Atlanta is a favorite track for many of the drivers in Formula Drift and for fans alike. This is mostly because of a long downhill straight that leads into a drift-purpose built “horseshoe” turn. This layout lends itself to some very high speed qualifying runs and tight tandem battles. However things got a little too tight when Vaughn Gittin Jr. went up against Fredric Aasbo.
Just as the first run was to begin with Fredric leading, Vaughn Gittin Jr. managed to literally run over the front end of Aasbo Scion. The amazing part is both drivers managed to keep drifting! Although Aasbo’s Scion was damaged so he limped through his second run giving Gittin the win. We have a feeling this incident will be talked about for a long time.
When the action continued it was Daigo Saito who took on all challengers to get the victory. Darren McNamara took second place and Vaughn Gittin Jr taking third. Gittin’s podium puts him on top of the points standings, thanks in part to Dai Yoshihara’s early exit in the top 32 battles.
Next up on the schedule is round 3 in Palm Beach, FL. If round 2 was any indication of things to come, the next round is going to be epic!
When Formula Drift comes to Long Beach, its a pretty big deal. It is the first round of the season, it marks the debut of new teams, sponsors, drivers, and it also sets the tone for the rest of the season. Its also right in my backyard (kind of) so I always try to do my due diligence when it comes to covering this event for you all.
With the silly season over, new cars revealed, and the track ready the talk of the weekend was Justin “JTP” Pawlak. He was one of the few drivers to remain in (basically) the same car as last year and he has also won Long Beach the last two years in a row. Falken Tire was already anticipating their driver turning the weekend into a three-peat. However hopes of that were nearly dashed when JTP made an uncharacteristic mistake in Friday qualifying and had a bad shunt into the tires and wall at the beginning of Long Beach’s infamous sweeper.
The impact nearly destroyed the front end of JTP’s Falken Tire Ford Mustang but luckily his team was able to get the car back together in time to make another qualifying run. Despite the damage JTP managed to qualify 23rd and get into the big show. Unfortunately the show ended for JTP when his Drift Alliance brother Ryan Tuerck managed to take him down in the Top 16 which blew the competition wide open. With JTP out it was anyone’s game. Except for Tuerck who like JTP was taken out by a Drift Alliance member, this time Chris Forsberg. Forsberg fell to the same fate when Vaughn Gittin Jr. took him down in the Final 4. This sent 2011 champion Vaughn to the final to face none other than his main rival of that year Dai Yoshihara.
Unlike JTP, Dai was having a great weekend. He remained in a familiar car and due to his confidence in his machine and his team giving him a great set up Dai managed to qualify first. After that there was no stopping him as he took down Tyler McQuarrie, Matt Powers, Fredric Aasbo, and finally Chelsea DeNofa to make it to the finals.
After a heated battle Dai Yoshihara bested Vaughn Gittin Jr. to win the round and complete a perfect weekend (1st qualifier, and the win). During the podium ceremony Dai said that with his momentum he will “definitely go for the championship”. Watch out guys, Dai has officially begun his mission.
If you want to check out our photo galleries just click the red links below.
If you like drifting at all and have no idea what to do this weekend then you are a magnificent moron! The 2013 Formula Drift season starts tomorrow you idiot! Where the hell have you been? Did you not see the banner at the top of this website for the last two months!?
Whew, ok, ok I am going to cut you some slack. In case I did not make it incredibly clear a second ago, Formula Drift round 1 is going down this weekend (tomorrow and Saturday) on the streets of Long Beach. Most tickets might be sold out by now but there may be a few hundred seats left and city officials have allowed Formula Drift to sell some overflow general admission tickets. Technically, those tickets are “standing room only” but Formula Drift will allow folding lawn chairs.
So hurry up and get your tickets! Here is all the info:
Even though its been a little more than a month the recovery effort is still on going on the east coast after the horrible events of Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. Things are better than before but there is still a long way to go! To help out, Formula Drift has decided to put on a fundraising event at Irwindale Speedway AKA “The House Of Drift”. At this event individuals can pay for ride alongs with Formula Drift drivers Dai Yoshihara, Justin Pawlak, Odi Bakchis, Kyle Mohan, Pat Mordaunt, Jeff Jones, Marucio Ornelas, Ryan Kado, and Danny George.
There will also be raffles with prizes provided by Sparco, Fatlace, Yoshihara Design, Nitto, Alpinestars, ACT Clutches, Motegi Racing, Discount Tire, EBC Brakes, Falken, K&N, and more. Proceeds from buying Ride-a-longs and raffle tickets will go towards the hurricane Sandy relief effort. Attendees can also make donations to the Red Cross on site. The event will be free to enter and its all going down December 13th from 6pm to 9pm!
So if you are in the area, head out to the House of Drift, get a ride along and contribute to the effort!
Formula DRIFT Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fundraiser Announced; Irwindale Speedway to Host Charity Drift Event on December 13
Long Beach, Calif. – December 3, 2012 – Formula DRIFT has announced a special charity event to benefit the American Red Cross’s Hurricane Sandy relief efforts on December 13 at Irwindale Speedway. Professional drift ride-alongs from Formula DRIFT stars will be for sale to the public with proceeds to going to the relief fund.
