UPDATED April 1, 2019 with information about MDU’s Pro 2 Licensing Shootout
The road to becoming a pro drifter can be a long and difficult one, but it looks like Formula DRIFT, North America's premiere sliding series, is open to changing that. Right now, if you wanted to chase that life, you'd first need to earn a Pro 2 license from an FD-sanctioned pro-am championship (of which there are eight, according to the FD website), and then do similar in Pro 2, which as of this writing puts up eight Pro licenses at season's end to the highest point earners of the year. In the last year or so, though,
two four pro-am series (that we know of) have tried/will try something different - holding Pro 2 licensing "shootouts" in a single event instead of using an entire multi-round season to figure out who gets to move on up.
Vegas Drift recently announced this August it would stage its Pro 2 Licensing Shootout at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado Springs, Colo., where it will hand out three FD Pro 2 licenses. Interestingly, it will be a double elimination tandem bracket, which means you have to lose to not one but two consecutive competitors before you are eliminated (brackets are traditionally single elimination), and the event will not have a qualifying session. Drivers will be capped at 40, and cash prizes will also be up for grabs.
UPDATE: Nick Quigley, our shooter from the Midwest Drift Union, also tipped us off to the shootout MDU is doing with help from USDrift, which is set for September 6 and 7 at Kil-Kare Raceway located in Xenia, Ohio. In fact, their announcement indicated there are two more shootouts on the schedule; USD will be hosting their shootout at Dominion Speedway in Virginia June 21-23, and Sonoma Drift on August 16-18 at Sonoma Raceway in California. Both the USDrift and Midwest Drift Union Shootouts will offer $10,000 cash prize purses amongst other prizes.
This announcement comes roughly a year after Branden Sorensen earned his Pro 2 license at the USDrift Shootout during HyperFest 2018 at Virginia International Raceway, making the 14-year-old the youngest driver in the series ever. Branden was also the first to benefit from this "one-and-done" approach to earning a Formula D license, surviving USD's double elimination bracket.
The pluses of a shortcut to FD a pretty clear; just on the surface, we guess fewer competitions mean less abuse on car and drain on team, and potentially more money in teams' pockets from cost savings, plus there is obviously much to be gained by whoever can finish in the top three. The Vegas Drift Pro 2 Licensing Shootout is set for August 23rd and 24th at PPIR. Driver registration opens April 1st, and with any luck Super Street will have some coverage from the event when it's all settled.