Formula Drift Round 3 – Invasion of the Drifters
Missing SOWO was pretty hard, I didn’t have a chance to hang out with my friends and enjoy looking at some nice cars. Thankfully our friends over from HighwayStar Garage, Simply Clean, and State of Stance were going to attend the Formula D Invasion at PBIR event. The HighwayStar guys meet up with me in Melbourne on a late Friday morning so we can catch the last bit of qualifying. The long drive down to West Palm Beach wasn’t too bad. We kept each other entertained by taking instagram pictures of each others cars to see how many likes we could get before getting to PBIR. We caught several on-lookers pointing and taking pictures (mainly at Manny’s Roxanne), and had one jealous older gentlemen in a brand new S63 AMG wanting to race; he walked us (bad) but we were good sports. We got to PBIR about 2ish with the sound the LS1′s roaring through the air…I thought we came late and got to the NASCAR portion of the day.
We got closer to the track and our worries faded away with a pair of 350z’s from NOS and LUTZ Performance coming inches to the wall with a plume of smoke filling the air behind them. It’s been 8 years since my last attendance at a drift event and that was from the 1st US D1 event in Irwindale. So I think it was time for me to experience a Florida drift event with some actual really talented US drifters. Walking down the paddock area you see drivers and their crew working on their cars, some of them swapping out tires, brakes, diffs, body panels, and fine tuning the car for this course’s tight corners. The track was redesigned from last year giving it sharper turns and allowing the drivers more opportunity for speed and aggression. Another welcomed change was less dubstep in the playlist and a little more musical variety to set the stage for a day full of burnt rubber and love taps.Friday’s practice and qualifying rounds were plagued by intermittent rain, but that didn’t stop anyone. Fans, drivers, and vendors were all out in full force.
A little rain never hurt anybody, and it certainly won’t stop us from drifting! Despite the delays, wet track, and humidity, drivers got their runs in and gave it their all. The practice runs may have been some of the best that PBIR has seen, but tensions got high when qualifying began and those who seemed untouchable during practice runs started to slip up. Chelsea Denofa placed low on the charts while Danny George, backed by a small homegrown team who killed it during practice runs, didn’t even place. Vaughn Gittin Jr, who placed second on this track last year, placed first in qualifying with Ovcharik and McQuarrie following close behind. Justin Pawlak who placed first at Palm Beach last year placed ninth in this year’s The air filled with tire smoke, gas fumes, engine noises, it was sort of a relaxing almost soothing environment that mixes all of the good stuff of the car community. Qualifying day was over so it was time to retreat to for the day to check in the hotel and to clean up for a night of chilling with friends with a few(lots) beers.
Morning rolls on in and we have to be at the event a little early to show our cars in the Fatlace Slammed Society car show. A shower and about 6 Advil’s later we were out in search for a car wash. But we have to remember where we’re at, West Palm Beach, bunch of rich people, expensive cars…Yeah we’re pretty much screwed, till a nice couple walked by us at Burger King and they directed us to a self service car wash a couple miles down the road. Luckily when we got done washing our cars and heading back to PBIR, the officials were just about ready to start letting in cars in to stage. With our cars parked it was time to get to work, till about 10 pictures in the Florida heat was hitting hard. The lovely and talented Kendra Aceto (part of the LLS Staff) was there showing me up with her magic, so I had to keep on soldiering on through. This friendly competition is what brought you the coverage you’re seeing and reading today. The round up of cars in the Slammed Society show was of a humble size, but it was a show of quality versus quantity.
Drivers were hanging out with their competition beforehand, proving that even the pros are here to have fun. Walking around the paddocks, you could witness last minute work being done before track time. Brakes and tires were being changed, and one team even broke out an engine hoist. Despite that, teams and drivers still had time to spare to talk to fans about anything and everything, strengthening the bond between us all and increasing our love for the sport that brought us all here on this muggy Florida Saturday. About 2 hours pass by and cars were lining up to head out to the field. The sound of straight pipe V8s and huge turbos winding up was intoxicating. Pass after pass, the crowd was loving every single second of it!There weren’t nearly as many OMTs (“One More Time,” for those new to the sport) as last year, but we did have a few in a row. Contrary to the previous day, everyone was on their A game and drove knowing there was no room for error. However, it wouldn’t be FD if there weren’t a few bumpers flying around the track. Yoshioka (driving Team RS-R’s S15) even got a bumper stuck in his rear wing and took it around the track with him.
Night fell and the top 8 drivers were ready to battle it out. We had Vaughn Gittin vs Justin Pawlak, Chelsea DeNofa vs Daigo Saito, Kenneth Moen vs Chris Forsberg, and Daijiro Yoshihara vs Ryan Tuerck. Out of the top 8 the craziest battle was for sure Vaughn Gittin vs Justin Pawlak. Both drivers for Falken, both drive brand new 2013 Ford Mustangs, and both holding nothing back. Run after run they tandem drifted inches from each other – the crowd was going nuts. Team Falken has a tendency to get on the track like they have something to prove – even between teammates. But in the end, Vaughn just got a little too close to Justin’s Mustang and ended up with some bent arms and was knocked out of the bracket.
The final battle for the Formula D PBIR event was between Daigo Saito’s Lexus SC430 1200HP monster and Chris Forsberg Titan V8 powered Nissan 370Z. First run both cars were side by side throughout the whole course with Chris up front and Diago chasing. On the second run, both came up side by side until about the 2nd corner where Chris laid on the brakes a little too much and fell behind Daigo. The crowd cheered for yet another OMT but after a few minutes of deliberation, the judges announced Daigo as the winner of the Formula D Palm Beach Round 3 – not bad for his first pro season with us! He was followed closely by Chris “The Force” Forsberg and Daijiro Yoshihara. As it stands, Saito ranks #2 overall and he’s quickly gaining ground on the #1 spot, currently held by Justin Pawlak. He also placed third in Round One in Long Beach as well as Round Two in Atlanta – 2012 may be the year the rookie drivers prove what they’re made of. With night wrapping up, we were both tired, hungry, sweaty, and sun burnt, but it was an awesome weekend just hanging out with friends and watching some badass cars out on the track. It was well worth the sunburn to bring this coverage to our fans at Lowered Lifestyle who couldn’t make it out to the event, and we can’t wait to do it again next year!
See the Rest of Kendra’s Coverage here:
See the Rest of Steve’s Coverage here: