Formula Drift Seattle 2014: Pro 2

Pro2header copyNot only was Evergreen Speedway host to the 5th round of Formula Drift competition, but it was also the site of the second round of Formula Drift’s newest series: Pro 2.  Designed to be a bridge between ProAm and Pro, the series is a welcome addition to the Formula Drift program for a number of reasons.

FD2014-Thursday-0329Given the ever-increasing popularity of drifting a significant number of drivers were earning their professional licenses through their local ProAm circuits, and were fed directly into the highest level of FD competition.  A glut of talented drivers that were spending considerable amounts of blood, sweat and tears (and money) to travel to and compete in FD competition were leaving events frustrated, as they were unable to get enough seat time to be competitive and even when they were able to qualify the chance of being matched up against drivers like Aasbo or Gittin was high.  FD2014-Thursday-9937Pro 2 offers these newly licensed drivers a chance to compete against the best drivers in other ProAm programs across the nation.  More seat time at different tracks is always a good thing, and plus it’s a chance to be part of the big show!  That’s the other great thing about Pro 2:  IT’S MORE DRIFTING.  How could you not want more drifting?

FD2014-Friday-1232 FD2014-Thursday-0496FD2014-Friday-0895Before we go any farther, I want to cover something: the out-of-town media personnel are unfamiliar with the local drivers, and they were eager to know who was behind the wheel of two particular cars.  These cars belonged to Victor Moore and Jeremy Richter.  To those of us who stomp across the grass and dirt of Evergreen and Pat’s Acres on a regular basis the high-quality performances put down by Moore and Richter were expected, but to the foreigners these guys were enigmas.  After Richter rode Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s door around the track on Thursday I recall one photographer exclaimed loudly: “Who the f*ck was that?”

(Sorry Phillips and Jeanerett,I think you guys are radical too!)

FD2014-Friday-1245 FD2014-Friday-1293 FD2014-Friday-1296 FD2014-Friday-1257 FD2014-Friday-1371WHAT YEAR IS IT???FD2014-Friday-1383 FD2014-Friday-1412 FD2014-Friday-1429 I am become missile car, destroyer of body panels.

FD2014-Friday-1436FD2014-Friday-1518 After qualifying the day before to set the order, the Top 16 Pro 2 drivers made their way out onto the track for introductions.  Two of Evergreen’s finest made it into the main competition: Mike Phillips and Victor Moore!  Will Parsons, the driver I was working with for the weekend, also made it into the big show.  Will and his green AE-86 have been around for a long time (remember XDC at Seattle?  The dirt-drops?), and I highly recommend that you make a point of meeting the man.  As one of the friendliest and most personable people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting I can safely say it is simply impossible not to cheer for him and his quietly intense driving style.  I’ll be talking more about Will (and Jeremy Richter!) in an upcoming article, so lets move on.

FD2014-Friday-1533 Following driver introductions the media hordes were shooed off of the track so that the drivers could do their burnouts and donuts.  After filling the stands with smoke and cording their qualifying/practice tires a gust of wind revealed the infield to be suddenly empty, the snarling race cars now lined up at the start line.  I’ve never had the chance to use a wide angle lens for more than ten minutes at a time, and as my father’s friend was kind enough to lend me his Nikkor 12-24mm f/4 for the weekend I made sure to get as much use out of it as possible.  Hopping over the wall near where the cars come off the bank and into the infield, I set my camera up and waited for the owner of the screaming rotary engine on the other side of the track to come over to my side of the oval.

FD2014-Friday-1553The first match of the day was between Jeremy Lowe in his RX-7 and Hiro(?) Sumida in his classically-executed Toyota Cressida. After learning the hard way that I probably shouldn’t be shooting at such low shutter speeds when I was literally right next to the cars, I set about trying to capture Sumida’s struggles against the top-qualified Lowe.

FD2014-Friday-1547The Cressida had been looking shaky all day today and yesterday and was fighting to stand up to the #1 qualifier. Unable to shift into the infield, the Cressida put its back end and two tires off of the course on the first run, giving the RX-7 the advantage and eventual victory.

FD2014-Friday-1562Next up was Jeff Stoneback in his white, V8-powered S14 and my driver, Will “Kill” Parsons and his F20C AE-86. Stoneback’s power advantage was clear and plans to deal with it had been discussed at length in the pits. One of the primary judging parameters for FD is proximity, and the fear was that Stoneback and his S14 would simply walk away from Will on the long bank and create a gap he could not close.

FD2014-Friday-1094 Gears were churning in the Drift Viking’s head, and this was the most intense I had seen the otherwise relaxed and laid-back Parsons all weekend. Will had looked solid in practice, but to my admitted disappointment so had Stoneback. As a potential Rookie of the Year Jeff was no slouch, and it would take all of Will’s considerable experience and skill to beat him.

FD2014-Friday-1563On the other side of the track I saw a green Corolla line up against a white S14, and my heart rate doubled. As expected, the Silvia ambled away from the AE-86 and initiated well ahead of the Toyota. Yet before I could so much as sigh Stoneback’s bumper caught on the 5/8ths wall, the forces of friction snatching the car out of drift and smacking it against the wall! Parsons sailed on by, and the match looked to be in the bag for Parsons. No driver wants to have a win handed to them due to a crash, but now all Parsons needed to do was put in a solid lead run.

As is the nature of competitive drifting nothing is guaranteed. Jeff’s car thankfully drove away from the sudden introduction to the wall mechanically sound, and both drivers could do battle once more. Coming off the bank with Stoneback on his door, Parson’s Corolla suddenly lost drift as he apparently shifted from 5th into 3rd. The white S14 navigated the struggling green Corolla, which spun just before exiting the course. Unsurprisingly the judges called for a One More Time, as neither driver had truly given a proper demonstration of their skill. Back to their respective pits they went, shucking corded tires and mentally preparing to square off once again.

