Charger, following him perfectly. In the second run, Sherman broke away from the Charger completely, entering with a speed almost 10mph over Hubinette’s in the previous run, and maintained a sizeable lead for the entirety of his flawless run. When the smoke cleared, Sherman was deemed to have bested Hubinette by 1 point, calling for a ‘one-more-time’ run. This time, despite huge objection by fans, Sherman was judged to have finished two points shy of Hubinette, and eliminated from competition.
The second crowd-favorite battle of the event occurred in Top 8, where long-time drift veteran Tyler McQuarrie duked it out with previous FD podium finisher, and UK drift champion Darren McNamara, in the SR20 match-up of the day. Both McQuarrie and McNamara held close to each other’s lines, and drove as close to one another as any two drivers of the event, but in the end McNamara was eliminated, and McQuarrie was given the advance to Top 4, where he would be eliminated by Tanner Foust, and later beaten out of the third place spot by Rhys Millen.
The first run of the final battle saw fast and close driving between Sam Hubinette’s Mopar Charger and Tanner Foust’s AEM 350z. Early in the second run, Foust became a little over-zealous in his chase of Hubinette, and finding himself with some excess speed going into the second turn, wound up with two wheels in the dirt, allowing Hubinette the win.
Formula D travels west for the next few months, before journeying back east to Wall Speedway, NJ, in September, for Round 6 of 7. The sounds, smells, and general excitement of a Formula Drift event are all but impossible to capture; we highly recommend attending an event if at all possible. If not, remember that Modified.com brings you the fastest and most comprehensive event coverage anywhere. And as always - look for a copy of Modified either on stands or in your mailbox for the full stories.