“Hurricane Sandy affected a lot of people on the East Coast and we realize the help that is needed to restore the quality of life for many,” said Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. “The Series has many friends, fans and family living in the affected parts of the country and we invite everyone to come attend this special event to help support those in need.”
Formula DRIFT ride-alongs from the Series top drivers such as Daijiro Yoshihara, Justin Pawlak, Odi Bakchis, Kyle Mohan, Jeff Jones, Danny George and more will be available to give once in a lifetime ride-alongs that will be for sale. Raffle tickets will also be on-sale at the event for a chance to win great prizes from Formula DRIFT partners including Sparco, Fatlace, Yoshihara Design, Nitto, Alpinestars, ACT Clutches, Motegi Racing, Discount Tire, EBC Brakes, Falken, K&N and more.
The event is free and open for all fans to attend from 6 – 9 PM. Companies and Individuals can purchase ride-alongs via the Formula DRIFT website: www.formuladrift.com. Donations are also welcome with all proceeds to be donated to the American Red Cross.
I realize I am a little late to the party when it comes to this but better late than never right!? Ok, I apologize! Forgiveness please! Anyhow let us get to business. Just like the year before, the final round of Formula Drift at Irwindale Speedway AKA “The House Of Drift” was the most intense due to a very close points battle. Things were so tense and close that just about every drift fan in the tri-county area wanted to see how it played out. Not only did the event sell out, but it sold out before the gates even opened which is a first for Irwindale Speedway and Formula Drift. A crowd of nearly 20,000 packed Irwindale to see how things were going to play out at the ”Final Fight”. Falken driver Vaughn Gittin Jr. was on top of the points coming into the weekend but mathematically speaking had 6 drivers who could have taken the title away from him at Irwindale. Realistically speaking there were only two drivers who posed a threat to Vaughn: Daigo Saito and Rhys Millen who were second and third in points respectively.
To hold off most of the mathematical points contenders Vaughn simply needed to qualify well and make it past the “Top 16″. Unfortunately he kind of stumbled on one and completely botched the other. Vaughn qualified 9th, which seemed decent at first but then lost its luster when Ryan Tuerck, Justin Pawlak, and Rhys Millen all qualified ahead of him. In fact Rhys Millenwas the #1 qualifier with a nearly perfect run at 97 points. Pawlak and Tuerck did not gain much ground because of this but now Rhys was in serious striking distance. Vaughn out-qualified Saito but only by a few places as Saito qualified 13thdue to troubles with his car.
All the necessary players made it past the Top 32 but after that is when things got interesting. Vaughn Gittin was paired up against Pat Mordaunt in the Top 16 and when Vaughn was on his chase run against Pat he spun out on the infamous transition on the front straight, thus handing the win to Mordaunt and gleaming, glittering, golden opportunities to Millen and Saito.
There was potiential for two great stories. For Millen, winning the championship would mean the ultimate redemption after Hyundai announced they would not be backing his program in 2013. For Daigo Saito it would mean solidifying himself as the current world’s greatest drifter after winning a D1 championship and Formula Drift Asia. He would have also been the first person in Formula Drift history to win the title in their “rookie” season.
To make things even more dramatic Millen and Saito were on the same side of the bracket. So, it would literally come down to a battle between the two to decide the 2012 championship. Rhys had been at the top of his game all night and Daigo was killing it as always so the capacity crowd knew that once the two met in tandem it would be an epic battle. “Epic” turned out to be the correct word as the two drivers drove as hard as they could but Rhys unfortunately drove a little too hard and during his chase run he over cooked it coming into the hairpin and slapped his Hyundai Genesis coupe against the wall right in front of the judges. His car was done for the night which gave the Championship to Daigo Saito. Rhys’ DNF also handed an automatic third place podium finish to Ryan Tuerck.
The final battle of the night came down to the new 2012 champion Daigo Saito and Justin “JTP” Pawlak. These two may not have been close to each other in the points but they do have a history with each other as Pawlak once got very angry with Saito after he felt that Saito brake checked him in the Florida round. Many wondered what would happen if Saitodid anything that might look like a brake check this time with such high stakes. However things did not quite get that far as JTP pretty much made the same mistake Rhys did while chasing Saito and hit the wall HARD in front of the judges at the hairpin.
With that it was over. Daigo Saito was not only the 2012 champion but he was also the winner of the “Final Fight” at Irwindale Speedway. As I mentioned before Daigo is the first driver in Formula Drift history to win the championship in their rookie year. He is also only the second ever Japanese born champion (Dai Yoshihara was the first). He is also the first Formula Drift USA champion to have already won a D1 championship. And he did all of this on one of the lowest funded teams on the grid, without a V8. The last person to win a Formula Drift championship without a V8 was Tanner Foust who won back-to-back titles in his V6 Nissan 350Z.
With this championship Daigo is arguably the best drifter in the world right now. What a season! What a champion! What a final round! If you did not make it out to Irwindale because tickets got sold out or you just were unable to make the trip then I highly recommend trying again next year and being very proactive. The good news is that tickets for the opening around of Formula Drift’s 2013 season at Long Beach are already on sale. Pick yours up ASAP and go on another ride!
