The 2017 Formula Drift season is now well on the later half of the championship now that Round 6 in Seattle has concluded. For 11 years FD has been visiting Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington. Sitting Just outside of Seattle, it is by far one of the favorites on the series schedule, given it has not only a high speed bank after the initiation zone, but allows for several dramatic zones as the course wraps up. Evergreen Speedway already had smoke in the air from the nearby wildfires, and Round 6 surely wasn’t about to help the situation. Odi Bakchis won Seattle last year, would he repeat in front of the packed house? Let’s recap and find out.
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When it comes to tracks on the Formula Drift schedule, there are none better than Road Atlanta. Automotive action happens the entire time youÆre there from nearly sun up to sun down, and well into the night. ItÆs why fans always look forward to it and it makes for an amazing, party-like atmosphere. It also helps that, despite not being an oval track, fans can see nearly everything thanks to the bowl structure of the turn 10/keyhole complex. This is Road Atlanta and here is what you missed by not being there.
Drifting is a sport of the senses û the sight of cars getting sideways, the smell of burnt rubber, the sound of cars pushing maximum horsepower, and sometimes even the taste of spent race gas. ItÆs quick, itÆs dirty, and it just pulls you in even if you try to resist. ItÆs why it works so well in a confined environment like most of the oval tracks Formula Drift visits. ItÆs the same reasons people love monster trucks and thatÆs not a knock on the series. The fans are there for the entertainment of automotive action.
The path towards the 2017 Formula Drift Pro Championship continued on the banks at Orlando Speed World (OSW) in Orlando, FL after a very interesting opening round in Long Beach. This is the 3rd year the series has run in Orlando where competition keeps getting more tense for the best runs against the wall; it keeps getting hotter too, even after this year was moved up to April. The differences between Long Beach and Orlando are stark, flat streets versus the high banked oval of OSW. An extremely rough and even bouncy transition section in the middle of the track continues to shake drivers up, lifting nearly all 4 tires off the ground in some situations as drivers try to gauge how much throttle to give and not thrash into the lead driver, all while trying to keep close proximity into the final turn.
The OSW layout continues to be somewhat basic even, but before you know it, OSW’s high banked wall will suck you in or the hard bank-to-track transition will wreck havoc on a driver’s car. There were many questions to be answered like how would James Deane fair on the very different Oval track? Would Alex Heilbrunn continue to show the leaps and bounds of growth that we’ve seen? OSW would prove to also be quite interesting and continue to shake up the Championship standings, still very early in the 2017 season.
Pro qualifying gave us a look at who would later have the most success during competition with Dai Yoshihara (95), Fredric Aasbo (93), Ryan Tuerck (93), James Deane (92), and Michael Essa (91) rounding out the Top 5 qualifiers. Qualifying scores do not always tell the complete story of the day however with Vaughn Gittin Jr. qualifying all the way back in 22nd and later nearly taking it all the way, deep in Top 16 competition. But were Gittin Jr. and other teams just playing it safe all along? After qualifying, Round 2 had a whopping 5 bye-runs, which Formula Drift chose to not even make the drivers complete their normal 1-run dance. Definitely the first of a few fan-favored moves to ensure cars continue to move on to Top 16 without the risk of mechanical issues or a silly error during a non-tandem lap around OSW.
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The Streets of Long Beach is a world renowned drift course, much like what Daytona is to NASCAR, and what Monaco is to Formula One. Many, if not all, competitive and leisure drifters have dreams of mastering this course sometime in their lifetime. Formula Drift begins each season on the Streets of Long Beach, which brings an end to anticipation and months of preparation. Anything could happen here… a great beginning to a successful season could be had, or disaster could strike at any of the turns and ruin a season in a few seconds. Throwing caution to the wind, a circus of extremely prepared teams arrived in Long Beach, and the 2017 Formula Drift season has begun. The Streets of Long Beach have a cruel habit of sorting out who is ready to ride walls, and who isn’t.
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