FD2014-Friday-1572The next pair of drivers in the Top 16 were Jeff Jones and Victor Moore. Following Jones onto the bank Moore stuck to the CX-Racing S14’s door, and a good battle looked to be in the making. The drift gods have not taken kindly to local drivers doing well at Evergreen when Formula Drift has come to town in the past, and Moore’s otherwise beautiful follow-run was suddenly interrupted as the Drift Office S14 wobbled and came as close as possible to losing drift.

Building a gap on the bank during his lead run, Moore looked as if he might be able to push the judges towards an OMT. But the drift gods are cruel, and another wobble and loss of drift sent the drifter with the biggest smile back to the pits. This is said all too often of many drivers, but I honestly believe that Victor Moore has what it takes to compete. The car underneath him is solid, although it does seem to misbehave on occasion. Once Moore and his team figure get his setup figured out he will be a force to be reckoned with, and I can’t wait to see him back out on track again.

FD2014-Friday-1591With their cars primed and ready, Stoneback and Parsons were once again sitting on the starting line. As he had on the first set of runs Stoneback built a considerable gap off of the start line during his lead run. In a testament to the strength of his character, Will appeared to be undaunted by the large gap between himself and the white Silvia ahead of him. In their haste to close up to the lead car many drivers at Evergreen will cut down into the faster inside line on the bank, a choice that often leads them to ruin. Despite closing up on Stoneback and his S14 at the end of the course, lamentations from the announcers as to the lack of proximity could be heard loud and clear. If Stoneback had not done well on the infield despite his separation from the chase car perhaps the judges might have placed less weight on the lack on proximity, but while Will was catching up Jeff took the opportunity to remind the crowd why he was the leading contender for Rookie of the Year.

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FD2014-Friday-1591 FD2014-Friday-1595Riding the door the green NST Corolla around the 5/8ths bank, Stoneback appeared to be set to deliver another solid run. Yet while Parsons made the outside clipping cones wobble as he soared past the bumper of the white and purple Nissan passed by with more than a yard to spare. Deftly guiding his car within inches of the rest of the clipping points, a glimmer of hope began to blossom as Parsons and Stoneback finished out the course. Maybe, just maybe, the judges would recognize that Will simply could not catch up to Stoneback during his follow runs and would show some leniency. Unsurprisingly the victory went to Jeff Stoneback, the judges ending the Drift Viking’s weekend early. There’s no way to get around it: Jeff Stoneback is damn good at drifting. I have not followed the contest for Rookie of the Year too closely, but unless something unusual happens Jeff is a very solid contender.FD2014-Friday-1603  FD2014-Friday-1604FD2014-Friday-1598Grey, white and green, the reptilian Sikky RX-8 contrasted sharply against the freedom machine that is Mike Phillips Ozzy Motors Nissan S14 on the start line. Phillips earned his FD Pro license at Evergreen, and is still a constant presence within the Evergreen drifting community. Practice had gone well for Mike, and the #FormulaNASCAR Silvia navigated the bank in spectacular fashion as it chased the Mazda RX-8 down into the infield. During Phillip’s lead run the Sikky RX-8 ran wide on the exit from the bank, and things were looking up for Mike until he spun just before the transition into the last clipping zone (or so I believe, my notes are not the best). As frustrating as it must be to lose in such a fashion during one’s first competition, Phillips honestly could have won had he not spun.

FD2014-Friday-1611 FD2014-Friday-1612Equally as comfortable at Evergreen as it would have been on the tarmac of Zandervoort during the early years of DTM, Hateley’s orange BMW E30 was looking consistently solid for the first time this season. Squaring off against the wide-body BMW was the pink and black Nissan S14 of Mike Pollard. Mechanical issues sent Pollard to the pits(?), and Hateley moved on to the Top 8.

FD2014-Friday-1622James Evans delivered two concise runs to beat out Eric Hill in his blue and pink Nissan 240SX.  With years of road racing in his motorsports resume, Evans was proving himself to be just as good at going sideways as he is at going straight quickly.

FD2014-Friday-1632FD2014-Friday-1635Unable to decide once and for all who had the better livery, Matt Coffman and Juha Rintanen took to the track to settle their differences. Having won the European Drift All-Stars Series last year, Rintanen was clearly a force to be reckoned with but Coffman was on top of his game. Twice they went around the track, but the judges were unable to come to determine a victor and an OMT was called for.

FD2014-Friday-1643The #1 qualifier Jeremy Lowe in his black RX-7 was set to face off against the Scion FR-S of Jeff Wolfson in the first of the Top 8 runs for Pro 2. Throughout the weekend Wolfson had either been on or off; during practice he would either put down a quality run or violently spin and usually tear off a bumper. Unfortunately Wolfson appeared to be in the “off” position for his first run against Lowe, as he lost drift on the bank and drove off of the course. Uncharacteristically Lowe also lost drift, and the judges called for a One More Time.

FD2014-Friday-1686Two LS-S14’s were the next set of cars to do battle, with Jeff Stoneback and Jeff Jones raring to demonstrate just exactly why the LS-swap was so popular. After two runs the judges felt that they could not properlydecide which Jeff was superior, and again called for an OMT. Personally I have no problem with all of the OMT’s that were issued, more drifting is always better!

FD2014-Friday-1669Coffman and Rintanen, shod in new tires and ready to decide upon a victor, were the next pair of drivers to roar out of the bank and into the infield. Yet while Coffman drifted into the infield Juha had lost all angle as he was preparing to come down off the bank, and coasted off course with all four tires pointing in the same direction.  Despite a stellar effort from Rintanten on his follow run that involved him driving within inches of Matt’s door, the Achilles S14 could not best the War Machine and its stalwart pilot.

