Road Atlanta is the actual birthplace of Formula Drift, holding the first ever event back in May 2004. Since then, the track is known as being one of the rowdiest on the circuit, with fans who stake out their area with E-Z Ups and lawn chairs several hours before the track goes hot. Drifting into the night, the event heats up as the temperatures cool, and often produces some of the most memorable tandem battles.
This year’s Road Atlanta track layout mimics the layout that has been used for the last few years. Drivers pilot their cars down the hill ending the back straight into turn 10A, often hitting speeds close to 100mph before pitching their cars sideways. An inner clip on the inside of 10A is the first of the clipping points, and drivers will transition their cars from right to left as they round turn 10B and head back up the hill. At the top of the hill, an outside clipping zone lines the rumble strips, while a second outside zone lines the top part of the paved horseshoe that was added specifically for Formula Drift back in 2004. After sliding the rear bumper through the outer clipping zone under the judges stand, there’s an inner clipping point midway through the horse shoe, before the cars transition back again to the right to head back down the hill and through turns 10B and 10A in reverse order of the traditional course direction. After sliding through 10A and nearing the same inner clip that they started with, drivers are asked to finish their drift through the corner of 10A before shutting it down and heading back up the hill to the start line.
In case you missed the actual event, either in person or via the Driftstream, here’s a play-by-play of how the Top 32 tandem battles shook out.
Fast forward to the Ford Top 16 or Nitto Final 4.
I’ve made it widely known that one of my favorite aspects of Formula Drift is that fact that the competing cars don’t have power limits imposed on them. Instead, FD try their best to even out the playing field by limiting the amount of grip available through tire width restrictions based on car weight.
Of course, the teams overcome the limited amount of grip by using different tire compounds, utilising aero, suspension tuning and of course flat-out power for insane wheel speed. That said, I wanted to showcase a range of power plants from the 2015 Formula Drift field…
Rockstar Energy Volkswagen Passat
Engine: GM LS7 450ci
Pistons: Mahle 13.6:1
Cylinder Heads: LS7
Camshaft: Stage 3 LS
Valves: titanium intake, stainless steel exhaust
Induction: 102mm throttle body
Engine Management: AEM Infinity
After some time to reflect, I still think this was the best round of Formula D I’ve seen to date. Jersey last year was a good one, as was Irwindale in 2011, but this one was the best. For starters, Road Atlanta has always been my favorite Formula D track just from a visual perspective. Throw some good cars, good driving, random freak occurrences, and incredible battles in the mix, and you get a show anyone would want to watch a second time. The only thing that was missing was the rain we had last year!