Imagine a place that’s part cool ass race, part JDM meet, and part swap meet of car stuff. That was Formula DRIFT.
The last race of a nine-race season ended at Irwindale Speedway also known as The House of Drift the weekend of October 22-23. A field of 35 drivers battled it out to become Pro-Spec Champion. And it was fantastic to watch. It was also the first Formula Drift race since the cancellation of the season last year due to the pandemic.
My son and I were invited to the race on behalf of the Rockstar Energy team. Headed by team owner Stephan Papadakis, the team fielded a gold J29 Toyota Supra driven by the most winningest driver in Formula D history, Fredric Aasbø.
This wasn’t my first time at Irwindale Speedway, but it was our first time at a Formula DRIFT event. Over the next five and a half hours our senses were blown away. The cars themselves are absolute beasts of machines.
It was all an experience that you can smell, hear and feel. It’s something seeing a 1,000 horsepower, RWD Toyota Corolla hatchback drifting mere feet from where you’re sitting. The field saw everything from an LS powered Nissan 350Z driven by Alec Robbins, to a BMW M4 driven by 16-year-old Branden Sorensen.
After 28 hard fought rounds with drivers advancing through the brackets, it was down to two drivers. Ultimately Aasbø emerged victorious once again.
Although it was an exciting race, it was also bittersweet as it concluded the runs of two legends of the series. Co-founder of Formula D Jim Liaw stepped down after 17 years from his position as president of the series.
Legendary driver Daijiro Yoshihara also ends his time with Formula D, having been with the series since 2004, to branch off into road racing and hill climbs. While he was eliminated early on, finishing 17th, it was still a great way to end a long and accomplished career.
While the racing is one big reason to attend, you’ll also find this is one of the best places to be if you’re into JDM and the experience that surrounds them.
Just a taste of what we saw: S15 Silvias and an R33 Skyline GT-R decorated with Goku Black from Dragon Ball Z on the side; skateboards for sale with JDM cars on their bottoms; FANTASTIC tacos; aftermarket parts like katana shifters and downpipes, even RC cars were for sale. Just a warning: it might be dangerous for your wallet (I may have spent too much).
The 2022 Formula DRIFT schedule ready to kick off next spring, if you have yet to check out the series, it’s a good time to start. Brace yourself for an action-packed racing season from one of the best series around.