By Adrian Pascua
By Adrian Pascua
The pungent smell of burning rubber filled the air at Irwindale Speedway as cars slid inches away from concrete barriers, throwing tire smoke in the face of spectators looking to buy their tickets. The sound of high powered engines echoed throughout the city Oct. 11, announcing their presence to those who came near the Speedway. Drivers famous in the world of drifting came to demonstrate their skill at balancing on the knife edge of control and chaos as they slid sideways at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour.
Throughout the day, drivers spent the sunny but windy afternoon trying to survive the preliminaries and break into the top 16 for the final battle that night.
The cars kicked up so much tire smoke that it filled the inside of the vehicles, forcing the drivers to open their doors to air out the cars after every run. Spectators from all over Southern California had come to Irwindale to watch the drift competition, but until the main event that night, most fans used the afternoon to visit the booths and drivers. Manufacturers and companies involved in every part of the automotive world had set up shop to advertise and sell their wares.Everything from exhaust to electronics and clothing to clutches could be found.
Electronic Arts set up their booth to advertise their newest installment of the “Need for Speed” series: “Need for Speed: Undercover.” Aftermarket manufacturers such as Apex Integration and 5zigen set up their booths to sell the newest lines in car parts, as well as to show off the cars that they would be running in competition that night; not to mention the models that were used to help advertise their products.
The fans visited the booths, taking pictures with import models and drivers during the autograph session, and finding their favorites that they would be cheering on later that night. During the afternoon, teams spent the last two hours making the final adjustments on the vehicles that would be representing them during the finals. The Mopar team had run into a little bit of trouble as they had spent most of their time replacing the rear end of their Viper. Most of the teams made preparations for emergencies from blown tires to any other difficulties that might arise during the finals, including crashes, which are guaranteed to happen during any drift event.When the sun went down the event everyone was waiting for finally began. The grand stands that held over 5,000 people were filled from end to end. All the cars and drivers entered the track with a little bit of show boating. As they pulled onto the track, they gave the crowd a taste of things to come. The afternoon at Irwindale was filled with tire smoke, so the drivers made sure that the evening wasn’t any different.
After the parade of cars and driver introductions, it was time for the tandem drifts, one on one drift races that would put each car and driver against each other. Unfortunately for Team Nitto’s Corvette, driven by Conrad Grunewald, transmission failure took them out before the races even started. In some cases, the cars came so close to each other that it was amazing that they didn’t crash.
At the start of the semi-final, Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Michihiro Takatori were the first to race.
Takatori kept a cool head and drove his Skyline to its fullest extent keeping the race close, but Gittin’s Mustang showed what American muscle was all about as his higher powered engine and driving skill eliminated Takatori.
As Justin Pawlak went against Tanner Foust, Pawlak tried his best to keep himself close, but in the end crashed into Foust’s 350Z, losing Pawlak the semi-finals.
In the final battle Gittin and Foust would be fated to do battle. They both had phenomenal performances as both had dominating victories all day.
Foust was close and kept himself tight to Gittin, but Gittin drove hard, pushing the limits of his Mustang that had well over 500 horse power. Foust, who was favored to win, came close to victory, but Gittin beat out Foust in a race almost too close to call, bringing an end to the seventh round of Formula D. As the night closed out, it was Foust who was still first in the standings with 599 points, followed by Samuel Hubinette with 544 points. Gittin is currently eighth in the standings with 356.5 points, but competition is far from over. The competition is broadcast by G4 and Speed TV. Look to your local television listings for scheduling. The end of the Formula D circuit will be the Red Bull Drifting World Championship at Port of Long Beach, Nov. 15-16. For those who plan to attend, you will not be disappointed. The competition promises to be fierce with a touch of adrenaline added to the cocktail.