Round 1 – Southwest Drift Series

We competed at the Southwest Drift Series in Las Vegas Speedway last weekend. The staff at Vegas Drift were very professional, extremely organised and were able to keep on schedule even with multiple racing incidents.

Vegas Drift staff decided to setup the track a little differently to level out the competition between the locals and all the interstate participants. They provided plenty of practice time to become acquainted with the new course which included 2 concrete clipping zones. The organisers left the responsibility to the drivers to know when to line up for qualifying as it was posted prior to the event. They made it very clear that if you miss your run, you get a 0 points.

This system was so efficient that it even caused us issues, as we had to rushed into our first qualifying run and unfortunately clipped one of the inner clipping point. My poor bumper took the hit for my lack of attentiveness. But nothing a few zip ties couldn’t fix. While waiting in the queue for my second run, I kept asking myself, “Should I take this easy and just try to make the show, or should I just go hard”. At this point I figured I knew the coarse well enough to go for it. It really felt like a solid run. Thankfully the judges thought so as well and we were given a score of 89 giving us the number 1 qualifying spot.

For the Top 16 battle, I would be paired up with Andrew Schulte in his artwork on wheels. Go check his car in the AMDrift link and look at his super clean V8 powered S13 Hatch. Andrew is known for being a very straight shooter and doesn’t play games. This gave me the confidence to know what I could drive right up to him and give the judges and the spectators a good show and a fair fight. I was fortune enough to earn the judge’s decision giving us a top 8 placement.

In the Top 8 battle we were paired up with Black Olsan and what is another one of my favorite S13s. Its slammed with wheels most people would be too afraid to take out of the box, but he doesn’t care. I’ve had the pleasure of driving with Blake before so I have witnessed his talent, so I knew I had to be at the top of my game. For my lead run, everything felt solid. I was very happy with the run and it was pretty much down to the follow run.

On my follow run things didn’t go as planned. Now the car that is leading the run is positioned on our right. This is the side closest to the first outer clipping point. When the flagger released us, Blake went around a cone to our right, placing him on the outside of what I thought was the actual course. I was confused and didn’t want to push past the cones that I felt signified being off track. This gave Blake a better line to initiate with more speed and a more curvilinear angle to the second inside clipping point. I just couldn’t get the proximity and speed to match him on the line I thought we were supposed to be on. While waiting for the judge’s decision, I was sitting and processing what had just happened. Like a fool, I forgot to protest and the run was awarded to Blake.

Let this be a lesson to anyone reading this. If you feel like something might be off, call over a line judge. Don’t wait!! Once I pulled into the pits, I was able to confirm with the track officials that indeed my suspicion were true. But it was too late as all decisions are final after a winner is awarded.

The team and I will just have to take this as a learning experience. We know that judges won’t always be able to see everything at this level as well as in Formula D. I am sure we will face this challenge again but we will be better prepared for the process. In the end, we knew that it was out of our control. No regrets and we took home some good points. We look forward to joining Vegas Drift’s Southwest Series in the second round, but right now we are focused on Round 2 of Top Drift at Horse Thief Mile.

Photo by David Karey @ AmDrift.com

Written by Adam Knapik

NewsColin McAlpine