Round 3 of Formula Drift 2011 has come to an end, and we’ve just finished our 13-hour each-way drive home and are exhausted to say the least. Palm Beach made for a great weekend and to say I’m eagerly anticipating the next event is an understatement. After two showers, I’m still covered in black tire residue and sand, and I can’t wait for more.
Palm Beach International Raceway was the venue this time around, a first for Formula D. The initial track layout featured a very exciting hair-pin that wound back in on the earlier part of the track, however, the drivers were entering the first turn too hot, and after two cars nailed the k-rails, officials decided to redo the course. Apparently automotive shrapnel and confetti flying towards the audience is undesirable. I suppose I could argue that, but we’ll leave it be.
Although it was Palm Beach’s first step into the Formula D game, the turnout was impressive. It wasn’t on the same magnitude as Road Atlanta, but then again, Road Atlanta has 8 years under their belt. The crowd was participative and obviously excited that Formula D had made the journey to their back yard, a far cry from the preliminary Long Beach event. The Florida weather was also welcomed in comparison to the humid “Southern” heat Atlanta tried to kill us with.
As always, the action wasn’t limited to just the day of the main event… During Friday’s practice session, Matt Powers’s V8 powered S14 met the wall, and somewhat hard at that.
I sat and watched the track-side repair go down in a nearly empty paddock. The crowd that had engulfed the tarmac had gone to watch the “big dogs” hit the track, finally having been let loose to tear up the pavement. The Pro Am drivers had been running the asphalt all day.
Team Need for Speed made their repairs the good ‘ol fashioned way… A minivan and a tow strap. Fine-tuned chassis alignment was certain… It was the kind of thing you know these techs went to school for.
I wish I could explain in detail exactly what went wrong, but all I know for sure is that it was a hard bump. I heard the words “We’re going to need a new subframe” mentioned at one point an wondered what the outcome might be.
Powers kept his cool and it wasn’t long before the fan-favorite was back on the track, with the crowd anxious for a repeat of the unforgettable “track clearing” run from Atlanta.
The top 16 competition fierce, with Charles Ng opening the competition with one of the best entries of the event. His agressive reverse entry was met with an instant of uncertainty as to whether or not he’d be able to bring it back around… and of course, he shocked us all. The entry was second only to Walker Wilkerson’s practice run from the previous day.
South African Otto Graven also found himself in his first top-16 spot at this event, but unfortunately didn’t make it any further.
As luck (or skill) would have it, the top 4 qualifying cars, Forsberg, McNamara, Pawlak, and Gittin, were also the final four left in the competition.
McNamara beat out Forsberg for 3rd place, leaving Pawlak and Gittin to battle for first, and guaranteeing a Falken Tire sweep for the podium.
Gitten was pleased to snag 2nd place, but it was Pawlak who stole Pole Position, putting him in first place overall for the season.
I’m disappointed to say I won’t get to make the next two rounds, but if you find the opportunity, I push you to do so. Perhaps I’ll see you in Vegas. If you haven’t been convinced to go yet, I’m not sure what else I can do for you. I’ll have to say you’re simply missing out.