FD2014-Friday-1677The fortunes of Wolfson did not improve during his OMT runs against Lowe, and the RX-7 sent the black and white FR-S back to the pits. The screaming rotary of Lowe was akin to the song of harpies, luring drivers to their doom. After qualifying first Lowe looked destined for the podium; the only real question was on which step.

FD2014-Friday-1579To finish out the OMT’s Stoneback and Jones took to the long bank of Evergreen once again, each determined to prove that they were the better Jeff. The victory went to the ravaged CX Racing S14 of Jeff Jones, sending him on to the Final 4.

FD2014-Friday-1692 FD2014-Friday-1690Dan Savage was storming through the Pro 2 field in his Sikky RX-8, and Hateley was now the only driver that stood between him and the Final 4. The competition had reached a point where completing two solid runs would no longer secure victory; proximity, line and angle were now more important than ever. Savage had quickly adapted to Evergreen on Thursday and was now running the course with metered precision, and it was all Hateley could do to keep up. The efforts of the orange E30 proved to not be enough, and the lizard-like RX-8 moved on.

FD2014-Friday-1697 FD2014-Friday-1699For Matt Coffman the Top 4 was tantalizingly close, and to achieve his best result so far this season he only needed to dispatch the other half of the Sikky duo: James Evans and his Nissan 350Z. The grizzled veteran of many different racing series was not a man to be trifled with, and for the first run Evans lead Coffman around the track. Both Coffman and Evans filled clipping zones with ease and matched each other perfectly; the deciding factor would likely be Matt’s lead run. It was during this run that the Top 4 slipped through Matt’s fingers as he flew off the course where the bank ended, gifting the win to Evans.

FD2014-Friday-1713The seemingly unstoppable Jeremy Lowe was dispatched by Jeff Jones, relegating the black RX-7 to a guaranteed third place thanks to his top qualifying spot.

FD2014-Friday-1717Their meeting on the tarmac was demanded by destiny; the two Sikky drivers were the next pair of drivers to engage in righteous conflict. While the victor would go on to challenge for first place, the loser would take fourth. With nearly two decades of racing experience between Dan Savage and Jeremy Evans, the outcome was far from certain.  A mighty roar echoed off the foliage ensconcing the track as throttles were pressed to the floor; tires howled in agony as the reptilian duo tore down the massive bank and into the infield.

FD2014-Friday-1725With nearly seven years of drifting experience burned into his nomex it was Dan Savage who walked away the victor; his compatriot in the Z33 was unable to match his proximity to the clipping points in the infield and was thusly subdued.

FD2014-Friday-1730Arriving at the final battle, Jeff Jones had spent nearly twice as much on track as Dan Savage due to a series of One-More-Times. Whereas Dan Savage had deftly guided his Mazda through the field, Jones seemed to use his V8-powered Silvia to bash his way to the top. How they arrived at the final battle did not matter as the two drivers left the start line; their performance right at this very moment would determine whether or not their efforts were worth the tolls exacted.

FD2014-Friday-1730 FD2014-Friday-1739Try as he might, Jones could not match Savage.  Where the white S14 wobbled and balked, the green and grey RX-8 powered through.  Should Jones come within a foot of a clip, Savage would place his rear within six inches of the plastic cone.  Both drivers were terrifyingly good, but as with all good and just competition only one man could be the victor.FD2014-Friday-1748I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so beside themselves with joy; Dan Savage leapt into the air with his fist towards the sky at announcement of his victory and nearly fell to his knees after coming back down to Earth.  Savage was practically dancing on his toes for the entire time he was out of his car, and only stopped to deliver a deep bow to the audience.  What was especially satisfying about all of the Top 4 battles is that they were all true contests of driver skill; those in attendance really got to see a proper show.  To my knowledge no-one suffered any mechanical failures mid-run, and a crash did not gift any wins.  To participate in just competition is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and Dan Savage walked away with the prize that makes that feeling all the better: victory.

 

Congratulations Mr. Savage, you earned it.

*We’re working on getting a new WP theme that is more friendly to pictures and articles, but in the mean-time be sure to click on the pictures if you want to see them in their full wallpaper-sized glory!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Formula Drift Seattle 2014: Through My Lens

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The current plan is to have write-ups covering Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well as individual articles devoted to Will Parsons and Jeremy Richter.  While that is being produced, here’s a simple gallery made up of shots from Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Remember to click on the images to enjoy them in their full, non-squished glory.  Enjoy!

 

Evergreen Drift Grassroots 2014: Round 4

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7499 copyAs the contention for the 2014 EVD Grassroots Title comes to a head, one could have been forgiven for assuming that prior to Round 4 the season was for the most part set in stone.  The drivers capable of taking the top spots at the end of Round 5 were only within a few championship points of each other following the conclusion of Round 3, and unless something out of the ordinary were to happen at Round 4 picking the top 5 drivers would not have been a difficult task.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7485To clarify just what “something out of the ordinary” might be, I will provide a few examples.  Drivers such as Parker Lindquist, Jackson Beaumont and Johnathan Raymer could be absent from the starting grid.  Previously missing drivers such as Braydon Batunbacal could have shown up.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7029Or perhaps a bearded man in a banana-yellow 240SX coupe could barely qualify and then go on to win the day.  That would really change up the championship.

How funny would it be if that happened?

