Climbing the Ladder – Dirk Stratton and his LS7-Powered #Driftvette

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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.

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Formula Drift President Jim Liaw on the process of regulating motor sport’s fast-growing underground discipline

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Click here to read the full Auto #17 magazine.

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.

The Long Road To Long Beach

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At the time of writing, there’s just one month and 18 days to the first round of the 2017 Formula Drift championship.

While we might have to wait until then, for some, the new season has been underway since the day immediately after the 2016 Irwindale finale, if not earlier, as is the case for this particular story. By now, you’re likely aware of James Deane’s and Piotr Więcek’s intention to contest the entire 2017 FD season; you might also have seen the renders and details of their new cars.

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.

2017 James Deane S15 Build Speedhunters Part 02 by Paddy McGrath-19

 

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.

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Thursday Night DRIFT at Irwindale Speedway | February 23, 2017

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February 23rd TND

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.

Thursday Night Drift one sheet 2017

The New Team That’s About To Shake Up FD

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Since the announcement late last year that James Deane and Piotr Wieçek would tackle the 2017 Formula D championship, details of the newest team on the grid have been kept under wraps. Speculation has been rife, but both drivers have remained quiet on any rumours sent their way, and there’s been a good reason for this.

It’s not been out of ignorance or some sort of superiority complex, but rather that they’ve waited until everything has been set in stone before announcing the next part of their 2017 campaign: their cars. And as you’ve already seen both above and below, Deane and Wieçek will be campaigning two almost identical Nissan Silvia S15s as part of the newly formed Worthouse Drift Team.

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