My day began at 3 a.m. as my alarm went off, ringing, making those wonderful annoying noises that wake us up mid-sleep. I began to gather myself. As I woke, wondering why I set my alarm for 3 a.m., it then hit me; Formula Drift was today courtesy of My Life @ Speed! I scrambled to get all of my necessary gear together; cameras, memory cards, lenses, speed-lights, reflectors, tripod and batteries. As I walked outside to put it in my car, it was a crisp summer morning, probably 40 degrees, and yes in July.
The journey began as I drove from where I currently reside…..Moscow, Idaho, all the way to Monroe, Washington. It’s roughly a 5-hour drive, and I had a mandatory safety meeting at 11:30 a.m., which hasn’t changed since I have been shooting Formula Drift, I clearly had plenty of time to arrive. If I counted how many times I have done this drive, I have to have some sort of world record, but I digress. My mp3 player was loaded with new music as I hit the early morning road, which led through vacant towns and silent fields of wheat, it seemed as I was the only one up this early.
Five hours later, and over the Cascade Mountain Range, I hit the gorgeous outskirts of the Emerald City. The sun was gleaming across the city line, Lake Washington was calm, and your typical volume of cars on the road for a Saturday morning. I start my way north through freeways full of construction; hit the glorious Highway 2 east, out toward Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington I go.
Arriving at Evergreen Speedway, you are presented with the back of the grand stands which can house roughly 15,000 drift fans, not including those that can fit between the fence and grand stands. You could tell Formula Drift had been there with their signs, tents, and banners all over the venue. I had arrived early with about 2 hours to spare before my meeting, which would eventually allow me to shoot on the track. It was easy to recognize and find people I knew that I could catch up with while waiting for my mandatory “orange Formula Drift bracelet” that would let me into the car show area, and to the pits. While the 100 plus cars filled the Slammed Society Showcase, we continued to bullsh*t and talk about the previous day’s events, of which I was not in attendance. Judging by their sun-kissed faces, some UV rays were in store for me; and boy did I get burned.
Post-safety meeting I felt energized and full of know-how on proper ways to conduct myself while on the track. If the track is hot, you may not cross to the other designated photo areas. Only cross if the red-shirted official with the mic and headset on, says that it’s safe to cross. Got it. I had formulated a plan to shoot the car show and get some lifestyle shots of people at the event; but that went to the back burner after a good friend, which I met only earlier this year at Global Rally Cross, from Emotive Image, let me borrow some equipment. I was now in the video shooting-mode (Video will follow this post in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.). By this time the sound of engines revving and tires screaming filled the air, as practice runs were in session.
The car show was my first stop for video, and a few still shots here and there. This is where I met up with the Eric Gearhart of NWAutoEvents.com. We discussed the hilarity in him being mistaken for my site, NWTuner.com and me getting credit for his work. So, we connected on that level and throughout the day had miscellaneous shenanigans because after all, that is what makes these events fun. Below you can see Aaron Kathman, another great automotive photographer, and Eric (Yes, spelled with a “c,” who does that?!) chimping.
You might have attended Formula Drift and are wondering, “What do photographers do with all the downtime, when the drivers request 5 minutes to inspect their car, and are waiting on runs?” Well, planking was what some of us did. We also discussed the new thing to do in photos, it’s called, “Owling.” Yep, you make yourself look like an owl.
The crowd poured into the venue and it seemed from the track that there wasn’t a seat left empty in the house. The Pacific Northwest continues to show its support for extreme automotive sports, earlier in the year Global Rally Cross was shocked by the hardcore rally community up here, when their event was packed even in the rain. Formula Drift saw a 10% increase in this year’s attendance with a sold out crowd despite the un-summer like weather during practice.
We will let the photos speak for themselves. If you missed out this year, be sure to make it next year as it will be Formula Drift’s 10 year anniversary.
The top three winners at Round 5:
1. Yoshihara, Daijiro: Falken Tire / Discount Tire Nissan 240SX Winner
2. Forsberg, Chris: NOS Energy Drink / Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z Second Place
3. Aasbo, Fredric: Need for Speed / Hankook Scion TC Third Place