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Qualifying was a relatively standard affair with Mike Goddard taking the top spot, and Lucas Dourado taking second.  David Wooten put down great runs and qualified third, which unless I am mistaken is his best performance in qualifying so far this season.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-6853Brandon Schmidt rounded out the top four by deftly guiding his roaring smoke-machine of a car around the bone-dry track, utilizing all of his 9001 degrees of steering angle to impress the judges.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-6686EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7100Displaying a clear lack of professionalism I missed the first few battles, although I did see the second round of the bout between Nate Snyder and Aaron Leavitt that saw the winner of the previous round of Grassroots competition knocked out early.  Both drivers put on a great show but competition is cruel, and Nate Snyder was the one to move on.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7038The first set of competitive runs I was able to properly witness were between Zach Richards and David Wooten.  Both Zach and David either spun or put two tires off during their first set of runs, so the judges called for a One More Time.  The next set of runs were far more consistent; as if a switch had been flipped inside both drivers.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7030Despite his solid performance in qualifying and admirable endurance  displayed in the THREE One More Time battles that followed, Wooten could not match the terrifying consistency of Zach and his yellow machine.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-6837EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-6869Jesse Hayes and Jeremy O’Harrow were up next.  Although Jesse was clearly more comfortable in his relatively new AE-86 he still had to contend with the Stars and Bars Mustang and it’s formidable pilot.  Unfortunately an epic conflict was not what decided the matchup; Jesse spun his Corolla as he attempted to flick his Toyota up onto the 3/8th’s bank and thusly gifted O’Harrow the win.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7065Following O’Harrow and Hayes into the coliseum were two titans of Grassroots: Mike Goddard in his Fox-Body Mustang and Braydon Batungbacal in his JZ-powered Silvia.  The Mustang lead the first run, and Braydon maintained a healthy but consistent gap behind Mike.  Batungbacal’s lead run was a bit different.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7073As Mike put it after the podium ceremony: “I knew that if I was going to beat Braydon I was going to have to be on his door for the whole run”.

‘On his door’ may have been a bit of an understatement, from the media box it looked as if Goddard could have reached out and opened Braydon’s passenger-side door if he felt so inclined.  Despite this the judges were not able to determine a clear winner and asked for another round.  A request for a chance to change tires from Goddard saw both drivers return to the pits, and while Mike shucked his corded tires in exchange for a fresh set several more drivers squared off against each other.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7149Given the poor quality of my notes from the event and the time that has passed since Round 4, I cannot exactly recall if Lucas Dorado and Ariel Paz were the two drivers to square off while Mike and Braydon changed tires.  Nevertheless, it was a quality battle between the ever-improving Ariel and the razor-sharp Lucas.  The gray S14 of Dorado did move on after Paz spun, but not before Ariel put down some of the better runs I have seen him produce in recent memory.EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7090 EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7095Nate Snyder also knocked out the #4 qualifier Brandon Schmidt after Schmidt spun on one of his runs.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7054 EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-6909Qualifying with naught but three points, Zach Richards had turned into some sort of clockwork drifter and found himself lined up next to the burly freedom-machine of Jeremy O’Harrow in the Top 8.  As only one the drivers had a roll cage tandem battles were not possible, but that did not stop either driver from driving the wheels off of their cars.  Richards could not be stopped however, and the Fox Body Mustang fell before the Banana Cannon.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7252Back on track and ready to rumble once again, Mike Goddard and Braydon Batungbacal sent their engines howling around the track.  Goddard emerged victorious and moved on to the Top 4 along with Nate Snyder, Zach Richards and Lucas Dorado.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7188EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7202 EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7196The grim conflict that would decide who would take the top spot at Round 4 got underway with Mike Goddard and Nate Snyder.  As expected the teal, pink and green Silvia lead the snarling Fox-body around the course in stunning fashion.  No clear winner emerged until Nate uncharacteristically put two tires off and knocked himself out.  Such is the way of competitive drifting; consistency is key.  The victory against Nate guaranteed Mike at least second place; who he would be fighting for the top spot would be determined by the next battle.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7176 EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-6876One could say that while Mike Goddard was smashing his way through the field, Zach Richards was advancing in the same upwards direction by way of precise and accurate blows.  Having felled several other drivers by turning his already consistent driving style up to eleven, Zach now sat on the starting line beside Lucas Dorado and his menacing slate-grey Silvia.  Seemingly uncowed by his opponent Zach delivered yet another lazer-accurate run and turned the track over to Dorado, who punched a safety barrel with the nose of his car and consigned himself to the battle for third.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7240In a brief but intense battle Lucas edged out Nate for the bottom step on the podium.  Although he would not go home with a trophy, the championship points Snyder accrued put him into third place overall at the end of the day.  Delivering a solid performance at every round so far this year has put Nate right where he needs to be, and it really is only a matter of time before we see Mr. Snyder hoisting a first place trophy over his head.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-6829Only two drivers were left on the starting grid, and what an odd pairing it was.  I do not believe I am stepping out of line when I say that Mike Goddard is one of the better drivers competing this year, and although I admittedly was massively excited to see him tear his way to the Top 4 his rise to the top was by no means surprising.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7268Although in hindsight, I suppose that Zach Richard’s performance was also not terribly unusual.  Consistency has been part of Zach’s retinue since he started drifting, so much so that his poor qualifying score was rather uncharacteristic of him.  Biased as I may  be due to my friendship with Zach, I do feel confident in saying that his racing on Sunday was not a fluke or a one-off.  Everything finally clicked.

A single set of runs was all it took for the judges to decide the victor.  Mike and Zach filled each clipping zone to the best of their abilities, but it was the black Mustang that nudged a barrel with it’s nose after coming off of the bank.  That poke was all that it took, and although I was expected an OMT at the time the top 4 drivers were summoned to the podium so I clambered out of the media box and took my place on the ground in front of the stand.EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7276Lucas Dorado received his 3rd-place trophy for triumphing over Nate Snyder, and a clearly excited Lupe Zaragoza asked the waiting crowd if they were ready to find out who got second place.  A resounding ‘YES’ drowned out Zach Richard’s ‘no’; the driver of the Banana Canon apparently having no desire to do anything but go home.

EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7288Despite Zach’s protests Lupe looked down at the slip of paper in his hand, grabbed the second-place trophy and summoned Mike Goddard to the stage.

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The humble man in the yellow 240SX was called to the stage as the assembled spectators, drivers and media personnel cheered.  This was Zach’s victory, and he earned it fair and square.  He beat every driver that stood before him in glorious combat, making his victory as pure and true as they come.  Good work Zach, you kicked some ass.

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EVDGrassrootsRnd4-2014-AR-7321Mike, Missy and the rest of Mike’s support team clearly wanted that revered top spot on the podium, but first place yet again eluded the man in the Mustang.  All the same his smile on the podium was genuine, and when I spoke to him afterwords he knew exactly why he had lost and had a plan to improve.  It takes a strong individual to be happy with second place, especially when first was so tantalizingly close.

Congratulations to Lucas Dorado, Mike Goddard, Zach Richards and Nate Snyder.  Round 4 of Grassroots was truly a great bit of racing, and Round 5 can not come soon enough.  My most profuse apologies for not delivering quality coverage of every battle, I was too slow to begin taking proper notes and I sincerely apologize for not giving every driver the coverage they deserve.  I am still getting used to the whole concept of covering events as a journalist, and I will do better in the future!

 

 

Keeping it Metal at EVD ProAm Round 3 with Ben Whyte (Driver Blog)

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Round 3 has a lot to be said about it. From low car counts to some great tandem battles it was definitely interesting.

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Started the day with anticipation for how the new power from my new cylinder heads was going to feel on the big bank, and how having less weight was going to effect the handling of the Zombie Queen. The weight difference threw me off more than anything. The power felt awesome but while transitioning it felt like the front suspension was doing weird things. Not to mention I ran into weird under steering issues in practice and got a couple decent looks at the bank wall. I talked to a couple other drivers like Dio Ortiz II and he even went as far as to unhook his front away bar to combat the issue. We changed a couple things I was doing while driving and messed with front tire pressure and we had the setup dialed.

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In the drivers meeting I brought up something that I knew at least one driver had an issue with; tandems in practice. First couple events (myself included) it seemed like people were timid to tandem in practice. This made it hard for some of the higher powered cars to adjust driving styles to compensate for slower cars. So I kinda threw down the gauntlet. I said something to the effect of “I know I’m guilty of it too, but let’s ditch the solo runs in practice. If you have to distance tandem, fine but let’s get 2 cars out there, put on a show.”. Well it worked. I think I only saw a small handful of solo runs and everything else was tandems. Rad. While following Shain Cannon, I realized I may have a double edged sword in my new power. He later said he was on bald tires so he had very little grip but, I was much faster than him on the bank – Ok, so what? Well if I’m trying to stick to fools like glue I need to figure out how to slow down without losing drift. While driving grassroots I got somewhat comfortable left foot braking so I implemented that into the game-plan and it seemed to be effective. As I ran through my first pair of Kingstars, practice ended and we had a short break. Grassroots then got their chance to practice, and they had the track until qualifying. My spotters gave me a few pointers and things to look out for going into qualifying and set me up for success extremely well.

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Going into qualifying, I psyched myself out. It was hot and I get cranky. All of a sudden I got the thought in my head “there’s only 8 cars here. If I don’t qualify that would be f&$@ed up.”. Well shoot. Now I’m sweating it a bit. Not all of practice had gone how I wanted it and I was nervous. Pulled to the line for my first qualifying run, was given the sign to go and started rowing through the gears. Hit fourth, gave the car a small feint and clutch kick and started drift. I know I wasn’t super high on the bank and all I could think in my head was “just get points on the board”. At the end of the bank I started slowing too early and cut in tight so as to completely miss the touch and go zone. Transitioned and filled the second outer zone decent, hit the 2 nose clips and got close to the wall crossed the finish line and could finally breathe. Went back and talked to my guy on the line Jarrid Haase, and Matt (my spotter) had relayed to him I got a 53 for a score. Ok, points down. Calm down Ben. Now it’s go time.

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The whole ride to the track I had been listening to metal (weird, right), so when I pulled to the line I remembered, hey this is drifting this is fun you dummy! So as I got the sign to go for my second run I screamed ” HAIL DESTROYER”, the chorus from a Cancer Bats song, and proceeded to do the longest rolling burnout I could and enter faster than I ever had before. I stayed higher on the bank this run with more angle than ever, filled the touch and go and ripped into the second outer zone with so much speed I thought I was gonna plow through the barrels. I scrubbed just enough so when I got back on power I was right where I needed to be. Nosing in on both of the forward clips, I felt like I was hauling ass. The run was finished with a wall scrape and an extended burnout through the finish line. I was so pumped at that point, I was screaming and punching everything in the car! I pulled into the pits, jumped out of the car yelling and giving high fives to everyone within a 50 foot radius. Even jumped in the back of the truck where Jordan lynch was watching all the action and got a round of high fives from those dudes. Scored a 76 on that run and was tied with Cameron Moore for top qualifier… For like 5 freaking minutes. Aaron day ended up edging me by a point (dick) to take second qualifier and Cameron bettered his first score and ended up with the “pole position” (asshole). Whatever I was stoked. I found my groove and I was ready for battle.

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Got a bye into top eight and was poised to run against Chris Goldie wells. He’s no slouch for sure. Dude can drive so I had to be on point. As I was about to call up my spotter Chris came up to me and said he had bent a tie rod and couldn’t run. I was pissed. I wanna battle. I want to go to war. The fact I couldn’t enter Thunderdome and have only one of us emerge victorious sounded boring. Don’t worry… It gets interesting.

