Formula DRIFT—America’s fastest-growing motorsport—kicks off its 2021 season next weekend at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on May 7-8 with the Royal Purple Road to the Championship presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts.
For those unfamiliar with the sport, drivers run in pairs through a series of turns. They’re judged on speed, line through the turns, proximity to the clipping points, and how close they can get to the other car. It’s a tire-burning, high-speed elimination sport using 1,200 horsepower cars that take no prisoners if mistakes are made.
The sport of drifting originated in Japan and was introduced at a professional level in 2003 by Formula DRIFT. The opening round of its first full season in 2004 was held at the famous Road Atlanta course, which remains a favorite for fans and drivers alike. In fact, it’s remained on the FD calendar every year, with the exception of the COVID-shortened 2020 season.
The track has a number of unique characteristics. For example, it’s the only of the eight venues visited this year that has an elevation change equivalent to a six-story climb—something that forces drivers to adapt their drift style to accommodate as it rises and falls. At 650 feet, it also has the longest entry to the first turn, which means it has the highest entry speed. And with cars accelerating at full throttle, the drivers must be totally committed to initiate the first drift by throwing the car sideways at well over 100 mph.
Located in the green hills of Braselton, GA, Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta is renowned for its relaxed atmosphere, while the Formula DRIFT event has become legendary for its tailgating parties and festival atmosphere. It’s also one of the loudest crowds at any of the year’s venues, so fans always enjoy a great atmosphere. COVID-19 restrictions have limited crowd sizes somewhat, and social distancing is required, but it’ll be awesome to see fans back in the grandstands cheering for their favorite drivers again. And visitors will enjoy the incredible night-time atmosphere, which can only be described as “electrifying.” Visit the Formula DRIFT website for event details, ticket purchases, COVID requirements, and more.
Unlike some domestic motorsports, Formula DRIFT is an all-weather event—rain or shine, we send it! A wet track won’t stop the drivers, but it does add another variable to keep everybody guessing about who the winner will be.
Last time the teams visited, Fredric Aasbo (Norway) was the winner, putting his skills learned on frozen lakes to good use. As the runner-up for three consecutive years, the 2015 FD Champion is always a serious contender. This will be his first ATL outing in the 1,100 horsepower Rockstar Energy Drink/Toyota GR Supra he debuted last year and he always means business.
Another man to watch is the newly crowned 2020 Formula DRIFT Champion, Vaughn Gittin Jr (USA) in the Monster Energy/Ford Mustang RTR Spec 5-D. His battles with Aasbo have been legendary but Gittin never pulls his punches, even against teammate Chelsea DeNofa (USA) in the almost identical BC Racing / Nitto Tire / Ford Mustang RTR Spec 5-D. DeNofa finished 2020 in second place but not until they’d both received bloody noses in battles throughout the season.
With three other former FD Champions in the mix, there’s no such thing as an easy heat as the top 32 PRO category drivers are eliminated in head-to-head battles until the round winner is crowned.
Formula DRIFT fans can watch the opening round in person over the weekend of May 7-8 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in Braselton, GA. Those who can’t attend can enjoy the free-to-view livestream broadcast, available on both days for qualifying and the elimination heats. With hundreds of thousands of spectators tuning in around the world, there’s always plenty of action and catch.
The livestream is available via the Formula DRIFT website, the FD YouTube page or FD Facebook page. Check out the schedule on the homepage and we’ll join you online for the season kick off party!