This was our second time down to West Palm Beach for Formula Drift: Invasion @ Palm Beach International Raceway. On the way down we celebrated the twitter/instagram posts realizing that the track layout was again similar to the first layout of 2011’s FD event. We knew we had a good show to look forward to.
On the way down to FL, I realized that I had forgotten my hard card back in Atlanta. Luckily I was able to have it overnighted to our hotel (thanks mom.)
When we arrived to the track, I met Chris Ward who was just coming out of the driver’s meeting.
Chris was running solid during practice and looked even more aggressive during qualifying. I even had flashbacks of watching him perform well during pro-am last year at this same track.
Nothing but determination here.
Chris would finish the day qualifying 19th marking his first entry into the Top 32!
Nashville Local, Nick Thomas, was still working out some issues during qualifying. We’ll be checking back with him a little later
Walker Wilkerson qualifying
We finished the evening by having some amazing seafood on the water.
When we got back to the track on Saturday, we were greeted by the Slammed Society showcase. Plenty of nice cars were in attendance and you can see more of the coverage from that show by Clicking Here
This Corolla took home best Classic, he looks to be used to taking home awards.
Achilles tire model posing with Daigo’s SC
What you are seeing here is one of the last remaining turbocharged cars in Formula Drift. This car is driven by Mauricio Ornelas (Junior) and is powered by a single turbo RB26. The sound coming out of the 5” exhaust tip easily makes it one of the nicest sounding cars on the grid.
I stayed for a minute while Junior was explaining some of the concepts of drifting to one of the fans. This fan also happens to own a pretty fast camaro that’s setup for Drag Racing.
Here we are learning about how the fuel sump works. I even learned a little something new myself.
Junior had just gotten a new transmission right before the event and didn’t have much time to get comfortable in the car. Even though he had scored well, he ended up missing qualifying by 5 points.
Fear not SouthrnFresh followers, a proper shoot time is already in the planning for this V8 hunter.
Nick drives one of the cleanest race cars I’ve ever seen. The vehicle is literally spotless! It is always interesting to watch how long the paint jobs and body panels last throughout the season.
Nick’s car is powered by an LS1 that is stroked out to 383 and puts out well over 400+ rwhp.
To detour for just a moment, Nick stopped by in Atlanta on the way back to Nashville for a little photoshoot with us. Here’s a little preview of what’s to come with a Formula Drift race car on the streets of Atlanta.
OK so back to more drifting!
Chris Ward’s first battle in the top 32 would be against the defending champion Dai Yoshihara who had been somewhat conservative in his lead runs, but definitely more aggressive on his follow runs.
Dai would start leading and during the first turn Chris would suffer more suspension breakage causing him to lose steering and crash into Dai.
Chris and his team would have only 5 minutes to repair the car in time for his lead run against Yoshihara.
Chris dominated his lead run, however it wasn’t enough to overcome the disadvantage against him from the first run and Dai would move on to finish 3rd.
Chelsea DeNofa had the Euro Smoke Train at full steam all throughout the event.
He continued to take down mark after mark…
Until he found himself in a repeat of his feud against Daigo Saito! There must’ve been blood in his eyes, because Chelsea got a little too gangster on Saito during his chase run and collided wheel to wheel.
When you look closely at this pic, check out the angle of his front wheels.
DeNofa attempted to repair his car, but was not in time for the 5 minute timer. Saito would move on.
Conrad Grunewald put up a great fight against Daigo Saito coming down to 2 OMT (One More Time) runs.
Justin Pawlak, the current points leader, came out full blast in round 3. While he didn’t make it to the podium this round, he is still in the lead for the championship and it’ll be interesting to watch him perform at round 4 @ Wall, NJ.
Check out JTP perfecting his “no-look-drift.”
Justin was matched against Falken/Drift Alliance teammate Vaughn Gittin Jr.
Vaughn spun out on their last run giving the win to JTP.
Vaughn could still be seen in good spirits later on. He moved up to 9th place overall and is still in the hunt for the top spot.
While Justin wasn’t in quite as good a mood, I made mention to him that we’ve got some great pics of him anyway. His Mustang RTR sits battle-worn, but we’re sure they will both be refreshed and refocused for the next round.
As the night pressed on, the competition dwindled as the judges expected the drivers to kick it up a notch.
Saito was matched against Darren McNamara. D-Mac had placed 3rd in this round last year and was looking for another podium finish.
This Z just wasn’t able to keep up as Saito knocked out yet another from the competition.
Saito had only one V8 powered Nissan Z standing between him and the number one spot that he’s been gunning for all season. Chris Forsberg!
Paying close attention to Forsberg, he is definitely one of the better “defensive” drivers on the grid. What I mean is that his follow/chase runs are consistently tight and he is a master at following his opponents in the close door-to-door manner the judges want to see.
In the end it was Daigo Saito taking home the win putting him in second place in overall points. This was a big win for him and the Achilles Radial/Bridges Racing team.
With the dust and tire smoke now settled on Palm Beach International Raceway, all i can do is bite my teeth waiting to see what goes down in New Jersey. The last pic is the result of the some of our on-track shenanigans