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All of a sudden I see commotion in Chris’s pit and bodies start moving. His girlfriend comes up and says they’re WELDING THE TIE ROD and trying to get out for our runs. Apparently Chris’s buddy had a welder at the track. Chris, his buddy, and the “redneck coalition” (Jesse Hayes and Mike Goddard) proceeded to weld his tie rod back together in the pits and get out with under a minute to spare from their competition timeout. I knew when Jesse and Mike got involved that it would get “fixed” somehow. That’s the type of shit they were bred for. Others were merely shown jerry rigging. They were born into it… Molded by it. I’m not even gonna lie. I was sketched out. I didn’t like the idea of what just happened with them welding it back together, it still looked iffy but if the car can run and drive and the driver wants to run, I can’t back down. I didn’t want an adverse situation where it breaks again and he takes himself out or takes both of us out but I guess that’s part of the risk right? He was in my head but stay strong young warrior cause’ either way, we were In Thunderdome now.

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I led first and laid down an identical run to my qualifying run that netted me 76 points. It felt great. Then we switched. Following him into the bank I was STILL sketched out. I stayed back 3-ish car lengths on the bank. Even so I was still left foot braking to slow the car down while maintaining drift. I felt I kept a consistent gap and the game plan was to keep a consistent gap on the bank then suck up to him in the infield where it’s slower and there’s less stuff that can total a car if the worst happens. Well coming into the infield he was going slower than I was and my trans did not like it when I tried to shift from 4th to 3rd at the lower rpms. I couldn’t find third and ended up parking it behind him. Once I found a gear I hammered it but the damage was done and so was my day. Or so I thought.

One more time!

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I guess we both got zeroes on our chase runs and kudos to the judges for wanting a clear and concise winner. I felt like there was no way he laid down a better lead run (I had a good vantage point) but I was very happy with the decision. Went back to the line and someone said he called 5 minutes AGAIN. I was very cranky at this point and had all but lost my shit. I guess he was changing tires and that’s allowed between battles but just the fact that someone said he had called 5 rattled me even further. At this point I was mad and I just wanted to bury him. My man on the line Jarrid opens the door to the car and says “well his shit apparently works now. Drive through his fucking door!” Don’t have to tell me twice. I laid another beauty lead run down and as far as I could tell Chris was around 3-4 lengths behind me (estimate from rear view mirror where things are closer than they appear) so I felt good but not great about leaving it at that. Set up for the chase, gave him almost no gap on initiation and rode his door hard the whole bank. I think Joe Lin said that I was left foot braking so hard that my front tires were locked up and I was just pushing them on the bank. Rad. Had a slight correction on the bank but maintained drift. Then when we came into power alley it FELT like he dumped even more speed so I grabbed a handful of e-brake and went to downshift into third and I did the same thing. Couldn’t muscle it, couldn’t rev match it into third just had to wait till the transmission was ready to accept that it needed to be in third. By then I had already parked it but I was furious so I hammered it and did my best to catch up and try to scare Chris into making a mistake. He ended up dipping a tire off course and knocking over a barrel but that wasn’t enough to overcome my loss of drift so Chris moved on and that was it for me.

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It was a great day for sure. Gained a lot of knowledge and experience. Talking with the team we know what to do in a future situation where we are following a slower driver and I’m confident we can annihilate anyone in our path. Playfully of course. Unless they want it hard and fast. In which case I would be more than happy to oblige. I think my favorite runs of the day were Cody Ross and Cameron Moore going head to head. Those are two big guns in our series and the way they both drive proved it. It was amazing. I feel Cody breathing down my neck in the standings but I have the coveted “Jackie moon” 4th place spot in the overall standings after 3 events. It’s a battle of attrition but with the support of my team-mates and everyone who comes by and tells me how rad I drive or the car looks or sounds, it makes it worth it. Hell tell me I suck, at least you noticed me doing something. Big thanks to my crew Jarrid Haase, Matt Conley, CJ Wylie and Daryl hall for helping out. A thank you goes out to Kelsey Conley and Jessica Brennan for “heat cycling” the tires in the driveway the night before. Oh, and thanks to my sponsor Justin Nigro of always reckless for babysitting my stickers in the booth of brutality and helping me make $9. Till round 4, keep it metal;

 

Danger Ben

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2 Bash 2 Future: Drifting Kept Fun

2B2F-2014-4804Coming up with a title for this article was difficult, nominally because 2 Bash 2 Future was an enigma.  It certainly had that ‘we’re just here to have fun’ feeling of a quality grassroots event, but there was something else that was… different.

2B2F-2014-3846The follow-up to last year’s wildly successful Bash 2 the Future event, 2B2F was again held on Drift Evolution’s home track in Medford, Oregon.   After hearing stories of seasoned professionals and hardened grassroots drivers mixing it up on a carting track in southern Oregon from friends, I was disappointed when earlier in the year I heard that there might not be another Bash 2 the Future.  Yet several months ago I was informed by Justin Yamashiro of In Just Photography that Tandem of Die and Drift Evolution were going to put on another Bash event after all, and plans were thusly laid to make the long trip down to Medford.

2B2F-2014-3863Local drivers were well-represented, Pat’s Acres stalwarts like Craig Alexander tackled the flat ribbons of Drift Evolution’s track with ease.  While Medford is at least four hours outside of Portland, drivers and teams from across the west coast journeyed over many miles for the chance to participate in 2 Bash 2 Future.

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2B2F-2014-4449Team Burn the Most and at least a dozen other drivers made their way up from California to partake in the fun; the aformentioned Team Burn the Most actually ended up taking the top prize in the team-tandem competition.

