Site: Evergreen Speedway / Monroe, WA
Evergreen Speedway is probably my personal favorite out of all the Formula DRIFT venues. Having been to all but one of the seven stops the FD circuit travels to on a yearly basis (mechanical problems 30,000 feet over the desert just outside Los Angeles on the way to what would have been my first time at Wall, NJ, sadly prevented me from making that event), I feel a certain connection to the Pacific Northwest. Maybe this is due in part to the fact that I hail from the beautiful region and love any excuse to go back, especially in the summer when the weather is, for lack of a better word, amazing. Or perhaps it’s the course itself, with its crazy banked entry and intricate infield that gets my juices flowing. Most likely, though, it boils down to the fact that Evergreen Speedway marks a turning point toward the end of the season for most drivers, allowing underdogs to come back and cause titans to fall.
Since I’ve been following one driver per event this season, I thought Evergreen would be the perfect time to get an inside look at one of the most promising rookie drivers of the year: Walker Wilkerson. With his relentless driving style and positive attitude, Washington State’s native son has had a fantastic season so far.
Coming in with the most points of any rookie driver going into the event at Evergreen (and ranking 15th overall), at this rate Walker is a good bet for Rookie of the Year, an accolade he hopes will help bring in some more sponsors to help out next season.
The transition from amateur drifter to professional Formula DRIFT driver is a jump that many wish for and few can pull off. Wilkerson has the positive attitude, the raw driving skills and the good-spirited nature of a down-to-earth guy — I think he’ll go far!
After some uneventful practice sessions, Walker lines up for his qualifying runs in the hot summer sun. After two fairly conservative runs, Walker finds himself qualifying in 14th overall — not bad, but he’s concerned about who the top 32 matchup has yielded. Walker will face Darren McNamara in his V-8-powered Saturn Sky in the main event on Saturday, which gives Walker plenty to think about while he psyches himself up for the following day’s events. During the main runs on Saturday, D-Mac was able to enter the back bank of Evergreen Speedway unusually slowly, causing Walker to fall out of boost and away from his torque curve. It’s the linear power of D-Mac’s V-8 that allows him to power through, take the advantage and ultimately move on to the top 16.
Walker isn’t pleased about the results from the weekend, but you can’t keep this guy down. He’s all smiles and very optimistic for the remaining two events, hoping to secure enough points to take Rookie of the Year. We wish him the best of luck!