For our full gallery of Formula Drift “Final Fight” Irwindale 2012 check out our Facebook gallery.
I can’t believe I actually have to remind you of this since the banner has been at the top of this website for weeks now but the final round of Formula Drift is this weekend! Technically it is going on right now at Irwindale Speedway. Today is qualifying and tomorrow is the big show. This being the final round, the championship will be decided tomorrow! Will it be Vaughn Gittin Jr.? Will Daigo Saito be the first driver to win the title in their “rookie” season? Can Rhys Millen give one last gift to Hyundai before they part ways? All is being answered, like right now! So get your arse to mahs! err I mean to Irwindale!
WHAT: Final Round Of Formula Drift
WHEN: October 12th & 13th
WHERE: Irwindale Speedway: 500 Speedway Drive Irwindale, California 91706
WHY: Because Drift Car
HOW MUCH: $28 for general admission, $38 for two day reserved seats, $33 for Saturday reserved seats, Parking $10-$15
WARNING: Tickets are selling fast so get yours NOW, also try to car pool if at all possible!
Decide to stay in this Friday night? Nothing to watch? No worries! Just do a simple scroll down below and you can watch Formula Drift Round 6 “After Dark” Live! Tonight at 9pm PST will be qualifying and tomorrow will be the big show! Anyhow, stop reading and start watching!
Over the weekend Formula Drift returned once again to Wall Speedway AKA “Irwindale Jr.” for the fourth round of the 2012 season AKA “The Gauntlet”. They call it “The Gauntlet” because Wall Speedway is a tiny terror of rough banked to flat transitions, unforgiving guardrails, and rough track surfaces. While it does not eat as many cars as say Long Beach does, Wall has its share of yearly casualties. However, the talk of The Gauntlet this year was a few controversial decisions by the judges when it came to instances of contact between two drivers during a tandem battle.
The first (and most talked about) incident was during the “Top 16″ when Tyler McQuarrie went up against Chelsea DeNofa. In the run where Tyler was leading, he hit the guard barrier, HARD. Chelsea was following Tyler so closely that when Tyler hit Chelsea had no where to go and ran into Tyler’s car (which had already crashed). Despite the appearance of Tyler making an error and crashing first, Chelsea was faulted for his contact and Tyler moved on. This call got drift purists so riled up that there is already a meme about it floating around on the interwebs.
The next incident came when Dai Yoshihara faced Rhys Millen, also in the Top 16. The two drivers made contact which resulted in damage to both cars. Some felt that the contact was Dai’s fault but the judges disagreed and gave the win to the 2011 champ.
The last incident was during the consolation round when Chris Forsberg went up against Daigo Saito. As Daigo led he lifted off the throttle during a transition. When this happened, Forsberg made contact with Daigo and spun. Daigo did not ‘brake check” per-say but he did slow his car by lifting the throttle. Some would say that is fair game and it was Forsberg’s fault for the contact as he did not adjust accordingly to what Saito did. However, the judges did not like Daigo’s throttle-play and placed the blame for the contact on him, thus handing third place to Chris Forsberg who earned his first New Jersey podium finish in his career. This decision also marked the first time Daigo Saito has failed to make the podium this season.
This left the final battle to Dai Yoshihara and Vaughn Gittin Jr. These teammates have battled each other many times in the past as they fought for the championship in 2010 so they know each other well which made for a really great match up. However in the end Vaughn Gittin’s Ford Mustang just had too much for Dai to handle on this track and he earned the win. Vaughn’s win in New Jersey marks his first win since 2010, ending a drought and putting the driver just barely insight the points battle for the 2o12 championship.
There are now three rounds left (Washington, Las Vegas, and Irwindale Speedway) and JTP continues to lead the points with Daigo in second place and Dai Yoshihara in third. Can JTP hold on to the lead? Will Daigo be the first driver to win a championship in their “rookie” year? Or will Dai fight through and repeat as champion? We have three more stops to find out!
The pseudo rookie and D1 Champion Daigo Saito did what many of us suspected he would do since he game to Formula Drift, he won an event in his first season. Daigo-san took down Conrad Grunewald, Darren McNamarra, Chesea DeNofa, points leader Justin Pawlak, and finally Chris Forsberg to take the victory at Palm Beach International Raceway over the weekend. Keen observers will note that every opponent he defeated pilots a V8-powered car which should put Daigo in the lead for the Turbonetecs “V8 Hunters” cup. Dai Yoshihara and Justin Pawlak battled it out for third place and Dai came out on top grabbing a much needed podium.
Although despite not making either one of the three steps Justin Pawlak remains the points leader but Daigo is now only 20.5 points behind him due to his consistent podium finishes. Dai is in a distant third with 197 points but the season is still young and the 2011 champ has time to mount a come back.
We will see if Daigo can further encroach on JTP’s territory when Formula D returns to New Jersey’s Wall Speedway AKA “Irwindale Jr.” towards the end of the month!