If you’re somebody who thinks F1 cars aren’t powerful enough, NASCAR doesn’t bump enough, and NHRA drag racing burnouts aren’t long enough, then check out Formula DRIFT this spring. Its tire-burning, bumper-bashing, engine-screaming, adrenaline-filled competition has made it the fastest growing motorsport today, and it’s easy to see why.
Unlike traditional motorsports, Formula DRIFT turns the tables on lap times, placing drivers in head-to-head knock-out battles to see who has the skill (and courage) to drift their cars through high-speed turns without crashing. Points are awarded for speed, drift angle, and proximity to one other and the track walls.
In order to compete at the highest level, you need horsepower to get ahead, stick close to your competitor, and initiate the lurid slides. Formula DRIFT boasts the most powerful stock-bodied cars in the world, with drivers exercising up to 1,200 horsepower. Teams are free to swap engines, fit turbochargers, add nitrous systems—anything in the pursuit of speed and power.
Drivers are asked to do the impossible: get their car an inch off a concrete wall, while sideways, at extremely high speed—all without crashing. It takes nerves of steel, years of practice and utter precision. Despite the tire-spinning drift style, drivers depend on front tire grip to make it all happen. And when it goes wrong? Stand back, because it gets messy!
Unlike tradition motorsports, Formula DRIFT drivers have been the disruptors of racing since the series was founded in 2003. They break the conventions in a sport that’s similar to surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding in that it’s judged by experts. Style, speed, and precision decide the winner and attract the fans.
With 2021 kicking off at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on May 7-8, it’s your chance to get hooked on the action, either via Formula DRIFT’s free-to-view livestream or in person. Yes, Atlanta locals can attend the FD festival, which is noticeably less stiff than traditional racing. It’s more of a lifestyle-cultural-speed event at each of the eight rounds across the country. And you won’t be alone—with more than 1 million followers on Instagram, over 2 million on Facebook, and millions of livestream viewers, it’s a group activity for speed freaks.
Formula DRIFT has two categories: PRO (top drivers from around the globe in open spec cars) and PROSPEC (a series where up-and-coming drivers cut their teeth in limited spec cars). At each event, drivers qualify to determine their place in a seeded bracket. They then compete in tandem battles, with the loser eliminated until two finalists battle for the top step of the podium.
Drivers to watch include a host of fan favorites, such as reigning champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. He drives a 1,200 horsepower Ford Mustang and is known for his balls-out aggression. One of four drivers who’s competed since the series was founded, he also took the title in 2010 and doesn’t know how to take things easy. Fireworks are guaranteed whenever he’s at the wheel.
2015 Champion, Fredric Aasbo, learned to drift on frozen lakes in his native Norway. Driving a Toyota Supra, he’s been a runner-up for three consecutive years and is a determined contender.
Chris Forsberg is another driver who’s been with FD since its inception and is the most successful driver to date, with more podiums than any other driver and three championships under his belt. Driving his heavily modified Nissan 370Z, Forsberg must never be underestimated.
And finally, Adam LZ is a YouTuber with more than 3 million subscribers. Attracted by the raw insanity of Formula DRIFT, he’s a fan favorite who always goes hard.
The 2021 season kicks off on May 7–8 in Atlanta. You can catch all the action via the livestream on the Formula Drift YouTube channel or through its Facebook page. Buckle up and get ready to experience your new favorite motorsport!