Holley’s LS Fest(link is external) is an event near and dear to our hearts. We attend every year for a chance to witness drag racing, autocross and drifting, all in one weekend and all cars featuring an LS or LT engine. This is where Dirk Stratton comes into the picture. Two years ago, at the 2015 Holley LS Fest, we saw a grey C6 Corvette ripping through the gears at Beech Bend Raceway with a trail of white smoke behind it and we were blown away. It was refreshing to see a Chevrolet chassis dominating in a motorsport series comprised almost solely of small Japanese cars, so we have been keeping our eyes on the driver, Dirk Stratton, ever since.
As it turns out, he has grown leaps and bounds since we last saw him at LS Fest. That year, in 2015, he won the Midwest Drift Union Championship which earned him a spot in the Formula Drift Pro2 series, only one tier below the big dogs of Pro1. He competed in the ‘16 season of Formula Drift (FD) and came in a very impressive 4th place in the overall series points which earned him the prestigious “Rookie of the Year” title.
Dirk is now positioned to compete in the FD Pro2 series again in 2017, although his “Rookie of the Year” title did earn him a license to compete in Pro1. “You know, I just think my team and I should compete another year in Pro2 in order to refine a few things and continue to grow. We hope to enter the Pro1 series in 2018 as a better team and I’m confident we can dominate,” Dirk told us.
So, within a matter of just a few years, Dirk climbed the ladder from the grassroots level of drifting to a professional level, competing alongside some of the best drifters in the world. We were intrigued to find out how he got here and how he progressed so quickly, so we gave him a call to learn more about his story.
Q Where is Drifting in its evolution from underground pursuit to mainstream motor sport discipline?
A Drifting pretty much exists in every market, in various forms. Definitely it exists in a grassroots form. There have been different spikes around the world that have escalated the sport – Formula Drift being one of them and the next phase is to push it towards a professional level as much as we can, to bring what is still a weekend sport into something that is a championship that can be commercially feasible.
There are some series that have had degrees of success but the next step is the legitimisation of this form of motor sport in order to find a cohesive global platform. We are fragmented in different parts of the world and there are certain rules we employ that don’t necessarily work in other parts of the world. That’s where we are now.
Formula DRIFT Teams Up with AutoCon To Produce Car Shows for Long Beach and Irwindale Rounds
Long Beach, Calif. – February 17, 2017– The Black Magic Formula DRIFT Pro Championship presented by BlackVue has teamed up with AutoCon to produce car shows at the two Southern California events this season. The AutoCon car show will kick off the season at Round 1: Streets of Long Beach on March 31 – April 1 and conclude the year at Round 8: Title Fight at Irwindale Speedway on October 13 – 14.
“The car show element of our events is always a great addition for the fans,” said Ryan Sage, vice-president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. “By working with AutoCon some of the best vehicles in the region will be put on display during the Long Beach and Irwindale events.”
The first AutoCon car show will be held on April 1 at the Streets of Long Beach event as part of the Formula DRIFT season opener. Fans will have the opportunity to view hundreds of unique custom vehicles on display, enjoy the live entertainment, and much more. For show car participants, vehicle registration is now open on the AutoCon website.
“We have always been fans of Formula D since its inception,” said Justin Fong, President and co-founder of AutoCon. “It is definitely a unique combination of the best of both worlds – drift and show. We are confident that this partnership will create an amazing experience for both our fans and audiences respectively.”
For the newly-formed Worthouse Drift Team, these announcements and reveals may have been the easiest part of the puzzle. The real challenge is in the preparation for competing a full championship on another continent.
Further to this, there’s the extra challenge of building the two new cars some 2,000 miles apart from each other. The cars for all intents and purposes will be practically identical; the only considerable difference being that James’ car will be right-hand drive while Piotr’s will be left-hand drive. This was a deliberate decision, as it means the team only needs to carry one set of spares from event to event.
It’s also meant that the two new teammates have had to co-design the new cars, with compromises being made along the way. It has also meant a near never-ending stream of phone calls and messages between both sides of the team in Ireland and Poland. To keep things simple, I’ve been following James’ side of the build at Deane Msport while Piotr’s build progresses in Poland.
Each of the monthly Thursday night sessions will start with a (public invited) technical inspection for the competition vehicles at 4:00PM and drift practice will run flat out from 5:00PM to 9:00PM. The fan gates open at 4PM and there’s plenty of close-free parking.
Open to the public (fans can watch from the stands and visit the pits as well) admission is only $10 per person. These will be nights when fans can see some of the best of the best getting tuned-up for the 2017 season as well as catching the acts of some of new, upcoming Drift talent as they test their driving skills and machines against the established pros.
Anyone can run their properly-equipped* car for $75 and they can register right at the track on Thursday night.