Formula Drift has come and gone in Seattle, but it will definitely not be forgotten by the fans that made it a sold-out event.
As we have posted here already, Chris Forsberg has claimed victory in round 5 at Evergreen Speedway, followed by Mike Essa and Fredric Aasbo. Our very own Odi Bakchis also got top honors over the weekend, taking 4th place.
It was an event of many unprecedented happenings, with 2012 champion Daigo Saito getting knocked out of the top 32 competition, and a margin of 1.5 points separating leader Forsberg and Essa in the season standings.
I plan on using this piece of the internet to share my first personal experience with Formula Drift, doing my darnedest to keep words short and sweet. I already posted my thoughts on Thursday’s practice, which you can check out here.
Friday began with the ever so important driver’s meeting.
Shortly afterward it was tire-punishing business as usual, with drivers laying it down before qualifying began.
It may have only been practice, but that didn’t keep guys like Forrest Wang…
… Tyler McQuarrie…
… And Kyle Mohan from turning the dial up a bit.
Not all is fair in grip and slip, as Corey Hosford had a shunt coming off the bank, breaking a steering knuckle. He and his team did get the car fixed in time for qualifying, but unfortunately didn’t make top 32.
Ryan Tuerck also got into a couple fights with the wall, but managed to qualify with a score of 82.5.
At the end of qualifying Darren McNamara got on pole with 97.5 points, followed by Fredric Aasbo and another one of our OMGDrift greats, Matt Field.
Soon afterward, the fans got to meet their favorite drivers up close and grab their autograph.
After qualifying and checking out the autograph session, I could’ve called it a day. I could’ve head back to the hotel and kicked it back with a nice beer. However, my peers persuaded me to stay for the top 32 practice. It was totally worth it. Not only was it the most gorgeous time of night, the drivers ran tandem!
At last, the day of the Throwdown. There were smiles all around at the final meeting…
… But everyone knew there could only be one winner.
Now normally, I like waking up to clear skies, a little morning dew, and the sun rising just above the horizon. Being a native Oregonian, I’ve grown more to appreciate the fog and the gray clouds. Not exactly the textbook definition of “Gorgeous”.
The atmosphere was certainly interesting to shoot in while the top 32 practiced their tandem skids.
It wasn’t long until the clouds started burning off as I meandered around the absolutely crowded pit.
The relationship the drivers have with their fans is like no other, talking about their cars, how they got into drifting, or just being great people to be with.
3 o’clock rolled around, and it was helmets on and tires blazing as the top 32 competition went underway.
The battles were total insanity, with both car and driver being pushed to the absolute limit.
The speed coming off the bank was unfathomably fast.
Body panels mean nothing if you’re going to commit to a hard drift. No one knows that better than Danny George, who after slamming the backside of his Miata and ran off the line, gunned it the entire time. It may have been the end of his day after his run against Ryan Kado, but the party never ends for Danny or his team.
I often tell my friends outside of the car scene that the car personifies its owner better than the person itself. I feel like that was the case with the battle of Pawlak and Tuerck. The nearly pristine, imposing yet finesse Mustang giving chase to the smaller Scion FR-S that has plenty of battle scars.
After a couple hours time for us to catch our breath following the intense knockouts, the fans were introduced to their final 8 drivers.
The mood instantly intensified.
The battles were incredible.
The noise was ear-shatteringly epic.
The tandems were so close, you could probably polish the door of the car behind you.
Or, as the battle between Fredric Aasbo and Chris Forsberg showed…
… You can give your fellow contender some negative camber at no additional charge.
Even though that meant Aasbo wouldn’t finish higher than 3rd, his run with Odi Bakchis was fierce.
Down to the wire was Michael Essa vs. Forsberg for the top step on the podium.
Which Forsberg claimed after the exhausting final battle.
All in all, my first experience with Formula Drift will certainly not be my last. From the crowded grandstands, to the bonkers cars to the sheer amount of tire smoke which chokes out mother nature herself, it makes me want to come back for more.