Two years ago the final FD round, my first visit to Irwindale, was ramping up to be special for two reasons. Firstly this was ‘defiantly the last ever, no-way we’re coming back here’ round at The House Of Drift, and secondly, James Deane was on track for taking the championship in his first season back in America. Well since I’m back turning onto Speedway Drive with James on track to be the first FD driver to take three champions back to back we know how that all went.
After a few days chilling around LA and the surrounding area, it was another crazy o’clock drive down to Long Beach on a Friday morning for the 7am Grand Prix of Long Beach media briefing. While the main reason for this second weekends visit to Long Beach was the Super Drift events on the Friday and Saturday evening, it was also an opportunity to check out the rest of the action at an event that doesn’t get much coverage over in the UK. The 3 days consist of races from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Pirelli GT4 America, Historic IMSA GTO Challenge, SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks, the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge and finally the highlight of the weekend the IndyCar Series.
Sitting around in the north east of England in February, a person’s mind turns to how to break the winter blues, and that normally means starting to look at the calendar and planning a trip abroad. Looking over the FD schedule I initially started with the standard dates I look at, New Jersey and Irwindale but the one that jumped out was round 1 at Long Beach. It’s a track I’ve never shot and meant I could look at attending the Grand Prix of Long Beach the following weekend. A couple of days of checking flights and hotels and I was telling my day boss that I was taking pretty much the whole of April off…I already had the Easter weekend all booked for Drift Games round 1 in Ireland.
IDC round 2 was back at the old ferry port in Dun Laoghaire for a second and final time and the unique location was perfect for one of the strangest events I’ve ever attended.
I’ve rated IDC as one of the best championships in the world for the last couple of seasons due to the way it is run and the level of driving, so was good to be back at Mondello Circuit for round 1 of the 2018 season.
I’ve shot at a lot of tracks over the last few years, Silverstone, Mondello, even indoors at Green Glens arena in Ireland for an IDC event but there was something special driving into 500 Speedway Drive for round 8 of this years Formula Drift. For the last 14 years the House of Drift has played an important role in bringing Drifting to the USA and the global stage but the iconic track has had an axe hovering over it for the last couple of years after being purchased by a property developer to build a mall on the site, and now it appears to have fallen and this is billed as its final event.
Adding to the buzz this weekend Irish driver James Deane has the title in the bag just needing points from qualifying in the top 32. With a bye run, normally qualifying would have been good enough but FD moved the goal posts after Texas meaning to score the points James had to complete his top 32 run as well. While on paper that should be a celebration lap this is motorsport and things can go wrong.