If you live in Southern California and are into motorsports, you know that safe and legal facilities to drive your car to it’s limits have become scarce over the past 10-15 years. Thursday Night Drift at the Irwindale Event Center is kind of a big deal to us. For all the young readers, let me explain why.
Many years ago, Southern California had plenty of legal places to race. A few of those places were Los Angeles County Raceway in Palmdale, Lions Drag Strip in Wilmington, Carlsbad Raceway in Carlsbad, Brotherhood Raceway on Terminal Island, and even a really cool track most of us never had a chance to see, Riverside Raceway. Some of you might even remember Ascot in Gardena, but that memory is almost reserved exclusively for old timers, lol. Many of these were closed and gone before drifting became popular, but we the people who live the drift life have suffered our own losses over the past 10 years. “It used to be a racers paradise here”, says Mike Kojima during one of our discussions of Southern California motorsport venue history.Auto Club Speedway in Fontana terminated the privilege to hold drift events in the parking lot, unless you are some huge corporation with gobs of money, then its ok. Heck, even drag racing itself has been off and on at AutoClub Speedway. Drifting died at Orange Show Speedway, aka National Orange Show Speedway, drift activities have come to a halt at the former Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, etc. There are just too many motorsport venues to name that we’ve lost with urban growth and ignorance to blame.
Due of the lack of available local motorsport venues, street drifting has become as popular as street racing was back when the first Fast and the Furious movie was released. As cool as it may seem in the media, street drifting isn’t considered an acceptable form of seat time on the professional and amateur level, but the availability of industrial backroads in the LA area have drivers who have never been to an organized event, looking like experienced ProAm drivers.
To gain seat time and experience going sideways, one has to drive far out of the LA area to attend a Just Drift event at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, right outside Lancaster, CA. For those looking to get more, Vegas Drift holds regular events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The cost and time of traveling to and from, sometimes isn’t an option for most looking to get seat time. Sometimes a driver would like to get off work for the day, and go drifting. Traveling just doesn’t make sense to the average guy.
We are excited that Formula Drift has teamed up with Irwindale Event Center to bring the LA area a great opportunity to drift at The House of Drift. On select Thursday evenings, the oval that FD Round 7 runs every October, plays host to Thursday Night Drift. Everybody is invited to drive, from first time drifters, to pros looking to hone their skills on the FD layout. It is definitely worth noting that FD staff who come out to run this event, are doing so because they love drifting.
At $100 to drive, Formula Drift will tech your car, give you a chance to show your skill by running a simple layout, put you in a run group, and let you drift all night. You get to interact with Formula Drift staff in a relaxed environment, learn more about your car and what professional drift organizations are looking for in terms of build, safety, and driving, and most importantly, hang out and have a good time. The best thing about all of the above, is that you don’t have to drive hundreds or thousands of miles to do it.
Spectators pay $10, which gets you a seat in the grandstands, and an opportunity to enjoy a California sunset while watching some drifting. For an additional $5, you can make your way over to the drag strip and enjoy some straight line racing too. Such a great opportunity for a night of motorsport fun.
Our friend Justin Banner is the voice of Thursday Night Drift. Justin has been announcing for Top Drift and Vegas ProAm this year, so its awesome that he was able to land the announcing job for these events. We are all about the growth of everybody involved in drifting, and Justin is absolutely enthusiastic about the sport.
So far this year, there have been 3 Thursday Night Drift’s held. At every single one of them, there has been an exciting FD Pro driver or two, or three, on hand to entertain the crowd. Forrest Wang lit up the track on the first and second Thursday events.
Mike Essa consistently shows up to fun and amateur events in his personal drift car when not piloting his Essa Autosports BMW in Formula Drift competition. He is always found smiling and running with the up and coming drift guys.
Justin Pawlak came out with his hand built replica of the old green FC that was stolen years ago.
Dean Kearney, fresh off an FD Seattle podium finish the previous weekend, attended the second Thursday Night Drift and co-piloted a fun missile car with some friends. Coming out to have a good time for no reason other than having a good time, must be the perfect way to unwind after a stressful competition event.
Eric Hill has been our pal since his early ProAm days, and to our delight, he’s been running at every single Thursday Night Drift thus far.
We knew Odi Bakchis would eventually make it out to a Thursday Night Drift. Odi absolutely killed it in his demo car during the third event. Running the bank over and over and over, gives him a major advantage over other pros going into FD Round 7 in October.
Tony Cisneros has been a driver of interest of ours since watching him in ProAm for several years. Getting practice slaying tires at Irwindale will prove valuable come round 7.
Our friend Kyle Mohan managed to find time away his busy schedule at Mazda Trix to come out and drift his legendary FC, his choice of machine while his Formula Drift competition car is under the knife.
We’ve even caught some shots of our ProAm friends putting on a show. George Kiriakopoulos came down from Vegas with his STR Racing S13 for the first 2 events. The 2nd Thursday Night Drift was unfortunately the last his car saw, hitting the wall on the big bank and totaling it. We are sure George will come back with his new car.
Kenny Chieu is one Top Drift’s most popular drivers. Piloting a mid engine drift car has earned him many fans, especially when he came out to Thursday Night Drift and got the crowd going.
Denise Llamas is one that constantly pushes her KA powered S14 to the limits. She is a fine example of coming out with a smile and having a good time. She is grassroots to the max.
Another driver that’s been using Thursday Night Drift to hone his skills, is Pablo Cabrera. I’ve personally watched this guy go from spinning out and holding up the track at Top Drift, to growing to the point of running the full FD layout at Irwindale. Practice is what makes a driver grow, and Thursday Night Drift is a perfect place to get more seat time. Keep it up Pablo!
Mihir Dharkar is a Formula 3 driver who made his way over to the US, dedicated to competing in Formula Drift. Shortly after attending a Thursday Night Drift as a spectator, Mihir picked up an S13 and came out to the next one to drive. From his website, “Early 2014 Mihir made the decision to move out to Los Angeles to pursue his goal to compete in Formula D. Mihir’s plan is to drive in as many events as possible this year so that he can enter Just Drift next season to gain the Formula D license. Once he receives the license, he plans to drive Pro2 and move on to Pro.”. It’s going to be interesting to watch Mihir grow.
Now that we’ve experienced a couple Thursday Night Drift events, its time for you to come out and enjoy one for yourself. Grab $10, pick up your friends, and join us. Concession stands are open for that authentic track food dining experience.
The next Thursday Night Drift is on September 18th, just half a week after Formula Drift Texas. We are sure there will be some pros in attendance to smoke up the bank in preparation for FD Round 7. Get out and support local motorsport events, or pretty soon there wont be anywhere to go! Don’t miss Thursday Night Drift at Irwindale Event Center!!!
All the info you need can be found on the Formula Drift website! Click here to check it out.
$10.00 To Watch Drifting
$15.00 To Watch Drifting & Drag Racing
$100.00 To Drift
Schedule of Events:
2:00 PM – 10:00 PM – Venue Open
2:00 PM – 9:00 PM – TECH: All vehicles must pass tech before running
4:00 PM – 4:30 PM – MANDATORY: Drivers Meeting
5:00 PM – 9:00 PM – OPEN PRACTICE – Groups C,B,A