Throughout the Formula DRIFT season, we get to go to a pretty wide variety of locales: sunny California, the muggy Southeast states of Florida and Georgia, the always-unpredictable New Jersey, and the lovely mid-summer Northwest. But there’s one more in there, another event that takes place in an unlikely sort of situation. The middle of the Nevada desert during the hottest part of the year is not really what I would consider the “ideal racing environment,” but for the last few years FD has been held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and despite the weather, it makes for one of the most exciting and action-packed venues of the season.
Despite my own admittedly limited range of “ideal operating temperatures,” I sucked it up and hopped into the Mitsubishi Ralliart (graciously donated for this trip) and set off into the heat-soaked desert. Once I arrived in Vegas (thankfully, this event takes place at night when it’s only about 115 degrees Fahrenheit), there was no time for partying for me. I headed out to the Speedway to catch up with rotary-owner crowd favorite and general all around nice guy Joon Maeng for the day of qualifying. Joon is a soft-spoken and incredibly friendly guy, and although he ran into a bit of misfortune on this particular weekend, we wanted to show what goes on behind the scenes in the Bergenholtz Racing pit regardless. >>
As much as it pains me to say, this story has a sad ending. Unfortunately for Joon, the weekend in Vegas came to an early close. As ominous clouds rolled in, Joon took off for what he intended to be his final practice run before the qualifying session. In what seemed like an instant, the sky opened up and the layer of dirt, dust and oil on the surface of the tarmac went from a manageable track condition, to a next-to-ice-like situation. Despite his best efforts to save it, Joon went into the wall hard enough to ruin his chances of qualifying for this event. Heartbroken but physically unharmed, Joon collected himself. Try as they might, the Bergenholtz boys were not able to put the car back together in time for Joon to make an official qualifying run, so the weekend was a wash (no pun intended). Never one to be held down, Joon put on a happy face and held his head high all weekend nonetheless, showing his fans all smiles all the time. I suppose if there’s a silver lining to any dramatic wreck like this, it must be the even more intense desire to win at the next round. The finals at Irwindale should play host to an array of emotions for everyone involved, and I hope to see Joon do his best and make up for a lost weekend in the desert!