At the end of every season Formula D makes it's way back to "The House of Drift" for its highly-anticipated finale round. Irwindale is the long-standing fan-favorite drift circuit and sold-out crowds have become synonymous with this venue. With the points battle being so close again this year the fans came out in hordes and the drivers put everything on the line - resulting in phenomenal crashes, killer lines and lots of entertainment for the fans.
Being the Monoco of the Drift world Irwindale not only draws large crowds of spectators but also a huge entry list and lots of media personnel to document everything. This year the finals paid host to DirecTV who was on site to document the sport of Drifting in 3D for the first time ever. But perhaps the most inexplicable phenomenon of the House of Drift is its ability to draw the most from man and machine often ending in car-totaling crashes. If Irwindale had a slogan it would be "go big or go home."
To add to the already thick tension of Round 7 the fight for the championship was still on the line. Although Vaughn Gittin, Jr. was pretty comfortably in the lead it was still numerically possible for him to be overtaken with the closest competitor being Dai Yoshihara some 62 points behind and followed closely by Tanner Foust and Ryan Tuerck. All JR needed to do was make it to the top 16 to seal his fate as the 2010 champion, but as we've all seen before anything can, and will, happen at Irwindale.
I've been to a lot of drift events but I don't think I've ever seen as many wrecks as I did in the top 32. It seemed as though there were more runs where a competitor crashed out than there were clean tandems. Under huge pressure to advance even the points leader himself kissed a k-rail for good luck, fortunately for Vaughn he was able to hold his line and advance to secure the championship. The same couldn't be said for Eric O'Sullivan, Yasu Kondo, Jodin LeJeune and Kyle Mohan who all fell victim to the wall in the top 32.
Irwindale is also a place of Cinderella stories and heart-crushing defeats. The plot here is always full of twists and yet again some things happened that no one could have predicted with the most unlikely of which being Dai Yoshihara, who was leading the Tires.com Triple Crown standings coming into round 7, being knocked out by the 30th qualifier Matt Field after what appeared to be a mechanical-failure-initiated spin. A quick look at the final results might not seem out of the ordinary but there is an untold tale of carnage that lead to the final standings.
If you were unable to attend Irwindale and missed the live DriftStream on FD's website be sure to check listings for TV airing, you won't want to miss it. On behalf of Super Street I'd like to congratulate Vaughn Gittin Jr. on a great season. We'll be patiently waiting to see what comes next in 2011.