2B2F-2014-4222Matt Coffman may have been the sole holder of a Formula Drift Pro license at this years’ event, but he made up for the absence of other professionals by using his ProAm car to fill the dry air with billowing clouds up tire smoke.

2B2F-2014-4384For the team tandem battle Mr. Coffman teamed up with the previously mentioned Craig Alexander and despite the significant gap in horsepower, but on a brilliant performance under the name of Team America.

2B2F-2014-4466From the far reaches of the cold north came several Canadians, who traveled for hundreds of miles just to show us Americans how drifting is done.  Differences in nationality aside these two really did put on a fantastic show, displaying a raw expertise that really stood out.

2B2F-2014-4196From Eastern Washington’s grassroots drifting scene came Team Drift Riot with their box-truck tow rig and two monstrous, havoc-wreaking drift machines.  Although Nathan’s car (the Silvia in the front) seems to throw a fit every time it leaves the bounds of Stateline Drift territory, the enduring enthusiasm of Nathan, Jason, Kenaulu and the rest of the Drift Riot crew carried them through the weekend.  Given my obvious bias towards the Stateline Drift community my motives might be suspect, but one of the reasons I really do like the Drift Riot crew is because they are all about having fun yet are dead serious about drifting when the gloves come off.  That feeling is what made 2 Bash 2 Future an undefinable entity:

2B2F-2014-3673Everyone was there to have fun, and there was fun had by all.  Yet when it came down to it, these guys were damn good.

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2B2F-2014-3596Drift Evolution, Tandem of Die, you have my undying gratitude for making this awesome event happen.  As for the drivers and media that traveled for everywhere from ten hours to ten minutes, you guys and girls made 2 Bash 2 Future the unforgettable weekend that it was.

 

 

 

Driftcon

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Importmeet.com teamed up with Evergreen Drift to bring you the first annual Driftcon. Held during round two of the EVD Pro Am series, Driftcon combined the Pro Am competition with a team tandem comp, and a track side car show.

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Like all first time events there were some challenges first thing in the morning but were quickly overcome.  The weather for most of the event but unfortunately the last hour or so of the event the skies opened up and the rain came down hard and fast ending the day for most people.

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Pro Am Round 2 Results

1st: Cody Ross
2nd: Brian Lockbaum
3rd: Aaron Day

Team Tandem Competition Results

1st: Backyard Built
2nd: Mothballers
3rd: Team Blow Up

DriftCon Car Show Results

Best of Show / Best Scion

Deana Martin – 2013 Scion FR-S

People’s Choice
Derek Llewellyn – 2009 Nissan 370Z

ImportMeet.com Choice
Donovan Badua – 2013 Scion FR-S

Best Import / Best Nissan
Eric Ludvigsen – 1995 Nissan Skyline GT-R

Best Euro / Best Exterior Finish
Andy Nissen-Barber – 2002 BMW M3

Best Old School
Dillon Cook – 1970 Datsun 510

Best Street Mild
DK Umezawa – 2001 Acura Integra

Best Street Wild
Seth Hunt – 1990 Nissan 180SX

Best Race/Track
Josiah Tugman – 1996 Honda Civic

Best Stance (Judged by StanceWars)
Tyler Mayer – 2004 Subaru WRX

Best Engine Bay
Steven Benton – 2013 Dodge Dart

Best Interior / Best Lexus
Shawn Ganal – 2005 Lexus LS430

Best Subaru
Katie Smith – 2004 Subaru WRX Wagon

Best Honda
Daniel Hwang – 2008 Honda Civic

Best Toyota
Dominic Wilkerson – 1985 Toyota Corolla

Best Mitsubishi
Elree Guerrero – 2006 Mitsubishi Evolution

Best Mazda
Briana Everroad – 2012 Mazdaspeed3

 

NissanFest 2014 Part 2: Drifting

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In the Pacific Northwest NissanFest is largely acknowledged as one of the shows that heralds the start of a new automotive ‘season’.  Project cars are hastily finished, builds are unveiled and dust is blown off of fair-weather cars in preparation for the annual gathering that pays tribute to all things Nissan.  In the past few years NissanFest has been held at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, the home to Evergreen Drift and a holder of a cherished spot on the Formula Drift calender.  Not only does this venue allow Northwest Nissans, the event organizers, to host their traditional car show but it also allows for dozens of Nissan owners to engage in one of their favorite pastimes: drifting.

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At Evergreen Speedway open drift events are held throughout the year, so even during the off-season drivers can still venture out to Monroe and get sideways on Evergreen’s banks on a monthly basis.  Yet the allure of NissanFest draws in drifters from far and wide: the guys from Stateline Drift packed up their box truck and trailer to make the drive from the far reaches of Eastern Washington and Idaho.

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Drifting at NissanFest this year consisted of two acts: tandem exhibitions on the smaller 3/8th’s course and a full-blown FD-style competition on the larger 5/8th’s course complete with a $2000 prize purse for the winner.  If you are unfamiliar with the track setup on the NASCAR-style oval that is Evergreen Speedway, I’ll do my best to explain it.  The difference between the two can be inferred by the aforementioned fractions; the 3/8th’s course uses the smaller interior banked turn and the 5/8th’s course uses the entirety of one of the massive exterior banked turns.  Both courses share the same infield, which consists of and ‘S’ between two towers that concludes with cars placing their back-ends immensely close to the straightaway wall closest to the grandstands.

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Despite promises of fame, fortune and currency only four drivers with 5/8th’s-capable cars rose to NissanFest’s challenge: Tyler Grimsely (above) in his Nissan 240SX that makes over 400bhp off of a KA24!

