Formula DRIFT—America’s fastest-growing motorsport—heads to Orlando Speed World on May 21-22 for the second round of the premier PRO Championship and the first round of the PROSPEC Championship.
Many of the PRO teams didn’t get to return home after a punishing opening round at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on May 7-8. With almost six months elapsing since the end of the 2021 season, Round 1 saw some teams overcome technical issues, as the drivers were thrown in the deep end with the challenging Road Atlanta drift course, making it an extremely exciting weekend.
The event was won by fan favorite, Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis (Lithuania), driving his V8-powered Falken Tires/Feal Suspension Nissan S15. Second place went to Matt Field (USA) in the Falken Tire/Drift Cave Chevrolet Corvette in an incredibly hard fought Final, which saw these close friends repeat their runs before the judges could separate them.
With Nitto Tire dominating the 2020 season, it was interesting to see the two Falken Tire competitors rise to the top. However, third place went to 2010 reigning FD PRO Champion Vaughn Gittin Jr (USA). The title defense began in his Nitto-shod 1200hp Monster Energy Ford Mustang RTR Spec 5-D, and with all five of the Formula DRIFT tire suppliers represented by the Top 16 drivers, rubber will continue to play an important part in the sport.
The uninitiated might assume tire performance isn’t that important in a motorsport series defined by wheel spin and smoking tires, but they couldn’t be more wrong. The drivers need consistently high levels of grip to perform the maneuvers, particularly when they transition from one direction to another. With higher steering angles than conventional race cars, Formula DRIFT drivers depend on front grip to tackle the course and massive horsepower to overcome the rear grip, getting the wheels spinning in order to slide through the turns.
With most Formula DRIFT cars developing more than 1000hp, every qualifying run and competition heat is an assault on the senses—screaming engines, cars sliding door-to-door, smoke filling the air. This is what attracted a capacity crowd to Road Atlanta for the opening round after fans had been heavily restricted throughout the 2020 season. And fans will next flock to Orlando Speed World on May 21-22, where attendees will not only witness the PRO teams dance with the devil, but witness the opening round of the 2021 FD Link ECU PROSPEC Championship.
PROSPEC is a feeder series for the PRO Championship, allowing up-and-coming drivers to learn the skills to compete at the highest level. Most PROSPEC cars have slightly less power but are no less spectacular to watch. And for the new drivers in both categories, Orlando will be their first experience of a banked track. The banking creates a unique challenge, as drivers have to apply more power to climb the bank, then control the speed as they accelerate off it, all while maintaining a consistent drift inches from the door of another car.
The banked Orlando track gives the best drivers the chance to shine, so we’ll see which of the FD ATL teams continue their momentum, and who rises to the top.
Visit the Formula DRIFT website for event details, ticket purchases, COVID requirements, and more. If you can’t attend in person but want to catch the action, Formula DRIFT has an extremely popular free-to-view livestream broadcast. Available for both Friday qualifying and Saturday elimination heats, the livestream is available via the Formula DRIFT website, the FD YouTube page, or FD Facebook page.
Formula DRIFT is an all-weather event: A wet track won’t stop the drivers and adds another variable to keep everybody guessing who will win. Rain or shine, we send it!
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