Formula Drift Round 7 at Irwindale was awesome, to say the least. Even more so, it was probably one of the most interesting trips I’ve ever had so far. From flying out to LAX from DIA with a loaded .40 cal clip in my luggage, to getting a ride along with Matt Powers and crashing into the wall, to the end where I lost my driver’s license around the time the after party was rocking and freaking out about how I was going to make it through TSA without a government issued ID. Still, it was awesome and has made for some fun stories.
This year’s Round 7 Title Fight at the Toyota Irwindale Speedway was probably one of the biggest and most exciting events in FD history. The day of the main competition on Saturday was sold out and they even added more bleachers because they realized that the original setup wasn’t going to be enough to seat the fans. We made history at Irwindale Speedway with the number of people that attended. It was great to see the massive crowd that came out to this event!
Even the kids were out to enjoy the drifting, walk around, see the cars, and meet the drivers.
Many of the drivers came into this round with similar points standings from previous events, making this round a close fight. The points leader, Dai Yoshihara was followed closely by other drivers such as Justin Pawlak and Darren McNamara, making this round crucial to the championship. It was obvious that all of the drivers were pushing it hard at this event and out to kill it.
Irwindale was full of some upsets and surprises as the competition in the Top 16 and Top 8 became more intense. One of the major upsets of the night occurred when Ken Gushi in his Hankook Scion Racing TC took on Dai Yoshihara in his Discount Tire / Falken Tire Nissan S13. On their second tandem run with Gushi leading, Dai unintentionally made contact with Gushi in the last part of the course giving Gushi the win.
Another was Justin Pawlak’s run in his Falken Tire Ford Mustang against Darran McNamara in his Falken Tire Saturn Sky. Justin went into Round 7 as second in points and had a shot at the championship but his love tap with the wall caused him to lose against his fellow teammate and allow McNamara to continue, therefore losing his chance to win the overall series. To give you a sense of just how close Justin was in points to Dai and winning the championship, Dai finished with 528 and Justin finished with 522.25. A 5.75 point difference.
As McNamara moved on, he was up against Tyler McQuarrie in his Falken Tire Nissan 350Z. It was like magic out there as sparks flew. Literally. McNamara also love tapped the wall in his run against McQuarrie, which ended up allowing McQuarrie to move on to the final round against Rhys Millen in his Redbull / Hankook Tire Hyundai Genesis Coupe in a battle for first as McNamara and Chris Forsberg in his NOS Energy / Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z duked it out for third.
Congratulations to all of the drivers on a job well done this season. It’s been a great year with Formula Drift, meeting new people and making new friends. I’ll see you all next year!