Formula Drift 2015: rocking the Orlando race

Formula Drift  car picture

A new track, a new city . . . with the same tough challenges. Formula DRIFT has hit tracks from Long Beach to Fuji, year after year bringing head to head battles to loyal fans – and now the famous race descends on Orlando. Advance was there—check out our exclusive coverage and photos.

Formula Drift photo

On June 5th and 6th, the Sunshine State welcomed a noisy, fire-breathing visitor. Formula DRIFT, the prominent stateside series, took to Orlando Speedworld (OSW) bringing out drivers – ranging from amateurs to top tier pros – to the oval circus for a long weekend of racing madness. Fans and drivers alike called it reminiscent of New Jersey tracks back in Formula DRIFT’s heritage days.

Formula Drift 2015 photo

Pro and Pro 2 series competitors brought in crazy attendance numbers to the classic small town oval (with a figure eight cross to boot!) and Mother Nature attended in full force, as well, bringing rain in swaths along with sweltering temperatures for every single second of the day.

Formula Drift car race photo

Pro series drivers battled it out on Friday to qualify for Saturday’s main event. And, when the local hero Pat Goodin suffered mechanical troubles, the veteran stepped down to leave the playing field WIDE open.

Saturday morning dawns

The track felt empty but, in the paddock, teams were alive and well, getting their drift missiles ready for the Top 32 bracket competition just hours away.

Formula Drift 2015 photo

Come on . . . picture the scene . . .

OSW offers one way on and one way off the track. Drivers pull onto the track and straight onto the burnout bank as the last two hooligans exit through the single lane chute back into the hot pit area. After a few tears up and down the burnout bank, drivers stage on the back half of the oval waiting for the all clear.

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On green, the lead driver launches through his chicane and down the back straight, the following car tight on the rear right, waiting for the lead to dive into the corner at “Initiation Point.” With a flick, both cars put the hammer down and power the entire corner keeping as close to the wall and as close to each other as they possibly can.

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The more fluidity, the more points, the more pizazz . . . the greater the score.

This first corner is on the high bank, making the drivers’ next move a teeth-clenching drop from the bank to the figure eight crossover. Both drivers smack the front air dams as they come off the bank slowly, preparing to flip from right-angled to left-angled slides.

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If the harsh transition from high bank to flat oval wasn’t enough of an obstacle, drivers were thrown over a jump as they finish the transition and try to initiate the second sweeping oval turn. Mustangs and Matias alike caught the slightest air coming sideways over this bump, unloading and loading the car suspensions right as drivers tried to slam the power on to get proper speed for the upcoming left-hand sweeper.

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The final corner crosses back past the burnout bank and the starting grid, but stays low on the flat section. After holding the slide for the entire top of the figure eight, the cars bolt through the finish line, billowing that gorgeous white smoke, letting the audience know that those tires have been thoroughly disciplined.

Mother Nature ups the ante

Weather conditions transformed this track into a low-lying above-ground swamp for a few hours every day, with Pro and Pro 2 racers alike seeing plenty of rain during battle. Saturday night, the classic Florida evening showers greeted fans with a welcomed cool down, but also with an unwelcomed torrential downpour.

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Racers pushed on through the storm, though, and conditions really tested the drivers’ abilities – and it’s always awesome to see who succeeds when the going gets tough. Everyone sets up for dry weather and, when the weather changes, it’s equally a handicap for each of the drivers. A lack of smoke was disheartening for spectators, but the massive rooster tails were enthralling to watch as the cars barreled through the flooded infield.

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The bottom line; drivers with true grit garner their experience and determination to make a spectacular full pull happen.

Results

• Scion had a killer weekend and nears a manufacturer championship as FR-S drivers Ryan Tuerck and Kenshiro Gushi take 1st and 3rd, respectively.

• While Chris Forsberg, 2nd place, beat out Gushi, all Tuerck had to do to secure the win over Forsberg and his 370z was complete a full pull unopposed. Forsberg suffered mechanical issues, though, and Tuerck walked away with his first round win since 2009.

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Here is the full 2015 Formula DRIFT race schedule.

Advance Exclusive: Nurotag 2013

Advance Auto PartsThis past Saturday, Advance Auto Parts was in Orlando for the newest stop of the Nurotag series.

The Orlando, Florida car show drew owners from across the central part of the state and across the enthusiast spectrum to a 5-story parking garage at the University of Central Florida. Unlike many car shows, Nurotag is open to all makes and models, but is comprised mostly of modern USDM, JDM, Euro and exotic cars with just a few examples of American muscle showing this year.

Registration for Nurotag 2013 took place online during the weeks leading up to the event. Vehicle roll-in started at 9am, with each vehicle being given a unique hashtag sticker that owners displayed on their windshields or stuck to their front license plate mounts. Judging for the event was conducted by attendees, with votes being cast on Instagram.

In addition to cars, many Honda Ruckus owners showed up to display their customized, modified and frame extended mini bikes. Although opinions on the Ruckus are often divided, no one can argue with the creativity and dedication displayed by their owners.

Creative car customizing

Creativity is one of the most respected traits amongst owners. Although many owners share a passion for a particular make and model, their shared challenge is how to make their cars unique and to reflect their personalities.

Scott Kepple from Identity Design brought a stand-out example of creative car customizing to the Orlando NRTG show with this R2-D2 themed Fiat 500. This car is vinyl wrapped to look like a battle version (that’s not dirt, that’s printed vinyl) of everyone’s favorite droid. When asked where C-3PO and Chewbacca were, Scott said “3PO is coming. And as far as Chewie goes, well, there is brown velvet wrap now …”

The NRTG series will make 4 stops this year: 2 in Florida, one in Virginia and one in Illinois (Chicago area). The top 25 cars from each show will be invited back to a Miami, Florida car show (where the first event of the series is held) for the NRTG All Stars event. Be sure to check our car events calendar for dates and times as they are announced.Advance Auto Parts

Did you attend NRTG Orlando? Let us know what your favorite cars were in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: If you’re looking to trick out your ride, text “Spring” to 36898 for a hot deal now. Up to 5 messages per month; message & data rates may apply.