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Tony “Intec Tony” Carreon in his immensely clean Mazda RX-7.

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Joseph Lin and his impossible to miss wing.

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And making his on-track debut in his new setup and livery, Mike Phillips.

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Despite a clear morning the Pacific NW climate obliged the track with it’s usual downpour, soaking both the tarmac.  Based on what I’ve heard from drivers and rounds of ProAm in years past, the 5/8th’s bank in the wet is at best incredibly sketchy.  Drivers are forced to surrender all grip and negotiate a high speed, slick bank that will send cars into walls with carefree abandon.  Despite the adverse conditions the Evergreen veterans persevered and made it through practice and qualifying relatively unscathed.  The drift deities proved that the track was not their only means of claiming a victim: post-introduction burnouts and donuts proved to be too much for Mike Phillip’s power steering unit and it was announced that with great reluctance he would have to withdraw for the day.

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It was immensely disappointing to see Mike and his red, white and blue Silvia sit forlornly in the pits after showing so much promise during the few runs he was able to get in.  Displaying immense confidence in himself and his machine in such treacherous conditions, Mike made it clear that nothing but good things can be expected from him and his program this season.

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Joseph Lin took a very lonely looking bye-run to start off the competition, which was followed by the first battle of the day between Tyler and Tony.

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Given the immense amount of power required to properly attack the 5/8th’s bank in the dry it is easy to see why drifting in the rain is a challenge for ProAm drivers.  Both drivers put down a clean first run, with the TYGR Racing Silvia leading the Intec RX-7 on a clearly tedious lap of the course.

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The following run saw things get a bit more hairy: after narrowly avoiding contact with Tony following a spin from the Mazda, Tyler looked to have victory undeniably in his grasp until he too tossed his car in a circle on the last clipping point.  The judges quickly decreed that a One More Time was in order, and both drivers squared up to do battle once again.

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The second bout of runs saw Tyler assert his dominance over the track and despite a good effort from Tony, the black and orange Nissan moved on.  Mr. Grimsley has spent countless hours at Evergreen Speedway and his mastery of the course was made abundantly clear at NissanFest.  The rain brings out the best and the worst in racers, and at a racetrack as moody and temperamental as Evergreen a clean run on the 5/8th’s bank is a tall order when the skies open up.

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The fight between Joseph Lin and Tyler Grimsley was a bit closer than the previous, with Joseph and his DESTROY Silvia closing up on Tyler in the infield during his follow run.  Tyler had done the same to Joseph in the previous run however, and unfortunately for Mr. Lin a spin near the second clipping point during his follow run gave the win and the prize money to Tyler.  The victory was well deserved, Tyler is a talented and consistent driver and I hope that this is a sign of things to come for him.winnersdyptich

The efforts of all four drivers are worthy of commendation regardless of how they fared in competition; the fact that each driver was willing to risk wrecking their car on the 5/8th’s bank in the rain speaks volumes about the skill and confidence of each.  The runs may not have been the up-close-and-personal smoky tandems that people expect from competitive drifting, but each bout was a phenomenal demonstration of driving ability and it was damn impressive to watch.  On a side note, although I knew that Joseph Lin’s 240SX was a new chassis for the season, I had no idea that this was only his third time out on track with it!  Very solid work for a guy in an unfamiliar car!

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The structure of NissanFest saw the grassroots drivers on the 3/8th’s bank run as a sort of intermission for the competition taking place on the 5/8th’s course, but I couldn’t just toss in a sentence here and there about the insanity that was the 3/8th’s run-groups last weekend.

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Every single driver went as hard as physically possible every single run.  Nothing was held back and everything was left out on the track.

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Whereas the 5/8th’s drivers appeared to trying their best to preserve their cars, the 3/8th’s drivers threw their cars at the track with reckless abandon.

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Simple tandems were apparently out of the question: four, five, six or even seven cars were unleashed onto the track at time.

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Every spin resulted in cars diving left and right, the crowd gasping and cheering as each driver dodged and swerved their way through what looked like an inevitable pile-up.  The rain-slicked asphalt did little to dissuade the drivers from getting as close as possible to their peers: Trevor Mohor of SLD was nearly passed by one of his fellow Stateline drivers!

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As much talent and dexterity were displayed by local grassroots drivers like Shane Cannon, Matt Vankirk, Brandon Batungbacal and the rest no one seemed to be able to touch the man in the Fox -body Mustang:

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Mike Goddard.  This may have been NissanFest but it was the Mustang’s 50th birthday and Mike did the model proud.  Lateral entries were the order of the day for Mike; during one run he come as close to a true backwards entry as I have ever seen at Evergreen.

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NissanFest 2014 was a fantastic event; the cars at the car show were over the utmost quality and the drifting was some of the most exciting that I’ve seen in a good while.  The utter dedication displayed by the 3/8th’s drivers to thrashing their cars as hard as possible was energizing and exhilarating, and I’ll admit that I may have spent some time cheering when I should have been shooting.  It was a good reminder that at the end of the day drifting is about having fun and not taking things too seriously.  I honestly can’t think of a better way to start off the season, and if this is the shape of things to come then the next event can’t come soon enough.

NissanFest 2014 pt1

The start of car show season is officially here! Over the weekend Northwest Nissans and NwMotiv teamed up for another year of NissanFest. A day full of Drifting, Autocross, Rc Drifting, and a car show all rolled into one in celebration of all things Nissan.

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Unlike last year the day started off dry, but things quickly changed and the skies opened up. Unfortunately for me during the rain my camera got too wet and stopped working, ending my day early. Luckily for me Luke made his way up from Oregon and will be posting drift coverage laster on. IMG_0484IMG_0492IMG_0491IMG_0489IMG_0466IMG_0462IMG_0469IMG_0486