Irwindale Speedway has become hallowed ground for the sport of drifting. Home to the first professional competition in the US back in 2003, the track has hosted the season finale for Formula Drift for all 12 seasons to date. Unfortunately, the land that the track currently leases was sold a few years back, and this may be the last year before the track is demolished in favor of a shopping mall. While talk of demolition has been occurring almost annually since the sale was made in 2012, the permit changes necessary to move forward with the demolition finally happened earlier this year and have essentially paved the way for this season to be the final season of motorsports at the House of Drift.
For 2015, Formula Drift altered the layout slightly to encourage a longer wall-ride on the ‘inner bank’. Drivers start near the exit of burn 2 in the traditional oval track layout, heading counter clockwise around the ½-mile bank, initiating into drift just before turn 3 in the traditional layout. Continuing around the big bank, drivers come off the bank at the exit of turn 4 and transition in front of the main grand stands for a clip on the traditional start/finish line facing the crowd. From there, the drivers transition again and continue the course through the inner 3/8-mile bank again in the counter clockwise orientation. Historically, drivers only drifted around half of the inner bank before sliding through the infield, but this season’s layout extends the course through the entirety of the inner bank along the wall then sliding through a decreasing radius turn into the infield in the same portion of the track, with one final inner clip before the finish line. This layout was enough of a change to force the drivers to re-learn what the judges were asking for, particularly after the switch-back across the traditional start/finish line.
The incredible GoPro footage from a Formula DRIFT run paints an exciting picture of intense wheel-to-wheel action and driving prowess, but many who aren’t familiar with DRIFT may assume that it is merely head-to-head racing on a short course. But that, indeed, is not the case. In fact, Formula DRIFT is the only motorsports discipline that relies on subjectivity to find a winner. More specifically, a win is based upon a judged score, not who crossed the finish line first.
So how do you score big in DRIFT, you ask?