Formula Drift Irwindale
October 8-9, 2015: The Final Fight. Formula Drift stops at the last event of the year where I competed to close out a successful 2015 rookie FD Pro2 season. Coming into the event with the second highest cumulative qualifying points I found myself fighting to get into the show after a sub-par first lap attempt.
It was crunch time and the most pressure of the season. I had one lap to make or break everything. We were sitting 5th place overall in points coming into this event but the battle was close. If I didn’t qualify the car into the top 16 out of the 31 drivers entered I wouldn’t earn enough points to finish the season inside of the top 8 and earn our Pro1 Formula Drift License for 2016. The next 45 seconds were everything.
I was able to pull from my previous road racing and karting experience and didn’t let the pressure get into my head. It has been the sole reason why I have been able to qualify 6th, 6th, and 2nd leading up to this moment. When often asked if drifting is similar to road racing I am quick to say that each are a completely different animal but all of the experiences have helped tremendously when it comes down to handling the stress and pressures of any type of pro racing.
After a 2nd place qualifying effort in Texas I was able to qualify 15th out of the 31 entered drivers, by far our worst result but a massive relief considering our first lap wasn’t going to get us into the show. This all but secured our Formula D Pro1 license for 2016!
Our Top 16 battle had us squaring off against Kevin Lawrence in the Enjuku Racing 180sx. Kevin led first and I found myself caught off guard trying to follow him for the first time of the weekend. To his credit, he poured massive angle on across the Irwindale track start/finish and it surprised me causing me to dive to the inside and have to wait a moment to then drive it back up on his door. Here’s a snap from the moment right before, I’m on the brakes trying not to pile into him during the transition.
I would then tuck back into formation and charge at his door around the inner bank, frustrated at this point at my mistake and misjudgement.
My lead run went well and we pulled a gap around the entire track.
Unfortunately with a small walltap on the final corner the judges didn’t feel it was enough to at least push a 1-more time with Kevin. He would then go on for a season’s best 3rd place finish absolutely driving the wheels off the car, congrats dude!!
The team had a goal when entering our first Formula Drift Pro2 season of landing ourselves a Pro1 license at the end of the year and we did just that. It was a hugely successful and rewarding year where we learned a ton about the car and I learned a ton about driving one of these insane drift cars. All of the road racing experience in the world can’t prepare you enough and this sport is truly one of a kind. These guys are good and doing what they do out there side by side and at these speeds with that much rubber down on the track is not for the feint of heart. It is tough.
I am pumped to have been able to participate in Formula Drift Pro2 this season and a huge thank you goes out to the Formula Drift staff for accommodating us. 1-year ago I applied for a Pro2 license via petition based on my previous racing experience and we were one of only a couple drivers to have been let into the series without an FD accredited pro-am drift series top 4 finish the year before.
With some more experience and practice I look to continue progressing quickly with a mix of Pro1 and Pro2 events next season. I know with the right approach and people surrounding me anything is possible. Now it’s time to step the car up to make it even more insane and I can’t wait to get more seat time.