A vehicle sliding sideways into a corner at 100 mph enveloped in the smoke of burning tires is a far from ideal situation for most drivers. In the sport of Formula DRIFT, it could make you a champion.
Claiming to be the fastest-growing motorsport in America, Formula DRIFT is back for its 2021 season. Based on the drifting that originated in 1970s Japan, each Formula DRIFT event features drivers facing off in a series of intense head-to-head duels. The lead driver tries to hit the best line at the highest speeds, getting close to “clipping points” (trackside markers or designated areas) while maintaining the highest DRIFT angles. Meanwhile, the chase driver is using that lead driver as a moving clipping point and trying to match them turn-by-turn without trading too much paint.
The only motorsport based on judging, the winning drivers are ones chosen as most consistent, aggressive and dominant. And unlike other domestic motorsports, when it rains, they run. In fact, a wet track is just another variable for drivers.The first event of the 2021 season was held at the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in May. With an elevation change of nearly six stories and a 1,000-foot entry into the first turn, allowing for lots of acceleration, the course is a favorite of fans and drivers. In addition to the racing, the Atlanta Formula DRIFT event is becoming legendary for its tailgating scene.
After a series of hard-fought runs, Aurima “Odi” Bakchis of Lithuania, at the wheel of a Nissan S15, became the first winner of the season. Bakchis edged out U.S. teammate Matt Field in a Chevrolet Corvette.
“I’m stoked to win, but it was a tough one,” said Bakchis after the race. “We got bumped a lot and had to go through some really tough drivers to get here, but we did it thanks to hard work from the team to get me back out after each tussle.”
With the eight-round season still gearing up, a number of drivers have a legit shot at the October Title Fight in Irwindale, CA. Contenders include last year’s champ, American Vaughn Gittin Jr., driving a Ford Mustang RTR Spec 5-D, who placed third in Atlanta.
Formula DRIFT’s 2020 season was shortened by COVID restrictions, so organizers are looking forward to more fans back in the grandstands cheering on favorite drivers and getting a whiff of burning tires. For the 2021 Formula DRIFT schedule and livestreaming info, check out formulad.com.